Hard Knocks is a show on HBO that covers the training camp of a National Football League (NFL) team every year. I haven’t had HBO in a very long time but with the new house and lowered bills we were able to fit it into our budget (partly because we chose Verizon over DirecTV and thus no NFL package.) The show Hard Knocks started last week and I had set the DVR to record it. While eating my lunch I decided to put it on and I watched it for the hour that it was on and I noticed a handful of instances in which the show paralleled the triathlon, and really endurance sport, lifestyle.
When you decide to open your eyes it is amazing what you can see. Yesterday I wrote about the sounds of triathlon and the harmonious music it makes. I may be in my off-season and that may be why I am noticing all these things around me as opposed to falling asleep on the couch at 7:30pm after a long brick workout. Either way these examples of life that I am noticing are helping to recharge my batteries for the 2014 season. I spent an hour yesterday in a Google+ Hangout with Maria discussing which Ironman race I would be registering for and while a decision has yet to be made it has been narrowed down from four to three.
So let’s get back to how Hard Knocks made its way into my triathlon lifestyle:
Hard Knocks: Lesson #1
This year the program is covering the Cincinnati Bengals. If you follow the NFL you know that this has been an organization that has been run poorly and when you expect them to be good they disappoint their fans and their owners. When I thought about how this related to my endurance lifestyle I thought about the work that I put in during training cycles to set myself up for success. Through training I expect a certain result and when it doesn’t happen there is a piece of me that is disappointed. Yes, you cannot compare yourself to others and I don’t but I do compare myself to myself. I look at my training and previous results and expect to get better with each race. The problem is in defining better. We live and die by numbers in triathlon. 140.6, 70.3, 1.2, 2.4, 56, 112, 13,1, 26.2 are all numbers you recognize. You will also be able to spit out your personal bests at any distance without thinking so the definition of better is typically going faster. It is also something that I look at from race to race instead of season to season and building on the previous efforts. This mindset is changing though. I am looking at Ironman races for next year for a few different reasons. Do I want a new experience or do I want to go back to a race I’ve already done and challenge myself to go faster than before? The Cincinnati Bengals can do the same thing and think about building a team that wins year in and year out and not one that wins today and has no clue about tomorrow.
Hard Knocks: Lesson #2
The Bengals signed James Harrison who had formerly played for their rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. What did I learn while watching the segment regarding Mr Harrison? Here is how I paralleled that story to my triathlon lifestyle. James Harrison is an intense player who practices like he plays in the game. When it comes to training I put in the effort but when I look back at my efforts in the race they weren’t as strong as the training efforts. At Ironman Texas I had a horrible swim, which I have discussed previously, and what I am doing to get better at it so that isn’t where I am focusing. What I am looking at is the bike. I rode the 112 miles in just under 6 hours but I know that I can get down to 5:45 just by pushing a little bit harder. As with anybody the idea that the run is still to comes causes us to potentially take it a bit easer than we had been training and so this coming training cycle I will focus on riding hard (when training calls for it) and repeating a mantra to myself that I can then repeat when the race comes. Getting my cycling to be faster means that I will have to look to James Harrison and focus and train like I plan on playing on game day.
Hard Knocks: Lesson #3
In the episode that I watched there was the intense life of football and even a drill called the Oklahoma drill where the intensity is sky-high and fights are bound to break out. How does this play into triathlon for me? With that intensity came good-hearted laughter. Guys making fun of each other and laughing with each other. They put in the work but when the work was over they did not carry that with them to the dining room or to their hotel room and family life. When I saw that I thought about how the previous 18 months unfolded for me and how I would tend to take one bad workout into the next instead of letting it go and laughing. We all have bad workouts but not allowing them to ruin the next one is key to getting better. Focusing on that workout and then letting it go and having fun with your family and friends. Laughing about how horrible the session went instead of pouting about it. This off-season I have been doing what I want when I want but still getting in 3-4 workouts of each sport and having a great time. I have laughed with friends via text, while riding, while swimming and while running. I have goofed off with Karen and this is something that I am going to carry forward. Not being so rigid in my chosen lifestyle that I forget to laugh and enjoy everything else around me.
As you can see we can learn a lot from the things and people around us but we have to be open to them. We cannot be so closed-minded and thinking that only we know best that we ignore the lessons that are around us. Find inspiration and motivation in everything around you.