Last evening I was riding the train home and remembered I was leading the Guelph Triathlon Club group ride at my condo. I had already reused my previous workout once, and repeating a workout 2 weeks in a row is something I tend to try to avoid. So I pulled out my trusty pencil (I make a lot of mistakes!) and paper and set to work writing a new workout.
The structure of a GTC workout is pretty simple and consistent. Warm up, drills, and a short main set that should come in at about 45 minutes. Then after a 5 minute “intermission” to allow anyone who only wants to stay for that long to cool down, another longer main set before a cooldown for the remainder of the group. Total time elapsed – 90 minutes.
As I scribbled out my workout, I thought about where I was in my training. And what my goals are for the year. What I need to work on most. Where my weaknesses are (that was a long list!) and strengths (short list!). The benefit of being the ride leader is that I can design the workout to my benefit.
And so I did… My races this year will be some of the hilliest rides I have put in. Certainly the hilliest races. Mont Tremblant isn’t known for it’s plains… far from it. It’s a ski resort town. Use your imagination! The workout reflected this reality. After some drills to improve cycling fundamentals and technique, we moved into some speed work… and then, after the intermission the rest of the workout was climbing intervals.
Needless to say when working on a weakness, you feel pain. There’s an expression that goes something like “pain is weakness leaving my body”… and, it’s true. So, as we were in the middle of the intervals and I was looking down at my crib sheet counting the number still to do, wondering whether I would survive – I simply thought about the fact that the harder I sweat now in training, the less blood I will leave out there on the race course.
The workout eventually ended. I climbed off my bike, wrung out my shirt (have I mentioned I sweat more than anyone I have EVER met! I have NO IDEA why… but my god it’s sometime repulsive. I gave myself a soaker again last night as I stepped down into the puddle of sweat I had left on the mat under my bike! gross), stretched the tightness out of my muscles and reveled in the fact that I had not only survived… but I had put the building blocks in place for a stronger workout the next time around.
So as I soaked in the tub later last evening, letting the epsom salts work their magic on my legs I thought about my post from yesterday, my workout, my goals for this year and how intertwined all the elements of life can be! How athletics can be such an allegory for life. How life can seem so complicated when living it. Especially one’s own life. But when looked at through the lens of athletics… the complications can seem to rearrange themselves like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. and like that jigsaw puzzle, once the pieces start to fall into place, each next piece seems to get easier to find. Until you have a beautiful portrait.
But, it is so difficult sometimes to find the time and mental space to even start sorting those pieces out. To turn them all face up. To find the edge pieces. To arrange them by colour. To test the edges of one piece against another.
And again I draw upon my athletics for guidance…. Like any good workout, life has a structure. and consistency to how it unfolds. Or at least it can. The seemingly randomness of life can be sorted. You can think about the events in terms of warmups, drills, main sets and cooldowns.
And like any good workout, you need to understand what your goals are. What is it you’re trying to achieve. What are your weaknesses. What are your strengths. What do you need to achieve today. This week. This month. This year. Break everything down into bite sized chunks… and in your next act, understand how it helps to propel you towards the ultimate goal you have set for yourself. How it becomes one step on the long path.
And like any good workout, you need to understand that it may be difficult. That there are going to be trying times. That those “one steps” may not always be easy. they will leave you exhausted. They will break you down. But just like workouts, if you survive (and you will), you will be stronger for having pulled through.
Life is simply a long slow climb. Recognizing this is the first step towards accepting that it won;t always be pleasant. But it will be fulfilling.