The siren song of endurance sports

It’s a peculiar thing, endurance. Humans have an incredible ability to push themselves to unimaginable lengths, and then to keep on pushing past what seems possible. We love to see what we thought were boundaries in the rear view mirror.

Sometimes we like to push past those boundaries just because someone told us we couldn’t do it. Often it’s just because we thought we couldn’t do it. We are just rebellious like that.

I ran cross-country in middle school and high school. I wasn’t very good at it, but I enjoyed seeing how hard I could push myself. There was just something about it that always appealed to me. The feeling of my feet carrying me over increasing distances always gave me a sense of freedom. The soft throbbing in my legs after a long run a sense of accomplishment.

I continued running in college, though not competitively. Although I went through bouts of running from time to time after that, I never stuck with it.

I heard the call again in mid-2014. I was in a taxi on my way to catch an early flight from Shanghai to Beijing and I saw a few people out for a morning run.

“I need to start running again.”

My runs increased in frequency and distance as the weeks passed and my interest in cross training quickly turned into a strong, almost inexplicable draw towards triathlon. The combination of swimming, biking, and running — developing proficiency in each of those — drew me in.

I was hooked, and have called triathlon my mistress for over a year now. Hopefully many, many more flirtatious years lie ahead.

What sirens have repeatedly called to you? Are they ones you deliberately ignore, or do you only ignore them because listening would be inconvenient? Maybe it’s time to listen to their song and pay them another visit.

What do you think?