Thursday, 11 February 2010

Deviant Triathletes

Recently, after a visit to the doctor and some conversations with athletic and non-athletic friends I started thinking a lot about deviance.

Now deviance is not anything new to me, I've leaned left centre and right of left and below the horizon in one way or another since I figured out what rules were. Others have called it going against the grain, or trendsetting, or even being an anarchist. It is all about being a unique individual, just like everyone else.

But having revelled in the danse macabre a few times, I prefer to look at the unsightly underbelly of zigging when the everyone else is zagging.

That's why I always visit pawn shops in every new town I find myself in, I like to see what is being traded just below the surface of polite society.

This is where the deviants used to swim. Increasingly though, there has been a sea change of what is normal and what is not.

One definition of deviant is: One that differs from a norm, especially a person whose behaviour and attitudes differ from accepted social standards.

This definition got me thinking about triathletes, especially Iron ones and other endurance athletes.

Where I live I'm surrounded by endurance athletes and Iron folk. I know dozens of them. The training and the dedication and the commitment to this kind of lifestyle is normal in this group.

But take one sidestep into polite society - at work or with extended family and, all of a sudden, I become the sideshow freak; the fodder for conversation and the source of disbelief as I go swimming at lunch time, instead of visiting the buffet.

In the news media and the popular infotainment media we are starting to get more images of people doing extreme things - including endurance sports. From basejumping to extreme surfing, tv viewers are seeing images of people engaged in untraditional activities in High Def. Swimming and biking and running - especially in lava fields is high on the list of these extremities.

Meanwhile, these same news and infotainment medias are also demonstrating how normal people are choosing to live and behave. Think Biggest Loser or the countless reports of obesity and the unbelievable wealth of the diet/weightloss industry.

Every day a new report seems to be published claiming that one ailment or another is caused by sitting too much or watching too much TV or eating any processed food.

It seems, in my little oxygen deprived mind, that the new normal is the couch sitting, tv watching, binge exercising, overworking, sleep deprived, crap consuming set.

Think of ten friends. How many of them engage in an active, non-sedentary lifestyle?  Think of those that do. It's easy to consider them as freaks when you hear that they get up at five a.m. to run, or swim on a Sunday night or go for a regular walk after dinner.

This brings me back to triathletes. A triathlete does stuff to the extreme. Not one sport, but three. Not one hour a day of exercise but two or four or more!

They eat strange stuff - gels and powdery concoctions and some even cook whole foods from scratch and eschew processed, fried calories from unknown sources.

And the clothes. Well. Every kink has to have a uniform. This one goes from head to toe compressing skin, showing bare bodies, making everything aerodynamic and covering up with colours that may not necessarily appear in nature.

And although triathletes are often solitary and choose to engage in their passion alone, they often come together to compete, to compare training, to purchase new stuff,  and occasionally to mate.

Does this not meet the definition of deviant listed above?

So the conversation with the doctor alluded to above was something like "you have very low BP and heart rate. At your age, I would expect to see you getting older, not younger. It isn't really normal. Do you exercise a lot?" 

So this is how my personal deviance has evolved from its anarchistic roots. There are far more destructive fetishes out there.

Now where did I put those day-glow orange Newton shoes and compression stockings?


  1. There is something so freeing about embracing your inner freak, I find. When you stick one freak feather in your cap...suddenly there's room for another, and another. And suddenly you're free to be anything! You find yourself consorting with other feather-capped freaks, who are also free to be exactly who they want to be, and allow you to be who YOU want to be. ANd suddenly there's all this freedom and tolerance and and acceptance and...what is the world coming to??!

    Take one step outside the box...and you might find the box has shattered behind you.

    And can I possibly come up with any more metaphors??

    Basically I too have found that I rather like being different. And whether you're a tri-freak, or a former-Mennonite-smut-minded matters not. It's about finding your own way. And that's good.

  2. Well, Nikki.

    Mr. Doodle called it macaroni when he came to town, but you are right! As the feathers increase so does the ease and the bien etre dans sa peau - as they say in the east.

    The trick is not to be so different that you turn into Zelig.


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