September 5, 2008

The Big Picture (continued)

Today`s picture is of a old note. Its of significance because money and wealth are a reference in this article, but also because that note is close to my heart. Thats my grandfathers signature on it, and today I miss his wisdom and his way.

I have to thank Jean for a piece of wisdom shared whilst training for 4 hours indoors last weekend. The weather here has been particularly off lately and it has forced me indoors for 4 hour sessions on a spin bike. This leaves you with lots of time to think, and thankfully, time to catch up with the guy sitting next to you.

We were talking about endurance and the required focus to not test yourself or your overeager ego all the time. I told him I hadnt done a bout of serious intensity in training since January. Needless to say, coming from a short course athlete, he gave me that Keanu Reeves “What the?!” blank stare. Short course guys love to continuously train to the point where the bile from their stomach sits in their throat.

I choose longdistance racing to avoid what to me seems like unecessary pain. I choose to be focussed on systematically putting myself in deep fatigue, without the risk of injury or long term damage in the favor of short term satisfaction. I then throw in a few weeks of extensive rest and moderate speedy stuff and put it all together on an amazing day with 2000 other athletes hoping to find out something real about themselves.

Ok I am expecting a few rocks thrown at me for that one, but for me, thats where I`m at. A few years ago, I was the guy always wanting to be first up the hill or across the line. I was the guy who pushed every training session. I am no less competitive now, but I am more internally competitive than wanting to beat this and that guy, I am now out to prove to myself that I can push my own limits further than other people can.

Jean came back to me after a bit of time to think about it. He`s a thinker too and a fantastic athlete who looks at the sport from various angles, chooses his way, and sticks to it. I believe he is going to go a long way in this game. He is focussed on the short stuff for now, but have no doubt he`ll make an amazing Ironman someday.

Anyway, he said I was taking the approach of not looking for 80c out of R1.00 but rather R600.00 out of R1000.00 and (from my perspective at the time) I thought his point was that I have a long term goal and vision. I am striving for R1000.00 in the long term instead of R1.00 here and there. I may only get to R600.00 but its worth collectively much more than R1.00 here and there which I will most likely just spend to get to the next R1.00. I then took this and analyzed it across my life. Am I setting myself up for more in the long run, but less in the short term? I am looking at a long healthy life with wealth behind it? I have to balance work, sport, family, friends, love and support and recently I have had to upset some people again to get the long term vision right? It sucks, but to be true to yourself, in spite of disappointing others, is very real and very rewarding.

Going out on a 5 hour Ironman orientated ride is there to gear yourself for raceday, where your effort will be constant and not up and down. Its a sure way to destroy your running goals, to sprint here and there. When we ride in groups, we are more likely to want to challenge each other and in the end, your ride profile will be a mess and a waste in essence. If you want to race road races, sure, put the surges and hill sprints in there. But I prefer Ironman, and my ride is super steady, so that I can run relatively fast off the bike. I say relatively fast because I aim to run 3:10-3:15 in my next Ironman. This is relatively slow compared to elite marathon runners, and 30min slower than Ironman winners, but fast in relation to the majority of my age group.

The same applies to my life. I can have my small personal satisfactions here and there. Spending too much on a new toy, being out till 5am in a tequila haze inspite of training, or taking the advances of something I dont need, that maybe I`m doing to impress people I dont like and spend the money I dont have. Society is a wonderful thing isnt it.

So, whilst short expenditure of energy (80c) is fun, the long term happiness and wealth and health (R600.00) is more what I`m after as it appeals more to me. But its not for everyone. Hey, and maybe you get to R800.00 but aim for that R1000.00 mark, which is the pinnacle of wealth and long term balance. But the chances of there being even R500.00 in your pocket by getting 80c at a time is hardly any at all.

What I`m getting to is that if you really want to get to your goals, you need to really dive in the deep end of being involved in the process of getting there. Dont aim for 80c but rather for R1000.00, even if in the short run there is no visible “return on investment” i.e. a new phone or the leader over the climb at Suikerbossie, long term you are setting yourself up for a much bigger, more colorful, richer, deeper and far more fulfilling picture.

Have a real weekend. I am looking forward to semi-decent weather and the joy of riding my bike outdoors for a change.

Quiet Mind, Quiet Power.

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