Kanye West, Nietzsche and Socrates in the Pool

Today’s swim workout was exhausting both mentally and physically. Last night I started adding weight lifting to my training after six weeks off. I am following a periodization schedule, so I did not jump in with max weight and three sets. I did one set of twelve reps for each category. My swim workout this morning was 2,500 meters and by 750 meters in, my arms were feeling the effects of lifting. Actually, my arms felt like lead.

I mentioned earlier this week that I like to be in my mind with my ear plugs as I swim. Well this morning my mind was doing its own workout as I swam. It didn’t hit me right away that my sluggish, heavy arm feeling was a result of lifting. One set couldn’t do that, right? Wrong. Once I realized it was lifting, my mind took over. Frequently when I run I put Pandora on a hip hop station. As I was feeling the pain, the Kanye West song Stronger came to mind. “Work it harder, make it better. N-n-now that that don’t kill me, Do it faster, makes us stronger. Can only make me stronger…” it was a good tune to motivate my swimming. Until I started wondering who first said it. And is it really true? Can’t something hurt us, not kill us, yet weaken us? I think I was looking for an out to not lift while I was spending so much time swimming. I will push through because it will make me stronger.

But I still wanted to know where the quote originated. Friedrich Nietzsche coined the phrase in his philosophy book Twilight of the Idols “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” He was referring to mental/emotional damage. Since over coming hurdles in the mind is the greatest contribution to athletic advancement, it would still apply to my training. There actually was a scientific study published in 2010 validating that people who experienced moderate amounts of adversity were mentally stronger afterward compared to those who had no adversity or those who had chronic adversity. So Socrates’ quote “Everything in moderation, nothing in excess” applies. Unfortunately Nietzsche argued that Socrates had problems in his philosophy….

In sum, I am left to believe that my mantra “Believe” is all the more helpful. Believe I can improve, believe I can get faster, believe I will master flip turns. It won’t happen over night, I have to expect moderation in improvement. It will hurt at times, but it will make me stronger. Especially if the wall doesn’t kill me when I do a flip turn.

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