I also have a theory about athletes,
particularly adult athletes who are serious about the sports they do, who may want to win a race, or if not, who want to pull a PR every now and then and will smile widely when they do.
For these athletes, the sport stands in for some aspect of life that doesn’t glow very brightly; to win a race erases a failure (real, self-imposed or imagined), a tragedy, or reclaims a mistake from long ago. Seconds dropped crossing the line represent a particular kind of triumph that doesn’t present itself in normal day-to-day life.
And, it’s only natural to crave this particular kind of happiness, no matter how fleeting or hard-earned. The intervals, then, a siren’s call, beckoning a faster path to fastness, an easy way to excellence. Intervals are what the professionals do, intervals create an equation between us and them and the possibility that we are all the same.
Yet, there is only so much of me, of you, and of these adult athletes who hold full-time jobs and support families and home mortgages and who exist in the world in so many more ways than one.
Webster’s definition of you would contain maybe a dozen variations, and sometimes span numerous parts of speech (noun, verb and adjective.) We are mothers and daughters; business-owners and non-profit event organizers and teachers; we are friends and mentors; we are caretakers; we are artists, funny, intelligent, go-getters; phat, sassy, sexy; tired, worn, persevering; cycling, working, living. We are every single aspect a person can be, which includes “athlete,” but that is only one single part.
And so, here it is: we have to live in the world in more ways than one. Intervals promise a quick fix, but life is a lifetime long and you can’t do repeats forever. What you can do, and what you should do, is something much more simple and something much more difficult.
You should live the sport you do.