Now for the meat and potatoes of the post. A bizarre incident occurred today in the Magness household - we actually ran out of peanut butter. My wife used the rest of the jar for an early morning breakfast of peanut butter and honey toast while the rest of us were sleeping (she had done an hour of yoga and an interval running workout and returned home by the time we were getting up - but that doesn't give her the right to polish off the PB!). I was forced to break out the spatula to get in all the nooks and crannies which earned me enough peanut buttery goodness for a single, meagerly covered slice. While i was pouting and chewing, however, i had an epiphany that relates directly to my thoughts on the connection between the mental and physical requirements for serious endurance undertakings. And since thats pretty much the premise of my blog, i thought i'd share, so here goes - (damn I AM verbose, aren't i?)
THE PEANUT BUTTER MONSTER ANALOGY: I really love peanut butter. I also really love analogies (and chocolate too, but peanut butter and chocolate has already been done). So I thought these two loves deserved to be combined to create 'The Peanut Butter Monster Analogy: an alternative approach to successful endurance training'.**
|PB monsters come in all shapes and sizes...|
Success in an endurance event is a function of the proper utilization of ones physical potential. Let our physical potential be represented by a jar of peanut butter. Folks with greater physical potentials have bigger jars (YUM!). A race or event is like a ravenous little peanut butter loving monster – if you don’t have enough peanut butter in your jar to satisfy it’s appetite – it will end up feeding on you instead which will probably hurt your finish time.
An Ultra Marathon, Ironman, or expedition adventure race isn’t a ‘little’ monster anymore – now it’s this big, terrifying, draconian thing. When/if it ends up feeding on you it does more than hurt your finish time, it can kill it entirely - and you end up with a big old DNF on your tombstone. When faced with such a monster we tend to look to our little jar of peanut butter and feel it simply isn’t big enough. Luckily, for those who still want to tame the beast, conventional wisdom offers a solution. Train. Lots. Get a bigger jar. Fair enough – this can indeed work.
The problem is, those extra ounces come at a greater and greater cost – while a sixteen-ounce jar (that’s a fair bit of peanut butter!) can be ‘bought’ without too much of a (time) investment – you’ll need to roughly double that investment to get 20 ounces. And most folks will never even be able to realistically afford 24. So most of us end up doing as much as we can – desperate to give ourselves the best chance of feeding the creature.
But there is another way, one that takes – at least on a weekly basis – a lot less time (a smaller investment). You see, most folks focus so much on the size of their jar that they stop realizing they never-ever come close to cleaning it out. They’re dipping down into all that PB with a big-ass wooden spoon, heaping out massive scoops, and then believe the jar is empty when the spoon no longer returns full. Of course, the jar is far from empty, but we base our decision that we have ‘met our match’ or ‘need a bigger jar’ for such and such an undertaking based on the belief that it is. In many cases the disparity between really empty and perceived empty is fairly vast.
|This guy didn't have enough peanut butter|
Instead of getting a bigger jar (or in addition to it), we can get (access) a lot more peanut butter (physical potential) by figuring out how to get more out of whatever jar we have. I’ve spent so much time (often out of necessity) figuring out how to get every single calorie out of that jar that I can feed monsters with it – even the big ones.
And speaking of big monsters, i've had one locked in my closet since October. This one happens to be an enormous frozen otter - and based on the sound of falling hangers and splintering wood coming from in there, its getting pretty ravenous.
**Please note that analogies (at least mine) aren’t a perfect science. Furthermore, while carrying massive amounts of peanut butter on your next endurance event might actually increase your chance of success or allow you to survive a monster attack, this post is not actually promoting such behaviors.