Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Delayed gratification

My buddy Jenna posted an interesting video on her blog . Some comments came up pretty quick, and I have to admit I was a bit surprised. I kind of figured all you ironpeople would be champs at delayed gratification. Here we all are, putting in hundreds of hours a year into training. Time that we could be drinking wine, eating cookies, hanging out with friends, chasing the opposite sex.

What for? There seems to be as many reasons as there are people. But what they all have in common is we've picked a long term goal, and almost every day we choose to train for several hours rather than do the infinity of other activities that are calling our name. It seems we value the ironman experience so much that we rearrange our lives, our families lives, in many ways to achieve that goal.

What makes it harder is that the results of that goal are mostly intangible. Sure, we're very fit in comparison to the general population, which is good for our health and extends our lives. But if fitness was the goal, we could spend a lot less time at it and still get good results. We don't get paid for it. A large segment of the population thinks we're nuts actually. We typically don't make the news, and the only reason anyone else knows about our results is that we tell them. For some of us, the "reward" is to do it again, in a time and place that is really hot, humid, and windy.

Some other activities simply must be done, or we'd get hungry pretty soon, and shortly after we'd be wandering around naked and smelly. Not good company. We all struggle to find the time for the various activities in our lives. Sometimes we give in, willingly or otherwise. We eat the marshmallow, or sleep in, or skip that workout to go to a party. Or do laundry. Nobody told me about laundry before starting this training.

I guess what I'm saying is that most of us seem to be able to demonstrate the ability to delay our gratification. Most of us can choose to eat that marshmallow, or not. Maybe we're only one marshmallow worth of hungry, and getting two in a little while means nothing. But some people can't seem to ever delay their gratification. Not at all, not for any payback. It's like they think the future isn't going to happen, and depending on how short sighted they are, "the future" might be a time less than an hour from now. There is one description word these people have in common, and it's poor. The rare exceptions are those who inherited wealth, and they haven't worked through it all yet.

There are other causes of poverty, and once you're in it's hard to get out. The ones that escape all demonstrate the ability to delay gratification. There might be other factors as well. I can point to the bankrupt pro athletes. They have more money than most of us can dream about, and access to people to help them manage it. Or some people that win the lottery. They should be set for life. They can afford advice. But no, some of them spend it all, (admittedly, there are some thefts and investment failures in there too) and in a year or two have nothing. It boggles my mind.

I don't know if we can teach how to delay gratification to people that can't do it. If we could, it seems like a good idea, and would be good for those people, and good for society in general. But I admit it starts verging into social conditioning and raising nightmares about Skinner's rats and Pavlov's dogs. At what point do we start over riding choices that people have made? Even if they aren't really a choice, but fallout from what some people call a mental illness?

The sound track for today's workout was post Pink Floyd Roger Waters. Very nice. Got on the bike promptly, warmed up. Lots of cadence work, some of it pretty high speed. It was a very sweaty workout for me, even though most of it was aerobic and I was in control of my breathing. At one point my glasses were so covered with sweat trails I could barely see the bike computer or watch. That was 90 minutes.

Then the core, 30 minutes. That all went well, except for the plank. Plank and me are not friends these days. Today was straight arms, front and sides. I can't do the right side for more than few seconds before the arm collapses. Sigh. Lots of work to be done there.

I've got some errands to do in a little bit, and I'll be meeting Susi at MEC. Kelsey put me onto the tights, so I'll look for those. Maybe some winter gloves or mitts. I look like a old bag guy when I run, all mismatched stuff. A Big Rock toque or a City of Calgary cap, an Oil and Gas jacket or one from a big bank. Most of it is too big. But I have it, most of it was free, it works well enough, and mostly I don't care what I look like when I'm training.


  1. Give Susi a send off hug for us down South.

    Is your right arm/shoulder the one you hurt? I wonder if there's a connection?

    PS- I would have eaten the marshmallow.

  2. I generally look like some kind of reject when I'm training too. Whatever, it probably stinks too. Tough crap, that shiz is expensive!

    When you figure out WHY we do all this to ourselves, let me know. I seriously have NO idea - to repeat it, to do it bigger, badder, faster, better? All for what?

  3. I can picture you hammering away on the bike -- Good job Keith!!!! :) :)

    I totally agree with you about the marshmallow thing -- however, there is a little devil in me that likes to pop out every once in a while and toss some poo at the fan just to see what happens... LOL!!!


  4. i'm still trying to figure out if i would have eaten the marshmellow or not....the dutch/scot in me would likely have left it there waiting for more, haha.

    personally, i think the more you mix up your running stuff the more distinguished you make yourself. dare to be different!! am very glad you found teh running pants too.

    oh, and again, thank you and linda so so so so much for the cookies. you guys rock my world!!! i am blessed to have friends how care so much! xoxoxo

    oh, and thanks amy!!! :)

  5. Marshmellow smarshmellow, they're gross. Now put a glass of Cabernet in front of me and THAT I won't delay.

    Your wife is so nice for making Susi those cookies.

    Hope your shoulder feels better.

    LOL, Julie.


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