Endurance Sports And Life Lessons Learned

Endurance sports has been a recent find for me, but sports in general has always played a part in my life.  Whether I was playing football, baseball, basketball or hockey I always found sports to be a tremendous teacher of life lessons.  You are able to learn about camaraderie, leadership, team work and many other things.  For example, I always loved the details about the sport as much as the physical portion.  Learning how to decipher a football play with 22 people moving around in various directions.  Knowing where to go with the ball if it is hit to you during a baseball game.  The angle to which you have to play the puck off the walls in a hockey rink.  There is so much to know, learn and understand and yet I have found that endurance sports is teaching me more. [caption id="attachment_9388" align="alignright" width="295"]endurance sports - life lessons - training These chairs do not project fear the way a training cycle for a 50 mile race does.[/caption] Endurance sports for me are defined as running, swimming and cycling.  Triathlon is a sport that combines three different sports and ultra running is defined as stupidity on drugs......I kid.  I love ultra running but it brings about a whole different set of rules, thoughts and executions.  This past week I had to deliver a presentation to the leadership team at DMN Media which is my employer.  This presentation was about my plan to succeed in 2014 and I was asked if I were nervous about presenting.  I thought for a second and my quick response was:  Why be nervous? I went through a list of items that happened in my life and then touched on the effects of endurance sports. Here are the quick items that happened to me in my lifetime and then the list and effects of endurance sports on these life lessons:
  • Losing my Dad to cancer in my early 20s.  Losing Karen's Dad this past year.
  • Getting divorced after 7 years of marriage and 20+ years of knowing my ex-wife.
  • Moving away from the only place I knew and leaving family and friends to start a new life in a country so far away.  Texas.
All of these items and more have been able to help shape my life and set me on a path that I enjoy on a daily basis.  Those along with my experiences in endurance sports have made me look at life with an outlook that is nothing but positive. Training for an Ironman is incredibly hard.  You are waking up on a daily basis with the explicit intent of putting your body through the ringer so that come race day it feels 'easy' which we all know is not true.  No Ironman is ever easy despite what forums will spout about a certain course.  You go out and ride your bike for 1oo+ miles over the course of 6 hours and then get off and run for 30 minutes.  You eat, relax and sleep and then wake up the next day and go out and run for 3 hours.  If you were to just look at that with blinders on you would say to yourself:  that is nuts.  Yet, you still go out and do it and you feel excitement and joy over the accomplishment.  When your supervisor assigns you a project that needs to be done in 3 days and you feel that pressure think about that long brick and how hard that was.  This project will be easy. In the past 10 weeks I have been training for the Rocky Raccoon 50 and inevitably the Lake Martin 100.  Ultra training has been harder than Ironman training in that there is no break in the sport.  Running 6 days a week is monotonous then throw in the fact that you are running in Z1/Z2 so that 5 mile run that would take me 40 minutes at 8:00/mi is now taking me 45 minutes plus.  That takes a toll on the mind.  That beats you up.  Those weeks of 67, 72 and 71 miles with long runs of near marathon length covering over 1500 feet of climbing on your own in the woods and your mind goes delirious then blank then delirious again.  It is hard and not for the weak yet the lessons you learn about yourself cannot be compared to anything else. How about swimming 1 to 2 miles in training in the open water on a weekly basis?  Talk about being all on your own and inside your own head.  During those training sessions and swimming with buddies you do not have the opportunity to talk.  You have your head in the water and swimming so every thought that passes through your mind is yours and yours alone.  You battle your demons and fears.  You smile at the pleasant thoughts but the whole time you are thinking:  when is this going to end.  When it does you feel like a champion.  Think about that the next time you have to go to the dry cleaner, get gas, drop the kids off to school and get to a meeting that you were up all night preparing for.  That is nothing in comparison to swimming for 1.5 hours and doing nothing but listening to your own mind question your ability and asking you why you are there.  You are there because you are determined. I absolutely love triathlon and endurance sports and the life lessons that it has taught me.  I know that during the 8-10 hours of running next weekend in the woods of Texas and then 20+ hours in the woods of Alabama at the end of March I will be asking lots of questions about myself.  I will be running on guts at some points of the race but in the end when I cross that finish line I will have another set of lessons to take with me the next time I walk into a meeting with CEOs and other decision makers.  Those questions will in no way be harder than running for that long in the dark, on trails, in the woods with nothing buy my mind to entertain me.

How Has Endurance Sports Taught You Life Lessons?

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.