triathlon training

Fight or Flight,

It's hard to say when I first became a long distance runner. And it's equally difficult to say what allowed me to deal with the pain associated with running long and hard. Was it from running to keep up with the neighborhood kids on their bikes when I was a child? Or was it an alternative between fighting a city boy I didn't know and didn't particularly want to hurt, to running 6 miles home? Was it the fear of being late for dinner again and needing to be there now? Or was the glory that comes with being on a winning cross- country or track team? I often wonder what caused me to start this sport that continues to drive me 30 years later. I tend to think it began as a child when I was forced into a fight or flight situation.

For a ten year old boy, running away from the city 6.2 miles home was a big undertaking. But then so was facing up to being the loser in a game of hold the towel. I don't know if that's the correct name of the game, it's a contest of strength and brutality in which two boys hold onto a towel and beat up the other until he lets go. I immediatly lost my match. I didn't want to have to stick around at the day camp and deal with the humiliation of being a loser. They were teaching me to kill or be killed and I wasn't going for it. I ran and cried all the way home, two towns away. At least I could run home and survive, that had to be worth something.

So when I decided to try out for the cross-country team 6 years later it was no surprise to me I that I could run the 4.5 mile loop without stopping. What did surprise me though were the tears that filled my eyes during the run. I cried not from physical pain but emtional pain. I cried because now I had a legitimate reason to run. And that maybe I could be somebody, that maybe my Dad would see I was worthy of his love. That here I thought at last I had a future out of harms way, something I could put my energy into and reap some benefits. A way out for a much troubled youth. Maybe get some peer respect and maybe even get to the Olympics. Perhaps this was my calling?

When I finished the practice loop, the coach was surprised to see me so soon. I was surprised to see four blisters on the bottoms of each foot. I was too busy dealing with emotional stuff to feel the physical pains for what they were. Needless to say, I made the team, and I was anxious for the next workout.

I had a relatively successful four years in running but learned I wasn't nearly talented enough to make to any regional championships let alone National. But I did know I was better than most at running.

I still find the fight or flight instinct strongly embedded in me. I don't mind bicycling an hour to the pool, swimming hard for an hour with the team and then running 15 miles in 90 degree heat. But when it comes to slugging out a living and standing up for myself I wimp out. I really don't want to compete against anyone in the work-a-day world. And I still seem to be looking for who and what I am. I feel my inner turmoil over this will chase me to the end. And so again, I will run away.

GOOD LUCK and Keep It Fun!!!
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