Further Adventures in the Breakthrough Zone

10 Apr

Waking up this morning for my swim, I felt the same mild dread that I feel when I realize it’s been a while since I cleaned my apartment and I know I need to do it because it will improve my quality of life but I kinda just want to say, frack it and wallow in filth instead.

Inevitably, I do what needs to be done in order to feel like an adult, professional human and I break out the Swiffer Wet Jet (my new favorite thing) and a pair of rubber gloves and I crank my music as loud as I like because I figure, if I have to suffer, so do my neighbors. Not very nice, I know, but I hate cleaning. HATE IT. I only do it because I know that after it’s done, I’ll be happier and able to enjoy my clean apartment in a state of semi-Zen like bliss.

This morning, I knew that getting up and getting into the pool before sunrise would yield the same kind of enlightenment and peace. Despite the fact that I really, really, really didn’t want to get out of bed. I toyed with the idea of using my shoulder as an excuse-it’s not hurting anymore but I am aware that it exists–and then I did that thing where I tell myself that I can “just do the swim on my own after work tonight.” Hardy freakin’ har. NEVER A GOOD IDEA. I’ve learned a lot in the last few months but one of the most valuable lessons has been to get the damned workout done before you have a chance to think about it. The longer you wait to do it, the less likely you are to do it.

And that made me think again about my yoga practice. And Standing Head to Knee (the posture of the week, it seems). And how the instructors always tell you to get into that posture as quickly as possible. Don’t think about, they tell you. Just pick up your foot and lock your knee. Sometimes, in class, I’ll see people take a full 15-20 seconds before getting into that posture. They leisurely dry their hands of sweat that is just going to come right back. They take a couple extra sips of water. They stare intensely at themselves in the mirror. And then, when they’re ready, they pick up their foot and slowly, oh so slowly, they raise it off the floor. They basically skip over the entire set-up for the posture which is, incidentally, probably the hardest part. They kick out immediately. Spend a couple of seconds in full expression and then they’re done.

I’m not criticizing. I’m just wondering right now if they do this and think, “Yeah, I just gave that 110%.” Or if they’re honest with themselves about the fact that they’re totally half-assing it. Too each his/her own. I shouldn’t be worrying about what they’re doing anyway. I should be focusing on my own yoga. And I normally am. Swear. I don’t like to waste any time in that class. I like to think that for every second of solid effort, I get an extra second or two of my life back. That shit adds up.

So I pushed the excuses out of my mind this morning. Got myself up. Ate some Cheerios with strawberries and had my now daily cup of Green Chai. I’d packed all my stuff (lunch, snacks, change of clothes, grading stuff) last night so I didn’t have much to gather before leaving. I looked at my swim workout in Training Peaks and laughed a couple of times thinking there was no way I’d get it done. Then I left my house.

I drove to school, got in the pool a little late, shared a lane with a teammate who didn’t care that I kicked him twice, was mindful of my shoulder, took my time and tried to focus on extension and body position, got kicked out of the pool with 800 yards left, got back in the car, drove across campus to the gym, got back into the indoor pool and finished my final 800 yards.

It took longer than the scheduled hour but I really didn’t care. My 300 yard warmup felt effortless. The last 8 x 50 with 10 second rest intervals felt challenging but doable. What happened in between happened and now it’s over. And I really couldn’t tell you very much about it.

I’m starting to think that I train better, or maybe just a little smarter, when fatigued or when I’m being extra mindful of an overused body part. I did mention to the swim coach that I’d “tweaked” my shoulder and his advice was just to get in, loosen up and keep track of it. If it started to hurt, I could just kick my entire workout. I sure as hell didn’t want to do that. So I took it one lap at a time, one length at a time, always knowing that I had an out if I wanted it. But it’s funny, the “out” is kinda like a security blanket or health insurance: when you know it’s there, you never use it. The minute it’s gone, you’re crying like a baby or you need to have an emergency (read: $20,000) appendectomy.

If you’re really injured, you gotta rest. No doubt. But 99% of the time, it’s better to keep your body moving, even if it’s a little tight or a little sore in one particular spot. Not engaging that nagging shoulder or knee or plantar fascia can do psychological damage. You start to see that part of your body as weaker or a little more broken than other parts. And then six months have gone by and you haven’t used it at all and now it really IS weaker or more broken.

All of this boils down to mindfulness.


It’s really kind of insane.

Becoming fully aware pays dividends. And the only way to become fully aware is to confront your ignorance. Ask it questions. Demand that it justify its existence in your world. Today I laughed at 2700 yards. I thought, No way. I was ignorant of my own potential. By hitting the pool and finishing the swim, I became just a little more aware of my own infinite possibilities.

All you ever have to do is try the right way.


6 Responses to “Further Adventures in the Breakthrough Zone”

  1. CultFit April 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Great post and good on you for getting out of your comfy bed…Its not always the easist thing to do.

    • mymultipersonality April 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

      yeah no kidding. but i always feel like if I get out the door, I win. workout is the cherry on top.

      • CultFit April 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

        True, there is a lot to be said about that. Inner drive etc.

  2. kerryalina April 10, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

    I kept pulling quotes out of this post so I could say “Oh I LOVE this. And this. And this.” but it got to the stage where I’d basically pasted your entire post into the comment box. So: I love this 🙂


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