|Seasons||Apr 25, ’07 5:55 AM
Ever wonder how it is to live far from the equator, where the weather and temperature changes markedly? I know for a fact that I used to take for granted how fortunate we are for being able to train and race virtually year round. When you think about it, sans the rain and pollution of course, living in perennially warm weather does have its benefits.
Living as an athlete in a temperate country, though, alters your perspective a lot. I always tell my athletes that training should be done in blocks throughout the year, wherein you take a couple of months doing preparation, then the next months building up to some intensity, and then having a peak fitness period wherein you can race at your highest level. After these phases, there is a crucial element that athletes in tropical climates tend to forget, and that is off-season.
I myself am guilty of ignoring this particular aspect, and that sometimes spells the difference in how good you perform for your next round of racing and training. A lot of the time though, we think, “Oh, it’s the organizers’ fault, they put up races year round, what do you want me to do?” Well, not be a race-a-holic, for one. You still call the shots on which races you are joining or not. Observe the typical beginner pinoy athlete and whenever a race pops up, he or she will tackle it gung-ho whatever the magnitude or distance of the event. This is an admirable albeit somewhat idiotic quality, yes, but the problem is no one can sustain this forever. There will come a point wherein working out will cease to be enjoyable and will start feeling like a chore.
Because I have forcibly removed myself from training and racing for the past couple of months and have been taking a breather in a cooler part of the world, I now fully appreciate the value of these training cycles and do not just mouth the words meaninglessly. It is autumn as I write this piece, and along with the fall and turn of the leaves I am acquiring a sense of inner serenity and peace. Yes, it is okay to take a break, and for the first time in a while, I have given myself permission to do just that.
I am always interested in experiencing how it is to be in a different environment, understanding different cultures, and educating myself about different people, that is why I know that when I travel I am constantly enriching my life and hopefully the lives of people around me. Even though I have taken trips often in the course of my triathlon career, I normally time my visits so that I would enjoy relatively comfortable weather, and when it starts getting too cold, I leave right away. Just this once, though I am not in a hurry to go anywhere. There are countless things here that I am constantly learning about. The chill has started to crawl in, and small details like a good pair of socks, leg and arm warmers or full gloves really do mean a lot. Neat tricks like using plastic bags inside your bike shoes to prevent the chill from entering will come in handy. The thermos-like water bottles I habitually use to keep the cold in I now need to store warm liquids. It is hard, maybe much harder than the hottest training days back home because you have to be really smart about your preparation. I have developed a tremendous respect for those who have to endure workouts in this weather. Now I will think twice before I complain of the heat and make a wish that I were in someplace cooler, or vice versa.
They say that to truly feel joy, one should understand pain and sadness first. To appreciate what you have, you should try going without it for a certain period. I don’t necessarily believe that what I have is better or worse, but doing things another way has made me closer to my brothers and sisters on the other side of the world, and it has made me realize that at the very core of things we are very much one. We both have goals and wants, and we both still have to work and persevere to attain them.
Seasons were created by God for a reason, and I honestly have faith that this scheme that He has put in place can act as a good blueprint as to how we can run our lives too. All of the phases we go through during our time here on earth are beautiful, depending on how you look at it. Even though we face trials and ordeals, we need those to evolve and reach the next step towards wisdom. And after all of it we do get an opportunity to take a momentary respite, recharge, and move on to discover a gazillion more wonderful things.
I can’t wait.