Pick a Lane!

I enjoy running and cycling outside so much more than using a treadmill or stationary bike.  The Montreal winter kept me inside for most of December through February, and workouts became monotonous… putting in “the miles” without really feeling much accomplishment.  I’m so glad to be back outside, and even got to do 2 swims outside last week.

One of the best parts about being outside is the inspiration I see everywhere.  I suppose it reveals some hidden ADD tendencies in me, but almost anything I see when I run can spark a whole new train of thought.  Take squirrels, for example.

Today’s workouts were a 2 hour bike ride followed by a one hour run.  I got back into town last evening, and slept in a little later than I normally do when I have have a brick workout planned.  I usually like to start early to get the workout over and beat the heat of the day.  Not so much today.

I was finally on the bike by about 8:30, after a couple of cups of coffee and some power bars (no Clif Bars readily available).  As I headed down the steep hill that leads out of the neighborhood, there was a squirrel on the road in front of me.  He was planted squarely in the middle of the right side of the road.  I guess he caught sight of me as I came at him, because he started the “squirrel dance.”  I know you’ve seen it.  Squirrel in the middle of the road, sees a car and can’t decide which way to go.  Left, right, back left, PANIC, eventually leads to a squirrel pancake.  This little guy starts shooting back and forth, and can’t decide which way to go.  I’m now mashing on the brakes, trying to slow down , and trying to swerve to avoid him… IF HE’D JUST PICK A LANE!  I’m sure anybody watching from the windows thought we were both crazy, or drunk (can squirrels get drunk?), or both.  Eventually, he shot back across the street and into the yard.  Squirrel pancake avoided.


I thought about how goofy said squirrel is… it seems like instinct would tell him to just pick a direction and get out of the way!  Apparently not.  Jinking back and forth, trying to outsmart a moving target… it seems destined to lose the battle.

Sounds like lots of us.  Eat more carbs!  Don’t eat carbs!  Intervals!  Long Slow Distance!  Fartlek (God Bless You).  We’re constantly dodging back and forth after the latest magic fix, the silver bullet to our training.  There’s nothing wrong with trying to keep training interesting, and mixing it up, but consistency is key.  That’s especially true when you’re training for something as demanding as a triathlon.

Even the decision to do a triathlon can be a “jink” for a lot of us.  I read an article that said one of the main issues for people who organize events is the number of newbies (like me) every year.  It’s a challenge because there are so many people who show up with no idea of what to expect, and sometimes they are woefully unprepared.  They went from sitting on the couch watching Biggest Loser last winter to doing their first Sprint triathlon this summer (or worse, they mistakenly signed up for an Ironman, not knowing the difference).  Race organizers certainly don’t want to discourage newbies from coming out.  But even more importantly, they want to encourage them to come back again, and again.  Don’t let the triathlon be just another jink in the “on again, off again” fitness cycle of so many of us.

I’ve know better than to make absolute statements anymore.  I can’t say “I’ll always do triathlons”, especially since I haven’t finished my first one yet.  But I’m thankful to say that I’ve finally found the joy in consistency of working out in three different sports so that I’m never bored.  I can’t think of a time recently when I’ve thought “Ugh, another run.”  More likely it’s, “I’m only running three times this week.  Well, I get to do an extra ride or swim.”  That doesn’t mean I enjoy every workout.  Today’s run was a killer after the 35 mile ride, with temps in the low 90s and 70% humidity.  But that won’t make me jink back to the couch, or give up on running.  Nope, I’ve picked my lane.

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