Swimming is relaxing, biking is fun, and running is… [fill in the blank]

My kids are away this week — hanging out with their grandparents in Asheville and going to a really cool “River Camp” on the French Broad. It sounds like they’re having a great time. No worries there. No reason, whatsover, not to accomplish anything and everything that I’ve been storing up to do over, say… the last year. Right?

I began with a basic list: clean, organize, exercise, create, socialize. Perfectly reasonable aspirations for a five day stretch. Or maybe not. As you might guess, this has not been the period of amazing productivity and self-actualization that I hoped it would be. (Could it be I set my sights too high?!) And I’m trying to be OK with that. Sadly, “create” has been given the shortest shrift. My neglected poetry manuscript continues to languish, and even more tangible projects, like working on the kids’ scrapbooks, were not in the cards this week.

But I did exercise. With a little more time and flexibility, it seemed like the right moment to step up my triathlon training. Awhile back, a friend mentioned that when he trained for a triathlon, he made sure to always do more than one activity at a time because transitioning from one event to another was difficult. He didn’t mean the actual transitions (knowing where your bike is parked, putting your shoes on quickly, etc), but the adjustment your body has to go through to shift from one activity to the next. It made sense, and was not something I had been doing, so this week, I gave it a try.

The first multi-event day (on Tuesday) was biking followed immediately by running. It was horrible. Seriously. I couldn’t run at all. I felt hobbled. Very discouraging. My doubts about the feasibility of actually doing a triathlon began to grow and take on a life of their own.

Today (after a one day rest), I tried again — this time adding swimming at the beginning. Swim, bike, run. My goal was not to simulate an actual triathlon. I knew I’d have way more time between each event because I’d be swimming in a pool and then driving home to bike and run. But I wanted to see how it would feel to string all three events together without too much of a break in between. It went better today. Swimming to biking was not bad at all (though, again, I had a pretty long transition in between — say, 30 minutes). And the running was not as bad as it had been earlier in the week, but it was still the weak link. The triathlon I’m planning to do has a five mile run (long for me!), so this is definitely worrisome.

Actually, I’ve been stewing and grousing to myself about running for awhile. In my mind, swimming is relaxing, biking is fun, but running is… unpleasant. painful. clunky. discouraging. The more I thought about it, the more I resented the running. I’m just not good at it. I can’t do it! I’m so slow. Well, it doesn’t take a rocket science (or a self-help guru) to recognize that these kinds of thoughts are not helping me do better. Today, I realized I needed a word for running — something to add to “relaxing” and “fun”. But what? Running is “difficult”. No. Running is “bumpy”. No. Running hurts my knees…? No, no, no! So, finally, this is what I came up with: Running is challenging.

Swimming is relaxing, biking is fun, and running is challenging. Maybe this is a trifecta I can work with. I will try.

What about you? What are your three words for swimming, biking and running? Please tell! : )

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