Imagine the scene:
The time is Antiquity (think Ancient Rome or Greece), or perhaps the medieval Dark Ages. The place is a fortified City-State.
One sunny afternoon, an invading army shows up and attacks the city. The king of the city-state calls upon his soldiers to man the fortifications and defend the inhabitants against a fate possibly worse than death…
“But, Sire,” the King’s General replies, “our soldiers had a big training exercise this morning, and they are too tired to fight now. This battle was not scheduled, so I’m afraid we must ask for a postponement, or surrender the city.”
Somehow, I don’t think that answer would go down well with the King…
(It stands to reason that if your job is to defend a city, or uphold the law, or put out fires, you must be in good shape. You must strive for fitness. But you must also always be ready to do what must be done; training so hard that you are then incapacitated for a time is not a good strategy.)
Ok, here’s another scene, for your continuing imagination:
Similar time, similar situation, but now the invading army has been spotted ahead of time, and the King decides to dispatch his troops to a specific location where they will have a tactical advantage over the advancing enemy.
“Grab your weapons and make haste, men!” yells the King. The General and his troops leave in earnest, running as fast as they can to reach the location that will give them the desired advantage.
But they run so fast that, when they get there, they are so tired that they all collapse in a heap, and get massacred by the invaders.
(It is a little known, but historical fact, that armies in antiquity ran to battle, and had to arrive ready and capable to fight. Especially if you are trying to gain an advantage in the field, there is no point in exhausting yourself before the battle even begins. You must be fit enough to get there and fight; you must pace yourself and make sure you have the strength to defend your home and family…)
Why am I telling you to imagine these scenes?
Because I want to talk about Weekend Warriors, and a particular philosophy of racing.
But before I do, imagine a third (and final, for now) scene, taking place much closer to us in time:
Some guy is racing in an Ironman triathlon and is doing fairly; there are lots of folks ahead of him, but many more behind. He is not going as fast as he could, however; at any rate, he is not racing so hard as to get to the finish line completely exhausted.
As he finishes, all around him other finishers also arrive; most collapse from fatigue. When they don’t collapse, they at least require a lot of attention and must rest a great deal of time before being able to move on and rejoin their families. They’ve given it their all, so to speak.
The guy who did not collapse upon finishing tears off a leg from a table, or grabs a folding chair, and proceeds to beat up (and kill) all the other finishers that arrived before him.
Having thus eliminated his competition, the guy can claim a spot for the World Championship during the roll-down the next day…
(So, not a very realistic scene, and perhaps some of the organizers would manage to stop him before the rampage gets too bloody. And the guy would probably get arrested and also not be able to show up at the roll-down. But there’s a point to this, and here it is:)
In conclusion to Part 1, perhaps collapsing, or in general requiring assistance when you reach the finish line of a race, is not the best survival strategy. Not only can it do serious damage to your body, it all likelihood it will preclude you from going about your normal activities for a while.
Perhaps, as I’ll try to argue in Part 2, it is better to act more like a Defender when racing, and in life in general.
Photo by Pixabay.