Yesterday’s workouts were a planned swim and strength training in the evening. The swim went well, but the strength training was a casualty, which I’ll explain later.
I’ve learned to time my pool arrivals for about 6:20 a.m. It appears that there’s an “early” crowd who gets there when the doors open at 5:30, and they finish up about 6:30. There’s a lull for about an hour, and the next wave hits. Yesterday seemed to break that trend, though. The pool was still packed when I got there, and stayed that way through my whole swim. I’ve become more comfortable with sharing a lane as I seem to swim more and thrash less than I used to, so it worked out well.
I swam a total of 2000 yards, and felt really good. I don’t know if this ever goes away, but the first few sets were a little awkward (kind of like the feeling I have when I start running right after a ride during a brick workout; the parts don’t move quite right, but they are moving). But after a few minutes, especially in the longer sets, the rhythm sets in and things begin to flow. Somehow I go from wondering where the end of the pool is to being surprised that I got there so quickly. It’s a good feeling.
When I took my towel out of the bag at the pool, I noticed a small blue sticker attached to the corner. That sticker’s been there a long time… going on 10 years. It’s a leftover from my days deployed to Afghanistan and other locales with similar tourist value (zero). When we set up a tent city in places like that, there was almost always a local contractor who brought in a laundry operation. While it sounds like an extravagance, imagine trying to make arrangements for 5000 people to do laundry on their own in the desert. The contractors used these blue cloth stickers to identify each person’s laundry. You were assigned a unique number, and it was printed on the sticker. 10 years later, that sticker is still on some of my clothes, and definitely on my towels.
Imagine what it takes to make something like that last for 10 years. It’s not stiff like plastic. It’s more of a flexible, cloth-like material. It can bend and twist however necessary to avoid being torn apart during daily wear and tear. And I can’t imagine what they used to glue that thing on. Something pretty tough and resistant to decay… it just won’t let go.
I’ve heard a lot about using mantras, simple statements to help remain focused. It seems like a great idea, but I’ve never really come up with one that seemed to click for me. But, as silly as it sounds, I got some inspiration from this little blue sticker. How about, “Make it Stick”? Encompassed in that statement are three thoughts:
1. Be strong. Our bodies are made to be strong, but it doesn’t just happen. Our muscles are made to work, and our bones and joints are designed to carry a load. But if we don’t use them, especially as we get older, they begin to atrophy. We need to work our bodies to keep them strong, and work them a little harder each day to keep getting stronger. My workouts aren’t just filling a square in my “to do” list… they are keeping me strong, and making me stronger.
2. Be flexible. Strong muscles aren’t completely useful if they are tight with limited motion. If we don’t keep them stretched and flexible, they’re more prone to injury. Flexibility is important to our muscles… and also in life. Stuff happens. Workouts get interrupted. Other priorities compete for time and resources. Sometimes I’ve got to be inventive to fit it all in without getting frustrated.
3. Be resilient. While I’d like to say that if I do 1 and 2, things will always work out, sometimes it just isn’t true. Reality knocks us down. We get injured, or sick, or just overwhelmed. Find a way to bounce back. I picked up a bug of some sort over the weekend, and it’s kicking me pretty hard. I’m not sleeping well, I’ve got a killer sore throat, and my voice is gone. I’ve decided to give up a couple of workouts (like last night’s strength training and this morning’s ride) to let my body focus energy on whatever is attacking me instead of repairing workout damage. I could probably muscle my way through them, but I don’t think I’d feel any better in the end.
Make it stick. It seems to work. If a country star can sing about a red solo cup, I can admire a blue laundry sticker, right? After all, when it comes to being healthy and fit, don’t we all want to make it stick?