Never Give Up?

In my last post, I mentioned that the hardest part about never giving up may be understanding what it means to never give up in the first place. My first marathon offers up a good case-in-point.

I felt pretty good immediately after the race, and, finishing in under 4 hours, I had done what I had come to San Diego intending to do. After the endorphins wore off, however, I noticed pain on the outside of my left knee. When I put weight on it, my leg would occasionally fold as if it couldn’t hold my weight. By the time I got to the airport, I was hobbling along so slowly that my friend had to push me through the terminal in a wheelchair so we wouldn’t miss our flight.

That Monday, I felt good enough to go in to work- on crutches. The day after that I felt even better; I got around office with a slight limp. And by Wednesday I felt good enough that I decided to run through the limp to do my regular track workout.

But a few weeks later, I noticed that my legs never felt fresh anymore. All of my regular running paces were down by 30-60 sec/mile, and I felt like I just couldn’t keep up at the track. When I talked to some more experienced triathletes about it, the first question they asked me was how much time I took off after the marathon.

So here’s the first takeaway from this post: apparently you’re supposed to take time off after a marathon. Maybe a few short jogs in the first week; no intense interval workouts and certainly no running up and down a mountain like I did the following weekend. 🙄

My all-out-at-all-times approach to training wasn’t working. I had to do something that isn’t always easy for me. I had to try doing it someone else’s way. So I started by making an appointment with a doctor who specializes in sports medicine. Apparently I was in the early stages of overtraining and that easing off for a couple of weeks along with a little physical therapy should do the trick. It did.

Now how would I continue to progress without making rookie mistakes that could cost me weeks of training time? I came to the conclusion that I’d have to lean on someone else’s expertise, so I hit up three of the most renowned triathlon coaches in the Bay Area. And then I waited.

A few days later my top pick replied with a few questions for me. After a day of volleying emails back and forth, I convinced him to coach me. And, with that deal done, my chances of finishing Cozumel went dramatically up- along with my training volume. This time- and with this coach’s guidance- it has been ratcheted up in a way that always seems to leave me good to go for the next workout.

What this post boils down to is that to never give up is not to never let go. In fact, letting go is an important skill in the art of never giving up. If you’ve chosen a worthwhile goal, you can and should turn your back on checkpoints that initially looked like they would keep you on track yet lead to dead ends as you get a closer look at them. Put another way, the destination may or may not look like what you expected when you set out, but the journey will constantly surprise you. That’s what keeps it interesting.

I realize that the let-go sounds like some sort of washed-up spiritual claptrap. That’s because it is. But I’ll save it for the next post; right now I’ve got a long workout to put in and only 6 hours of sunlight left.


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