Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Something Strange and Wonderful

I don't know about you, but every once in awhile if I'm feeling particularly pensive, I'll decide to walk somewhere rather than take the subway. Or maybe instead of stopping at my destination, I'll walk a few blocks past and make a loop. We could be talking about 2 blocks or 80 blocks. The point is, sometimes walking gives me time to think about things. It might not even be anything of consequence. Daydreams can be enough to warrant the extra distance. Or a good song, though I admit that that probably happens more often while I'm driving. Have you ever been in the car, almost home, when one of your favorite songs comes on the radio and you take a slightly (and I emphasize slightly) more circuitous route than you might have otherwise just so you can hear one or two more verses? I have.

Today I set out to the YMCA to get in a swim. My plan was to swim 30 laps. When I arrived, I only intended to swim the 30 laps without any particular goal or strategy in mind. What I have failed to consider up to this point, is that swimming is much like running in that, if I plan to be able to swim any faster I need to approach training with some sort of strategy in mind. There are all kinds of running workouts, sprints, hills, intervals, fartleks (no joke), and the same is true of swimming. I just haven't explored those options. This evening, it took being passed by a couple of old ladies to make me consider swimming in a manner that might, at some point down the road, make me faster. So I altered the plan. The first 10 were simple, freestyle laps done at my normal, not quite leisurely pace. The next 20 went like this: sprint down, leisurely pace back. Was it amazingly effective? Who knows? Probably not, but at least I'm finally starting to think about it.

Even better, I had an epiphany on my last lap. I was about halfway back on the last length when I thought of a really good sketch idea. So good, in fact, that when I got to the end, I was actually disappointed that I didn't have any more uninterrupted time to think about it. And then it occurred to me that I really did. I could just keep swimming and make myself more sketch brainstorming time. I proceeded to swim another 10-15 laps. I lost count, but I swam an extra 20 minutes so it seems like a decent estimate. For the first time ever I wasn't thinking at all about my swimming technique or making sure I was breathing on every fourth stroke. I was just thinking and enjoying the ride. And it was excellent.

Some things are worth thinking about more than others. I just have to decide which are which and when to think about them. What do you think about when you're working out or out and about?

1 comment:

  1. In Muay Thai you need to be totally relaxed, yet focused. If you aren't relaxed your strikes become telepathic and laboured, your motion loses it's fluidity and you cannot get into a rhythm. To overcome this I always tell myself that I am dead, and that I shall embrace death and that I will not care about myself, that I shan't hesitate at any moment, that I shall strike fast and hard and allow destiny and faith take care of the rest. This gives me a peace of mind.

    Now when I am lifting I totally zone out... I love to listen to hip hop sometimes rock. I think about all the people who are at home relaxing on the couch watching TV whilst I am banging out reps in the squat rack with a couple hundred lbs on my back. I think about all the sacrifice that is required of me to become the person and athlete that I aspire to be.
    I think about the struggles that I have persevered through, and the struggles that have yet to come. I remind myself not to take the present for granted and that I must train hard and use every moment to grow and improve otherwise I cannot give myself the opportunity to win.