Monday, June 28, 2010

Early Mornings - Rocks First, Then Sand

In a small way I envy the few who can plan a whole day around the optimal time to get some training in.  Admittedly, many of these people are also professional athletes and have much more pressure to perform well in a race situation than I do.  They are tasked with intense training regimens created by talented coaches all designed to produce the best performance possible.

As for me (a 30 something father of 4 kids under 8yrs with a full-time IT career)?  I am in the pursuit of the fantastic more than anything.  I realize I will never go pro racing mountain bikes but still I dream that it might someday be a possibility and train as if it is a reality.  I get up early and ride like I am going to win.  Like many others in my shoes, I enjoy the competition and am not satisfied by just doing well:  I want to crush all of the 30-39 non-pro riders I can in every race (I want to crush the pro riders as well but all I see are clouds of dust in the distance).  It is the competitive spirit and the euphoria that comes from training hard, doing your best, and succeeding that drives many of us to suit up and race.

When I decided to start up a more than casual training and racing routine, I promised myself and my wife, that I would follow one important rule: rocks first, then sand.

 There is a popular demonstration using rocks, sand, and a glass jar that illustrates the point.  The goal of the demonstration is to try to fill the jar with a carefully measured pile of rocks and sand without overfilling.  The volume of the rocks + sand is equal to the volume in the glass jar.  Placing the rocks in the jar first allows room for the sand to fill in the small voids between the rocks without overfilling.

Putting the sand in first is another story.  I'll let you try that one out.

This analogy can be made for various aspects of life.  For me it applies to life balance and priority. Some of my rocks in this instance include: family, service, church, career, etc.  My sand? Pretty much everything else training, riding, racing included.  Invariably my rocks seems to take up the optimal time slots in the day leaving the fringes of daylight hours for training.  Over time I have learned to enjoy early morning and late evening rides.  There is something about greeting the sunrise or sunset in the saddle that can't be explained, just experienced.  I find the same satisfaction spending time with family during the times when I should be there for them.  Things seems to balance out nicely when one puts first things first.

For now, I'll continue to fill my jar with rocks first and get up early to fill in the sand...


Sinjin Eberle said...

I love the way you said that, Jeff...while our rocks and sands may be different, in some way all of us who are not professionals are probably striving for the same thing. I know that with my hyper-competitiveness, its hard to accept that I can't be as good as Yuki or others, but still I work hard to be the best I can be, and try to crush with the best of them. It is what it is when you have a 'real life' but I am comforted to know that there are others out there like me with the same designs on doing the best you can - and being proud of that effort.

Jeff Higham said...

Thanks Sinjin.