Monday, January 31, 2011

The Athlete's Stopwatch

I can vividly remember when I learned to tell time.  In fact, I can almost vividly remember the room where I learned to tell time.  This whole reading-a-clock thing does come in handy in a life full of splits, intervals, rest intervals, paces, mileage, yardage, meter-age, and total elapsed time.  Although in preparation for a 21st century athlete's life, my pre-school teacher could have saved herself some headaches simply by skipping to the lesson on how to read a digital clock....

But some days (right now Sundays), the hours, minutes, and seconds threaten to overwhelm.  Isn't it enough to run and just know I'm running long?  Isn't it enough to swim and just know that I will prune?  Or to do my first session of the day and just know that I have several more?   So I use another metric, one that doesn't involve watching hands spin or a string of 9s turn into a string of 0s.

On these days I reach even further back in my memory banks, to a point I can't recall with much clarity, to the simplest and most basic math and numbers lesson I have ever learned and can use to essentially tell time: counting to five (5) on one hand.  

I count to five (5) on one hand, placing a gel on the counter for each finger (or each digit and thumb if you're one of those quibblers).  I leave the house with this short stack of carbohydrate-dense nutritional product (oh how I wish I could be saying "whole grain pancakes from Bob Evans"), to be taken at regular and pre-determined intervals, and know that I am not allowed to stop moving - or come home - until they are all gone.  And on Sundays, know that when the gels are all gone and I can come home, then I have one session left and my day can be done.  Finally.

See, before I made the pile I did the math, counted the hours, minutes, miles, and calories.  The due diligence is done.  But the session is not and instead of over-coming the inertia of "I won't be back for 2 (or 3 or 4):xx:xx," I think "I won't be back for 3 (or 4 or 5)."

3 (or 4 or 5) what you ask?  I don't know.  They didn't teach me that in pre-school.

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