Slowing down time with a swim, bike and run
February 3rd, 2012
09:45 AM ET

Slowing down time with a swim, bike and run

Editor's note: Today marks the kick-off of the 2012 CNN Fit Nation Tri Challenge.  This year's Challenge includes seven participants who have never competed in a triathlon.  This will be Dr. Sanjay Gupta's third CNN Fit Nation Tri Challenge.  Here Dr. Gupta shares what he has gained by joining the triathlete ranks.

As people get older, there is this feeling that time is moving faster than ever. Studies have shown that this feeling is true across cultures all over the world, genders and borders. As a student of the brain, I have been trying to learn why this time-warp feeling is so prevalent.

Of course, time itself is not changing, but it is our perceptions that change a great deal. As a child, days seemed to last forever, and you can probably describe in astonishing detail the first time you drove a car or a childhood summer. It turns out the first time you experience something brand new, the more attention you spend on it. You remember every little detail, and carefully store those details in your memory banks. It is that attention that seems to slow time down, and often make things more enjoyable.

It is also one of the reasons we should always be having new experiences, especially as we get older.

Truth is, I wasn’t thinking about any of this when I signed up to do my first triathlon in 2010. Mostly, I was nervous about a long open water swim, and worried I wouldn’t have the time to squeeze in all the training. My life was about to change in every way imaginable – physically, spiritually and psychologically. Within a few weeks, I started to play the role of an athlete in training. That involved preparing my own meals the day before, making sure my bag of gear was ready and setting the alarm for anywhere between 430 a.m and 530 a.m.

As I shed a few inches and gained some muscle mass, my confidence grew because the result of my hard work was showing. I became efficient with my time management, and scheduled exercise just about every day. My three young children often joined me on my long distance excursions – sometimes in a jogging stroller or a burly behind a road bike.

Something else happened as well. It was something I hadn’t experienced since I was a kid. Time seemed to be slowing down, and it felt wonderful. As I threw myself into this new world full of novel experiences, I suddenly felt like I had more hours in a day, not fewer.

As a triathlete, there is little question that I am biologically younger than I was a few years ago. Doctors have long known that age is not really measured in years, but rather in function and an individual’s own physiology. My blood pressure and heart rate are better, as are my blood tests and breathing capacity. But, what is even more astonishing is not just the turning back the clock, but the slowing down of time itself.

I am the kind of guy that wants every single minute to count, and becoming a triathlete has helped me get there.

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Bilal

    Well done gupta, i always enjoy listning and reading you.

    February 3, 2012 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. clark888

    Just the motivation I needed today after skipping my workout. Back to the gym tomorrow!

    February 3, 2012 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Jenny Tabassum

    It’s great to have the independent sports article. This is obviously a good Entertainment article with more information.

    Jenny Tabassum
    "Sports Marketing"

    February 4, 2012 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Steve

    Great article! A good reference for triathetes is "Fit Soul, Fit Body by Brant Secunda and Mark Alan". Mark says in training for the Iron Man "I had to slow down in order to speed up !"

    February 4, 2012 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. scir91onYouTube

    You can't stop going to the gym. We don't stop working out when we get old, we get old when we stop working out

    February 5, 2012 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Very true. You stop to gather dust, you rust.

      February 5, 2012 at 23:05 | Report abuse |
  6. David

    Good for you, Dr. Gupta! I ran my first (and perhaps only) marathon Dec. 4. My commitment to staying fit is stronger than ever - even though I plan to stick with half-marathons from now on. 🙂

    February 6, 2012 at 09:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Debbie Brown

    Sanjay your are one of my fav's. You're encouraging, inspiring, and motivating. You always delever positive energy.
    There's a proverb that says..."Iron sharpens Iron". I've dedcided to follow you & your team to increase my own physcial
    activity. I've always worked out, but life pulled me into a SAD place....I've remained int he gym...but lacking luster. It's time to step it up and take it to a new level. 25 for the second time + 1.....51 year young AA female.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Debbie Brown

    Please pardon the typing errors. My apology.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Kibriya

    What to do with the extra skin once we lose the weight, I don't want to go for surgery, but it seems to be the only choice. I hate it.

    February 6, 2012 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. karen

    Great article and so very true! I enjoy going to the doctor now that I am into triathlons. They always question my heart rate and blood pressure being so low and then someone says "oh – she is an athlete no wonder her numbers are so low". Never thought of myself that way so it makes me kind of proud.

    February 7, 2012 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Anne

    Swim/bike/run is great, but don't forget the importance of weight training. Proper weight training will build strength and help avoid injuries that so many triathletes suffer.

    February 7, 2012 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. yankeybeans

    Dr. Gupta. Thanks for sharing. I'm starting to do mini-marathons – and you helped motivate me.

    February 8, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Saeed Yacouby

    I can totaly relate to the feeling you had of the enjoyment of a new experience. Exercise really feels alot easier if you do it everyday. I think the quickest way to becoming novice at exercising and fail at it is to say "I am gonna exercise 3 times a week". It will change your entire outlook, and any mood swings you may have had before will disappear.

    February 8, 2012 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Ben

    I never really read this section of CNN, but I am glad that I did. Good article for the health conscious. GG Gupta keep up the hard work!

    February 9, 2012 at 06:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. wuzzup

    Great article! That's precisely the effect I look for when walking the hills near my home, daily. They're like magnets...I'm drawn to them.

    And, onced relaxed and focused into my breathing, a sensation of calm envelopes me. I walk at least 6 miles, everyday, and my body does not look anything like other people my age. I believe its shape is derived, precisely, because of my lifestyle. I'm a 50 Something and can run a mile under 6 1/2 minutes!

    February 9, 2012 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Libby Holliday Brown

    Hello, Dr. Gupta!
    Many years agio,did you have a job at Franklin Life Insurance Co, in Springfield, ILL? If so, we sat near each other in Policy Ownerr Service Dept. I saw you on the Anderson show today and you look just as handsome as you did then!! If I am correct, please drop me a line at the my e-mail address above. Libby Holliday Brown

    March 15, 2012 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. eddie ferreiro

    Dr Gupta ,I like your programs.Please could you talk about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,my son has it ,i don,t where to go,he has no insurance he is denied by Medicare,Thanks

    July 7, 2012 at 17:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Rick

    Dr Gupta, inspirational! The swim leg of triathlon is the most dangerous and has claimed the lives of 11 triathletes in 11 weeks at USA Triathlon sanctioned events (since May 21,2012). If you are serious about your safety and those of your athletes, I urge you to consider training and racing with the Swim IT. It is the USA Triathlon and Ironman Race Approved swim safety device. The Swim IT was designed by triathletes, for triathletes and has been race legal since the January this year. ( http://www.myswimit.com )

    August 30, 2012 at 03:13 | Report abuse | Reply
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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.