More Life Lessons From Endurance Sports

Monday evening.  10pm.  In the middle of my twice a week swim training sessions at the YMCA.   The goal of the session:  To try and shave one second off every 25m.  One stupid second off every length of the pool.  It sounds SO doable…but I have been trying for weeks.

This night, I felt fast.  I was a torpedo slicing through the water.  My body position was good.  My stroke felt powerful.  I could feel my legs propelling me forward rather than simply dragging behind my body.  I was near the last lap of the set.  For sure THIS time I will get that damn second off my time.  I touched the wall and looked at the watch right away.


Not only did I NOT shave a second off…I was 3 seconds SLOWER than I was last week.

The younger me would have been discouraged, pissed off, and left the pool in a huff and swear to hang up my Speedo for good and give up on “this stupid sport”.

But being older and wiser (well, older anyways) but still looking good in a Speedo if I may say so myself, I shrugged, and just went on to swim my next set.  That’s because I have learned one important lesson about life from sports:  The more important something is, the harder it is to get right.  And improvements always come REALLY slow, and in REALLY small chunks.

We are so used to the promise of instant results:  Come to the marriage enrichment weekend and transform your marriage.  Attend this 6 week course and become a better father.  Learn to overcome your depression by attending this conference.  And so on.

Let me let you in on a little secret:   Marriages are not transformed in a weekend.  It takes a lot longer than 6 weeks to learn to be a father.  And some of us live our whole lives never “overcoming” depression.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.  It doesn’t mean it can’t happen.  I don’t know if it will ever happen for you, or for me.  But I know this:  You and I need to keep trying, keep at it, not because we are getting good, or getting better day by day, but simply because it is worth doing.  And anything that is worth doing is hard to get right, and harder to get better.

So, get back at it.  forget what the watch is telling you, and get back to the pool next week.

Even if you don’t look half as good as me in a Speedo 🙂






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