|Me after a 10 mile run in Feb. of 2010 in Grand Forks, ND.|
Temps were -20F, -40 wind chill
My training program is completely doable. But it's not easy. As i've mentioned elsewhere in the blog - it's one of these things where every workout has to count - and not just in a way that would make the American Heart Association happy. It's one thing to suffer and be uncomfortable when things are on the line - when you're three days into an adventure race, barely making cutoffs; at the bike turnaround in your first Ironman; when the sh*t has hit the fan on an expedition and you're out of food and still in the heart of a trackless wilderness. This is what you've trained for. You're confident in your ability to adapt. You're well versed enough in suffering to maintain some semblance of spirit and mental clarity while you exist at the edge of your perceived abilities (and this edge is a good deal closer to the true edge for you than it is for most). But if this confidence and knowledge of suffering are the only tools at your disposal your ambition will be kept in check by your actual physical potential.
Physical potential is a reality of life. I simply can't go out and run a 4 minute mile right now, and this fact is independent of my motivation level and my capacity to endure suffering. And while physical potential may have an actual limit, it clearly isn't static, nor is it's importance fixed. Depending on your chosen goal, it may be more or less relevant - in my thoughts it would be much more so for a 100 meter dash than for a 100 mile run. In the latter case - while physical ability is still clearly a major factor, mental components weigh in more heavily than in the former. So the bottom line is that if someone, as i do, aspires to "do anything" on 3 hours a week, it is a necessary endeavor to, through those three hours of weekly training, become as physically capable as possible. this requires WILL.
Only in rare cases these days am i amped up for a workout before i begin. I am currently in the middle of dealing with major issues at graduate school that threaten to derail 3 years worth of work. I sit and stare at a computer most of the day - by the time i leave to head to the gym my eyes are often bleary and i have a low level headache. I rarely remember to drink enough water during the day (although i'm trying harder!) and the thought of another session on a treadmill or stationary bike or worse yet, an indoor, 8 laps = 1 mile track, is hardly motivating. But i'm stubborn. I'm determined. I'm trying to keep up with my brother. It's also a release - something that I can control and work at - where the outcome rests much more heavily on things that i am in charge of. there's a comfort in this that i find to be central to my coping mechanisms. In this way many aspects of my life are supported by stubbornly pursuing arbitrary goals that require, at least 3 times a week, regular and consistently intense attention. I'm just lucky I guess.
I can imagine that this program would be hard to start from scratch. In many ways i have no doubt that it would be harder for many 'athletes' to keep it up than their present regemin - even those who are currently dedicating much more than 3 hours a week to fitness. In some ways working out more can become a crutch which must be unceremoniously removed for a truncated program with such lofty aspirations to work. Although i won't say it is impossible - i'm convinced that working as hard as i do for three hours a week would become increasingly difficult for say, six. Sure it'd be ok for the first week, but then problems would arise. Motivation. overtraining. injury. Rationalization rears it's head and arguments (not without merit) for going easier some of the time to remedy the above problems are created. Soon, the athlete is back to doing a more 'normal' six hour a week program, with more periodization and sessions at moderate efforts.
And while there's nothing wrong with getting fit and reaching your fitness goals on 6, 12, or even 20 hours a week, the whole point of this thing is to test the idea that it is also possible, given the right combination of 1) confidence, 2) knowledge of suffering and 3) will - to do it in just 3.