Walking a Tightrope

A conversation that happened with a couple in my apartment building the other day:

Man: “Excuse me, but I have to ask, are you a trainer? My wife and I always see you in work out gear, and you are in great shape.”

Me: “ha, no – I’m an attorney.”

Man [unnecessarily flummoxed]: “Really? Oh, we were going to ask you to train us.”

My reaction to this was initially to be flattered, but then I though, HOLD UP – does that mean that I always look like a slob in warm ups and headbands? This thought was then followed by “shit, maybe I missed my calling.”

I mean, the man has a point: I spend 95% of my waking hours at either of two places: work, or the gym. I get a lot of questions about my training schedule, and I always kind of dismiss it. So FINE, I’ll dish:

I’m up M-F by 4:30am, and heading into the Crossfit box and/or regular gym (where I will hike away on the big rotating stepmill or run in the winter). (And yes, you Crossfit fanatics can judge me and preach to me all you want – I simply need the cardio for training, I enjoy the cardio, and I don’t see how anyone just does Crossfit and can stay in any type of shape for endurance events. There, I said it.)

And then I do my attorney stuff all day, where my life plays out something like this

A few times a week I’ll hit a two a day: post-work, grab a run outside or at the office gym, or head to the box to work on skills. And around 10-10:30pm, I’ll crash, and get up and do it over again. Sundays I try to reserve for couch, rest, eating, and football (please come back soon, football – I miss you).

Yes, very little sleep. Yes, very little room for a social life.

And over the past few months as I’ve been laying low, away from racing, one thing has become crystal clear to me: as obstacle races expands and grows as a sport, more and more athletes will emerge that are doing this “professionally,” without the obligations of a day job, and with the luxury of training for several hours at a day, multiple sessions. And, obviously, those are the people that will excel (hell, I hope they would).

Perhaps what has crystallized this for me is participating in the Crossfit Open. I am, at best, a mediocre Crossfitter. While I perform decent enough for my box, compared to athletes around the world, I don’t hold a candle. But at our box, we all are recreational Crossfitters – we have careers, day jobs, other obligations. The Crossfitters that go to the Games (and more and more, even just Regionals), are those that somehow survive doing it for a living. And when there is money at stake, this makes sense.

At the root of it, perhaps I’m jealous. That I’ll never be one of those people. Or that I’ll never be able to fully commit to a race until a few weeks (or, more typically, a few days) before the race date. My standard caveat when I tell people I’m going to a race is “assuming work allows.” I usually can’t leave my phone unattended for more than a few hours, let alone a whole day or two (I’m looking at you, WTM & Death Race). Because my obligations at work have to come first, and when the client/partner needs you on a weekend, the client/partner wins. I knew this going into this career (granted, obstacle racing wasn’t even around at that point)*

The lesson is this: in the grand scheme of life, my balance has to tip more towards the professional. My brain got me through school and my brain makes me money. And for that reason, I can’t commit to as many races as I’d like, and, more often than not, professional obligations have to come before racing (and personal – believe it or not, I do retain a sliver of a functioning personal life). And I’ll keep doing both of them at the race time to the best of my ability, but it’s changing landscape out there. For example, with money on the line in every Spartan Race this year, you can sense a shift in attitude, in priorities, in goals.

But I’ll keep racing regardless of whether there is money on the line, and do it solely for the competition, solely for the sport. For the thrill of being out there on the course, for the people you meet and the memories you make. Because that’s what got me into this, and that should be the only reason I keep doing it.

*To be fair, while they don’t understand why I do it, my work has been incredibly supportive of my exploits


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