In the Delta

The delta is the ‘difference between’, represented mathematically with this symbol: Δ. A river delta is the place where the flow of fresh water meets a body of stagnant or slower moving water. Sediment builds up there, silt. It’s a fertile place normally.

There is a significant delta between my running fitness and my cycling fitness and sometimes between my mental and physical health, my motivation and my need to move. That they are different can be a bit cruel, but various activities tax our musculature and our minds in different ways. Fitness, generally, is the dynamic between heart, lung and muscle. How does the flow of blood carry nutrients, like glycogen, to the muscles to do work? How efficiently? For how long? What paths have been formed and how wide are they? Which part of the muscle is strong, and which is not as strong?

And what is going on in my head?

It’s all different, cycling, running, skiing, hiking, climbing. When you focus on one you increase the delta between it and the others. Sediments accrue.

Also. Good habits go bad in the space of a single rest day. A ride goes from a treat to a torture. One bad conversation with a friend or a co-worker can change the game dramatically. Emotions flare. Resignation.

Inertia sets in.

I think the thing that was shocking for me about my adventure in New Hampshire last year was just how wide the delta was between my running and riding. A month before I’d run 30 miles in 24 hours and found it easy. My heart and lungs are/were strong, and yet I didn’t have enough pedal strokes in my legs to make 100km on the bike easy.

On some level this is discouraging, having a lot of fitness but not being able to transfer it to all the stuff you want to do. On the other hand, it’s a good reminder that no matter how fit you are, you always live in the delta somewhere.

I have, in my life, gone through periods where I focused on just one sport, most often cycling, and I enjoyed that, and I learned a lot. But life is short and my appetite for movement is limitless. I have friends chasing all these things in all the ways, and if I want to spend good time with them, I have to chase after. I must be the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. Only the latter is easy.

It feels to me like all I’m ever working on is drawing together all the disparate threads, maybe the gaps between what I can do in one sport relative to another, or the physical and mental and even spiritual parts that combine to produce what exactly? Contentment. Calm. Peace. I could hate it, but the delta is the fertile spot. Everything grows there.

Many of my best adventures have been facilitated by Shimano GRX, SLX and XT components. Truth.

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