Loneliness of a Long Distance Athlete
Being a distance athlete comes with a lot of its own unique attributes. There is a certain burn and ache that can only be associated with those long threshold intervals we all love to hate. The ability to scarf down a whole pizza after a training day and still be hungry. And then there is the loneliness of training.
There have been countless books and movies that have been made to help those of the population who are not endurance athletes understand our lifestyle. Some of the best ones are Once A Runner, Without Limits and Chariots of Fire. However, it is hard to truly capture what goes on inside our heads during those solo three hour bike rides or the 100 lap days on the ice. Simply put you are by yourself. You rarely can talk to anyone for that long of a time. Some find it best to try to drum out the monotony by listening to music or books on tape but those can only take you so far. It is lonely in your head.
As such, an endurance athlete has a lot of time to think about the training, the pain and one’s life. To get through those days you have to be at peace with what you are doing, the longevity of the whole endeavor, who you are and what the training turns you into. If any of those things are are not in synergy, you are in for not only a long day but also more than likely a hatred of the given activity.
However, as mind numbing as the long workouts are, I think most athletes fall back onto to their dreams and why they are putting themselves through this when things are toughest. Obviously, for me in moments when anything else seems appeasing, I think about Olympic Trials and what I want to accomplish there and the months that follow. In those moments, one’s dreams alleviates the loneliness and becomes your best friend…