Last night, I went to the gym after work and swam two miles in an outdoor pool. I normally do a particular workout and focus on hitting a target pace, but this was an unscheduled swim and an opportunity to clear my head and do some good thinking. So I put my head down and swam for just over an hour.
I swam the first 1000 meters easy. I picked up the pace a little the second 1000 meters. And I picked up the pace a little more the last 1200 meters. I didn’t let it bother me that I was having to share a lane for the first time this season. I didn’t let it bother me that I had to swim right up against a wall. I cleared my head of the stresses of the day by powering through a long swim and letting myself feel every movement in the water.
At first it felt like I was almost slapping the water with my arms, but I found my stroke. I decreased the resistance I generated and towards the end, I felt like I belonged immersed in that pool. I belonged in that space.
Then I got out of the pool, showered at the gym and drove home feeling satisfied with my workout and feeling the good kind of hungry.
I have moments when I contemplate giving up training. Couldn’t I save money? Couldn’t I use that time towards writing my book? Couldn’t I work more? Couldn’t I be more social? I could, but nights like last night in the pool remind me that I love what I do. I love swimming, biking and running. I don’t always feel like doing them, but I love them.
Racing has been part of my life for nearly fifteen years. I did my first marathon in 2000 and my first triathlon relay in 2002. Since then, I’ve raced consistently. I’ve done local races, and I’ve traveled, even internationally, to race. It’s not just what I do. It’s a huge part of who I am. It’s how I find myself sometimes, how I clear my head, and how I celebrate this health and life that I have. I don’t want to give it up – not because of the cost, the time it takes, or the effort involved.
I’m willing to sacrifice a lot for my training. But my training? I’m not willing to sacrifice that right now. I may not need it like I once did, but I still very much want it. That’s become clear to me these last few days.