The philosophy of sport is not a subject I have studied; it is a subject I have lived. There is no better arena for evaluating your value system, no better laboratory for investigating motivation – and no better proving ground for demonstrating one’s defects. Sport exposes. Sport teaches. Sport develops. Sport becomes my art, my language, my way of being in this world.
Greatness is a lot of small things done well, day after day workout after workout. Competition is the summation of this process. A race can be your life focus for anywhere from a single week to a whole year. For most of us, we prepare with a magnified focus for 12-weeks. This is a tangible time period, but not overwhelming. Enough time to allow you to develop some specific fitness, and then sharpen that fitness for your competition. Wearing many hats, it’s important for you to not let this competition overwhelm the other areas of your life. It’s important to keep perspective, and let the event become your performance. Sport brings the work you’ve done on your fitness and health into an arena where you are allowed and encouraged to lay everything on line. In these moments of sport what manifests is your personal best.
Sport directs my fitness. I do not need a gym to facilitate my exercise and physicality. My event is running, and my distance is the ultramarathon. In the winter of 2011 I felt a strong urge to move my training outside of the gym, into a competitive arena. Running long distances appealed to me, not only as a mental or motivational challenge, also as a competitive, athletic endeavor. I had trained and built a physique, but what was it capable of in a natural environment where success is not measure in reps, sets, and weights?
As the Sheehan quote above states, sport exposes, teaches, and develops. Running and racing made this apparent to me. It felt true to my core. What developed was a new person. The mirrors of the gym no longer sufficed in distinguishing my level of fitness. As a runner, you feel best when moving at a steady state. Rhythmic motion, monitored effort, fatigue, hunger, thirst, patience, ability, these are what now occupied my training. Racing, and it’s demanded effort, placed me at times uncomfortably out of my element of complacency. What I avoided in my training was exposed in my racing. I learned what I was made of. Strength training, my prior passion, morphed into a supplemental activity. It remained essential, though in a functional capacity, providing balance and symmetry in relation to myself as athlete, not exerciser.
A few years later and I am still a runner. Race day is my performance. My calendar year is littered with events to test my mental fortitude, as well as progress in my field of training. Working with my fitness-coaching clients (current and potential), I let this passion bleed into my sessions with them. Individuality and freedom of spirit are essential in personal pursuits that truly last. It is my hope that those individuals are lucky enough to experience true passion, as well as health and vitality, through motion and movement.
Be patient in your progress, yet persistent in your effort. Finding sport is a process of trial and error, but never stop trying, for when it sticks you will be forever changed, and impassioned to lead a life that you may have only dreamed possible.