No Cruise Control

Listening to my body is a learned talent and I am getting better at it. Knowing I was in need of more sleep, I decided to sleep in until 6:00 this morning – and still made it to the pool. I felt so refreshed after getting about seven and a half hours of sleep. I didn’t even hear my cat as she came and went through the night. I was surprised as I drove to the gym at a time I consider late that it was still dark. Apparently the sun isn’t rising before 7:30 yet… Just the other morning as I was about to leave for work a lady who goes to the 9:00 water aerobics class asked if I saw the beautiful sunrise that morning. I chuckled and told her I am swimming before the sun rises. Today I was able to see the sky brighten as I swam my 3,200 meter endurance workout. A new building has gone up next to the gym which is actually west of the pool, but the building is mirrored so the sun bounces off of it and reflects into the pool. It was a nice winter treat to have sun shine beam down on me while I swam. As for my pace – even swimming on my own without my friends to push me, I still kept to under 2:00 per 100 meter pace through out the workout. The workout most certainly was a good one.

This evening I ran an easy run with the goal of staying in my zone two range for 52 minutes and then kicking it up to zone three for the last eight minutes. After my test this week, it was a challenge. I had to target my heart rate well in the zone two range, not at the edge of zone three. This requires a slow pace and I did not even want to look at it. Even though I knew what the treadmill was set at, I covered the display screen with a towel and just ran. I checked my watch periodically to make sure I didn’t elevate my heart rate above 138. My goal was 130, but I settled in for an average of 134. A few times I even slowed to a quick walk to get my heart rate down. Oh, this is reminiscent of slow runs not too far gone by… But I know I am doing the right thing to improve my aerobic base. I sure enjoyed the last eight minutes when I could kick up the pace and feel like I was really running.

On my way out I stopped to talk with my triathlon coach – he was at the pool leading a Masters swim class. My heart rate zones on the bike are lower than running, which is to be expected. However the norm is five to maybe 10 beats lower. I am closer to 25 to 30. He wants to do an assessment on a spin bike with a power meter. He thinks I may need to work on my leg strength on the bike and get my heart rate up while pushing a strong wattage. Joy – more hard training lies ahead. I know it will be tough. I have been through literally miles and miles of swimming to get to the pace I am at now. My running continues to provide some challenges both mentally and physically to improve. And now what was once my strongest sport of the three requires more effort to reach new levels. Isn’t there anything in life where cruise control works? Apparently not – the best lessons come from the hardest efforts. Sometimes it is in sport that hard effort is needed to see progress. Sometimes it is in relationships, work, or faith. Regardless of sport or other aspects of life, occasionally more work is necessary (weight lifting, wind sprints, swim repeats, and anything else to fill in the blank with other aspects of life) and occasionally stepping out of your own way and ignoring the pace that things are moving is the only way to see progress. Frequently both are necessary and like listening to my body, it takes time to master the talent. It is challenging either way and well worth the effort for the lessons learned.

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