By Christopher Cudworth
So you think you live a moral life? Well, perhaps you have not taken complete stock of the sins you commit in the name of your favorite endurance sport.
That means your world may be about to change. Because here, in all it’s dreadful, sinful glory, is the list of 7 Deadly Sins of Endurance Sports.
1. Pool Envy
This one starts the list because it holds the most difficulty for so many people. In fact there are several kinds of pool envy wrapped into one juicy, wet sin. It all starts with how you look in a swimsuit. Satisfied or not? If you are, then you may be full of false pride. But if you’re not, then you might be full of envy looking at others who supposedly look better. Then Pool Envy moves to your actual swim stroke and how fast you are in the pool. Envy over how long you work out, and whether you can manage an Open Water Swim caps it all off. It all falls under the label of Pool Envy, the feeling that nothing you do in the pool is good enough. You know it’s true. You want to look better in your swim gear, and when swimming, wish you could breathe better and that your arms didn’t look like broken windmills as you swam. But most of all, you wish to hell you were faster. Well, be careful, because with Pool Envy you could just get your wish.
2. Training Food Gluttony
One of the ironies of trying to get fit is that the very foods we eat to help fuel our efforts also contain calories that can make us fatter and slow us down. It all gets real when you’ve finished a 70-mile bike ride and then drink and eat enough sports juices and energy bars to equal or exceed the number of calories you burned on the ride. That’s called “defeating the purpose” but it’s very hard to resist when you’ve ridden or run your ass off for several hours and are so hungry and thirsty you started sucking on your sweaty gloves for fluids and chew up the leather seats of your vehicle for protein.
3. Equipment Avarice
Let’s face it. We all want nicer stuff. All the time. When you walk into a bike or running or Tri shop the new equipment almost jumps off the shelves and into your arms. We may not need another set of bibs or a brand new pair of $45 running shorts, yet somehow you find yourself walking out of the store with a shiny bag containing objects of fitness pleasure along with 6 0r 7 other things purchased at the checkout counter. The other source of genuine avarice is out at the races. Everyone sporting $150 new shoes and $6500 bikes seem like they have it so much better than you. Never mind that your shoes cost $135 and your bike costs $5500, and that’s before the $1500 racing wheels you bought online. Among sins, the More Expensive is Better mentality drives equipment avarice. Ever the case shall be.
4. Training Sloth
Those of us who race after we train know that what we put into the sport is how good we’ll perform. That is why the sin of undertraining or overtraining can be so damaging. When we cease to pay attention and/or get so obsessed that we train ourselves into sickness, the Deadly Sin of Training Sloth kicks in along with guilt, feelings of diminished self worth and worst of all. Basically we are trying to compensate for our stupidity while training by racing harder than we know we should. That’s a sin.
5. Wrath On Wheels or On Foot
Getting angry can be a great motivator, yet it can also drag you down. How do you know the difference? If you’re angry that you’re not trying hard enough, there’s always room for improvement. But if you tried your hardest and didn’t achieve your goal, it really does no good to be angry about it for very long. Yet people aim their wrath at themselves and everyone else in the world when they fail, and that’s the sin of wrath in action.
6. Pride Unbound
I found a saying written on an envelope the other day. It was lying in the snow and I noticed it while walking the dog. It read: “When you win say little. When you lose, say even less.” That’s good advice because the worse thing we can do is lord our success over others. But the worser thing is to make all kinds of claims about what you COULD have
done if ONLY this or that had not gone wrong. No one likes a boaster and no one likes a complainer. Both are symptoms of Pride Unbound.
7. Lust Without Limits
In the John Irving book “Hotel New Hampshire,” one of the lead characters is a wrestler who lives by the motto “You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.” Good advice if you have unlimited time and resources to train and race. But if you live a normal life where you need to work, your lust for training and racing and love of your sport can be a torment not unlike being sexually obsessed with a lover. So you need to temper your lust for sport and find constructive ways to draw what you need from running, riding and swimming without letting it turn you into a competitive horn dog or nymphomaniac. In fact one of the best ways to measure whether you’re throwing too much of yourself into sports if if you lose all desire for other things. When you don’t feel jazzed about life or your partner, you’ve gotten into a position of Lust Without Limits.
There you are. The Seven Deadly Sins of Endurance Sports. May knowledge of these sins serve you well as you train and race this year. And note that like all things in life, it seems the very things we need to do most turn into sins when exercised in excess. That’s the tarsnake of the 7 Deadly Sins of Training. It’s recognizing your propensities that helps you stay on a better path.
But if you do succumb, remember to forgive yourself or ask forgiveness. Redemption, be it competitive or personal, is one of the sweetest sensations in this world.