Monday, November 23, 2009

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Talent!

So the Ultimate Fitness Challenge is over, and here I am left to my own devices. Left to wander around aimlessly stirring up trouble. Left to wonder how long I can go before I have to practice box jumps again (I estimate April). Floundering a little because I don't have a big goal to work on.

Until someone sat themselves next to me at a business lunch last week and asked why I had not yet done a triathlon and if I wanted to do one in April. Hell yeah I do. Where do I sign up? And the rest of the day was filled with giddy thoughts of a new training schedule, recruiting people to enter along with me, and wondering where I can get a used road bike for cheap. While I have never done a triathlon, endurance sports are much more my speed and I was really happy to have a change of scenery.

It's been nice to be in the gym and just work out in a more relaxed way. There are no deadlines, nothing looming ahead, no metaphorical piano dangling over my head. I decided to allow that peace and quiet to exist for exactly one week, after which it was back to training. And that started today with a cardio marathon! Yea!

But yesterday I got a little head start by getting my head in the game. I was listening to NPR and driving to Target, which makes it a pretty normal day for me. The story was about channelling creativity, and featured the perspective of Geoffrey Colvin, the author of Talent is Overrated and Fortune magazine's Senior Editor at large. His book is about what constitutes a "genius" and asserts that great performance is within the grasp of anyone who's willing to put in the hard work and committment to practice.

I liked this guy.

Now, he was speaking specifically about children who are identified as musical prodigies, and how being especially gifted in one area of the arts at a young age does not necessarily lead to success and greatness in that art as the individual gets older. It may, but it is not a given. Rather, success and greatness is a result of hard work and willingness to practice. While a god-given talent may make that process easier, it is not a one-way ticket to awesomeness.

You can probably imagine that it took about a nanosecond for me to make the parallel between his idea and my training for tri-fit.

After being with the tri-fitness crew for a weekend and observing some incredibly talented and gifted athletes who had obviously done the work necessary to nurture a talent into a real skill, I found myself wishing I had at least some coordination in my bones to make training a little easier for me. While I love the challenge of an uphill climb, I am not as much of a masochist as I may appear to be. Being not-good at something is embarassing, and going through that embarassment with an audience is painful. But, I admire tri-fitness and want to become good at it. So, I work.

Training for a triathlon is going to be a bit of a break. Not to say it will be easy, but I don't have to work as hard at running, swimming, and cycling. These activities are fall-backs for me. I am by no means a prodigy but also not a beginner. There are skills to learn and master in a short period of time, but I feel confident that I can accomplish them pretty easily, which is very unlike how I felt when I started tri-fitness training.

I'm rambling. What I am trying to say here is that I can appreciate that its fun to participate in a sport that comes easily because its, well, pretty easy. Sure, we push ourselves to become faster or better, but for many at the end of the race, the sport was chosen because it was the path of least resistance. And I would challenge that while the fun factor may be a bit delayed by choosing a sport that doesn't come easily, it is more valued and prized because of the literal blood, sweat, and tears that went into getting through it.

So I guess the point here is to go out there and challenge yourself in a sport that scares the crap out of you. When you finish it, you may be surrounded by people who scored better or ran faster or jumped higher, but I dare you to find someone who is more proud to have just finished alive.

Maybe I am a masochist after all. :)

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