Note: This post was written by Susan Lacke.
First off, lovely NMAs…goodness, you are fabulous people. I can’t even begin to express how awesome your responses were to my last post. So many of you shared great stories about how you’re helping newbies overcome adversity and join the ranks of runners across America.
I’m not going to lie – it was hard to pick just one person to receive the autographed Bart Yasso book. But Janet Oberholtzer, you rock! Thanks for sharing your awesome story, and good luck to you on your half-marathon!
Everyone else, please don’t think I’ve forgotten you. I think NMAs everywhere are the bomb, and Bart Yasso seems to agree. We’ve got an interview with him in the works…That’s right, people – an interview with the Mayor of Running should be appearing in your computer screen soon. Who loves ya? That’s right. No Meat Athlete does. Stay tuned. Now…let’s get down to serious business: you know, FUNNY STUFF. Read on:
A Laughing Matter
I’ve been accused of two things: First, I’m told my jokes about training must mean I don’t take things very seriously. Second, I’m told my attitude in my writing on NMA gives people the false impression that training for an Ironman (or any other athletic endeavor) is easy.
I get it. I really, truly get what they’re telling me. For some people, accomplishing a marathon or Ironman or other endurance event is the crowning glory of their lives. It is a highly intense and emotional experience. For me, a cupcake-eating former chubby girl, to come on to the scene and crack jokes about my experience…well, it could make some people feel like I’m somehow minimizing the hard work they put in toward their high and lofty accomplishment. If I’m not whining about how hard training is and wanting to give up every time I have a hard workout, that certainly must mean I don’t comprehend the gravity of my decision to train for an Ironman.
To the critics, I say this: B-S. Don’t make me spell it out for you further.
(No, really, don’t. The spell-check on my computer is broken.)
I take my training seriously. Very seriously. The blisters on my left foot, the sore calves, the saddle sores, and the sunburn I’m sporting as I type this didn’t exactly come from sitting on my couch watching movies and pontificating on how hot Brad Pitt is (umm, by the way – SO hot. Just sayin’.).
If I’ve given you the impression that training is easy, please read the following disclaimer: Training is not easy. There are days when it flat-out sucks. I do not suggest anyone get off the couch (especially if they’re watching a Brad Pitt movie), declare themselves vegetarian Ironman triathletes, and sign up for a major athletic endeavor because Susan Lacke told you to. Susan Lacke is not an expert, and if you look on Wikipedia, it might even tell you that Susan Lacke is kind of a dork. Furthermore, her contributions to NMA should not be taken as a replacement for advice from someone who actually knows what they’re doing. <End disclaimer>
Laughter is the Best Medicine
It’s important to take a humorous approach to training because…well, heh, the whole thing is kind of funny. Let’s face it. This is self-flagellation, plain and simple. Larry, Moe, and Curly poked each other in the eyes and nyuk-nyuk-nyuked; We do hill repeats. Both involve the infliction of pain in ridiculous ways, and both almost always get a laugh from people who think pain is funny (admit it – you’re one of them.).
Joking about training also helps us cope with this pain. On a run this morning, I faced a brutal incline that makes many people stop and walk, despite their best efforts. While huffing and puffing my way up the hill, I caught up to a girl making the same wincing and contorted face as I.
“This seemed like a good idea before we started, right?” I asked her. She laughed. Though we had never met before, our shared suffering and joint belief that this was a stupid idea somehow made the rest of that hill just a teensy bit more tolerable. Real, true, big-kid scientists with all sorts of impressive initials after their name have confirmed what many of us have known all along: Laughter can dull pain. It really can!
It’s because of this anesthetic effect that we should crack jokes whenever appropriate.
“Funny” doesn’t have to mean “embarrassing.” You can outwardly make yourself (and others) laugh with crazy antics, if that’s your style. You can also keep the jokes in your head and leave everyone wondering why you’re smirking to yourself while you’re running. Everyone will want to know your secret for making running look so…enjoyable. When the going gets tough, the tough giggle.
When my swim coach gives me an insane workout plan, I’m quick to exclaim, “Are you HIGH?” He isn’t. I think.
On long bike rides, I have Bob Roll’s voice running my head, giving commentary on how amazing it is that I’m not only faster than Lance Armstrong, but look ten times better in my spandex.
While running, I pass the time by picking a “theme” of music and singing as many songs of that theme as I can remember in my head. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve filled a 3.5 hour training run with boy band songs. Don’t judge me. You liked the Backstreet Boys once, too.
It’s Funny Without Even Trying to Be
Some of us willingly get into a bathtub full of ice after every long bike or run. That’s ludicrous! It’s hysterical! That gets a laugh without me even mentioning the fact that I take the cold sting out of the ice bath by re-enacting scenes from “Titanic.” (No, no, Leonardo DiCaprio. Don’t die! You’re too pretty to be killed by an iceberg!)
After hard workouts, there are days when I’ll deliberately select outfits to artfully cover up the recovery compression gear I’m wearing underneath. Sexy Victoria’s Secret lingerie it ain’t…so if anyone knows how to seduce their partner while wearing compression socks, please pass that advice on to me. I could really use it. But until I master that, I have no choice but to find a man with a really good sense of humor.
I’ve heard spouses of endurance athletes complain they think their husbands or wives view sex as just another way to get their heart rate up. In Triathlete-Land, athletes do all sorts of things normally deemed inappropriate in conventional settings, like wear unitard tri-suits and blow snot rockets on the sidewalk. I’ve forgotten to scrub the race numbers off my arms and calves, only to have random strangers at the grocery store ask if there’s a particular story behind my “interesting tattoos.” C’mon – it’s FUN-NY.
In all Seriousness…
I don’t care how stoic your approach to training – you have to admit, the things we do as athletes are seen as ridiculous by the majority of the population, whether they’re athletes or not. We can’t help but laugh. It doesn’t mean we aren’t taking the training seriously or that we’re trying to oversimplify what we do; It simply means we’re having fun. Twisted as it may seem, that’s what this whole self-flagellation shebang is ultimately supposed to be about. I’ve often said my training and my fun must go hand in hand; Otherwise, I’ll find other ways to have fun. Right now, I’m working hard while taking the time to find the humor in all of this insanity. I share this humor with you as a reminder to not take it all too seriously.
The day I stop finding this funny, I’ll park myself back on the couch and fantasize about Brad Pitt. Until then, rest assured – I’m working my butt off, just with a smile. I hope you are, too.