Go as hard as you can, then rest. Then do it again and again and again. That is how interval training works. It is the most effective and efficient way to train at high intensity. I design these programs for the elite athletes I train and the wannabe’s too. They love them.
Unfortunately, I think they are rubbing off on me. I am caught in the interval cycle. Sprint to the deadline, then breathe. Again and again and again. While I get lots of things done and most things done well, I’m not sure this is the healthiest approach. I am always either anxious about finishing or desperate to catch my breath.
I uncovered this yesterday when I needed to submit an article before a 10am deadline. Somehow I let myself coast until the deadline is right around then corner, then I throw it into high gear and lurch across the finish line – usually recording a personal best time. Then I flop into my chair and congratulate myself on surviving another deadline. It feels great. I feel great. It would be okay if this was a one time deal, but this has become my usual routine. A sort of crisis management approach, except I’m the one creating the crises.
So, let’s see. What are my alternatives?
I could sprint, continuously. Some days do feel this way. When I am caught up in the whirlwind of circumstances and surrounded by a swirl of demands. Man, think what I could accomplish if I adopted this approach full time. The problem with this is the maintenance work doesn’t get done, the stuff that needs doing but is not urgent. And quite frankly the quality of what does get done is always suspect. Plus, how long could you really sustain this without crashing and burning. Nope, not happening. That’ll kill you. It would kill me anyway. I am no Usain Bolt.
I could jog, continuously. Mmmm. Attractive. Good calorie burner. Constant moderation. A little of this a little of that. No rush, just churning those feet. I guess if the demands would roll in a gradual manner in just the order they need doing, that might work. But that isn’t how it usually happens. Or, that’s not how I usually happen. When I feel compelled, I act on several things at once, then wait and see what pans out. This, of course, invites lots of responses all at the same time or lots plunked on my to-do list all at once. Then I throw up my exasperated hands and, in my confusion, delay getting started until a deadline. Time to sprint.
It has a rhythm, I suppose, this interval style. I guess I am not opposed to it on principle. But for the athlete it’s intentional training. They are told when to start and when to rest. Panic doesn’t compel them; the trainer does. They just wait for the word and go. And go until the word says rest.
I am wondering if it isn’t my job just to put things in the queue and on the calendar. And then wait for the “Go!” and the “Rest!” This is not a competition after all, just a life. God may not care so much about how fast I go. He may care more about how quickly I transition. How obedient I am to the command. How intently I am listening. How carefully I am watching.
Maybe those triathletes are on to something. They tell me transition is where most races are won. They practice making smooth transitions.
I hit the roads for a brief run yesterday. Well, run/walk, because that’s what I’m up to. Neither my endurance nor my physiology seems quite ready to take the full run plunge. So I head out, intending to alternate running and walking. But when will I switch?
This was so easy when I tried it at the gym because it was a confined, measured, timed space. I could alternate laps or I could run 1 minute, walk the next. But on the roads, I have to be more creative. I could watch my watch but minute by minute seemed a bit compulsive. I could count my steps, also a fun-sucker. I could alternate houses or mailboxes, but they were so randomly spaced. Didn’t want to short change the resting, after all.
So what I fell into was using the environment or the terrain. Jog the shade, walk the sunny part. Jog the incline, walk the flat. Jog the block, walk the next.
That last one got me thinking. What do I do with the turn? Do I continue the jog if I’m jogging? What if I’m walking? Do I make the turn before I start jogging? Generally, I realized, I walk the turns. I don’t start the next jog until I see what’s around the bend.
As a kinesthetic Christian, this made me think about how I navigate the turns in my God-directed life. Do I start my jog trusting I will be able to make it up the hill if that’s what greets me after the bend? Or, do I walk around all the corners and then decide whether or not I will jog once I see what greets me ahead?
Yesterday, just for fun, I decided to jog all the turns. It was fun. And it gave me some momentum to get up the hills. No hills? No problem. Then I was a blur on the flat – in my own mind.
I wonder what would happen if I jogged all the curves in my day today.