I have had an off-again-on-again affair with swimming for the past decade. It began as most affairs do – with a rush of emotion and an all-consuming passion. I couldn’t wait to get to the pool at 5:30 in the morning. Swimming made me feel so much better. I felt, as one swimming friend says, “all stretched out“. I didn’t abandon running, of course – I swam on the days I didn’t run.
A lifeguard at the rec center pool who is about my age befriended me. She gave me laminated swimming workouts and helped me with my form. I made some adjustments to my form and began swimming a little bit faster, but I was never a really great swimmer. Then I made one small adjustment which made all the difference in the world. I started driving my hips forward with each stroke.
That one small adjustment took 10 seconds off my lap time and changed my perceived exertion level from a seven (out of 10) to a four.
A similar thing happened with my running. When I first began running, I landed on the balls of my feet. I was a sprinter in high school, and that’s how we were instructed to run. The first thing I had to do was learn to land mostly on my heel or mid-foot, that was easy. I never would have been able to be a distance runner otherwise.
Other than that, I never thought much about my form. I was running, something I had been doing since I was a kid. It wasn’t something I had to think about. I just did it.
Then I read a book called Chi Running. One of the first precepts you learn in Chi Running is that you should run with a slight forward lean. This lean should come from your ankles, not your waist. My running form was too upright.
I made a slight adjustment, developed a slight forward lean, and eventually reduced my 5k times by three minutes. All it took was that one little tweak.
Eventually, my passion for swimming wore off, and I became a sporadic swimmer. I returned to the pool recently, however, due to a running injury. Upon my return to swimming, I unwittingly reverted to my original swimming form, and could not figure out why I was struggling. Then, like a light bulb going on over my head, I remembered “drive your hips forward“, and it came back to me. I was amazed at how a small adjustment could make such a big impact on my swimming. It made me wonder what other areas of my life could benefit from a small adjustment.
Gratitude is one concept that I think about often. In order to cultivate a grateful attitude, I express gratitude in several ways. I keep a gratitude journal, I say “Thank you” for the many favors and kindnesses I receive, I send thank you cards for gifts.
But is there something I could tweak to show more gratitude to those around me? Could I do some preemptive favors for my friends and family? In order to do this, I will have to pay attention in order to anticipate the needs of those close to me.
Could I give a little gift to express my gratitude? It doesn’t have to be expensive – a small plant, a jar of homemade jam, some fresh fruit.
Could I say a prayer expressing my gratitude for each day? Here is a wonderful one from the Dalai Lama:
When I was a school teacher, it sometimes seemed the majority of my job involved being the encourager-in-chief to my little band of science fair students. I was a professional encourager, and I loved it. Encouraging people is still important to me, but is there something more that I could do? Could I make a small adjustment to be more encouraging to those around me?
I was moved to tears by this story about a fellow blogger giving encouragement (and cash) to a young waitress who needed and deserved some fortification. It inspired me to look into Prophetic Encouragement more deeply and to find ways to be a more encouraging person. Here is a good reminder for me to be more encouraging today.
Finally, is there some improvement I could adopt to make my love for friends and family more visible? I am a multi-tasker and easily distracted by shiny objects. Could I give my loved ones more undivided attention? Could I really listen to what they are saying before trying to formulate a response?
Could I make more of an effort to be in touch with my far-flung friends and family? (Ooooh! Alliteration!) I haven’t forgotten about them. Could I show my love more frequently, more regularly?
I know that patience is a virtue, but it is one that I am sadly lacking. Could I make more of an effort to show patience to my loved ones (especially the youngest loved ones)? Could I count to 10, bite my tongue, do whatever it takes to demonstrate forbearance?
As the great philosopher Meat Loaf once sang, “I would do anything for love“.
What do you think? Are there small tweaks that you could make in your workouts or in other areas of your life that would make a big difference to you or those around you? It may be a simple as remembering “drive your hips forward“.
I am linking up with the following bloggers: Clean East Fast Feets for her Week in Review, Shank You Very Much for her Global Blogging, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Char at Trekking Thru, Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for the Coaches’ Corner linkup, Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday, Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart, Debbie at Dare 2 Hear, Jessica and Amy at Live Life Well, Anna Nuttall for her Bloggers Link Up, and A Glimpse of Our Life for Scripture and a Snapshot.