Does Being Fast Make You Happy?

I was gasping for breath after I finished my last of seven 800m repeats at Wednesday night’s track practice when I heard the question. A new member of the T3 triathlon club was talking to Coach Logan and asked the all-encompassing query.
“How do I get faster?”

Ugh…the million dollar question and the one we ask ourselves over and over… How do I get faster?

I’m not sure if it was the pain meds kicking in, but Logan’s response (that he prefaced quite well by saying he would say the same thing to ANYBODY) was to “lose 10lbs and you’ll get faster.” Sure enough, he’s right. No doubt. Losing weight does make you faster, but it doesn’t make you fast…or necessarily strong… Believe me, I could stand to lose about 6-8 pounds, but I’m still capable of kicking the butts of a lot of skinny chicks out there. I surprise myself at damn near every event when I see sport-bra wearing, wash board stomach chick at the start. I look and make the assumption EVERY TIME that that person must be FAST. Not always the case…Is she skinny, toned and fit?? You bet! The object of my never-ending envy. But Fast? Not always the case…

So, in Logan’s defense, his response wasn’t meant to be arrogant or flippant (or maybe it was), but he did go on to explain the other more technical ways of achieving speed…tempo runs, hill training, speed work, and simply running with those who are faster… all things that require a tremendous amount of discipline, determination and (many times) humiliation.

Of course, I’ve dwelled on that topic for the last few days and it always comes back to, “Why does it freaking matter and why can’t we just be happy with where we are?!” I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to wanting to get faster. Who doesn’t?! I’ve seen my hard efforts pay off from being a 10:30 miler to a 6:30 miler. But when is enough enough? So what if I train to run a 6:00 min pace? There will still be a chick (skinny or not) who can run a 5:55.

Last year, I had a post-it note in my car that said 2:00 x 100. That meant that I simply wanted to get to the point where I could swim 100 repeats at a 2:00 pace. Laughable to most, but FAST for a girl who spent many years refusing to even put on a bathing suit. Guess what? I’m now swimming them between 1:50-1:55 with regularity and I hope to be comfortably in the 1:40s by summer, knowing that when I hit THAT I’ll want to be in the 1:30s, and on and on and on…

My feeling is more of self-frustration as I juggle between being so content and happy with where I AM vs. being excited and determined with where I want TO BE. But that’s such an evil trap…The only reality is RIGHT NOW and we have to love it, cherish it, savor it and be grateful for it. If nothing else, the beauty of multi-sport training is that it does motivate you to set high goals. We all know so many people who say things like, “I could NEVER do that,” or “I just want to marry a rich guy so I can quit my job,” or “Someday I’d love to do that, but I’m too scared.” Fortunately, most of the people I associate with don’t know those limitations. They don’t know excuses. They only know success because they are constantly achieving them. Of course, they also know complete frustration because that success is never ENOUGH because, guess what, there’s ALWAYS another level higher.

Think about it… even Michael Phelps gets up every day and asks his coach, “How can I get faster?” (that and, “Do you know where I left my bong?”)

It’s my challenge right now to savor these moments and enjoy each second. There’s nothing wrong at all with wanting to be better or faster in the future. The problem is when you can’t appreciate where you are RIGHT NOW.

With all of that self pep-talk, I’m still keeping track of the numbers as a good reference.

7 x 800s on the track Goal: Descend from Half-Marathon pace to all-out effort with each repeat.

3:33
3:21
3:17
3:13
3:09
3:06
3:02
Taken immediately finishing the 2008 Zilker Relays where I ran 2.5 miles at a 6:20 pace. Do I look happy at that moment? Actually, no…I was on the verge of puking! (but it was still fun)
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5 thoughts on “Does Being Fast Make You Happy?

  1. This is such a great post! I think you are absolutely right. You just have to enjoy the “now” and all the little victories that come your way, but that doesn’t mean you do not care or strive toward being fast overall. I was hung up on this one time goal for my marathon which prevented me from noticing great improvement in my running. I’m changing my attitude now. And it’s just so great to go out, on a run or on a track, and just do your best… that’s more stimulating that any time goals.I’m on a heavy side, too! And what’s been interesting is that I’ve ran my fastest marathons when I was bigger. Losing weight has not translated to speed for me, for some reason. I wonder if it’s about being comfortable in your own skin… physically, not visually.Great post! Thanks!

  2. Some really great thoughts in this post. I realized a couple years back that getting faster in running was not making me happier. I was a b*tch and hurting all the time, and time was against me. So I switched to tris and can now have more options to improve, esp. in that swimming area. Funny, I’m now much more likely to be intimidated by someone who’s got a lot built-in buoyancy!

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