Outperforming Yourself

I have been thinking about my fitness lately. I am not nearly where I want to be. Will I ever? Who knows? In the same manner, I have been thinking about how my level of fitness can make me a more virtuous person. Is this possible? I’m starting to think that living a life of virtue is a sacred duty that all should undertake. Fitness will either help me in this endeavor, or it will detract from this higher calling. There is no end to this journey of becoming more virtuous. Similarly, there is no end to this fitness journey.

How you can learn virtue through fitness:

Fitness and Wisdom. What are the keys to wisdom? Desire, knowledge, and understanding. One can even add listening to this. To get to your desired levels of fitness, you need to be constantly learning. You have to listen to your body and if possible listen to a coach who has more wisdom and experience than you do. Not only do you have to understand the exercises, but how your body moves and what it needs for fuel and recovery. This is a science, you are the scientist, and your body is the laboratory. And without an unmitigated desire, none of it will be really of any use. You have to want it.

Fitness and Discipline. On paper, it is an easy concept. Do the work. In practice, it is a whole different story. It is an area that I have struggled with over the years. Even when I thought I was being disciplined, I wasn’t. As a consequence, my results were never as good as I wanted it to be. And if you or I ever want to get the results we desire, we have to stick with it. We have to practice to become better. Because if we stop practicing, it is so much harder to get back going again. Remember, objects in motion tend to stay in motion.

Fitness and Justice. What? How does fitness and justice go together? Obviously, there are ethics involved in sporting events. Cheating is not allowed. Good conduct and following the rules is highly condoned. But how does that apply to general fitness? You have to do what’s right for your body. You can’t cheat yourself and expect to win. And when it comes to shortcuts, there are none. In this arena, you have to play the long game, and you have to play it right.

Fitness and Courage. The Ronin Musashi once said, “You can only fight the way you practice.” Breaking personal records and doing the things that once seemed impossible only comes through preparation. You have to practice to get the courage, otherwise you will be fool-hardy and prone to injury. The more you practice, the harder you can safely push the limits of your capabilities.

The greatest achievement is to outperform yourself. – Denis Waitley

Outperforming myself in all areas of my life is what I am trying to do. This week, I have been looking at how the rowing machine will teach me virtue. Here’s what I have learned so far:

Wisdom. You have to know the technique, or you could get hurt or even waste your time with nothing to show for it. A good coach will take you a long ways. Being in a community with other rowers, the same. Watch, listen, learn.

Discipline. I haven’t been doing enough or staying consistent. As a result, I am barely any better than I was when I first started. To meet my goals, this has to change. The only way that can happen is to spend more time doing it. “Practice, the master of all things.” –Augustus Octavius

Justice. No shortcuts. No pretending. I may never be a world champion rower, but I can become an ambassador for the sport. This means getting better at it, coaching others, and becoming a valued part of the community. This is the right thing to do if I truly believe in its merits.

Courage. I got a new Polar H10 heartrate chest strap this week. I was using my FitBit but was concerned it wasn’t accurately tracking my heart rate. The good thing about using this chest strap, which syncs to my rower, is knowing my pulse at all times. In the past, I would get into the 160’s and think I would die. Now I know that I can accurately push my HR into the mid 170’s and be fine. The courage comes in safely pushing my limits. When I am in the 160’s and sprinting, I know I can push a little harder and still be okay. As a bonus, I can also pace myself based on my HR zone and not gas out too early in the workout.

This is my third post in the Concept 2 Life category. I’m curious what I can learn about myself from this machine and hope that what I learn confers some kind of benefit to those who take the time to read.


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