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Perspective Matters


Have you ever heard of the art class scenario where the teacher asks their students to draw a living tree? After completing their drawings, the students reconvene in the classroom to display their work. To their surprise, each of their drawings are different. They conclude that this can’t be the same tree. What accounts for the discrepancies? Well, it depends on which side of the tree they were drawing from. A tree will look completely different from the north side as it would from the east, south, or west side.


I experienced my own version of this dichotomy recently. May 23 is the first of three Xterra triathlons that I will be competing in for the year 2020. These are off road triathlons consisting of a swim, bike and run. I can swim well, but because I’d like to swim a little faster, I decided coaching would be a good idea. The first day I met my swim coach, he said hello, told me I had a muscular physique, and then said what sounded to me like he was telling me I too muscular to be a real good swimmer. (Muscle is dense and can weigh a swimmer down).


As always, my fitness goals will continue even after my last Xterra. I have and am strongly considering doing a bodybuilding show. This is something I have wanted to do since high school but have never really put much thought around it until now. I would have to start training for the show on August 1 to prepare me for the October 31 show date. That would give me a solid 3 months to prepare. I reached out to an acquaintance and former bodybuilder that I thought would be a good coach, and he has agreed to start coaching me after my last Xterra. I recently ran into him at a local Home Depot. His first words to me where, “Dude, you are looking skinny.”


So which one is it? Am I muscular or am I skinny? Well, those are really just two different perspectives. The first one is coming from a coach who says my physique needs to be more lean for the Xterra Triathlon, and the other perspective is coming from my body building coach who says my physique needs to be more muscular for the bodybuilding show. They’re both standing on two different sides of my proverbial “tree.”


Here’s my question to you. Who is your coach? Are you self-coached? Either way, you must ask yourself, “What side of the tree am I standing on?” My advice is to choose your viewpoint wisely, and not to judge the whole of your “tree” from just one angle.

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