Feel-Good Junkie

5am. I woke up pretty tired this morning. Not unbearably tired, but enough to make me bury my head in the pillow and hit the snooze button for an extra 15 minutes or so. Living in an old Connecticut-house-turned-apartment (with crappy insulation that fails to keep out the frigid New England air), averaging maybe 5-6 hours of sleep a night, and reaching the middle of week 2 of “serious training” hit me with a crashing wave of urges to just stay hidden under the warmth of my comforter. If only I had the luxury of pushing back my workout an hour or even just another 30 minutes. This is the torturous but great thing about having a training partner. We’re in it for each other as much as in it for ourselves. I’m not only obligated to myself to get up and get this workout in (before heading to a demanding full-time job I might add…balancing that and rowing is beginning to take its toll…more on that later), but I have an obligation to him to show up on time, ready to work. It is very much a mutual responsibility; the relationship truly illustrates the strength in having a partner or “team” to rely on as well as the value in having someone rely on you. We keep each other in check and although we’re not competing against one another, we can most certainly push each other by simply being present; a witness to one’s journey and hard work. Being accountable to someone other than yourself, you will place higher standards on the performance or work put into whatever it is you’re doing.

There is this indescribable feeling of triumph and sense of pure achievement after pushing past the shadows of doubt that can creep up on you in any form; defeating those demons that tell you to “stay in bed” or that try to convince you that you’ve “already worked hard enough and deserve the day off” or that maybe you “just don’t have the time right now.” You know what I’m talking about–we play these games in our heads in almost all types of situations. They are the manifestations of fatigue, weakness and fear. You can never get rid of them completely, but each battle won makes you that much stronger.

I felt like a million dollars after finishing my 80 minute workout (10-20-40-10). I legit skipped out to my car–still freezing as the cold New England wind whipped around the corner of the building. As my training has gotten progressively tougher and I’m pushing myself harder compared to anything else I’ve done in the past, my favorite moment has become the time I have to myself in the car after a solid workout, fighting traffic back home to shower and change quickly so that I can rush into work. This short but valuable time is when my mind decompresses and I pat myself on the back. Another day in the books. I relive the battle and how I will do it better tomorrow. This is also when the “big dreams” float around in my head of winning the next big race, going sub 22:00 in my next 6K Test….to eventually making the U.S. Women’s National Team. Each day counts and had I not pulled myself out of bed and pushed hard to make sure I had a successful workout, I would’ve felt pretty crappy and been hard on myself throughout the rest of the day. Instead, I walked out of the boathouse excited to take on the next challenge and high off the endorphins pumping through my veins. Many, many days and weeks will come where I’ll probably feel that the last thing I want to do is go crush an 80-100 minute piece on the erg, but that promise of accomplishment, adrenaline, and sense of completion is enough to keep you coming back for more.

Rowing is not for the faint of heart or faint of mind and body, but it is definitely for the adrenaline and “feel-good” junkie.

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