Triathloning: Freestyling to Dinner

The word “marathoning” is of dubious validity; triathloning just seems made-up. In order to continue my Friday series on endurance sports though, I needed to adjust the name to reflect the new subject matter. My next race will not be a marathon. Instead, I plan on completing a triathlon in August—something under the half-Iron Man distance, most likely a one mile swim, 40 mile bike ride, and eight mile run. I’m a capable cyclist and an experienced distance runner. Unfortunately, I’ve allowed my swimming skills to lapse over the last six years. Struggling to complete a seemingly mediocre workout is a humbling experience; it is easy to forget the initial difficulties of a new exercise regimen. Hopefully, in six weeks I will have become a significantly more proficient swimmer.

Every night, I engage in the same debate with my body: to swim or not to swim? One of the strategies I’ve developed for getting myself into the pool is a kind of gastronomical Jedi mindtrick. I simply imagine how delicious my dinner will taste after I finish. Unlike running, which dampens my appetite, swimming sharpens my hunger pangs. At some mysterious moment in my childhood, I was conditioned to believe that swimming intensifies the pleasures of a meal. Melting bomb pops and Lay’s Potato Chips—flecked with grease and salt—accompanied afternoons of playing in the pool. Now, my post-swim snacks call for trips farther afield: big roast pork buns in Chinatown, cool strands of soba in the East Village, a cup of frozen yogurt fetched a mile down Broadway. But oftentimes I just wish I had a sweaty cooler full of popsicles, a can of Sprite, and a backyard.

Workouts you don’t want to do become palatable when you can identify their hidden pleasures. For me, swimming itself is not yet an enjoyable activity. Instead, the promise of a hearty dinner (and a slice of supermarket watermelon for dessert) keeps me freestyling away.

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One response to “Triathloning: Freestyling to Dinner

  1. Caleb P

    I’m 2 for 3 as well: my flat feet leave running far less enjoyable than a swim or ride… at least they have duathlons for your two. Keep up the swimming! I tried learning a couple of new strokes this year to keep my workouts engaging and now I’m pretty much addicted.

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