Written by Ann Brennan
Last week I tried stand-up paddle boarding for the very first time. I was so nervous. Although falling in the water is no big deal, I envisioned falling in over and over again, making the outing a complete bust. Fortunately, balance was not a problem. The problem came from standing in one position for a long period of time. Everything I thought might be sore from paddle boarding was fine. As usual, it was the thing I was not expecting that got me.
My feet hurt. Maybe it was standing in one position, maybe it was using them to stay balanced. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that once again I learned a life lesson from sport. Once again, being active, getting out there and doing something outside of the norm, pushed me to examine the rest of my life more closely.
After almost 45 minutes of pain in my feet, I took a knee. Actually, I took two knees. I lowered myself onto my knees, paddled from that position and let my feet relax. I let the pain ease out of them before standing back up and continuing on my way. After that one break, my feet were fine. I was relaxed and I enjoyed every minute of the rest of the trip.
As I completed the paddling trip, I started thinking about the other times I have used a similar strategy in sport. In open-water swimming, I learned early on that the panic that sets in from being surrounded by so many thrashing souls could be eased by slowing down my stroke, relaxing and letting go of the fear. In running, I have found that backing off the pace for even a few strides can turn a hard run easy and of course, in cycling standing up, getting out of the seat, can be a truly wonderful moment for a butt that is just too sore from sitting.
But this strategy is something I have used in real life too. Sometimes on purpose and sometimes out of pure necessity. When each of my children was born I was told to nap when they nap. This strategy, taking a small break out of the middle of the day, allowed me to recharge my batteries, be less scattered and a better mom for the rest of the day.
Most recently I took that break out of pure necessity. Although I have beaten myself up for losing my fitness and gaining weight, I know that I needed to take that time off. Now, I am back. I know there is work to be done but because I didn’t run myself ragged over the past several months I am more capable of getting out there and being consistent.
Sometimes we just need to take beat, wait it out and then get right back out there.
What is the best life lesson you have learned from endurance sports?
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