Monday, February 20, 2012

A different kind of thinking

On Friday morning, I was in my university's pool, putting in another 2000 yards and staring at that black line.  I was planning some of things I was going to accomplish for the rest of the day as I was doing my laps. After school, I was back in the weight room, getting my session in, and while I was pumping up (you have to hear Arnold saying it), I had a thought:
"I think differently depending on the type of exercise I'm doing."
Is this true for others?
Before I get slapped with the crazy sticker, let me explain.

When I am running outside, I am on beautiful trails, or near the National Mall, or the Capital Crescent Trail.  All places filled with distractions - tourists, monuments, runners, various buildings, etc.  So, when I run, my thinking is very fluid.  Something will move me to contemplate something or remember an old event of friend, and I'll run with that thought (pun intended) for a while, until the next distraction comes along.  There's a nice ebb and flow between random thoughts (like recalling old memories) and things (like my dissertation) that need careful consideration.  When I am done running, I can't necessarily recall of those tangential things that have come to mind.  But my head is clear, and I am ready to move on with my day.

When I am swimming, there are no distractions.  No people, no buildings.  Just that black line.  The black line does not inspire creativity or spark any distractions.  It is unchanging and it is in my line for vision for 2000 yards.  So, when I swim, as I'm going back and forth, my thoughts are more rhythmic and precise.  I can plan my day out clearly, I can outline ideas for a meeting or a paper.  Nothing gets in my way, as I am counting laps carefully - there is no room for fluffy thoughts in the water - only precision.  This was why I called my swim the "swim to modernity" as I was preparing for my comprehensive exams - I ran through the AD timeline in my head 0-2000, in 25 year intervals.  And I get so much planning done underwater!

And I have different thoughts when I am weightlifting in the gym.  Now, if you've seen me - I am not a force to be reckoned with.  I can't bench a jillion pounds or max out (whatever that means), but I do enjoy weightlifting (and strength/core work) 2-3 times a week.  I think it makes a better, stronger runner.  My back is stronger, my legs are stronger, and maybe my arms are even stronger (although they are more scrawny than anything).  But, when I am in the weight room, I tend to be the only girl there.  And I am surrounding by a bunch of hulking guys in wife-beaters, grunting their way to muscular glory.  I am not grunting, but I am working hard.  And I've gotten a heck of a lot stronger.  In most of the free weight exercises, I have doubled the weight I used when I started doing this three years ago.  But, if you've seen me lately, I'm not preparing for the Olympia competition either.  I always feel a little sheepish in the weight room - like I need to prove myself. I can prove myself on the road - I can run fast, place high, and no one doubts what I am capable of.  And in the pool, I am starting to at least not appear like I am drowning.  But, in the weight room, I am sure that I do not look like I can do much damage.  So, half of the thoughts in my head go into drill sergeant mode:, "Come on, come on!  Lift!  Lift!  more, more!  You call those curls?!  Come one!"  But at the same time, I am eyeing all of the guys in the gym, who are probably doubting that I have any physical capabilities.  And my thoughts when I see them are "Oh yeah?  You think you're so tough?!  Come on, let's go!  I'll see you on the track and put you to shame."  Okay, a bit intense (or insane.

But I've proved my point, right?  Those are three very different frames of mind.  So, I am really curious - does anyone else think differently during different kinds of workouts?

1 comment:

  1. I'll have you know i resent the term "wife-beater."

    You are a force to be reckoned with. Whenever I am running, I always imagine myself in the marathon at Ironman... suffering... with hundreds of people onlooking thinking "that guy is a total badass." If I didn't think that, my workouts would have far less motivation.

    Rock on, rockstar!