Tuesday, February 23, 2010
On genes and endurance and writing
When I wrote my post on the study showing that 20% of the population will not increase their endurance by training, I knew I would get some wonderful comments, and I did. I am lucky to have some very wise people check in on my blog.
It is so true, genes or no genes, talent or no talent, what matters is that we do: run, write, practice. Whatever tendencies our make-up predispose us to don't have the last say on what we choose to do. If our passion and our talents mesh: great. If we have the passion but no talent*: who is to say we can't pursue those passions and derive as much meaning and richness from them?
*Besides how do we know if a person has talent?
Lance Armstrong supposedly has a huge heart--I am talking about the physical muscle here, not the seat of emotions/ spirit--and an extraordinary capacity to use oxygen. He also loves cycling long distances. Perfect combo. Throw in determination and hard work and training and there you have it: a super star.
If it doesn't quite work out that way, if we have a regular size heart and our muscles don't process lactic acid easily and we still want to cycle: throw in the determination and hard work and still do it. Maybe the yellow jersey won't be ours, but the feelings of accomplishment, the pride in persevering, the enjoyment of the process: if these things could be quantified, they could very well match Lance's.
I am particularly interested in endurance because all my life I've felt trapped in a no-stamina body. I've allowed the disappointment and shortcoming to steer me away from anything that requires stamina. Oh, I was an active child, running on the playground, playing the game dujour of the week with my friends, but I didn't compete in anything that involved running, except for the one race where competitors had to do some math problems on a small chalkboard in the halfway point of the race (I know, some teacher was trying to be creative and help us nerds during Sports Day).
But now I have a new goal, I want to earn my black belt in TKD. So far my physical limitations haven't deterred my progress much, but at my next belt testing, I have to do all the forms I've learned so far, including the one I am working on right now, seven forms, with a total of I don't know how many steps. My biggest obstacle is not memorizing the forms but being able to do them all back to back without passing out.
In other words, my stamina is being called for, big time.
So I have been training, trying to include more running in my walk/run routines, practicing going through all the forms at half speed and half strength, hoping to increase in stages.
And not seeing as much progress as I'd like.
Then this article came out and I didn't know if I was more relieved (I am not a freak of nature!) or discouraged (I'll never go beyond what I am capable right now!)
Ice cream got involved, but so did some very stubborn practicing: "Not only am I not going to pass out after the seventh form, I am going to go through the whole series twice! So there!"
I don't have a success story to tell you (yet?) I still feel I can't possibly jog for more than a few minutes at a time, and one day very soon, I WILL pass out on the floor while sparring. But my sneakers are on, I am still doing what I can.
To quote some wise people:
Never underestimate the power of hard work.
maybe they won't be able to run 5 miles, but they'll definitely be stronger than before.
I'm certainly not ready to take a seat in the bleachers and give up yet.
Even if I learned I would never will be a marathon runner, I could still enjoy being outside. I say keep the sneakers and jog around the park.