The basic premise of Endure is to discover what motivates people to become endurance athletes. The simplest question that anyone can ask an athlete is, “Why do you do this?” This is an elementary question that is surprisingly difficult to answer for many people. So, to kick this whole thing off, I need to answer this question for myself. This question is difficult to answer because I have never really thought about the “why” before. Do I think being an athlete is fun? Yes I do. Do I like the community surrounding endurance sports? Absolutely. Do I enjoy spending most of my money on cool toys at the bike shop and on massive amounts of food? Admittedly, yes, I do (the people that make Skippy Natural Peanut Butter probably have a picture of me in their office). However, none of these reasons are what motivates me and gives me the discipline to stay consistent in training.
Deep down, I believe I do this because I feel the identity of being an athlete is empowering. Whenever I am out training, I feel that I am pushing my life and myself to the next level that is something more than just settling for the status quo. Doing what we do is not “normal” and I think that is a large part of the appeal. I do not mean this in a way to suggest that people who aren’t athletes are “lesser” people than me in any way. That could not be further from the truth. Let me explain. Dedicating yourself to being something extraordinary, be it a triathlete, painter, or entrepreneur, is what empowers people to be more complete and more vibrant versions of themselves. No matter the medium, getting out of your comfort zone to grow is what is not “normal.” For me, that is the allure of racing mountain bikes.
For better or worse, I have always pushed myself to the limit in all areas of my life. This has caused me much stress and anxiety, but it has also allowed me to achieve many goals in a short time. I believe that because of my dedication to pushing myself in training, I have no issues being dedicated to other pursuits in my life, such as my career goals and spiritual health. My identity as an athlete is what sustains a large part of my self-esteem. When I am training and crushing my workouts, I feel as though I can do anything that I set my mind to and that I am in control of my life. I can change things about myself. I can create things. I can do what I set my mind to. I will be competitive and I won’t settle for average in any area of my existence. Training is what lights this fire for me. For others, performing music, gardening, writing, or cooking could stoke this flame. For a couple of years, I lost this drive and I felt as though my life had gone astray. Things happened that set that in motion, but I did not hold on to what made me feel alive. Having lost that drive and since regained it, it is something I will try my best to never take for granted again. When I am at my best in training and racing, I feel that I am at my best in all other areas of my life. Being a better athlete makes me a better employee, a better Christian, and an overall better person.
If you are reading this, then chances are that your feelings about endurance training and racing are like mine (or you’re my family reading my first ever blog post. A huge thank you to you guys! I love you all!) If not, then I hope that you soon find what brings you to life and makes you feel powerful. And if you are still looking, give endurance sports a try. We are a cool bunch of cats, if I do say so myself.
Until next time…
Endure the Grind!