In compliance with Betteridge’s Law, my answer is No—but I rather think that Olga Khazan’s may be Yes. The brief blog post I linked to is based on this study in the Journal of Consumer Research; I particularly like its abstract’s last sentence:
In a context of decreased physicality, market operators play a major role in selling pain to the saturated selves of knowledge workers, who use pain as a way to simultaneously escape reflexivity and craft their life narrative.
As a cognitarian (a word I learned through this article), am I seeking some kind of opium-of-the-masses escape through training, first for half-marathons, then marathons, and now Ironman? I.e., am I seeking pain to validate myself, give myself a “life narrative” better than just being an itinerant project manager for a Toronto consulting firm no one’s heard of?
I’ll admit to just a creeping feeling that maybe I am. But no.
I always say it’s about the training; the event is just the lens through which you focus your training. I, personally, love the solitude of long-distance training. I don’t like my events to hurt. The one Ironman I finished was the hardest physical thing I ever did; but I wouldn’t say I was ever in “pain”—and that’s fine with me!
I love my work. I love working with a computer as my tool. I love meetings (well, most meetings).
I just also love training. It’s a different part of me.
I love reading, too, but that’s not a “relief” from my workaday world; it’s just different.
So not this cognitarian.