"He realized that The Precious Present was just that: The Present. Not the past; and not the future, but The precious Present." Spencer Johnson author of The Precious Present Let's be honest, any long term activity can lead to burn out. As triathletes in Southern California, we're in an extremely high risk category. Endurance sports like triathlon provide us with great joy and elation after most workouts and races, but a long season can wear down the body, the mind and the spirit. Add to that the fact that we live here in the land of endless summer, so if we're not careful we can look back and see months and months building up to link season after season without a decent break. I want to speak directly to the mental side of the problem: Triathletes often talk of over-training or over-reaching, but this is more about attitude than exertion. Many Team members started this season's training extremely early in order to find good form for both Wildflower and Ironman California. Now, with several important races coming this September to Los Angeles, some athletes are looking at 9 to 10 months of seemingly endless sessions in the pool, circles on the bike and strides on the run. That kind of monotony can take all the fun right out triathlon, arguably the greatest sport in the world in one of its greatest years. To keep things fresh, here are some suggestions: Give it a rest: Five days off can make you find the hunger for a workout. Take that training time and go for a hike, go to the beach, or sleep late and read. In comparison to five days of mediocre forced training, five days of rest will yield no loss of fitness and can boost morale. Find Inspiration: July is tough month for triathlon in LA. We've been at it for several months, but there are still more to go. It's hot, the beach routes are crowded. TV is loaded with reruns, but thank heaven for the Tour de France! If you can't find inspiration in the effort put out by those guys, then you may need therapy beyond what Bob Forster offers. Especially now, an American team with the US Postal name, the style of Lance, and the whole cancer thing - just thinking about it makes me want to jump up from the keyboard and go for a spin. If the Tour doesn't do it for you, then check out the Track and Field Olympic qualifier or view some Ironmans of old on tape. Buddy up: If you're not making it out as often as you like and you're missing a few too many workouts that you told yourself you were gonna make, then find a partner. There are athletes out there that are dying to find a workout partner. And don't concern yourself with different ability levels. Arrange a time to meet and start together, if you split up after warm up, that's fine - at least it got you going. Just keep the communication lines open so that everyone is free to work out at their appropriate level. Show up self sufficient so that no one need worry. Let the club work for you: LA Tri Club offers several group workouts - just call the 877 TRI GEEK line to find them. Don't Take It For Granted: If you're reading this, consider yourself lucky. Chances are you're employed, you've got a pair of swim goggles, a bike (any bike) and pair of running shoes. You are also living in a first world country that's got a strong economy, its roads are smooth and even, its fairly safe outside, it's air and water are relatively clean. I read on page one of the Sunday, July 16th LA Times about Sirivahn Ketavog. She is Laos' best female distance runner, she's bound for Sydney, she competed in the '96 Atlanta Games, and she trained in the same pair of shoes for nearly four years until somebody bought her a new pair for $30 and gave her a running magazine that had some training tips in it. In the same article there's a bit about a 22 year old Peruvian wrestler named Sidney Guzman who, like many of his country's athletes, subsists on bread and tea after workouts. The sports officials in Peru discovered that many of their amateur athletes were malnourished and started handing out pasta, but some end up selling it to pay rent on cardboard-roofed slums. Health seems to be a thing we also take for granted. Whenever I start boohooing over a strain, I try to think of Rudy Garcia. If you don't know of this kid, keep your eyes open at Zuma on September 17th for a 12 year old, above the knee - double amputee who breezes through a tri with a huge smile on his face. Break it up: Scatter races throughout the season. If you have one important race in the spring and one in September then you are setting yourself up for trouble. Even if the dates look questionable, go to a race three weeks before a key event and just phone it in. Or show up for a sprint right after a long distance tri and do it for fun. Another great way to test yourself and keep things interesting is to break up the disciplines. I see a ton of triathletes compete in 5K, 10K and other foot races, but too few triathletes go to a mountain and/or road bike races. Give some thought to removing your aerobars and getting a hard lesson in tactics from the group, or leave your aeros on and race a time trail. Swim meets also happen frequently. Ask your coach about local meets or masters nationals - preparing for one of those will definitely bump you up a level.