Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Junk miles

Triathlon is, by its nature, a very selfish sport.
As someone who grew up immersed in team sports: baseball, basketball, soccer, etc., I inherently associated sports with a sense of unified effort.  Athletic endeavors like those give individuals the opportunity to combine their skills and passions into a contagious force in the collective pursuit of victory.  One needs only to look as far as the Women's World Cup to see how a team can inspire not only each other, but an entire nation.
And so it seems that in every athletic pursuit, one needs a team to draw out of them the true limits of their potential.  Heck, even track teams keep score for that reason.
Compare the extrinsic inspiration of team sports to the 140.6 mile effort of a professional Ironman, and despite the herculean effort of the IM athlete, I think you'll find his/her feat lacking by comparison.  I say that not to diminish the accomplishments of professional triathletes, but to bring to light the fact that regardless of the impressiveness of an athlete's feat, for others to be truly inspired, we must know what is driving them.
Think about a typical Ironman race broadcast.  It is no mistake that an equal amount of air time is given to the elite athletes that cross the finish line shortly after the swim cutoff time and the "everyday heroes" who shuffle through the darkness of night to finish the race for a cause that is so great that it can carry a cancer survivor, wounded soldier, or the parent of a "disabled" child over the 140.6 mile course.  In our hearts, we know that the reason for the feat is so much more impressive that the feat itself.
As I have begun putting in the miles to prepare for my first IM, I have realized that the preparation necessary for such a feat, requires more motivation than a whim can manage.  Yes, the pure desire to finish or win can carry you through the daily training necessary, but pursuing a goal out of such a motivation seems empty in the end.  And so, to truly experience the most of what this great sport has to offer, you must support each step, stroke and pedal with something bigger than yourself.  Otherwise all these hours spent training are just a waste of time.
What gives purpose to your miles?      


  1. So true! The purpose of my miles is to run away from a genetic deck stacked against me. Also because every day I am reminded that the only limits I have are those I set for myself.

  2. That is a great post Austin! I really need to think on this a lot because I need to have the "real" reason for racing in my head before I get back to the line. I have to know why I am there and why I am putting in all the time. Thanks for reminding me.

    Keep up all the work you are doing for your IM!!!!


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