Have you ever faced the following questions...
Why do you like training on hills? Why did you go that far? Why were gone for so long? Why do you wake up so early? Why is your hair kinda green?
My quick and easy answer is just a smile and a shrug. The longer version is that I like to see what I am capable of. And for me if I need to see what I'm capable of, it can't always be about swimming. With 23 years of training and competing, swimming is my fallback sport. But it just wasn't working for me. My training was unfocused. I was bored and repeatedly asked myself ‘Why am I doing this again?'
I need a clear purpose with both training and racing, and a passion for the activities I choose to occupy my time. I need intensity, and I wasn't creating that intensity in the water. I didn't feel like I was accomplishing anything and was at a standstill.
Then I tried a random workout in a park close to my house. This outdoor workout consisted of squats, push-ups, walking lunges, broadjumps, suicides, bear crawls, burpees, wheelbarrow walks, and v-ups. In just under 25 minutes, I felt like I had run a marathon. I finished soaking with sweat and decided that I wanted to try this again.
I signed on with the group that sponsored that workout in the park, and I have been training with them at 6am. For the first time in years, I have a ‘coach.' Each workout is purposeful and tests various dimensions of my fitness. The intensity requires a lot of concentration and leaves no time to think about stuff that tends to keep me awake at night. I appreciate rest days and I actually look forward to a long run or swim.
I've collected small victories with each workout, and surprised myself along the way. I'm tracking my progress by keeping a workout log and setting new goals as I go. As the mini-victories accrue, the result is a boost in my confidence.
Victory #1-Strength: I'm capable of repeatedly bringing a bar racked with weight from the ground up over my head with my arms fully extended. I can lift my own bodyweight and flip a tire the size of an inflatable backyard swimming pool.
Victory #2-Power: Words like clean, jerk, snatch, push, and press hold new definitions.
Victory #3-Coordination: I can safely swing a kettlebell over my head and jump up on a box without banging my shins on the edge.
Victory #4-Flexibility: I used to cringe at the thought of certain movements because I knew my shoulders would not cooperate. Used to.
Victory #5-Endurance: Just when I think I can't do one more push-up, squat, lunge, or burpee, I do one more.
These are just a few motives to get me out of bed at 5:30. These little victories are adding up, and I'm still counting.