But what I am interested in is that moment of discomfort. That instant when an individual (or a corporation's CEO) has an OSM -- an oh shit! moment. Everyone has had these. Something that seems like such a good idea at the time, actually turns out to be the worst of all possibilities.
Think of how you felt while getting stitches after using the pocket knife to tighten a screw. Or standing awkwardly, alone, after sharing an anecdote with someone whom the anecdote was actually about! Or, realizing that 300m into a mass swim start that maybe going full speed and keeping up with the leaders wasn't such a good idea, especially with more than 3km more to go. Or, my favourite, having your partner photograph someone who is not your partner straddling you in the cockpit of a car.
I've had more than my fair share of OSMs. Some of them in triathlon, and just as many, if not more in the dress-up, adult world. What intrigues me is that the moment of realization is not after the gaff has occurred. For me, the OSM happens just before the damage is done.
As I'm forming words in my mouth, but have not yet recruited my larynx, I have found my self inexorably hurtling towards uttering something that should never, ever have left my lips. It is like a train wreck. Everything is in slow motion. It actually feels like I've left my body and I'm looking down at the show. The verisimilitude is stunning. Sometimes it is even in 3D! What always whips me back into reality is the sudden sick feeling in my stomach, the unexplainable clammy hands and the palpable feeling of sickness that floods my blood stream riding shotgun with the adrenalin release.
In my life, OSMs follow patterns. I see them coming. It is like Tourrettes but with a built-in early warning system. When I pay attention, I can stop them before anyone but my inner self notices. No damage is done. And actually, sometimes I may even learn from the only-in-my-head experience.
I'm in the middle of an OSM right now. I have very few definitive races planned for 2011, no set training plan, no regimen to follow. I've been sticking to a training plan for the past four years. This year...zip!
My OSM? Oh shit! I'm starting to gain weight, I'm sleeping too much and not very well, I'm eating the wrong stuff - at the wrong time and I'm becoming more and more lethargic in my own sluggishness.
At the height of my Ironman training two years ago, I could tell, when on my bike or on the run, if something was about to go wrong. I had become so attuned to my body that I knew that a slight feeling of confusion and lack of conviction meant I was running on empty. A quick jolt of carbs had me back in form withing a couple of minutes. Similarly, a twinge in my quad while climbing out of the saddle reminded me that I was pushing too hard and maybe I was running a little low on electrolytes.
Just days before Halloween, I look in the mirror and find that I've started wearing a scary costume that I haven't worn in years - I'm dressed like a couch potato, albeit a sweet one, I'm told.
This is my OSM! It is time to change my course, and alter it before it becomes my reality. Some may call it a wake up call. I think it is the end of T3 for me. It is time to HTFU and get back to living the lifestyle that works. Back to training tomorrow.
Training for what? Training for life.