Thursday, April 15, 2010

Going Hard

Link to the post that inspired this one.

Last year, I was a big fan of go-all-out-every-day-you-only-live-once-stop-being-such-a-shriveled-scrotum school of thought.  In the words of Jay-Z, "we off that." What changed from last year to this year?

Balance. A year of triathlons and road races under my belt in addition to a poorly planned offseason full of injuries has taught me a lot about balance.

For all the effort I expend, I must have an equal amount of energy coming back in.
In writing; inspiration.
In training; nutrition.
In love; reciprocation.
For all the work that I do, I must experience the appropriate amount of rest.
In writing; reading.
In training; sleep.
In love; ... gee, I'm not sure where to go with this one.

Pfft, it was working so well up until that point. Well, I learned a lot, but I don't know it all. Maybe the equation doesn't balance out perfectly. That's fine. I'll learn when it's time to learn. Or maybe I'll eventually have the appropriate lens that will make me realize the question was wrongly aimed.

At any rate, the reason I don't train all the way balls to the wall anymore is because of the very real fact that I am not a pro triathlete. Because of my scheduling issues, because I'm unwilling to sacrifice much else for bigger gains, because I still have a lot that I can improve on before I need to sacrifice more, I don't treat each session as a personal Everest. I would only receive more benefit from harder training if I coupled it with the appropriate amount of rest. From my experience, a complete all-the-way-to-failure workout requires about 10 hours of rest that same day with the next day being a complete rest day or at most an easy day. I sleep 7 hours a night. Barely. I don't see where I can slip 3 1-hour naps into my day on top of that. So because I won't get benefit from that style of training, because it would push me further away from my goals, I don't train that way. Steady, consistent, effort over a period of days has been the formula that's been working for me lately. This is the effort that matches my rest schedule best.

I think about my spirituality in terms of balance as well. My faith has consistently grown through challenges and consistently shriveled with claustrophobic conditions. To a point. There was a time where I never wanted to see the familiar shores of orthodoxy again, convinced that while the theology was right, the practice had... in my own words, gone to shit. But as I journeyed further along my path, I realized that the contrapuntal interplay between the world I was exposed to and the tenets of my faith grew me. When I first began to wander off the beaten path, it was due mainly to an overwhelming amount of Christian newspeak invading my life. This time, proper doctrine had grown too faint. For growth, I need the two to match each other.

In terms of challenges, I would like to use the image of a bell. If you don't ring it hard enough, there won't be an effect. Deafening silence will answer you. If you ring it too hard, you break the bell and now all you have left is junk. The body and mind are far more complex than any sounding instrument. What bell will, upon being rung, produce the strength to ring louder next time? 

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