Why Sports Turn Out To Not Be A Waste Of Time – Anatomy Of A Swim Workout

FaceBook can be crazy land, but one good thing it does is keep you in touch with people you would otherwise lose touch with. So it was that yesterday an old friend from college posted an alert: Nerd Dad looking for advice on how to help budding baseball playing kid. My friend, Nerd Dad, confessed that he thought sports were a waste of time, but he definitely wanted to support his son. So, Nerd Dad, this one’s for you.

Gifts from a swim workout

Gift #1: Friendship

I met Snarky Girl and Coach DSS at the YMCA this morning at 5:15am. We had a great workout, but we also spent an hour together, laughing, struggling, surviving, supporting each other. I found it hard to make friends when we first moved to Connecticut and I hear lots of other people saying the same thing. Adult friendships can be hard to create. Running completely solved this problem for me and my running (and gym and swim) friends are now so dear to my heart that I could not imagine life without them.

Gift #2: Adventure in your own community

Snarky Girl and I actually got to the YMCA at 5:12am this morning and guess what? There were ten people in line before the doors opened at 5:15am! These folks are there almost every day! It’s like a secret early morning swimmer society that I didn’t even know existed in my town. How fun!

Gift #3: Courage

We had a hard workout on deck, a so-called “quality session,” and partway through the warm-up, I felt the adrenaline start to kick in. Ack! Can I do this? Will I drown? Will I embarrass myself? Instead, it’s time to just get started, which is actually great advice when taking on something challenging. Be brave. Just start.

Gift #4: Innovation

I explained the workout to Coach DSS and she asked if I was taking up triathlon. No, I say, I am training for a marathon, can’t you tell? We both laughed because this feels pretty far from distance running of any sort. Sometimes the path to a goal is not straight and you do what you can, when you can, to get where you want to go. I can’t run (much) right now, but swimming is giving me strong lungs and a strong heart and I will need those things too. There is always more than one way to skin a cat.

Gift #5: Processing the mental shit

We kicked things off with a fairly speedy 6×150 yards, which is 6×6 laps, with a 90 second recovery in between. Things went ok for a few laps and then my brain dumped all the crap it has been thinking about into the front of my mind so I had to confront it: I had to stop my run yesterday because my foot hurt and that sucked. Politics is so horrible right now that I can hardly stand it. Where is my kid going to go for high school? I can fix exactly none of that. During one of the recovery breaks, I reported on the aborted run to Snarky Girl and Coach DSS and they offered their sympathy. I thanked them and also said, well, this is what is on deck now: Next 150. Confront the crap. Deal with it. Put it behind you.

Gift #6: Trust

After the second 150, which was terrible, things got a little easier. I found some kind of rhythm and my brain stopped throwing crap into my way. I remembered the run from two days ago that felt good, when I started to think maybe I have not lost too much ground with this extended break. Trust the process. Trust the Celt. This is working. Keep at it.

Gift #7: Peace

The 150s are really the worst of what we are doing today and once we get through them, we are on the downhill side of this whole event. Before I quite realized it, I was done with fast swimming and cooling down (which is sort of just an excuse for still more swimming…???). Later, when Aidan missed the bus, I didn’t get mad and yell. I dropped a single f-bomb in a fairly calm voice and woke up Rose, who stayed calm because I was calm, and I drove the kids to the next stop so Aidan could get to school. On the way home, Rose noted how beautiful the sky was and we watched a flock of birds take off and fly against a cloud. The gift of a missed bus and the peace that allowed us to receive it.

Gift #8: Strength

Coach DSS works for Planned Parenthood so she is fighting a serious political battle right now. Snarky Girl is bringing outdoor education to the kids of Middletown in some truly awesome ways. I am trying to write something sensible about refugees in Germany, while preparing to teach my students about politics in other places. When we are stronger, we can do these things better. Our swim today made us stronger. Sometimes it is that simple.

I am absolutely also a nerd who used to think sports were a waste of time. It turns out that I was wrong about that.

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