Saturday, May 19, 2012


Yesterday I was reading about paradoxes on Wikipedia and I thought I would add one to the list: the paradox of endurance sports training.  It goes something like this: the harder you train for a specific endurance sport, the less capable you become at everything else.

I just finished the last hard training before the triathlon and my poor body is shredded.  I've been so tired lately that I've been taking the car to school instead of walking, taking the elevator instead of stairs, basically avoiding all movement outside of my actual workouts.

The irony is that I'm definitely getting stronger; I'm pushing bigger gears on my bike, I'm running farther, swimming faster.  In fact I did a Nike Training Club workout on Thursday and by the end I was barely breathing hard (they used to be hell on my lungs.)

But when my muscles are this sore everyday things seem like a Herculean effort.  For example, I went to the grocery store this morning and every step was agony.  Even standing at the sink brushing my teeth required serious concentration to keep my screaming hamstrings engaged and my body from crumbling uselessly to the bathroom floor.

If someone asked me if I was in good shape now what would I say?  If he or she invited me to the park to play ultimate frisbee I would be pretty useless.  Someone who winces just walking around the apartment doesn't seem like much of an athlete.  This is the paradox.  You'd think a triathlete would probably be the generally fittest person around because of how varied swimming, biking, and running are.

Like all paradoxes this one has a resolution.  Workouts may leave you drained during training, but tapering before the race will bring you up out of the darkness of exhaustion and leave you fresh and strong for the big event.

The funny thing is that I will go all out on the big day so after that I'm going to be a mess again.  So is being broken and tired for three months with a brief window of feeling good actually fitness?  For that I don't have an answer.

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