What's normal now, anyhow?

Everything in the world is relative. Newton's frame of reference right? To you the car infront of you is moving but to the car, you are moving and it is stationary.

So is athletics.

What is good somewhere is average some place else.

I'll give a little example; My colleague at FIH, who is training for an Iron distance triathlon next month was putting in his usual mileage. So last week, from Monday to Saturday he swam 9k, biked 206 and ran 65k.
On Sunday, he did a Half Ironman.

Now, he calls himself an "average biker and swimmer" (actually he was much more harsh about his skill set but because I really admire him, I upgraded him to some nicer words).

And on a tough course, he did 4:57 Half IM (which is far from his PB) including 1:29 run and he said to me "My legs felt heavy because of all that training".

And best of all, he went for a 21k recovery run the next day.

Now 4:57 is not shabby by a country mile. Infact, the list of Indians who have done a Half Ironman that fast or faster is smaller than 10. 4:57 on those legs, is infact extraordinary, or atleast it feels to me because I know very few people personally who do this.

The only thing I am "decent" average at is Running. I do have some okay-ish PBs and yes if I compete in India, I can challenge the amateur racers. But even when I was purely a runner and doing well, I never had the "ego" about my achievements. I never really thought I was "brilliant" or an "elite". My eyes were set on the international competition. 34 minutes for 10k was my PB, which is the same as a Kenyan Schoolgirl. So yeah, putting things into perspective did help.

I did try to be the fastest Ironman from India but I was so grossly unprepared, it just went all wrong. And yes, I accepted that failure as my own and moved on and learnt from it. And frankly, I'm beginning to wonder what's the meaning of that title?

When I came here, I got my butt kicked on the bike a bunch of really good bikers, a 47 year old CEO who can do a Sub 2 hour Olympic Tri and a 26 year old guy with a 4:15 PB for a 70.3 and a lot of others. Everytime I went for a ride, there have been people who've started to draft behind me and then have overtaken me and gone. Not that 32 kmph average is slow, or 30+ for 180k is slow but it isn't as fast as the European standards.

I mean, these guys do Sub 10 Ironmans by the dozen. Hardcore training all through. And not just the ones who are taking it "seriously". Day or night, rain snow or sunshine, you find people riding and running.

10k in low 30s and Sub 3 Marathons are common. My training partner runs a 1:30 Half Marathon and she is in the Top 20 overall (and Top 10 in her AG). She never claims to be an elite is always striving to be better.

A person with a Sub 10 IM PB, tells me he is a Average Biker and Swimmer. In India, we do a 15 hour IM and claim it was easy and that we won it, quite blatantly.

Anyways, not focussing on the numerous Facebook pages created for 12+ hour "Ironmen" while even Pro Tour De France bike riders live anonymously without a Facebook page the thing is that I decided a long time ago that my competition is with the world. And yes, I will fail along the way but I will keep trying and trying until I reach a level where I can stand shoulder to shoulder against the best in the world and give them a run for their money.

Sujay Shalwadi, is another guy who is a gem of a person and recognises this high standard and tries to match that through his training and racing. So does Subbu.

My point is simple, since my arrival here, I've been lucky enough to see the competition up close, train with it and improve. In India, we don't have that competition. Not because people don't try hard enough. Because people just set the standards too low.

If you're doing it for a finisher medal, be honest about it. And above all, be self aware. You can float as high as you can in your head and maybe misguide enough people to make yourself believe the lie that you try to live, but the reality will not change right?

And check your ego at the door. Just look at the world around you, there will always be someone doing a better version of what you are doing. If you stay stuck in a loop driven by your ego, you will never grow.

If we raise our standards, we surely can drive our numbers up and create competitors.

I don't know actually, maybe we're happy with what we have? But if that's the case, why do we crib when we return home from the Olympics with an almost empty medals tally?

Think about it. Raise your level of normal. Be a river, not a lake. :)

Be humble about your achievements, because you will achieve much more if you are :)


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