If you’ve spent any amount of time around me, you’ll know that I complain about school frequently and bitterly. I’ll rail on Queen’s University, Kingston, my Physics program and student life in general. My family, friends and training partners are routinely subjected to these diatribes.

I realized pretty quickly in first year that something was profoundly wrong. Maybe an extra year of introspection, maturation and self-discovery after high school would have helped. Maybe not. Instead of stepping back and reevaluating, I immersed myself in my studies. At the end of first year, I had a nerdtacular transcript but little else. For reasons that I don’t fully comprehend, I stubbornly soldiered through three years of university.

Next week I’m heading back to my beloved university town of Kingston, Ontario. Oh how I’ve missed the  industrial wastelands, the student ghetto, the ex-con underworld and urban running. Now, faced with one last year of undergrad, familiar feelings are creeping back.

This question has really got me stumped. Maybe you can help me out.

Cody Beals 101 Final Exam Question 1: Why does Cody hate university?

a) His one-dimensional program does not allow him to explore his diverse interests.
b) Queen’s is a decaying institution staffed by petty bureaucrats and navel gazers.
c) His quasi-ascetic lifestyle is not conducive to meaningful social interaction.
d) He is an incorrigible perfectionist who feels threatened by intellectual challenges.
e) 95% of his classmates are spoiled philistines drenched in school spirit and cheap beer.
f) All of the above
g) Other (please specify): ____________________________________________________

So how do I cope? Gratuitous Unstructured Training. There’s no off-season for me; I attempt to train hard year-round.

Now please don’t get the idea that I’m talking myself up as some super hardcore, driven athlete. Remember, I promised to keep the self-aggrandizement to a minimum. The truth is not so flattering; I’m just addicted. Keep this in mind come January if you see me slogging through intervals by myself, in the cold, in the dark, in the snow (indoor tracks are still worse).

For a few years, my well-being has been heavily dependent upon a steady diet of intense exercise. Sometimes training feels like self-medication, endorphins like antidepressants. During these periods, skipping a workout seems just as foolish as missing a dose of some prescription.

I understand the benefits of periodization and off-seasons in terms of maximizing performance, I just don’t feel that I can afford to take one. The logical off-season for a Canadian triathlete/runner is around December and January. Unfortunately, this coincides with final exam period and the start of the winter semester. These are both inherently stress-ridden times when I need my training lifeline more than ever.

To keep back to school anxiety in check, I’ve been putting in some solid training lately. I try to avoid the shameless mileage whoring that is typical of endurance sports blogs. But in the “back to school” spirit, I’ll share last week’s mileage math style:

Swimming = 10π km                                                             (Big week!)
Running = exp(4.7) km
Biking = 100sin(π/2) km                                                      (So much for getting serious about biking.)