But, How Will You Improve?

Yesterday I heard of someone expressing concern about my thoughts on exercise from yesterday.

The gist of the concern was, “If you don’t work to improve and have a goal of improving, how in the world are you going to push enough to get faster/stronger/fitter/whateverer?”

That’s a valid question, and I got an answer to that this morning during my swim.1 I’d been swimming between 900-1000 yards in my half an hour. I swam 1050 yards today. (That’s 42 lengths of a 25 yard pool). Now, I’ve mentioned that I refuse to do the tooth-gritting, by the numbers pushing to improve, so am I going back on deliberately not having time and distance goals?

Not in the least.

I swam that fast, and pushing very hard, for the simple joy of it. It felt good. My body felt good. I was taking a sensual delight in muscular effort. I was enjoying the sunlight playing off of the bubbles trailing from my fingertips as my hand speared the water. The simple hedonistic feel of being supported by and moved through water made me happy and I was pushing hard for the sheer delight of it.

Kids do this – run around a field just because, WHEEE!!!!!! It’s time to RUN! Remember when you were little and rolling around on the grass, or climbing a tree or speeding along on your bike just because moving felt so good? I was not an athletic kid. I was bookish and sedentary. And I can still remember that sensation clearly – the joy of just moving. It’s not a child thing. It’s a human thing. It’s why every culture in the world has its dance traditions. Moving your body for the joy of it is natural.

That’s not to say mobility and pain issues aren’t relevant. If it’s raining Monday morning, and my joint are achy, chances are slim I’ll feel the way I did today during my morning swim. Instead of getting my orca on, I’ll plod through a half an hour of swimming feeling a bit clumsy and maybe not swimming that whole 1050. I don’t want the pressure or responsibility to constantly meet my highs. They’ll climb naturally, and will be egged on during those moments when movement just feels good.

And when it doesn’t, moving at all will take me another day closer to a session when it feels wonderful another time.


1 Yes,I write more when I am swimming. I get a lot of thinking done moving in the water. When I was a kid, I seemed to write more when I was doing a lot of bike riding, before I got my Walkman. I guess forward motion without any distraction is just good for my mental clarity.

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