Recently while working out designs for a cycling kit shirt and tee shirts for this blog, I wrote down a list of things that mattered most while writing this column. The list flowed right out of me, and that’s usually a sign that the subconscious has been at work all along.
And it turned out there were seven principles, which is the sign of completeness in scripture and just about every other value system in the universe.
And here they are, with brief explanations for how they came about and why they matter.
The goal from the start with this blog has been to take an original approach to writing about running, riding and now swimming, which has been added along the way. This has given plenty of latitude to experiment and make links between these activities we do and the way they impact or symbolize other endeavors in life. Rather than producing a training journal or a coaching clinic, it has always been the goal to make people think through original takes on the three sports that also happen to coincide with triathlon. So it’s been an evolution or original thinking, and I believe in that.
This second principle, to “seek justice” may not seem to have much connection to endurance sports. And yet, we participate in some of the most just sports of all. These teach lessons about equality and the human condition. It is no coincidence that endurance sports like running still represent the foundation of the Olympic Games, and that marathons and other large scale events celebrate the best aspects of the human condition. I see this principle at work every time we meet up for runs or rides. People discuss their most important values and their personal challenges. At the heart of all religions stands the core principle of justice. And there you have it.
This one is tricky, because I have often done satire of the things I find most annoying or stupid in this world. Satire does not respect the subject, but it does convey principles. It is respect for the principles behind the satire that are brought to the fore. That is how men like Jon Stewart show respect through comedy. But I am also more than willing to challenge people about their beliefs, because the ultimate sign of respect is to take their beliefs seriously enough to question their source. Then there is the respect I feel directly for people profiled and interviewed for this blog. Their stories are compelling examples of interest and perseverance, ingenuity and hope. In sum it is also important to respect as well your competitors, because that’s how you learn to respect yourself. That is a major challenge for everyone in life, and one the most important aspects of existence.
This is essentially a not-for-profit blog. I write this because it is enjoyable, and it has produced writing jobs and opportunities as a result. Someday soon I may have a line of fun items for sale through WRAR, but it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme by any means. Much less a network marketing plan. Instead, my belief in life is that when you give fully in any way, something good will come back to you. It may be unexpected, or not what you might have hoped for. But it’s true. Something works in the universe when you are willing to give fully. That means giving yourself fully to your sport as well, as much as you can. And to give your time and support to others in real time. That is one of the most rewarding aspects of running, riding and swimming. The more you give it seems, the more you get back.
It sounds simple but it never is. Training hard takes dedication, discipline and devotion to the task at hand. That is true in the long run and also in the precise moment you make decisions about when to push, and when to pull back. To “train hard” does not mean going all out, all the time. Instead, it means the three “D’s” above. Being focused on what you are trying to do. And when you’ve done your best, it is also important to keep your training in its place. When you’re training hard you are in the midst of achievement. Because not everyone can win races or win their age groups. But they can participate. And that’s the motivator that brings us all together.
The fun of competition and the challenges it are good reasons why many of us choose to participate in organized events. From the neighborhood 5K to the New York Marathon, from sprinting to the County Line on your group ride to earning a spot at Kona, we all have different goals. But competing well is always the aim. That can mean many things. For some to compete well just means to finish. Certainly that’s 99% of the Ironman population. The great thing about competition is it teaches your mind and body to respond under duress. These aptitudes come in handy in the real world. All the world is a competition. There’s no avoiding it. Learning to positively engage is a good thing.
This one seems cliche, as might all the others to some degree. But together they add up to a philosophy, a clarity that can help us learn to love life itself. I’ve been through some harrowing things and lost some people so close to me it feels like flesh being ripped away. So I treasure life as much as possible. Through it all, my running and riding have sustained my brain even on days when it was difficult just to pedal 30 miles in the wake of my buddies. Life can be harsh. But life can also be joyous and replete with peak experiences that draw us out of our social shells into a world of tolerance, openness and lack of fear. We can overcome many things if we love life. That includes grief, addiction, loss of faith, disillusionment, depression and dying itself. The time we have here is indeed precious. To love life is to value it. And I try to encourage people through this blog to do just that.
There you have them. Seven ideals upon which this blog is founded. I will be centering topics around these ideals going forward. As always, I love to hear from readers and what they think about the topics we cover here. You may not always agree, but my goal is always to make you think. Be original. Seek justice. Show respect. Give Fully. Train hard. Compete well. And love life.
Because these things help you run over the tarsnakes, those things in life that would otherwise trip you up. Some are things that tempt you. Others are things that get in your way, or slow you down. But if you remained focused, and abide by a set of principles that amount to a nuanced grip on the handlebars, you can roll right over them.
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