Zenman's 2013 Training Journal: 27 September

small zendurance cycling logoFriday, 27 September

The Precious Craft of Recovery


Taking on the “S.O.S. - Savageman Duo” was a real high. However, what goes up must come down. This flurry left me a bit fatigued - even at the young age of 56! Through most of the next week, I patiently and diligently engaged in active recovery, waiting for the spark to return.

This active recovery involves more than just easy sessions of swimming, biking and running. The most effective form of active recovery is my daily 60-minute T’ai Chi practice when I arise each morning. With every passing year (more than 36 years now), this practice becomes deeper and more powerful.

I can hear it now: “Sixty minutes every day? I don’t have 60 minutes to spare for that! What a luxury!” That hour each day enables me to sleep less, avoid sickness and injury, and I feel it has slowed my aging process. This is truly affordable health care.

T’ai Chi in Kona

Ever Deeper

As I age, I continue to refine my ability to articulate the flow of chi energy through my body to affect specific recovery and maintain balance - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. For some you, this may sound like superstition or fantasy. I am not invested in convincing you otherwise. I am satisfied to state that - while I am gradually slowing down in my races - my recovery process is accelerating. (I don’t know of many athletes my age who can say that.)

I am getting better (and wiser) at healing my body. I am not going to regularly depend on any institution or individual to do this for me. I am able to recover faster now than I did 10 years ago. This is due completely to my improved ability to orchestrate the flow of chi energy.

The decades-long process of mastering that orchestration is a result of quieting my mind for deep practice. Every morning as I practice slowly with my eyes closed, I challenge and hone my perceptions. As I have emphasized so many times, this is the most effective way to progress on the path of mastery.

Some people feel that this kind of “mystical craft” is completely out of reach to the average person. It is not. It simply requires a resolve to consistent, patient and curious practice. A willingness to befriend the mystery and be present with questioning.

I have had no human teachers to guide my practice over the decades. Instead, each day, I focus on my alliance with gravity. Over the years, I have focused intently on the distinct flow of yin and yang energies in the movements and breath. The yin movements are synched with my inhales, the yang with my exhales. This is how I orchestrate the flow and generate chi energy - though this orchestration of yin and yang. It is not magic. It is a simple (perhaps the most simple?) flow of energy in our Universe.

It works. In this deep (and yes, mystical) relationship, I have discovered a powerful alliance - without any human gurus. Gravity is my guru. Enough said.

Going Forward

This recovery process is first and foremost vital to being a healthy human being and critical to my desire to race at my potential for Long Course Nationals on 12 October. While I feel that sense of urgency to jump into race-specific interval and pace sessions - to get “the edge” on my competition - I know that this would be a fruitless endeavor without restoration and recovery. I made my choice to do this pair of legendary races. Gluttony would lead to injury or illness.

The 2012 Triple Ultra was not just a test of my ability to be “zen” in my swim, bike and run technique - executing one perfect stroke/stride after another. It was a challenge to my ability to restore and recover - to articulate the flow of yin and yang.

The endeavor I am considering for this November (partially listed above) will be another such challenge. Stay tuned...

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