FUN Found In Fitness
Fun does not have to be found in L O N G. (Ironman only triathlons) or by committing to events requiring skills beyond my abilities (Leadville bike, for me).
As us indentured athletes age, or experience career or family challenges that constrict available training hours, it is possible to discover quality fun in shorter races and creative, less tedious, workouts.
My racing and training mindset is changing in sync with my less flexible and more tender knees.
I found the Ironman Age Group Nationals extremely FUN despite distances which, to me, were quite short, (.9m swim, 25m bike and 10k run). The USAT’s organizational procedure of dumping one’s bike and transition items off a day earlier because of the sheer number of participants (3000 racers), felt like an Ironman. My stupid brain said expending effort to drive to Milwaukee and affixing fancy race numbers to my arms should reflect commitment to a longer race. Serious psychological effort had to be argued by the more logical part of my brain, “Jan, you are ridiculous! Enjoy the training and recovery freedom of an Olympic Distance. In fact, forget about registering for the following day’s sprint tri. Submit to your desire of leisurely sipping coffee on a Sunday!”
So I did. Racing fast and hard at USAT nationals was still not a walk in the park, especially under a blazing sun. Yet I had all afternoon to recover my tired legs AND my friend created a bakery tour for the Sunday’s highlight. The next morning after three breakfast stops, (it was more like a tour of Milwaukee) my recommendation? Rocket Baby Bakery in Wauwatosa WI. The best in all baked goods!
Since this was the first summer without an IM Training Peaks schedule screaming at me from my computer’s calendar, I reverted to my fun, pretend-I-am-at-the-cabin summer workout. I run four miles from my house wearing a small backpack containing a tiny towel, goggles + swim cap, to a local swimming hole and then run back. Thankfully I live near a small but swimmable, barely motorized, lake.
At the lake, the backpack tossed in some poison ivy (yes that has happened, and more), I slide myself into the tepid lake water, breaststroke over the weeds, and practice my crawl with a 40 min circumference swim. Sunny skis, one loon family and the splash of black labs retrieving their owners’ sticks fill my senses as I grab air between strokes.
When finished, I pop back on my run shoes, pull run shorts over my swimsuit and jog back for a fun, 2+ hour workout. The best part? My need for outdoor exercise is complete and I won’t fall asleep at my computer. Or yawn in front of a customer.
A healthy repercussion of not having to bike 100 miles often, is having time to practice yoga, and similar physical therapy movements. One can triathlon train for 12-16 hours weekly and still seriously struggle with certain abdominal weaknesses plus super tight psoas muscles and more. In the past, I devoted no time to any additional movement which did not expend calories rapidly. FUN is now allowing the time to fix… me. Having a friend in the PT business, helps. But it is I who is now building meaningful stretches and targeted rehab and strength exercises into my weekly routine.
Lastly, for the sake of this little write-up, I just invested in a mobile sauna business, cleverly named “Woodfired Sauna” by Gear West. We launch in September. Friends can gather inside the cedar lined sauna, fire up the Finnish wood-burning stove and continue to create and recount FUN from physical play. Recovery is a great byproduct of working out. Taking a sauna followed by a jump into a lake or a roll in a snow pile is…well, just FUN.
Even more FUN would be to gather customer stories of FUN fitness play. Obviously, the simpler activities include trail running under the fall colors, fat biking to Breweries, paddling Lake Minnetonka at sunset, skiing in any shape or form (!) etc. The depth of one’s fun with fitness varies with life’s seasons and demands, but satisfaction and smiles will always flow from some priority shifts and a little, positive attitude adjustment.