I was "batching it" last week, as Suzanne was out of town at an internet telephony conference. There are benefits and drawbacks to these one-week separations. The benefit, I guess, you could say, is that I become sort of a hermit; I focus all of my attention on taking care of the dog, as well as my training runs/cross-training. That meant I had to wake up early enough to feed and walk the dog before getting ready for work. We do have a coffeemaker with a timer on it, which if I prepare accordingly will awaken me with the aroma of mountain-grown goodness. Unfortunately, we ran out of "real" ground coffee and I had to settle for freeze-dried instant coffee.
When you're desperate enough, even freeze-dried coffee tasted pretty darn good. I wrote myself a little mental note: "stop at the local grocery by the gym; don't forget the beans, stupid." But, naturally, all I wanted to do once my afternoon workout was completed was get home, change out of my wet soppies, feed the dog and grab a cold beer. Each morning I kicked myself in the behind for my laziness. Each evening I conveniently forgot the need to go to the store. Until Suzanne got home and we needed to go shopping to replace the freezer-to-table, microwave-friendly entrees with frozen veggies, bread, meat, and our other "real" food staples. Oh, and beer.
We are a lazy, "instant" generation. I can hear all of the responses from here: "Duh," you say. Microwave ovens make freezer-to-table entrees possible for even the most ham-fisted and inept of cooks. Writer/chef Anthony Bourdain dedicates a chapter in his book "Medium Raw" to the need for culinary literacy for all persons, not just married women. Face it. You never know when you're going to have to fend for yourself.
But we always have a deadline standing in our face; a target which we need to hit at least once a year, sometimes twice. How many persons do you know who race one event a year; train for six weeks, eight weeks, do the race, then nothing for the next 40.
It happens every October in my workplace. The training manager who works next to administers the twice-yearly fitness testing and weigh-in. If I had a dollar for every time an instructor questioned him, "how soon do I have to be fit?" Duh. Isn't that part of your profession? Aren't you supposed to be ready to go do your job whereever your employer (and mine) tells you?
The great New Zealand running coach Arthur Lydiard didn't have a lot of nice things to say about American runners, which probably had a lot to do with the American "overnight success" mentality. He said that to become a good runner (besides winning the genetics and parenting lotteries) it took "...a lot of hard work for five, six, or seven years. There is no secret formula. There is no shortcut..."
Unless you're participating in a program where there's at least one pop icon serving as a judge, I cannot think of any other "American Idol." "The Voice," or "X-Factor," I can think of no human endeavor where success occurs quickly or instantly. Definitely not running, as I've seen while watching the ups and downs of guys like Dathan Ritzenhein. Or in rehabilitation; my own stumbles and failures have made me much more compassionate, or at least emphathetic, to the struggles of persons who "would love to run" but are perplexed by physiological, psychological, or economic (and when I say economy, I'm talking time, which definitely is a limited commodity) barriers.
It's easy to go the "microwave" route and focus on running for that all-too-brief period of the year, ending up with something that really doesn't satisfy the taste buds and looks like, well, like something that's been microwaved. There are smells, sights, sensations and feelings which can be found from running throughout the year...even if most of the mileage is done on a treadmill...which we all need to "read," to "loan out" to our friends, and perhaps to "write about" on occasion.