Saturday, January 16, 2010

An Endurance Athlete...Me?

According to Webster's online dictionary, "Endurance" is defined as the act, quality or power of withstanding hardship or stress.  The act or fact of persevering.  An Endurance Athlete is able to accomplish feats such as Marathons, Half Marathons, Triathlons and challenging Ultra endurance events.

But what's the attraction and why are so many seemingly normal people attracted to this? Considering that the majority of the world's population has trouble finding the time or energy to work out at all, let alone train for a grueling endurance event?  What makes these elite athletes different and where do they get their energy and motivation to do so?

Accoridng to an article published by, "Much of this is mental.  While many endurance athletes say there's nothing special about their physical abilities, clearly people who are drawn to and are able to accomplish feats such as marathons, triathlons and challenging ultra events differ from the rest of us somehow.  A big piece of the puzzle is how these athletes think about their lives, goals and the obstacles they face."

Jenny Susser, a clinical psychologist at the Women's Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery goes on to say that "many endurance athletes also have common personality traits which include persistence, endless curiosity, a lack of fear when it comes to failure and a sense of boldness."

Personally, I can atest to these statements.  But when I set out to run my first race, the furthest thing from my mind was becoming an "endurance athlete".  And a short four years thereafter, I find that I am a member of a very elite group, purely by accident.

After completing my first half marathon I found myself wanting to push the envelope a bit further.  How much could I endure?  I how much would I be willing to go?  How high is my pain - physical and mental - threshold?  Do I have the dedication to commit to a training schedule?  When is enough?

One of the greatest and most attractive elements of endurance sports is that you can create and execute your own goals at your own pace.  For me my goals have been simple: to simply finish and to finish in respectable time.  Respectable as defined by my standards.  Doing this has enabled me to measure my perforance in accordance to my wants and needs.  I have had disappointments but mostly success.

So how far am I willing to go?  or a better question may be, how far can my body take me?

That question remains to be answered.  Up to this point no one single event has left me wondering why I do this or if it's time to quit.  On the contrary, every event has reinforced the reasons why I do this and wondering what's next?


  1. It's really amazing what the body can endure from endurance sports to tragic accidents. It's quite an amazing thing, really.

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