Lisa and I ventured into NYC a few days ago for an early Valentines Day getaway. The next morning, I felt the need to work off some of ceviche, duck quesadillas, lobster pot pie, and red wine from the previous evening so I met a client of mine in Central Park to run. It was a beautiful morning for running – in the low 40’s and sunny. Towards the end of the run, Lewis mentioned how he was really looking forward to a cup of coffee, to which I commented that a post run cup of coffee is relaxing. He rebutted that often people comment on how having a cup of coffee is relaxing, and how they have coffee places with a relaxing set up inside and how Sirius has a “Coffee House” channel that plays all soothing and relaxing music, yet coffee amps him up – the caffeine gets him going.
So I was once again pondering this yesterday during a running hill repeat session. This was a vo2 max session and I worked it to the point where I was nauseous. On my last set of three hill repeats, I honestly thought I was going to hurl – it was great! Endurance athletes will understand what I mean here. I had 20 minutes still to run home and they certainly weren’t flat miles, yet the pace was easier. During this time, I felt spent, yet my leg turnover felt easy and my head was in a very cool, relaxed place. I felt this way for much of the afternoon following this run. I was in that haze of exhaustion yet knowing I just busted my ass in a solid session and feeling good about that as well as enjoying my overall fatigue.
I realized that I need to be in motion to relax. Typically, people will relax by lying around, maybe reading a book or watching television. Maybe just catching an afternoon nap. Once I’m awake in the morning, I need to get up. I’m not one to lay there half asleep hitting the snooze. I’ve tried – many times, and I’m anything but relaxed. I often wish I could do this, but it’s just not me. While I advocate taking a nap if you can squeeze one in, I just can’t do this either. Yet, when I’m active, doing things I get a sense of satisfaction from, I find my Zen state. When I’m turning the pedals on a long ride in beautiful country, I feel at peace. I think Lisa finally gets this. It took awhile, but she will now tell me every so often that I need to go out and train. She understands that I’ll return in a calmer state.
The funny thing is that the majority of people – the average Joe, will laugh at the thought of exercise and movement as being relaxing, thinking that the body has to be relaxed. But the real key is the mind. I’m sure that most endurance athletes get it.