Remember how the tortoise went one step at a time, while the hare flew by, gloated, and then somehow ended up losing out to the tortoise’s sheer tenacity?
Remember how the ants plugged away all summer long putting tiny efforts together over time to amass great wealth that they magnanimously shared with the grasshopper who spent the summer “living in the moment?”
Not unlike the tortoise and the hare or the ants and the grasshopper, I only recently discovered the pig and the fox.
Plugging away day after day as a pig is tough. You look at your training times and compare to the pace you’ll need for PR and you see The Pig. Feeling accomplished but fatigued after your biggest brick workout ever realizing that it was only a mere fraction of your goal endurance race and there it is: The Pig. Sometimes in sweaty yoga you’re giving all you’ve got to focus on “creating space,” but curled over with your kneecap pressing into your third eye all you can see is a muffin top that – in this particular asana — could actually suffocate you: PIG.
Don’t pretend like it’s just me. I know at least Baron Baptiste gets it when he says, “In our total commitment to inner revolution and growth, we don’t get to sit near the door. We don’t get to duck out if the process becomes uncomfortable. We learn to stay with ourselves, no matter what.”
We learn to stay with ourselves, no matter what.
Commitment. Ugh. Nobody wants to read another word about it. Especially in January when we all pretend to really care about it. We’re committed to everything: hanging up our clothes every night, making lunch every morning, working out, being nice, staying committed. We’re committed to commitment. I think Baptiste really puts a fine point on it when he talks about ducking out when the process becomes uncomfortable (like the third week into a new year, right?). I’m realizing this year that it is more uncomfortable than it is comfortable. It is uncomfortable every day, every workout, every time. It’s uncomfortable to jump right back into running since the next race is longer than the last one was. It’s uncomfortable to be in a swimsuit (could end sentence here) in January (should have ended the sentence earlier. Apologies for the visual). It’s uncomfortable to think: If I’m tired after swimming 1750 yards now, how will I ever get the 2000 for the race, and then ride for 5 hours, and then run a half marathon. It’s uncomfortable to realize that the thing you want to do is so outside your comfort zone that it’s verging on absurd.
There’s a way out of all that discomfort though, and like Baptiste says, it’s not out the door. Yet again, non-blob professional triathlete Pat Evoe wrote a piece for Austin Fit Magazine this month tapping in to the collective un-blob-ness. (Click through to understand why the heading on this section about Pat was not unintended. #sorrytotakeitthere #butdamn.) Pat takes aim at our willingness to buy in to seductive before-and-after media representations of fitness results. He hones in on the fact that being The Pig, sweating it out day after day for miniscule (or sometimes no) immediate returns is not “good TV,” it’s not interesting, and it doesn’t capture our imaginations. But, and here’s the dissonance that leads to Week Three Resolution Burnout, it is the only way.
Pat says that when you focus on the process, the results take care of themselves. This approach takes patience, according to Pat, which is really indistinguishable from commitment described by Baron. Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset, and commitment is the state or quality of being dedicated. Theoretically, you could be committed without being patient since commitment doesn’t include the necessary elements of delay, trouble, or suffering. But when we’re talking about training and fitness, since there is no shortage of delay, trouble, or suffering, I venture to say that patience and commitment are one and the same.
Isn’t that zen? Doesn’t that absolve you of the crushing stress that comes with the responsibility of producing the PR, surviving the endurance race, and massaging your third eye into focus using your knee? You don’t have to do any of those things. You only have to show up, hone where you can, and do the best you can do each time. Don’t run the PR race, run with good form, good pacing, good nutrition, and the PR will inevitably follow. Be better in pieces to be better as a whole.
The Moral of the Story
It’s pigs, it’s tortoises, it’s ants, it’s Baron and Pat, and it’s us. It’s now, it’s today, it’s just this one step, and it’s the fiery faith inside of knowing that this step is small, all steps are small, but the journey is huge. The moral is that we must not just believe but know that the steps are not the result, that progress is not particulate, and that every tiny drop fills the bucket just a little bit. The moral of the story really is: