I used to like sport for winning. I still do, but no sport compares with ultimate, which I’m too old to compete in. Or rather, I know I’ll get worse every year so investing effort for the future has less payoff.
Now sport is about discipline, dedication, discovery, self-awareness, and things like that—switching to the second meaning of competition from the first.
I’ve had a rowing machine for years. They give a great workout, in my opinion. Lately I’ve rowed for 20 or 30 minutes. My split has been dropping to the low two minutes for 500m. A couple months ago 2:00min/500m for a 20-minute row, or 5,000 meters, started looking feasible. I finish the last 4 minutes or so unsustainably fast, like 1:59min/500m, which is above 1,000 calories/hour.
Today I got my closest yet:
- 4,994 meters in 20 minutes
- average split of 2:00.1min/500m
- 331 calories (993 calories/hour)
The reason I’m writing is not the achievement. I missed my target by 6 meters, but I’ll get it soon.
I’m writing because reaching this speed meant rowing the whole 20 minutes at a speed I earlier thought I couldn’t sustain beyond four or five minutes. I felt like giving up over and over but kept at it. I’m nowhere close to setting any world records, even for my age group, but it feels great to overcome internal barriers.
There’s not a lot that feels better than physical fitness and mental fortitude. Exhaustion feels great too.
It feels great to go from starting at a speed I never kept up for more than six minutes and thinking, “I can’t do this,” but then thinking, “well, I can make it another minute, I’ll at least do that,” until I was close enough to finishing that I ended strong, and exhausted.
Also knowing that as much as I did, I have to do more another time.
Also the humility of knowing that whatever I achieve, many people have done a lot more.
Come to think of it, I started rowing regularly over the winter on cold shower days to make myself hot and sweaty to make cold showers easier on very cold days. Physical fitness and discipline build on each other.
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