Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hibernation for Type A's

Re-thinking this hibernation thing.

I'm actually grateful that I live in a climate that supports a forced but temporary dormancy.  I'm sure that somewhere in my future, I'll likely pull up stakes and head to a more balmy environment. And once I get there,  I will likely burn myself out in a hurry for the lack of natural forces as potent as winter weather to stop me from doing so. Downtime is necessary.

But I have goals, you know, and early races looming on my immediate horizon. And, lately, those races haven't been very effective in motivating me to suffer on the indoor trainer. So how do I satisfy my desire to hibernate without turning into a huge, noncompetitive slug? That's a dilemma, but I think I figured out how to relax my standards a little so as to at least give the impression that I'm hibernating. A little.

Here's the plan:

  1. Do something physically challenging, but not the usual workouts and, preferably, non-competitive
  2. Watch football the rest of the afternoon (i.e. hibernate)
And so, today, I ran my first long-distance trail run, thus accomplishing the first part of the plan. And then I watched NFL Championship playoffs all afternoon. It was perfect. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dead of Winter

Every year at this time, I desperately want to hibernate. It's a deeply ingrained, instinctive carry-over from some primitive past.

I don't want to wake up in total darkness. I don't want to go out in the cold. I want to succumb to the bone-deep tiredness that sets in early in the evening, because there's not enough heat or sunlight to power my depleted energy stores.

Is it OK to back off a little? Do I need to try to force myself to plow through these days full bore, like I do in the summertime (because I want to be full bore in the summertime)?

Can't I just cut myself a little slack? It's cold, it's dark. The warm indoors beckons. A glass or two of a smoky cabernet in front of a roaring fire as the snow falls softly outside: is that too much to ask?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Increments and wild plunges

After so many years, this business of making resolutions has lost its luster. I understand the benefit of setting intentions, of course, and posting goals to the blogosphere adds an element of accountability. But resolutions are for list makers. Ambitious targets look great on paper, but reality creeps in after about a week, and the list goes missing.

Can this be me one day? We'll see...

A new year isn't any different from a new month or a new week, or a new day.  Each one has it's own 'blank canvas' appeal. Each evokes the promise of a fresh start.

Is that why we like the idea of New Year's Resolutions? Is it less about achievement of some goal (often a multi-year, or multi-decade, target of a perceived ideal) and more a sense that we can do things different this time around?

In a break from the same-old, I've settled on a couple of new things I want to do in 2016.

First, I want to swim in Lake Erie. Not some ridiculous Polar Plunge, nor do I plan on ever competing in this sport. I'm talking about maybe joining up with some of my triathlete friends for an open-water swim during the heat of summer.  And here's why I think this is a worthy endeavor: I love to swim, but I don't do it. I don't live near a pool, and I get out to the ocean rarely. But I do live along one of the Great Lakes, and I do know folks who swim there. Maybe I've grown nostalgic for those days when I was a kid and would spend entire summers at the local outdoor pool. Or when I was a bit older, and would hang out on weekends at Mentor Headlands with all my friends. In any case, I used to love swimming. Consider this going out looking for a lost love.

Second, I want to master Crow Pose. I'm a sporadic practitioner of yoga, and although I know the benefits and even occasionally enjoy it, I've never quite reached a level of proficiency (flexibility?) that has me convinced that I should keep doing this. Figuring out how to hold a Crow Pose might change that thinking. Previous attempts at Crow often resulted in my falling flat on my face, until I got smart and started stacking blankets up on the floor. But I can't say I'm any closer to figuring this out. Really, should it be so hard? It's just a handstand - a combination of mostly balance and core strength.  Unlike my desire to jump in the lake, Crow Pose proficiency is something that I'll have to work on in increments, maybe a few minutes at a time.

If these seemingly simple aspirations appear to be too unambitious, consider that each one requires some character development. In the case of the swim in the lake, I'll need to learn to make space in my life for something I've found ways of avoiding for many years.  And the yoga thing will require a level of self discipline, and patience, and maybe even frustration tolerance. None of which I'm currently all that good at.

With 360-some days ahead of me, I have plenty of time to attain both these goals before we turn the last page of the current calendar.