Friday, 28 January 2011

Mob Frenzy

People change - I change. When I  am part of a group or engaged actively in the same interest as others, I become something that I was not.

Someone I respect and consider a friend, recently got into a race that requires a lottery entry. It is an exciting and very challenging race. I'm thrilled for my friend. But as I was thinking about this race and what would be involved for preparation, I realized that I felt no envy. I didn't once think that I'm undertrained or could not be ready for such a competition. In fact, I thought nothing other than genuine happiness for my friend.

This is a big change. In previous years, whilst I was in the thick of training and preparing, news of someone I knew (or trained with or read about) getting into a fabled race would have resulted in emotions ranging from guilt to envy -- each one of them self reflexive.

It was as if others' accomplishments or challenges were like mirrors with which I compared, evaluated and judged my own goals and current state.

But that was when I was on the inside.

That was when I was part of a group. I was engaged actively in the avocation of triathlon and all the relevant training and lifestyle eccentricities that entailed.

I'm now on the outside. I'm still training. I still have a race or two planned for this season. Swim/bike/run is still an important part of my life...and my lifestyle. But the conscious decision this year was to let this all-encompassing and life consuming passion settle into an activity and let some of the rest of my life percolate back into relevance.

And I've changed. I don't feel the tug and pull of updating my equipment as often. I have a training plan that I follow and I don't have the urge to alter it to keep up with others who are training for events I am not interested in this year.
Surprisingly, as a result, I feel more mentally nimble . It is as if my mind has switched from a basic Behaviorist model of reacting predictably to any stimulus, to something more...relaxed.

Maybe it is because I am now, kinda-sorta, a veteran of this tri stuff. Not that I'm great at it, but I know I what I'm capable of and that gives me some inner confidence. I think this is obvious.
I believe though, it has a lot more to do with not having the constant stimulus and thought-altering influence of the  mob.

This year, I'm not really in the "group". Although I may feel the group's influence occasionally when I wade into training sessions with them, their actions don't exert the same tidal pulls that they once did.
Maybe this is why I feel free enough to explore other facets of this active life, such as ultra and trail running. This is why, maybe, snowshoeing is such a pleasurable activity right now. Sure it is pretty good cross training, but it isn't really preparing me for something. It is just fun.

So this too seems to have become another element of my evolution. And re-reading these words, I realize that eschewing the frenzy (friendzy?) of the mob may have actually made me more comfortable within and without it!

Training for and completing three Ironman races gave me the confidence to do more. Stepping back, albeit momentarily, give me the confidence to do less and to do different. People change. I know I have. 

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