Thursday, August 15, 2013

a long way to go

a little over a year ago i spent some time in northern Spain engaged in an attempt at a different kind of endurance event called the Camino Santiago (often just called "the Camino"):

the attempt was a bit mixed, since we made the destination that is the goal of the Camino: the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and also visited the termini often used as a denouement: Finisterre and Muxia. but being neophytes, my mom and i were totally naive to the pilgrimage and traveled more as tourists, and so missed out on quite a bit.

in a way, this is not really a big deal. over the past few years, i've been accompanying my mom on trips to religious shrines that comprise a canon of the major pilgrimages in the Catholic faith. i'm personally not Catholic, but i've found these trips illuminating, providing substantive, meaningful time for connection with my mom, quiet reflection, and spiritual restoration--all things which i've come to realize mean a lot more to me than i thought, and all things which i've come to consider as fundamentally important to comprising our identities and our existence as human beings. we've been to the Czestochowa (Poland), Montserrat (eastern Spain, near Barcelona), the Vatican (Rome), Notre Dame a Ile-de-France (France), and most recently Notre Dame de la Grotte a Lourdes (also France). so the Camino is but one of many pilgrimages we've undertaken.

i've gone w the understanding that each pilgrimage, whether in destination or in time, is its own journey w its own expectations, own adventures, and own lessons. but the fact that each pilgrimage is a journey has provided a consistent quality that has appealed to me as an endurance athlete. as signified by this blog, my motivation for endurance athletics is for the most part utilizing it as an opportunity for personal exploration via the peaceful, deep, thoughtful contemplation typically ascribed to meditation. it is, in a way, moving meditation, using my body to connect to the greater rhythms of the universe and go beyond my corporeal existence to discover the greater truths of this creation. and these religious pilgrimages, i've come to realize, are essentially at their core doing the same thing: taking pilgrims on meditative journeys to reach the mysteries of the divine.

but the Camino Santiago, from what little of it i experienced, comes closer than any of the other pilgrimages i've encountered. i think it's because it calls for a physical act covering long distances, which while walking as opposed to swimming, cycling, or running, is very much the same as ultra-endurance racing. i can feel a greater connection to it.

which is probably why i can't stop thinking about it.

you can sort of get the spirit (sorry for the pun) that i sense from this documentary from another pilgrim, who i think very much shares a mindset that i have:

yeah, i know. i do Ironmans. i do ultra-endurance. i do distance. already. what more can i get from walking? even long-distance walking? to someplace i've already been?

but as i've written before, this is a different kind of endurance event, w different characteristics from other races that i do. and so allowing other aspects of the distance to come into play. and so allowing other experiences on other types of journeys. each with its own expectations, own adventures, and own lessons.

and for me, this means more personal exploration, in connection w the greater rhythms of the universe, to discover the greater truths of this creation. and while as a mortal i may not reach the mysteries of the divine, i can still do what i want to do: grow beyond whatever it is that i am, and thereby go a little bit closer to god.

that, and if there is a god, maybe he'll finally be nice and bless me w what someone once told me happens on the Camino: "you will find the woman who will be your wife on the Camino."

Saturday, August 10, 2013

a (different) swim workout

for those of us looking for an alternative workout to break up the stale dullness of monotony that comes up w our exercise routines, i came across an article in Fitness magazine that caught my eye. it's a swim workout, but for those of us who swim this is probably not what we have in mind. most of us think of swimming as lane lines, sets, intervals, stroke count, breath count, and a pace clock. maybe, if we're feeling adventurous, we add in paddles, pull buoy, fins, and drag chutes. and if we're feeling really kinky, we add exit-and-enter reps, running starts, and mass starts.

well, drop all  of the above and add this to the list of alternative workouts:

there's also a video:

i never quite thought of pool workouts as a total body sculpting exercise. i mean, yes, i know swimming is a total body workout and that there are countless exercise routines that are done in swimming pools. but swimming workouts never helped w other sports, like cycling and running. and the exercise routines done in pools that i know are usually associated w physical therapy. i never considered just doing exercises in the water to tone specific muscle groups--certainly not w these kinds of exercises. but they look like a challenge and definitely something that can put the body through the ringer, so i think they're worth a try.

if nothing else, they at least offer some variety and a taste of something different from staring at a black line at the bottom of a lane every lap in a swim set. and they sure take up a lot less space than a competition pool.