Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Getting started

I find that the hardest part of a workout is simply getting started.  It is so simple to find, and justify, the barriers - feeling tired, bad weather, too much work.

Not every session turns out to be a success (and to be fair, in retrospect, some are utter failures!), but if I don't start, I will never know.  Sure, there are those rare occasions when taking the rest is important (see "reasons" vs "excuses" below).  But most of the time, the things that get in the way are only those things that I am allowing to get in.  Starting is a choice and I can only accomplish what I will myself to do.

Last Tuesday was a perfect example. The session on tap was a 75 minute run that included 8 x 800 on the track. I was feeling exhausted after a big volume weekend, in my third week of a build and dealing with a pretty hectic month at work.  I was running on sleep deficit from my 4:45am swim alarm.  Feeling tired when I got home from work, it would have been so easy to find an excuse to simply sit on the couch instead.

However, I believe that the body goes where the mind leads it.  I will go (literally or figuratively) absolutely nowhere unless I set my mind to something otherwise.  And, while the option to stop is always there if the need truly arises, it is clear to me that it is impossible to stop until I start.

So, how did this all work out last week?

The 8 x 800 hurt like hell.  It would have been so easy to give up.  My head screamed thoughts disguised as reasons at me on each interval...but I knew deep down they were just excuses.   "Halfway would be good enough".  "Maybe I could go slower".  "Maybe I can rest longer".  Yet, something very curious arose out of starting.  Working my my way methodically through the repeats, the cobwebs broke away.  My pace settled in, I stopped overthinking, my heart rate adjusted to what I was asking of it, and, I actually got faster over the set.  Not breaking any land speed records, but incredible considering how brutal I felt at the start!       

Not blazing fast but the splits don't lie...hanging in there leads to good things.

I find training, and endurance sports, to be analogous to life...so my commitment to starting filters through to all aspects of my life.  I realize this is not earth shattering, and that I am not the first to point this out.  And, because this is not a fairy tale, I do freely admit that starting doesn't always turn out so well as those 800's.  (Ask me about my Saturday brick run sometime, or my last attempt at baking cookies).  You don't have to be great at something when you start, but you do need to start in order to find out.

Being committed to starting empowers me and creates energy towards the task at hand.  I commit myself to starting the workout every single time, and I commit to exploring the possibility that beholds me.  Nothing more, nothing less. Stop over thinking it and just go!

To be fair, there is nothing "natural" about me as a (tri)athlete.  I was not an elite swimmer or runner as a child (actually...I did neither until decades later!), and I need to work really really hard at just keeping up.  Pushing myself physically never gets easier, those early mornings never feel any better and those cocktails on the menu look awfully tempting sometimes.

Starting is not the easiest option, and it is clearly my choice.  However, each time I consider the alternatives, it is pretty clear to me that not starting is not an option at all.

Nelson Mandela perhaps captured this most perfectly, "There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living"

There is a huge difference between reasons and excuses, and sometimes there can be very good reasons for not following through (an injury, for example).  However, I am quite cognizant of the difference between the two.    

It would be so very easy to justify skipping one session, then another, finding excuses, and before long, finding myself a long way from the goal I set out.  It would be easy to justify not having to relentlessly juggle family and work and training and life, settle for the lowest common denominator and accept life "as is".  Do I think sitting on the couch would be easier?  Yes!  But imagining an existence without ever reaching, or sweating, or struggling, or embarking on adventures (including those I am not really entirely sure I am capable of) is pretty hard for me.  There is no passion in that at all.  Quite frankly, that is just not my idea of living - that is just giving up on myself.

So, I choose starting.

No comments:

Post a Comment