Someone asked me today about these super short cold water swims, feeling like she wasn’t getting “exercise”. I told her I don’t think of this as exercise at all (although you do burn a bunch of calories rewarming). It’s a physical and mental challenge, it’s social hour, it’s a refreshing ice bath, but no it’s not exercise. That seemed to switch a light on for her, in the way she was framing the whole activity. It can feel like a huge waste of time; we meet at 10:30am, get ready for maybe 20-30 minutes, swim for 10-15 minutes, and sit around shivering for another 40-60 minutes. So basically I’m gone for for 2.5-3 hours for a 10 minute activity.
Yeah if you’re trying to have an efficient work out, this ain’t it.
It’s an interesting peek into the way we frame movement. What exactly “counts” as exercise? Is all movement exercise, or only certain kinds of movement? How much time, intensity, sweating or heavy breathing is required for something to check the “I did my exercise” box? We are conditioned to believe that we have to go run/swim/to the gym for an hour or it doesn’t count.
I also think about all the times I was impatient on a ride when we kept having to stop, or angry that we had to cut a route short, or any thing that got in the way of my training. I was so focused on getting x number of hours in on my bike that I refused to ride trails that were too short, even though they might have been beautiful. I think about all the pictures I didn’t take because I didn’t want to stop.
This is my issue with training. I get into this “go go go” mindset because my motivation for being out there is training. But when I take a step back, my reason for training is my love of being outside. If training ruins rides for me, if training forces me into the pool instead of into the river, why am I doing it?
I think I have to mix training with simply enjoying. Sometimes I want to get in the water simply to feel the water, be with friends, and enjoy the scenery, not because it’s “exercise”. Not because it’s “training”. Simply for the love of doing it, and no other reason.