Exercise is a Lifestyle, Not an Event

So first I will be completely honest - I stole the title from another article on wellfesto.com  because I loved it and I have been searching for a title for this post.

I have been thinking about this post for awhile now based on a lot of conversations with different people over the past few months and more with the change in my personal mind set. 

In a previous post I mentioned that I had an epithany during my 2013 Oliver Half Ironman.  So I had my "ah Ha" moment but now to learn from it, share it and implement it.

I feel like I need to start back in 2000 when I decided with some friends over many beers at a camp out that we would do a marathon.  Had always wanted to do one and it seemed like a fantastic idea.  I even got up the next morning feeling a little rough and went out for a 10km run with the guys and when we got back promptly crawled back in my tent and collapsed.  However the seed was planted - I did some research and found out that there was a marathon in Vancouver.  Hmmm.  This is crazy - I went to the website and oh wait what is this a 1/2 marathon?  Okay I know I can run 10km so 21km should be okay and seems much more reasonable. 

I pondered it a few more days and thought let's do it - I registered for the half  right away so I got the super discounted price and called my buddies - lets do the half instead - I have registered!  Well basically they all told me I was nuts and on my own and that they were drunk at the time, they did not actually think I was serious.  Turn coats!  So I went and I found a free run group at the Running Room because I knew I was going to need people to keep me honest - the bloody registration fee was NON-REFUNDABLE so either way I was doing the half marathon now.  I went down the next night for the free run - I mean I run on the treadmill all the time for 20 minutes so I would be fine.  HAH - I was dropped like a bad habit in minutes.  Now lucky for me I also noted that they had a running clinic for the half marathon and it was starting the next night.  So when I finally got back to the store I registered right away.  I was going to need more help.

Fast-forward to 2014 and I have done more half marathons then I can count, I have led clinics, been a pace leader, been a pace bunny, done marathons, all distances of triathlons,  gran fondo's, time trials and swim races.  I have not stopped except for injury.  People are like wow - and my answer it's a hobby. 

So why have I told you all this?  I want to promote the lifestyle - I love being active and I want others to love it.

In my 14 years of pursuing my hobby  I have seen more people come and go than you can shake a stick at and it always makes me sad.  I know not everyone is up to running marathons or doing full distance triathlons.  It takes a lot of time and dedication and we all have jobs and families.  Let's face it most of the time when you get home from work the last thing you want is to put on your runners and go for an hour run.  On your day off everyone wants to sleep in, it is not a lot of fun getting up at 6:00am Sunday morning in January when there is freezing rain and you are going out for a 16km training run.  OH GOODY - no one said EVER.  Trust me I know - there have been times when the last thing I felt like doing was running, swimming or cycling.   I feel like people focus on their Race and once it is done that is it.  They want a Great time and once they get that they are done with the sport.  I feel like there is too much emphasis on the end product and not the journey and how to keep growing and participating. 

In the beginning registering for events was the way to ensure I did the training -that darn non-refundable entry fee can be a big motivator.  But after awhile you don't want to register for events -it can be expensive and your family wants to go on vacation. Not just a race vacation but a vacation where you don't have to pack a bunch of gear for a race (weird I know) . Also if you are always racing you will burn out - because you never give yourself a break from the intensity.  So how to get to that place where it is just a part of your day and something to enjoy.  

Well this year I have registered for very few events and usually at the very last minute.  I have found that this has allowed me to not feel the pressure of I NEED to do this distance.  I am still doing the distances but it is because I want to and if for some reason I don't want to do that distance I don't sweat it and I change it up.
This is my social life - I meet with friends and either do the work out with them or run/ride to them and then have coffee/breakfast/lunch and then run/ride back home.  It is a way for me to stay connected and feel alive by being outside enjoying the fresh air and natural beauty.  I don't feel the need  to run long distances or ride for hours on end but even an hour hike with friends will get the job done and I thoroughly enjoy it.  For me there is no pressure - it has been awesome. Fart too often I think people feel that every work out should be part of a race goal or training plan and if not then why do it. I challenge you to do it because no-one ever regretted going for a run or ride but a lot of us have regretted not going.  

Be willing to change it up and make it as short or long as you want to - don't put expectations or limits on yourself.  For example this past weekend I was thinking of running 23km with friends on Sunday but the weather was so fantastic and I wanted to have coffee with a friend in another suburb.  We are heading into rainy season soon and I  just felt like I needed to capitalize on the weather and go for a ride.  I much prefer to run in rain than ride in it.   So I decided to do a great 6km trail run with the puppy on Saturday and take advantage of the gorgeous weather to ride out to Pitt Meadows and have coffee with my girlfriend and then ride home on Sunday.  It was great - I had no time restrictions - I have no idea what the distance was and was not focused on time - I got a great  ride in and enjoyed connecting with my friend.  Often I will run at lunch time - honestly it is the only way I actually take a break from work - I always feel better and rejuvenated for the afternoon.  I also often ride to and from work - it is an awesome way for me to decompress from the day and honestly it takes the same amount of time and I am not stressed out in traffic. 

Don't get me wrong I still register for events because I love the atmosphere at them and it does keep me consistent in my distance training but it is an EVENT now not a race.   It is something to look forward to - as June Bug says it is catered run or ride. I like to think of it as a reward for maintaining my hobby. 

I guess what I am saying is don't get too tied up in the event and focus more on the journey and the friends you make along the way.  If you can do this and be consistent then hopefully you will be still doing this for many years to come as well.  Recently a friend told me she had a 80+year old runner in to talk to her group and she asked him what motivated him at this age to still do it and he said 2 things - "it was better than sitting on a flagpole!"  and - "start out nice and easy and then ease off" 

I sure hope in 35 years I am saying the same thing. 

Peace out Shaun


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