Surrounded by Loneliness

If you had asked me in the fall what I thought one of my greatest struggles over the winter off season would be, there is no way loneliness would have been an answer. Obviously the life of an elite endurance athlete has it’s bouts of solitude with 5hour rides, 2 hour long runs alone being standard practice. However, this winter there has been something different.

Working at the Talisman Centre, I am continually surrounded by people. Usually I can’t even walk 20m in that tent without saying “hi” to someone I know. In fact, most of my life involves interacting with others, but this is not what I’m talking about. The reason I’m lonely is because I don’t have a ‘pain partner’. In January I lost my training partner Jon Bird, as he moved to Victoria to train at the national center. I was never excited about this, but was excited to have Jon take a necessary next step as he continues to show great promise as threat for the 2012 Olympics. Over the past year, Jon and I had developed a great friendship that encompassed training and coaching together on almost a daily basis. Now that he is gone, I am craving someone to talk to about my ideas for racing, training, diet, etc. I yearn to have someone sweating out beside me as I do yet another tready run inside while the wind blows at -35*C. I long again for the days where there is someone I can joke around with and play in the pool with between the hard swim sets. Even to have someone that you can schedule your workouts with when you are lacking motivation. There doesn’t even have to be any talking, it’s just knowing that someone else is there hurting beside you.

As much as I like to do training on my own, this winter I needed a training partner. I spent way to much time alone, inside on a tready listening to my ipod, watching sports center and trying to stay motivated as I hashed out intervals or long runs. The chronic darkness and cold outside really seemed to get to me as I just wanted a fun run in the sun with a friend.

This morning I had a 5km run test set and didn’t perform as I would have liked. This test just reiterated how frusterating running has been for me lately. Every time I strap on my running shoes it seems like I’m trying to keep an injury at bay and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t enjoying running. I really hate to show weakness, but I feel sometimes it’s important for others to know what goes on inside my head.

Now, it’s time to do whatever it takes to make running a priority. The summer is just around the corner and motivation, loneliness, weather, can’t get in the way of my goals. It’s time to get outside and start running like it matters. Even though Jon isn’t here training beside me, I know he and the other boys are busy training to beat me at the races this summer, and that is motivation I can take into my next workout!

Miss you Jon.

Grant Burwash, Jon Bird Banff triathlon

Grant Burwash, Jon Bird Banff traithlon


7 thoughts on “Surrounded by Loneliness

  1. Grant-alope
    I can understand your frustration but can not comprehend the frustration around the loneliness you feel in losing such a friend and training partner such as Jon. I have always trained in the solitude of my own rhythmic breathing and have never had the fortune of external motivation. It would seem that I have placed a hefty expectation on myself this year, and if you are willing, I would absolutely be thrilled to train with and beside you as our schedules would allow. You the boss of me, so you know my work outs, just let me know if your game. I promise not to talk your ear off in the pool 🙂

  2. I could ride my bike while you run, b/c I can’t keep up with you – I don’t work Mondays. I’d do my best not to run you over.
    (I’d be suspect of Marc staying quiet in the pool ; )

  3. Funny that I did a google search for Jon Bird and your website came up too. So you are still connected! I could sense that you two were good friends when I met you in Banff. I liked this picture of you two:
    There are quite a few more in that album. I’ll always remember that I got to go on a bike ride with the two of you. I also got my triathlon bike done. You can see it at: …… Bob

    • Hey Bob,

      Nice to hear from you. There are some good pics you got of the Banff weekend. That was such a great way to spend a weekend and it was really nice to meet you there. As I said there, if you are ever in Calgary, let me know and you can join my club for a workout or two.

      That bike of yours looks pretty sweet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone aftermarket paint their carbon wheels before. Very cool.

      Take care,


      • I will be in Calgary on Thursday night this week. I have a meeting that ends at 7. Anything going that night that I could attend? My Edmonton pass to the Kinsmen gets me into Talisman. …. Bob

      • We have a swim run on Thursday night. The swim is from 6:45-8 and then a run from 8:15-9. Feel free to drop in if that works for you.

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