Life 101: Ironman training

With each mile, I learn. With each mile, I become a better and a higher version of myself. Being a girl, in India, people can make it really hard to train outdoors, but if your heart’s in it, you innovate and redirect, cause its ultimately about you, and not them.

Training for Ironman is tough, its a certain level of discipline that most people don’t understand, its also very repetitive, and yet one day is never exactly the same as another.

You may think that it gets easier after a certain level of training. I’m starting to realize that that’s not the whole truth. Yes, your stamina might get better, you might get more comfortable with distance, and you might even build tremendous endurance as a result of your training. But what they don’t tell you at the start is, that each day is actually a fresh start- doesn’t matter how many miles you clocked in yesterday or day before, you’ve to show up, and do it all over again, each and every day. To those who think that that’s easy, I’d like you to compare it with the Law of Diminishing Returns. Yes, of course you start with excitement & commitment, but once the mind knows that it has to keep doing the same thing again and again- it takes a lot of mental strength to keep going. It’s the same thing again and again- till one day, you actually reach the finish line, and then it all in hindsight makes incredible sense. How much of it is mental vs physical? Personally for me, it’s 80-20. If I’m feeling good, thinking right, feeding off energy from good thoughts, I normally am able to complete my session even if physically I’m sore, hurt or tired. However, if my body is ready, and my mind isn’t up to it, I’m not able to do anything, literally. Call it mental fatigue, some days you’re just going to feel burnt out, which is worse than anything else I’ve experienced. When it comes to it though, training is where I realized the real value of the term ‘mindfullness’, for you need to present in each moment, each breath, each mile, each ‘now’, otherwise you risk everything. If you think of the future (how much you have to do), it can weigh you down, and if you think of the past (how much you’ve done), your body will beg you to stop as a natural response.

Although after a few episodes of mental fatigue, you start putting things in perspective, and you stop beating yourself down. You start realizing that a failed session isn’t a failed effort in its entirety, but just one failed session (in a way, an opportunity)- the next one doesn’t have to be, and probably won’t be cause now you know you’ve to work harder. This has probably been the most refreshing insight that I’ve lived through. Why? Cause now I know that a bad day or a particular setback, is so temporary in nature, that it can’t hurt me if I don’t allow my mind to dwell there. New day, fresh start- almost like you’re rebooting and restarting every day, and its yours to own. This feeling is really empowering, cause after this realization, not much can affect you, not the petty stuff anyway.

Another aspect of this sport is how personal and introspective it is. Each journey is unique for each athlete and in the challenging moments you tend to find and discover yourself, your grit, your willpower and your own reasons. You’re constantly redefining your limits, challenging what you’re made of and striving to excel- on the risk of sounding cliched, you’re unraveling truths of your life. Having tasted this drug of individualism, it becomes kind of hard to settle for mediocre ways of life- cause this habit of striving to excel transcends to everything you do, every role you play.

Lastly, we aren’t in it for external recognition or laurels, but conquering and winning inner battles is what fuels us. Most endurance athletes will tell you, that although its nice to be acknowledged, we are in the game because we have something to prove to ourselves and have raging, chaotic storms inside our heads, that we try and tame. For me, Ironman is the ultimate test of psychological and emotional strength, its where I get to develop, idealize and philosophize life, to reflect, introspect, and grow. This is my mode of serving this beautiful gift of life, by delivering my very best, exceeding my current expectations and living a meaningful, high quality life.

To end with, one of my favourite essays of all time by Ralph Waldo Emerson called ‘Self Reliance’ (read it here), has the following lines:

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without pre-established harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.

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Lessons I learnt from Coco Chanel

 

Gabrielle Chanel was raised by nuns in an orphanage after her mother died, and father abandoned her. At 18, she decided, that it was time to leave and explore the world. She started working as a seamstress, where she had an encounter with a charming army man, you swept her off her feet and asked her to come away with him to his countryhouse. The thing with him though was, that he needed women for pleasure, and as soon as Chanel realised that he would never marry her, she just knew she had to leave him. During her time at his countryhouse, however, she met his best friend Boy Capel; who found her irresistible, and wanted her in every way. However, Chanel by now, betrayed by two men who should’ve loved her, was more focused on her business (at that time- making hats) and did not want to dependent on anyone. As time passed, her business grew, she secured more and more customers, Capel and Chanel fell in love. Their love story was so touching, he gave her the world, and couldn’t be without her but then the war happened and he had to serve his nation. He came back though, but, his father insisted that he marry a sophisticated woman, who also was his god-daughter. Capel, under much pressure, had to leave Chanel, but it wasn’t long before he realised that he had made the greatest mistake of his life. He called her, told her, that he was coming back for her; but died in a car accident on the way. Chanel was broken, he was the love of her life, but she channelled all that energy into work. 

This story to me, speaks volumes, about a woman who was dealt the worst possible hands in life, but she endured it all. With much elegance, and grace, she realised early that she must not be dependant on others, and focused on classics rather than the fashion at that time.

“My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.”

It is so empowering to realise that YOU control your life, and the things that happen in it. The moment you stop feeling like you’re the victim of everything, and take charge, and be at the choosing end rather than receiving, you start owning your life.

“Men always remember a woman who caused them concern and uneasiness.”

Women who lack ambition and drive, are easy to deal with, because they can be told what to do, what to wear, and how to follow. You can tell them anything, they’ll bear, endure and survive. But I respect women, who have that spark, who want to swim upstream, and strive to be achievers. Such women, men find it challenging to deal with, because they are used to the society telling them how things should be. Only a strong, confident man, can handle a bold woman. I’m so over men who treat women as their inferiors, and think that the kitchen is where they belong; because it is women who the men use as pillows to hide at night. Chanel said it herself, “As long as you know men are like children, you know everything!”

“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”

I believe it is not luxury that defines your style, but your style defines the luxury that you own. Most people now, buy things, because it makes them feel associated with a brand, and thus, the people who use it too. For me, it doesn’t matter where you buy things from, but what you buy that defines you. If you have style, you won’t treat brands, as brands, because they won’t matter. The brands need to enhance YOU/ your personal brand, rather than blind people from afar.

“How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.”

Stop treating your life as insignificant. Stop trying to be things to people, be a person that people would want to be associated with.

“Those who create are rare; those who cannot are numerous. Therefore, the latter are stronger.”

Don’t let the voice that is stronger just because of the numbers, drown that voice inside you. You can be anything you want, a creator, a designer, a celebrity, anything- just choose to be it, and never look back- but be prepared, you won’t feel like you ‘fit in’ anymore (and that’s a good thing!).

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

Be different, be unique, be your own brand.