Here we are on what might actually be the greatest Tuesday of the entire year. :D
By now, most of you know that I am in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i pursuing my USA Triathlon Level II Endurance Coaching Certification. While the purpose of this trip is for business, I have been able to do so many fun things along the way.
I swam the IRONMAN World Championship Course on Saturday. I watched dolphins swim right beneath me, had to find my own way since there weren’t any buoys, saw a volcano every time I took a breath, got stung by jellyfish, and swam over amazing coral reefs teeming with life. In other words, it was awesome. On Sunday, I rode part of the IRONMAN World Championship bike course, which took me through lava fields with amazing views of the diversity that this island has to offer. Finally, I ran a 10K on Ali’i Drive, which is part of the run course and the location of the finish line of the IRONMAN World Championship.
As I was doing all of these things, one thought kept popping into my head over and over: what a WONDERFUL opportunity it is that my body can do these things and that I get to experience this amazing place in this way. Just a mere 12 months ago, all of these things would have been out of the question for me. In terms of fitness, I am not where I once was. In many ways, I’m a shadow of my “peak fitness” self. But I am here, now. And I can do SO many things, even if it’s not the same way that I once was able to. That’s worth being thankful for. That’s worth celebrating.
All of this got me to thinking about how exercise is truly a *celebration* of what your body can do. Many people view exercise as a punishment for something that they ate or as a chore that they must complete. I don’t see it that way. No matter where we are in our lives, we can find a way to experience our world from a different perspective from our regular day-to-day outlook.
Endurance athletes have the great fortune to be able to experience our planet in ways that few people get to. Running down the road in the pre-dawn hours when the world is still sleeping creates a moment of stillness and allows for great moments of self-reflection. Riding a bike enables you to conquer terrain that would seem exceptionally daunting on foot and to see amazing views once you get to the top. Swimming reminds us that there is more to Earth than just earth, and that there is an entire other world bursting with life just beneath the surface of the water.
I can say with relative certainty that most of us feel the most alive when we are moving or when we experience something wonderful in this world. Is there any feeling that compares to reaching the top of a mountain on a hike?? Has going for a walk with your dogs ever made you feel worse at the end than when you started?? Did feeling the wind on your face on your bike ride make you miserable??
Exercise should truly be treated as a celebration of what our bodies can do and how we can experience our world. It is not a punishment because you ate something that you perceive to be “bad.” It isn’t a chore that must be done. It’s an opportunity. And this week, my friends, I encourage you to see it just like that. :)