Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gone FISHing...and here's what I've learned (Lesson 1)

I have been learning this summer about the importance of play.
Here's a book recommendation:

Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen

This is a wonderful book for a number of reasons. It is short and succinct - the ideas are really clear cut. There are some good anecdotes that are easy to relate to. It is something that you can apply to both your work life and personal life. I like this in particular, because it means that there are a series of behaviors and attitudes you can adopt and use in all aspects of your life. There are four FISH philosophies that figure into the book. I've been trying to be more intentional about my running, and I realized that I should think about the FISH philosophy in terms of my running. All information comes from the book, and the images are from the FISH! Philosophy website.
Today is Lesson 1:
When kids run, they are playing. They are uninhibited by times, by form -- their legs and arms are pumping out of the sheer joy associated with this activity. How can we make running more playful? I think this is often most possible (and FUN) in a group setting. When I first started running with the triathlete buds, I didn't realize they were playing. They would shove each other and tease a lot at the end of a long run. It used to seem really silly to me, but now I realize that they were problem-solving - they found a way to get through that last hard part of the run. So, I realized I needed to be creative too. We would come up with different games to occupy us during a long run. One day we came up with a runner's point system (point system since have been forgotten): you earned or lost points depending on your behavior during a run. I.e. Bad jokes during a run -5, funny story +5, showing up late -5, bringing extra fluids, +10. It got sillier and sillier as the run progressed, but it was a ton of fun and a wonderful way to pass the time.
To finish up part of a run, Jenny and I would pick a fun motown song to wrap things up. Possibly strange to the bystanders and pedestrians, but it made the run more fun, just like it's supposed to be.
I learned more about playing from Jenny when we were swimming. I am not a good swimmer, and so getting in the pool for half an hour can sometimes be a struggle for me. I looked over at her lane at the end of a swim, and she was doing handstands and flips. I (and some of the other swimmers) looked over in some bewilderment. For me, I was watching someone who was normally very serious about this sport go to the other end of the spectrum. I asked her about it afterward, and she said she was playing (she's the one who bought the FISH book for me). This was how she used to relax before competitions, and how she would unwind after. It felt strange at first, but I tried it the next time I was in the pool. Did some flips underwater. Hmm. Reminded me of when my brother and I would play in the pool when we were little. I could get used to this. Jumping off the diving board (I can't dive) or doing cannonballs was a wonderful way to end practice. We would shout and laugh...and then go into work with that playful mode and mood intact. Didn't mean that we weren't serious about our jobs, but we incorporated this playful aspect into work.
I am still working on how to play while I'm running alone. Sometimes my music helps, or I'll spread my arms like I'm zooming around a corner. Of course, I don't really play as much during a hard track workout (only zooming around the track - no way I can spread my arms like an airplane). But I'll still whoop for joy afterward.
How do you incorporate play?

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