As we close out November and get back into the swing of things after Thanksgiving, it seems only fitting that this month’s three things touch upon gratitude.
In recent years, sports have given me a lot for which to be grateful. Here are three:
1. [Ladies’] Locker room talk. I started swimming a year ago after a very long hiatus from any kind of organized swimming (as in like, 30 years). Before swim, the early bird crowd and I pass in the locker room, where we exchange our bleary eyed, tired hellos and brief life updates. These ladies are full of wisdom that only decades of living can endow. Post swim, my group, ranging from a new mom and a newlywed to single 30 and 40-somethings share our own banter and wish each other well as we head off to our respective jobs. It’s in these passing moments when we reveal (no pun intended) little pieces of ourselves, that we realize how much we all have in common as women, how much we can learn from one another, and how much we really need one another.
2. Being an amateur. Not excelling at sports as a kid (and yes, I’m the first one to say my lack of trying is to 100% to blame for that) is not something that I regret. Traditional team sports were never something I felt like I had to do to get in to college, or to please my parents. I didn’t burn out. I didn’t have a coach who made me hate running. I didn’t get hazed by older teammates. As adults I think we’d all agree that if we peaked in high school, that’s a shame. As a non-competitive amateur, I do what I do because Iove to do it, and I am so grateful for that.
3. Endurance. Despite having zero desire to compete, sometimes my schedule would resemble that of someone who is training for something. Why bother waking up at 5 am every weekday to workout? As one of my favorite cycling instructors and personal trainers says, “Life is the ultimate endurance sport” (Follow her on Instagram--she’s a total badass @fitnesslizbradley). When you are climbing a mountain, or swimming thousands of yards, one thing is essential: learning how to use your breath to keep your brain from losing its *%#@ while you stress your body out. Endurance isn’t just about getting from point A to point B, but it’s about the small victories and the many challenging moments which stand in your way and spoon feed you humility. It’s about being comfortable in the midst of discomfort, because you don’t have a choice. It’s about breaking the journey up into small, manageable milestones. Learn to do this while doing something you enjoy, and the skill set will serve you well for enduring the less pleasant aspects of life.