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Location: Midwest, United States

Monday, August 13, 2012


This past week was physically intense.  I pedaled more than 175 miles in conformance with a training regime  sufficiently rigorous (supposedly) to enable someone (like me) to complete a cycling “Century.”  OK.  Maybe.  Hope so.

I’m feeling kinda beat up right about now.

And there were the Olympics.  Say what you will, at some point, in some event, some human being is gonna blow your mind. 

Grooving on Wheaties and Olympics programming, I cycled quite a bit this week.  Enough, actually, to suffer saddle sores.  I had hit the end stage of an 8-week training program to prepare for a “Century” (a 100-mile bicycle excursion).  According to this plan, I was ready to complete a Century when I completed my 74-mile romp.  I have my doubts.

Given that I started cycling so early this season (early March), I’ve actually got the time to embark on a second training cycle!  I intend to peak with an 85-mile romp at the end of the two-month plan.  But, truth be told, the long rides don’t interest me as much anymore.  I already know I can survive them.  I’m gonna focus my attention on suffering

That sounds strange, I know.  But that’s exactly what I wanna do.

Folks who’ve trained to run marathons, triathlons or centuries can attest to the importance of raising one’s “lactate threshold” and VO2 max.  This is where the suffering comes in.  If one is to become faster, stronger and fierce, then one must suffer.  One must suffer through lung-bursting “intervals” that take your heart rate to its maximum.  It’s a weird/scary hit your maximum heart float there...only to collapse physically moments later.

There are the “tempo” runs/rides that keep the heart pumping near the level at which muscle cells and mitochondria scream “No mas!” and self-destruct by drowning in lactic acid.

If you want to improve as an endurance athlete, you must suffer.

I contend that the very best endurance athletes endure suffering better than most.  True champions can “out suffer’ their competition.  It’s the suffering that leads to perfection.

I can riff on this metaphor...

A whole lot. 

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Blogger June Calender said...

Jonas,I think you can do it, you've got guts and grit. I suggest you get the July 23 New Yorker magazine which has an article about marathon runners, especially Alberto Salazar written by Malcolm Gladwell. It's about training and pushing past your threshhold. It sounds much like what you're doing and offers different perspectives.

Mon Aug 13, 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger Wine and Words said...

I'm impressed Jonas. Suffer on my man. Suffer on! For the love of it, yes? So much better than the alternative.

Mon Aug 13, 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thank you, June, for your support! Actually, I'm pretty sure I can do a Century. I've long contended that, despite all the physiological mumbo-jumbo, the core training goal for a Century revolves around toughening up the butt. My butt's getting pretty tough.

I loved that Gladwell piece! I've been a runner pretty much my whole adult life and, as a consequence, am well aware of the personal stories of the icons of the sport. Alberto Salazar was a hero of mine.

There's a whole lot more to this "pain=pleasure" meme. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around all the thoughts swirling inside this skull of mine. I've got more to say but, right now, I got too many words.

Yes, indeed, Annie. We choose to suffer for the love of it.

Mon Aug 13, 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger anna said...

Life is suffering. And I do believe, for me at least, that pain is (or at least can be) pleasure.

Wishing you lots of glorious suffering. :)

Wed Aug 15, 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thanks, Anna! "Glorious Suffering" is a good term. As I mentioned in my comment above, my mind has been all over a myriad of variations on the meaning of pain. Pain, as in an injury, is abject suffering. Pain endured, embraced in the pursuit of some greater meaning/experience can, indeed, be rightfully deemed "glorious suffering."

Thu Aug 16, 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Selma said...

You can definitely do it. You certainly have the wherewithall. Peddle on!

Fri Aug 17, 05:17:00 AM  

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