Monday, May 19, 2014

Cold water, Mental toughness and Deep Fried Pretzels with 2 tablespoons of Sugar

At some point or another it is exhilarating to jump in water that makes you feel alive in a way that shocks you.   After about 10-15 minutes, its fun and the inkling to get out cometh.   After 30 minutes, one loses feeling in the toes and fingers.   After that its move or suffer. 

In the situation of 90 minutes in the water 5 days a week, misery begets the individual.  I'm talking about the childhood of swimmers. 
It was tough and /or miserable but at the same time, it was fun.   It was fun to compete, in this case swimming meets.  It was fun to belong to community, in this case a swim team.  It was fun to celebrate after with regard to the success of everyone.  It built character . 

Unfortunate circumstances brought a bunch of us swimmers together recently with the death of a friend who shared our experiences.  The silver lining was seeing everyone and reminiscing about the individual as well as our own experiences we shared.   To a point, the more miserable the experience shared, the stronger the bond it would seem.

 There were 20-30 kids with 3 shower heads after our daily hypothermia of a 90 minute 65 degree pool swim.  It was like a nature show where the Gorillas(bigger kids) were in the shower heads while the smaller primates(I was one) caught the mist off the shower until the manager came to kick us out 45 minutes later.  

Eating 2-3 deep fried philly soft pretzels from the swim club snack bar with two tablespoons of sugar (each) did not affect our "8 pack ribs" status.   
No exaggeration as it was between 60-70 degrees for a sub 80 lb swimmer to swim for 90 minutes in the morning (7:30-9) and before the sun hit the water.  It was not a heated pool.  And swim season started in early June NJ.  The sun came up around 8 am.  Us kids were innovative to the nth degree of ways to procrastinate. 

Mental toughness is variable depending on the background.  Its like an apple and an orange.  Mental toughness at what?  Everyone has their weakness and strength.  But I digress.  

Mental toughness is laughing in the face of misery or crying in the face of misery while pressing on;)  And by laughing I don't say because its mocking, or treating it as trite and trivial but because its so horrible that its either laugh or cry.  And kids did cry.  Every time someone would take a breath while swimming, their bawling face would be seen by all.   It became comical and that comes back to the Peaceful Warrior quote.  "Keep a sense of humor, especially about yourself, it is a strength beyond all measure."   I remember laughing at myself very hard at the situation of misery I would be in here and there.   It was a healthy way to gain mental toughness. 

One of the swimmers I saw recently became a Navy Seal.  He made a comment that the cold water was nothing compared to practice :D   Maybe he exaggerated a bit but I would guess that it was God awful.  I forgot to mention that we had practice in the afternoon as well. (1 hour).  It became12.5 hours of swimming per week.  Anyone that was on the team would call me a wimp for posting this but actually its admiration of them and how as a team, people had a good time despite the misery.  Misery loves company (seems self inflicted), but its good to have company while in misery (no choice).  People tell me  "you don't have to swim".   I was an 8 year old kid.   :D  choices were limited but I'm glad I did it.   Somedays its ok to "give up" or "quit" or "fail" that day.   Save your strength and come back stronger another day.  If you must quit, its not the end of the world.  But keep quitting temporary and stay the course for the long haul. 

As kettlebell lifters, most would follow the thought process to train with others making it easier if not manageable, especially for those days when one does not feel like it or is off.  Agreed, as the sport grows I hope that I train with more and more folks as it always seems to mutually inspire.