[This was based on the first essay I wrote on this blog on 31 December 2009; This is my update of it 10 years later.]
Triathletes, marathoners and other endurance athletes have asked me if I have I taken time off from training. Yes, I do. Don’t I rest? Yes. Do I have a season off from racing? No.
Why do I persistently race and train constantly?
I have been alleged to be rich, unencumbered by children, and having a ‘good life’. As insensitive as the those who voiced these remarks were, I mainly do them because my fitness has been hard-earned. It took me about 17 patient years to build my fitness to this optimal point. Why discharge and dismiss it by having an over-extended rest and recovery period? I reason that I commit to this pursuit because sports is PART of my lifestyle, so it is integrated and ingrained into my curiously complex and convoluted life. [I do have other pleasant distractions called hobbies, and I make time for them.]
On occasions, my friends announce to me that they envied me for my active lifestyle of racing; I had to correct them. I don’t race wantonly and impulsively. Every race was predetermined, planned and pursued according to a timeline. I just injected more of such challenges and vacations in a year than most people do.
One example I can cite would be completing the Boston Marathon. In 2011, when I marginally earned a Boston Qualifier (BQ) at the Hong Kong Marathon I decided to give myself a challenge. After having a few short conversations with Singapore’s octogenarian Kor Hong Fatt, I decided to earn my second BQ. I signed for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) in Brisbane, Australia and earned a PB/BQ of 3:16, and subsequently earned a spot at the starting line of the Boston Marathon 2014. Two more BQs followed in 2015 (GCAM) and 2016 (Osaka Marathon), and I completed the Boston Marathon 2016 and 2018. Having committed and achieved the goal thrice, I am mildly fatigued from the intensive preparation, yet I am glad I can report this 10 years later. Yes, financially I could have spent my money elsewhere or saved it for my rainy day, however I would not trade these precious memories and tacit wisdom earned.
As a self-employed professional, I decide on my lifestyle patterns, so I can have my life choices, instead of ascribing to a ‘work-life balance/harmony’. Priorities make it challenging to have balance; I experience and engineer dynamic balance. This reminds me that the childhood game of see-saw sitting is not about achieving static balance – it is a highly energetic activity, and requires strong core muscles and lower-limbs to execute that perceived sense of ‘immobility’.
When you do something consistently, you develop ‘muscle memory’ from the repetition. You refine what you have defined. Does a concert musician have an off-season from practice? Does a Michelin-rated chef stop cooking a few weeks in a year? Do teachers stop teaching? Does a yoga-master stop stretching through her limits? Does an opera-singer stop singing? Writer Stephen King locks himself in his room 3 hours everyday. It doesn’t matter if he writes a word, sentence, paragraph or page. There is little in the way of ‘force of habit’ when you enjoy your craft, profession, hobby, and learning.
LEADERSHIP LESSONS LEARNT: Martial artist Bruce Lee said: ‘Beware the man who practices the SAME KICK 10,000 times.’ Persistence, consistency of correct action, and perseverance can get us to our goal. By keeping the habit up, despite the ‘down period’ or ‘stagnant economy’ may elicit opportunties to SHARPEN THE SAW. We can use the ‘off-season’ to work on our deficiencies, shortcomings and frailties. In that way, we can sharpen our mental, physical and spiritual faculties and possess facility of effort.
[This was the first of a series of blog posts I made on this website, where I blogged daily for three years as an indirect challenge by marketing guru, Seth Godin.]