X-training Day

Fog droplets are thumping on the skylights. The sun isn’t up yet, but if it was it wouldn’t penetrate the marine-later this morning. I drink a few cups of coffee, sublingually dose olive oil containing about 100mg THC, and for breakfast I eat a cup of of oatmeal with fruit and a big spoonful of peanut butter. If I’m on point, I can get out the door and to the gym in an hour. I dress out in the locker room which would be crowded for a tyical morning, but not for a rainy day and certainly not while New Year’s Resolutions are still so fresh.

Along with an itchy little club towel, I take my note pad and a little plastic moonman along upstairs into the workout studio. I carry the pad because its important to have a plan, and it helps to have it written down. On the exposed page it outlines my morning routine of stretches, anaerobic and aerobic cardio, and conditioning/moving meditation hour-long swim. I use the mini-mooner (a 2” plastic astronaut figure) as a focus, and it’ll remind me to not take myself too seriously.

My routine for dynamic stretches was prescribed to me by a 95kg kiwi who runs gnarly trail the world over. He damn near spit out his ipa when he saw my love handles last year. He I’d like to proudly to reflect on my diligence in their administration and the results which they’ve yielded. Stronger, tougher, more stable.

I go first to the leg press machine. I recognize the weakness – the imbalance – in my legs, and acknowledge the potential it will lead to injury. Concentrating on the moves, their proper execution and form, I complete a series off dynamic stretches, body-weight squats, and squat jumps. On the 60* leg press, I begin with a plate on each side. My sets ascend until I’ve got 510lbs on the sled, before I descend back down in reverse order. I toe the bottom of the diamond-plate-and-grip-tape platform to press my calves out to failure – wait 60 seconds, and do it again. And again. I stand and shake-out my loose-sausage legs. While I have the machine to lean on, I perform two sets of hip- and ankle-circles to loosen up and align the muscles and sinew before the real work begins.

From the leg press area, I waddle to the treadmill. This where I’ll disappear. I’m anxious – meaning i feel a great deal of anxiety – to begin running. I always think that everyone in the gym is staring at me, judging and holding commentary on the finer points of my gait and speed and how much I’m jiggling and sweating. I start the belt at a 20min/mile pace speed. I take 2-3 minutes at this slow speed to get into the groove – necessary due to the arthritic stiffness which sets in almost immiediately whenever i stop moving. Soon, I’m moving well again – feet/ankles under knees, knees under hips, torso balanced over hips. I consider the trees on the other side of the big windows. I count in how many seconds the fan makes a single occilation. I reference my shadow on the wall to my right. The platform’s incline set to 2.5, and the speed to 5, which is purported to be about a 12:00/mile pace. I can usually count on breaking a sweat at about the 15 minute mark. A short time after that, staring at my reflected silhouette in the blank screen in front of me, I tune out. I’m kind of in-and-out for a half-hour or so. I adopt a routine of counting breaths – two in, three out – and toweling sweat from my brow – right to left, left to right, blow nose inside shirt. I lose track of where i am; what I’m doing. The repetitions become effortless. Time stops. I’m in the desert. I’m on an island off the southeastern coast. I’m smiling. I lurch forward unaware I’ve been on long enough for the machine time out at 60 minutes. The treadmill slows to an easy walking speed. I dismount, clean the machine, and hobble downstairs.

The pool is 81* and perfect. It’s that in-between time of the morning when the early risers are late for work and the retirees are still having muffins and letting in the cat. I’m alone. I shake out poolside and let myself fall in. I’m kneeling, sunk to my nose just above the water. I fidget with my watch. Notice the sun reflecting off the office building and through the steam rising from the heated pool. I take a breath and kick hard against the wall. The first few laps are all about feeling the water and finding my rhythm. Kick kick stroke kick kick stroke kick kick breathe stroke. I focus on the black line on the bottom of the pool and use it as a gazing meditation to melt away all the conscious barriers and to see the lane and my breath and my muscles and movements like notes on a piece of sheet music. I’m in the pocket.

My sports watch beeps the ends of my workout. It’s silent to all above, but clearly audible under water as i near the wall. I take off my goggles and heave myself out of the chlorine soup. I laid out this workout simply because i can break the sets into the twelve five-minute periods on an analog clock. When I started swimming, I couldn’t complete a single pool-distance without stopping. So, similar to the process with which i began running – walking single laps around the block – I began to work toward swimming single laps across the pool. By the time I felt comfortable enough in the water to push myself, I was completing 100m intervals. I feel compelled to push myself to get more coordinated, more efficient, to move my body with more ease.

Back upstairs, I sit in the sauna for a quarter hour or so to meditate and reflect on my morning. I’m not sure where this exercise will take me. I have no clearly defined goals – in the gym, or otherwise. Maybe thats what’s missing.

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