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Season of David - Part XVII
By:  David Zylberberg   (2003/08/20)


The following is part of a series of weekly articles by the "infamous" David Zylberberg, one of the original members of XC Ottawa. He is the writer of numerous amusing and sometimes controversial articles which have been the subject of much discussion within the Canadian cross-country racing community over the last 8 months. While David does not possess an advanced degree in physiology or sports science, hopefully the articles will be the source of much entertainment while you are putting off work, school, or chores. David's articles will be candid and will not be censored by the editors of XC Ottawa. (At least not usually) Please address your comments and questions directly to David.

Some updates from last week..

This Monday the Sudbury Star (circulation ~60, 000) is running an article that takes up 1/3 of the front page of the sports section on what motivates David Zylberberg and how he approaches sport. Since it was just a week of normal, quality but uninteresting training, I decided to discuss some aspects related to attitude and approach to life.

Having been around in sport and life I have learned that passion for activities is essential. To truly enjoy whatever you are doing, want to do it over other things, and to put your heart into it is what I mean by passion. I have seen a lot of people who seem to be just going through the motions with their daily lives and they do not seem to be truly enjoying life. Then I also look around and the people who seem interesting and happy have a real passion for at least one element in life. A lot of these people are skiers or involved in some other sport, though I have also seen it around school. Accomplishments also tend to come to the second group because they are motivated to try harder.

I also have seen the extent to which passion affects the quality of performance that I provide. As a skier, the difference between how well I do workouts when motivated and enjoying them to the days where I feel compelled is huge. I also notice this pattern with relation to schoolwork. In my second year of University there were a few essays that I was able to put myself completely into. The topics were interesting and the assignments allowed me to explore them. Not only did I do my best ever work but I enjoyed the entire process. Spending time looking for library books, reading newspapers on microfiche or even writing the essay was enjoyable. This hadn't really happened before with essays and helped reinforce the importance of passion. I have also noticed similar benefits as a skier from the times when I have put a full effort into training better and skiing faster. Since improvement comes with this and the activities are enjoyable, training becomes a joy that seems to contradict the word. That is an effect I have received from approaching activities with passion.

Coming back to that passion, we as skiers are lucky that our training is generally interesting and enjoyable. In high school I knew people at the provincial level in other sports and they often seemed to find training to be an unpleasant activity that produced results. These same people would find it difficult to understand that I can enjoy almost every workout I do on its own merit. I assume that this love of training activities is common with senior skiers and is partly why we are still around. This enjoyment of training also means that it is a lot easier to be disciplined about lifestyle. I may not be spending a lot of nights enjoying the local nightclub scene, but I know that it can impede the quality of the next days workout. The pleasure gained from cruising over well-groomed trails, running effortlessly through interesting forests or really pushing it on a hard interval is better than the high off any drug I know of. And that pleasure from the workout is improved by having extra energy and snap in the muscles and no lingering side effects from improper diet, lack of sleep or dehydration. This is why it does not really seem like a sacrifice towards results to skip many nights on the town and eat properly, since they not only improve results but make each day more enjoyable. This love of training, my love of racing and motivation to succeed is why I am still devoting my life to skiing.

This passion and full effort into each day results from an enjoyment of the activity but is also necessary for success. Racing fast requires that training was approached with a complete effort during the workout and was attacked with passion. Achieving any major goal in life requires this complete passion for it.

Seperate from passion, I am also finding that life requires a large degree of fearlessness. As I look around at people I know, it seems that many are dominated be fear and are not able to do stuff and enjoy life. Too many people are scared of freak occurrances or the injuries of the overzealous and do not live life. Not going outside in the rain because they might catch cold, not going hiking because some mountaineers die, or not running off road because they might twist an ankle. All of these people seem paralyzed by fear and are not doing the enjoyable stuff. Also, some skiers are held back by a fear of overtraining, racing hard or commiting themselves to sport. These fears lead them to be too conservative and never approach success. There is a difference between fear and prudence that must be understood. Prudence leads to not taking unnecessary risks and learning from mistakes. It prevents injuries and overtraining. Fear goes well beyong this and limits positive opportunities. Not being unnessesarily afraid allows life to be more fun and improves the chances of skiing fast.

These were some things I have learned from life. It seems best to find something you love, put everyting into it and see where it goes. I have two such things that inspire me and they make life enjoyable. I hope you all find a similar thing.

Interesting Reading. . .
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