I don’t like puking. Period. It’s for this reason I rarely push myself to the point of nausea while racing. On top of that, I’m an average athlete, with a woefully low V02 max (genetics) and the competitive instincts of a turtle. These factors make me an all-round mid-pack finisher. Given I’m never going to have a professional career as a cyclist or trail runner, I can relax, enjoy training, and take in the scenery. Phew.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to challenge myself, and that’s why I choose to lace up weekly for long runs instead of lying comfortably on the couch watching TV. In fact, I spent 2013 training for the 82 kilometre ultra trail race, Meet your Maker, and the following year gearing up for a 5 day jog around the 170 kilometre Tour du Mont Blanc [watch video]. But competitive drive isn’t what gets me out there in the blowing snow or doing sprint intervals and hill repeats. It’s something much more personal.
A few weeks back, I did a half marathon trail race in Kortright, Ontario (5 Peaks Trail Running Series). The night before, it rained buckets and in the morning I had serious thoughts of bailing and sleeping in. But a little voice gently prodded that if I skipped this, perhaps I wouldn’t have the discipline to complete something more daunting (like running through the pelting rain in the Italian Dolomites). So I jumped out of bed and prepped to run the damn thing. Did I have fun every step of the way? Nah. But I loved the whole experience, because I was in the forest running over new terrain, feeling alive and connected to my surroundings. In the end, I crossed the finish line feeling great – not limping or puking my guts out. And, yeah, I arrived in the middle of the pack.
This is a long drawn out way of saying that if you are like me and aren’t a gifted athlete, you are free! Go out and push as much or as little as you want. Enjoy your sports and the movement of your body and all the different mental states you can attain through activity. Feel free to play around with diet and training regimes in the spirit of exploration. Our rewards won’t be measured by medals or prize money. They will be measured in our own private way, beyond the podium, and often beyond sight (whether it’s learning about ourselves out there, celebrating that feeling of strength, or just basking in the amazing glow of an endorphin high).
*Special thanks to Sue Sitki for use of her photograph from the 5 Peaks race in Kortright (September 2015).