IT’S officially the offseason for most triathletes, so I thought of taking it easy and devoting one blog installment to talking about a few peculiar but not uncommon phenomena found in the multi-sport world. These occurrences and entities are not exclusive to the triathlon, and can be found in practically any competitive sport. Okay, this is also a not-so-cleverly disguised public rant. What can I say? The holidays bring out the absolute best in me.
Feeding An Addiction
The increasing popularity of multi-sport (duathlons, aquathlons, triathlons) in recent years has brought on a plethora of races ranging from sprint distance to full ironman distance, all geared towards feeding the appetites of both newbie and seasoned athletes. A quick look at the race calendar for 2013 as released by the Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP, for short) shows almost fifty (50) races listed to date! Running events, of course still rule the roost, where typical, easy-to-manage-and-mount 5k and 10k weekend runs are a dime a dozen. But that’s another story altogether.
Veteran racers and coaches will caution anyone who seeks their advice to be selective with their races in order to calibrate the training/preparation and levels of intensity required for each. However, there are some athletes who march to a different drum and simply throw caution to the wind, signing up for as many races as their schedules will allow. This breed of multi-sport athlete can’t get enough of an adrenaline fix to slow down. He/She is perpetually racing towards the finish line, always moving towards the next race in the checklist, even if it means risking short-/long-term injury. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the race whore.
The race whore has already considered the financial costs of entering as many races as possible, and has probably already pegged this as a top priority, where personal expenses are concerned. Sure, it may appear arbitrary of the race whore to sign up for a race every other week, but I hazard to cite a few points that possibly influence a race whore’s behavior.
First is the matter of bragging rights, which needs little explanation. Rattling of the list of races completed within such a short period of time is guaranteed to spark awe and admiration from the average person on the street, and this fuels the ego of the race whore to no end. Second is the relatively limited social circle that the race whore moves in. The multi-sport community is still small and is regarded as a cozy fraternity of friends and like-minded lunatics who are dedicated to making pain and suffering a constant in their lives. The race whore finds solace and solidarity in mixing with this group of individuals, and perhaps sees most of his/her life revolving within this social circle. Third is a possible adrenaline addiction. Don’t laugh. In a 2009 study by leading adrenaline addiction expert, Dr. Archibald Heart, the following were established symptoms of this form of mania: feelings of guilt when idle, post-adrenaline depression, restlessness and nervous habits, and strong compulsion to always be doing something. The negative ramifications of such a disorder are many: cardiac disease, stroke, high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, diabetes, obesity, panic anxiety disorder, and major depression. I may be scaring up what seems to be an innocent love for the sport, but I am merely erring on the side of caution. Such indulgent behavior surely cannot be sustained for prolonged periods, as something is definitely going to give sometime.
Fake It To The Finish
This is actually a rebooted version of a character I discussed a few articles back (see September 04, 2012’s “Meet The Keep Aways”) called Ms. (or Mr.) Disclaimer. Here’s how I described her: She’s the one who’s quick to volunteer (without anyone asking) a ready excuse for her unexceptional/exceptional performance, just in case anyone would care to know. The very public abdication could come before, during, or after a training/practice session or actual race. Sample disavowals include: “I’m really not feeling well, but here I am,” “See, I was able to finish even with this injury,” “Am still recovering from the flu, so that’s probably why I didn’t do as expected.”
Now I’d be the first to look the other way at the mention of these reasons, but I would seriously question a person’s (mental/physical/emotional) state if she/he had one injury or another to get her/him off the hook at every race. What’s equally dubious is the fact that the injury/illness MIGHT be feigned, if only to justify sub-par performance. I’ve heard of race participants who looked fine on the race course, only to crumble at the finish line, where the spectators are at their thickest. Oh, the drama! And then there’s this one guy who is always upbeat and physically primed on race day, but suddenly develops cramps, a sprain, or gets severely dehydrated through the course of the race. From a personal standpoint, these phantom injuries can eventually become de rigueur for some, and reveal so much about how these individuals approach life in general.
Blog and Bluff
I started blogging late July of this year at the suggestion of my cousin who had just put up Spin.ph as the sports equivalent of the wildly successful, all-things-showbiz internet portal pep.ph and the go-to-guide-for-everything-trendy, spot.ph. She said they could use a blogger to write about sports from a first person’s point of view, and to cover the more uncommon sports like ultra marathons and triathlons. From the get go, blogging (at least to me) falls under the ‘For the love of it’ category and carries no financial rewards in exchange for the occasional stress it brings when coming up with the next article and meeting the weekly deadline.
But just as it is widely practiced in traditional media of print, radio and television, there’s no escaping bloggers who write for profit and gain. Product and service plugs, both subtle and shameless, are commonplace in sports bloggers’ sites, as well as features intended to serve as black or white propaganda, depending on which side is paying (more). And similar to the personalities behind the mastheads and columns, there are bloggers who can be downright abusive and exploitative of their influence, which range from intrigue-laden whispers to attention-grabbing shout outs in their blogs. And this misplaced sense of entitlement is not the exclusive domain of lifestyle and business column writers. Sports writers and bloggers can be just as demanding.
I’m talking about bloggers who feel they have rights and privileges to free merchandise, race packs, event invitations, and sponsorships. When sponsors begin giving away free merchandise or travel tickets to bloggers, it’s an indication that these individuals have stamped their class in the community and have shown considerable influence in creating buzz for specific products, events, or services. The trouble is, some Johnny- and Janey-come-latelys think that stringing sentences and sprinkling a few catchwords make them instant writer-cum-celebrities. I believe the influence of a number of these poor excuses for writers wield are mere fabrications and exaggerations. I hope that corporate sponsors are now wiser and do not simply cave in to veiled threats from such unscrupulous bloggers.
I’ll stop with the brickbats here and attempt to close out this feature on a positive note: At a time when every other Filipino is still reeling from the punch felt all around the country, let’s give pause and look to the coming year with renewed hope, and wish for more unforgettably inspiring sporting moments, less politicking (fat chance, that), and equitable growth opportunities for deserving athletes and sports.
Oh, and more things to rant about.
“If you don't have confidence, you'll always find a way not to win.”