For the last couple of weeks, I've been on edge from the storm and having to rearrange my life according to what "easy" things were now transformed into "hard" things. More than anything, this storm, for me at least, was just one of inconvenience. I didn't loose loved ones, property, or anything other than power, so to say I and my family got off easy is an understatement.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I got out on my road bike early this morning, and, after having missed the group I was supposed to ride with, decided to run some errands, one of which involved stopping in to the gym where I work. It's been a while since I showed up in full lycra to the gym, and I usually like to keep a low profile about my riding when I'm there (I don't want what I do for fun to become "part" of my job). As I walked about, grabbing a few things before setting off again, a member came up to me and inquired about where I was riding, how many miles I planned to do, and how many hours a week I train-all the normal stuff I've been asked a million times by anyone interested in what I was doing. Innocent enough question, but then it lead to him telling me about his son, how he just did a half ironman, how he brings his bike with him when he comes to visit, and how if I want a "real" workout, I should try and keep up with his son when he's here.
While I was smiley and cordial on the outside, I was burning from the inside. I get so pissed when people start to compare workouts, compare times, and compare their "strengths". It's just like cockroaches, as soon as one measured "thing" is announced, everything starts to come out and be compared.
As I rode on after this happened, I started to wonder if I was mad because I was competitive and wanted to say that I was probably a better rider than his son? Or was I mad because I'm genuinely sick of this "look at me (or my friend/son/daughter/etc.) and how tough I am" attitude. The truth is, no one cares! Nobody cares about how much you rode your bike or how tough you are because of it. I'll admit, when put in the correct forum and in the correct wording, "training talk" can be cool and very beneficial. However, if I posted up every ride/workout/stretch/poop I did, even I would get sick of myself. Yeah, triathlon, and all endurance sports are tough, but I don't think any more or less of you as a person because of what you can or can't do.
I suppose what I'm getting at here is that I'm sick of people hiding behind masks. They try and prove something to everyone (and especially themselves) by describing how hard what they do is. Generally, all this running around boils down to a hobby for 90% of the individuals involved. Therefore, it is something that is done by choice and by fun. It's kind of hard to be a certified badass when you're doing an activity (albeit a tough one) that you chose to do and in some way enjoy. Tell the soldiers fighting our wars that you're a badass for riding your bike while their out risking their lives so you can. Tell them how hard your last swim session was, and try to impress them with how hard you are because you did a stacked brick workout. I'm sure they'll agree you're just as tough as you think you are as they tell you about how they were able to get out of their Humvee just before it exploded from an IED. And they'll surely agree that you're a tough guy because you held X amount of Watts on your last ride while they were fighting off insurgents with automatic weapons. Go ahead, and let me know how that works out.
I might seem a little brash here and I may seem a little insensitive. Of course this does not apply to all people that participate in endurance sports (or any sport for that matter). Yeah, we all think at some time or another when we compete that we're a badass for completing something or coming out victorious in an event. The only thing I ask for is a little humility. Remember to put what you're doing into perspective.
So, should I be mad with what the member said to me today? Should I let it get to me to the point where I spend my precious time vomiting on my blog about it? Not at all. My own anger at this situation is symptomatic of exactly the type of thinking I outlined in the words above. I'm just as guilty as he is of the "look at the badass I am" sickness. At the end of the day, the best thing we can do is to examine ourselves before we speak. Learn about the inner you and be honest with what you find. Do this first, and then speak.
Ah, glad I got that off my chest!