Saturday, January 24, 2015

Is it Suffering? Or Conquering?

Today I had my first "Functional Threshold Power" test on the bike. After a warmup, I was to do a 20 minute time trial at "maximal race-like effort." This was on the bike trainer, which is usually in the room that doubles as the kids' hang-out room. They had a friend in for the weekend and another friend coming and they said they really didn't want all that noise (from me more than the bike haha). Can't say I blame them.

So I did what my friend Kathy does and relocated to the bathroom.

I still had a pretty sweet setup with a TV, headphones, Garmin, towel, and upturned laundry baskets that made a shelf of the perfect height for the remotes, and phone, and water. I had everything I could possibly want.

I posted the picture up on Facebook and in response to some of the comments I started to write, "I suffer in comfort."

But suddenly I couldn't even write the word "suffer." I mean really...what could possibly happen on that bike, in those bright surroundings, that could even begin to constitute true suffering?

As a triathlete I throw that word around all the time. For a while my mantra was "suffer more!"

But is training and racing bad or unpleasant? No, or I wouldn't keep doing it.

It just seems like on the grand scale of suffering, something I choose to do in a swim/bike/run hardly constitutes suffering. I conquer. Or maybe I submit, overcome, endure, accept, bear, prevail, rise above, and move beyond. But I don't truly suffer.

In that FTP test, my brain shouted to slow down, and my muscles burned, but at any time, I was free to stop. When I think of real suffering, I don't associate it with choice. I relate it to oppression, poverty, famine, disease, and war --

I'm going to strike the word "suffer" as it relates to my hobby. Triathlon is the backdrop for me to test my ability to conquer, or to prevail, endure, etc. Those words are far more positive and empowering and sit much better with me for a sport that I feel only grateful to enjoy!

I don't know why just today, very suddenly, the use of the word suffer suddenly bothered me. Perhaps my post-exercise brain gave me just the split second I needed to reconsider my word choice.

I'm glad I did.

I look forward to conquering myself this season.