Thursday, June 7, 2012


One of my favorite random acts of remembrance (RAR) is to grab a book from wherever I happen to be and fan through the pages stopping with total randomness somewhere between the opening sentence and the dramatic conclusion. I have been doing this for years, and yesterday I did it again. I was moving boxes out of neighbor Pat's house, with clear instructions as to what went where. This gets tossed, this gets recycled, this goes to Good Will, etc. The boxes destined for Good Will contained books. I took a quick peak and grabbed one that I had read many years ago. The Art of Happiness, by HH The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler.

This should be interesting, I thought beginning to execute the page fan with left thumb, to see if I remember anything.

The fanning stopped on page 48. I read with interest:

"Even in conventional terms, in our everyday lives, we consider education as a very important factor for ensuring a successful and happy life. And knowledge does not come by naturally. We have to train and we have to go through a systematic training program and so forth. And we consider this conventional educational and training to be quite hard, otherwise why do students look forward so much to vacation? Still we know that this type of education is quite vital for ensuring a happy and successful life."

I closed the book and smiled.

We are at the re-testing point in our six week Training by Power (TbP) sessions. The twenty minute all-out FTP test is demanding. All it asks is all you got. Several of our participants have re-tested with dramatic increases, from 5-25%. Others, having already earned a high level of fitness in the past, are witnessing another training and testing phenomenon, that of the law of diminishing returns. Simply stated, this rules says that the fitter you are the smaller the gains. You get one, maybe two big jumps, and then one must continue to work one's butt off for significantly smaller gains. Sometimes no gain at all. This is about as far as you can get from failure. But it is a difficult sale to many. I wish I could better apply the big picture metaphor. 

So to frame this law contextually within the bigger picture today, I remembered the story about water boiling. Water, as you know, is hot at 211 degrees Celsius. It boils at 212 degrees. That one degree makes all the difference in the world. Same with our training, testing and racing. You remember the story about my missing a Kona slot in 2004 by thirty seconds? Thirty seconds over the course of 140.6 miles and eleven hours is a pretty small fraction. But that was the difference that day between me spending another Ironman World Championship in the CompuTrainer booth or being out there on race day sparring with the absolute best in the world. Anybody trying to tell me that day that thirty seconds is meaningless would have ended up in ER. So our gains can be small and HUGE simultaneously. 

Let's get the take away right. The first step towards happiness is understanding what makes us happy and the components necessary to achieve them. There is a systematic program that we must undergo to reach this. That program entails suffering, hardship and dedication. If you are not willing to give an additional one degree of effort your water will not boil, turn to steam and power your performance. 

Many people are fine with just having hot water. Many people mistake possessions and power for happiness. I am not among them.

I am very grateful for the water that I have and the level of happiness I have developed. I want for nothing. I do, however, have a goal. In the journey towards that goal I will not stop at 211 degrees just because the water is hot.

It has to boil.

Watch the 212 video here

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