I have mentioned our Cross-Swim instructors before, but I have to mention them again. I thought, at some point, I’d feel like I was getting better at the workouts. Like, I’d just show up, hop into the pool and breeze through the swim stuff, then hop back out on to the deck to blaze through the deck stuff. Maybe I’d even break a light sweat. . .

You’d think that only 20 of something should really be no big deal. Sure, I’ll just do 20 medicine ball slams, then I’ll swim a happy 50 meters. . . Wait a sec! I’m still huffing and puffing. While the objective of the instructors (I believe) is not to torture us, I think they have a mastermind strategy to program the hour with more work than we can possibly do. Sort of a “Here’s the bar – see if you can jump over it!” approach. I used to think they were just kind of pushing us toward some magical amount of work. And once we’d finished that amount of work, we could sort of coast our way in.

I’ve been at it for the better part of a year now, and, like I said, I thought I would have hit that “Phew, this isn’t so bad” zone by now. The dark truth is beginning to dawn on me. There is no “Phew, this isn’t so bad” zone. It is like the perfect storm of challenge, intensity and variety. And I’m learning that this storm is moving. It’s not like you’re going to exercise your way through it and out the other side. Oh, no – that would be too easy. You get into the weekly exercise storms and they move along with you. They (the instructors) keep challenging you, and keep cranking up the intensity. And the constant variety means you never know what your going to get hit with in any given workout.

It feels like there is way more “work” than “out”. There are small breaks between the work, but not what you’d call a rest. So what have I been learning from all this? For starters, I think I’m seeing that when the instructors keep raising the expectation bar, you work harder. I’d like to think that this results, over time, in better performance. I notice I still “feel” tired, but I can swim tired, whereas six months ago, I couldn’t. I notice that I can do more reps when I feel like quitting than I could before. But I still feel like quitting. Above all, I notice that I am continuing to learn things about form and technique. Like my swim kick, for example. With a few pointers, the instructors have helped me actually squeeze a bit of propulsion out of my kick! And I can even kick for a couple of pool lengths now. A few tips can save a BUNCH of energy.

This week’s post is really just a celebration (so to speak) of the WORK in workout. We should expect results when we invest work into a physical activity. We should not expect a parade. Average people, doing average things, however, can achieve extraordinary results by putting in a good effort when they work. I believe this is more of an axiom for life in general.  But, as it relates to exercise or physical activity, working hard at a level which is challenging for you – whatever your level is – should take you to a new heights of performance and well-being. If your activity is walking, working hard at it will be allow you to walk farther and feel better doing it. If your activity is playing baseball, working hard at it will enable you to do more and do it better. Get some coaching to fine-tune your technique, and let your hard work really take you somewhere.

Hard work, more hard work, even more hard work, and gradual, unavoidable personal growth – that’s what inspires and challenges me. I hope it will inspire and challenge you.

One thought on “More “Work” than “Out””
  1. I had an interesting experience today. I woke up with a sore throat and very little motivation to do anything, but I made it to work without complaining too much (according to me).
    At lunch time – my normal workout time – I though about skipping and really felt like it. I couldnt breath well, my body felt heavy and sluggish and I hadnt yet got my energy back at all.
    So I thought I am either all in or all out; and it really could have gone either way, but I opted to do it.
    So I did a classic – 12 x 200 metre repeates with a 100 metre recovery.
    (sound familiar anyone!!??)
    My normal interval time is about 40 seconds per 200 metre cycle; so I was gunning to stay below 45 seconds (this was my first hard track workout of the season after all).
    1st lap – 33 seconds
    2nd 36

    last lap 31 seconds.
    average 36 seconds.

    I am convinced that this was the impact of my off season training. Very pumped to get out there on a day when I am feeling good!

Comments are closed.