Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hobby or Way of Life?

Training. Racing. More training to improve upon the weaknesses from the last race. Is this a hobby, or a way of life?

The answer to that question tells a lot about the person providing the answer.

A co-worker is preparing to race his first sprint distance triathlon. In an odd twist of reality, I would now refer to the race as "short." Half mile swim, 20 mile bike, 5K run. No big deal. The challenge will be the swim. And not because the swim is challenging for everyone, but because of the answer to the above question. Hobby, or way of life?

Twice this week, I showed up at the pool ready to help him with his swim. I had intentionally scheduled shorter swims to allow time to offer what meager guidance I have at my disposal. Twice this week, I completed significantly longer swims because there was nobody to train. Twice this week, my answer was "way of life" while his was "hobby."

His failure to make it to the pool doesn't concern me, too much. I was there to swim, regardless. And if the swim beats him on Saturday, it will be his lesson and his DNF. If he looks at training and racing as something that can be skipped, that's fine, as well.

Each of us must make the decision. Hobby, or way of life? By the way, the answer is best judged by actions, not words. What happens when the alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. for a 5 o'clock morning swim session? Is it a jump out of bed to silence the alarm and get out of the house without waking anyone? Or is it a roll to hit the snooze button? What about when life gets complicated and finding time to train becomes challenging? Is it one more session that gets skipped, or one more situation where creativity allows the training to happen?

And here's a little secret. Either answer is okay. Some people planning a lifetime of triathlons will find that triathlons aren't really their thing. Others thinking about one small race will soon find themselves scraping together the $450 for an Ironman race. All are participating in a challenging sport, doing more than the average American ever considers.

And I'll be there, Saturday, supporting my co-worker as he races his first triathlon. And if the outcome is less than he hopes for, I'll be there afterward to offer suggestions for improvement. Because even if this is a hobby for him, it has quickly become a way of life, for me.


Cliff said...

Hobby or life...

I judge it by how much/little exercise I have done when I have no training plan at all.

I agree. I don't think everyone is fit into the tri life. I just hope my close ones can find something as passionate as I am with tri and share me his/her experiences.

Hope your friend has a blast..oh i know u will even just being an observer :)

Flatman said...

Nice perspective... Your friend is lucky to have you.

a.maria said...

good post. i'm finding out that morphing to make the tri life a WAY of life is a challenging, challening thing. its a slow change for me, i'd say. i'm somewhere in the middle, both by desire and action.

but i agree with flatman. he's lucky to have a friend like you around to help him learn the ropes!

Meg said...

I'm in an interesting place to read this. My 1st sprint in 3 years is on Sat. Its my lifetime second.
I waited too long to start training. I've taken it seriously for the last couple months but it just isn't enough. I fully expect to finish, but I am sure to be one of the last if not the last. I'm kind of ok with that because I feel like I am on the starting block for truly making this a part of my life. Next steps? research training plans instead of pulling them out of my... ear. Well, first I'll experience Saturday's event, then gear up for another in a month, then close the season and work on developing a real plan for the winter and 2007. I still don't consider myself an athlete. That's my 2007 goal.

I guess I'm somewhere in the middle, too. More than a hobby not completely a way of life.

Your friend is lucky. I don't know any triathletes in real life. I am working on converting the masses, though.

Thanks for making me think.

Deb said...

Great post....we can all become consumed with what is important to us, that we fail to let others take their journey, no matter what that might be.

TriBoomer said...

It's great that you are supporting your friend. Hobby or way of life??? What a fab question we should all ask ourselves.

Stay tuned...

Mister P. said...

Training is a way of life.
Being a gear whore is a hobby.

(and I use the phrase with the utmost respect- i LOVE shopping for new goodies, even if I don't always buy.)

Iron Pol said...

Gear Whore. Expensive hobby. I'm not even a gear whore and making the shift to triathlons has been a costly venture.

And there's still the wetsuit, transition bag, tri suit, power tap, bladed spokes on better wheels, and a GPS system.

But I'm not a gear whore.

Fe-lady said...

Way of life for over 25 years..hopefully it will become the same for the co-worker you are supporting. He'll be hooked just like the rest of us!