In early October, I traveled to Cincinnati to visit our son and his family. It’s become an annual fall visit because he is the head football coach of the Madeira High School Mustangs and we always try to make at least one game each year. This year was a little different than the others because The Warden decided to stay home due to COVID-19 concerns (after 45 years I still miss her so much when we are apart – not kidding). But since she wasn’t able to go, it gave me a chance to tag along with my son the day before the game and attend Thursday practice. It was the first time I stepped onto a football field since I last coached in 1986. What a wonderful feeling being able to just walk up and down the field, feeling like I was part of it again. I’m sure the some of the players that didn’t know me were wondering “who’s that old guy with the white beard wandering around out here?” But while I was wandering, I was reminiscing. Reminiscing about when I played and then I came to a bit of a revelation. I found myself not thinking about playing in a game, or making some play or scoring a touchdown, but instead found myself missing, of all things,…practice? I was missing all the things about PRACTICE; the preparation, the structure, the hard work, being with my team mates, my coaches, the smells, the sounds, the pain, the fun. I was missing the PROCESS of football. I mean, isn’t that true? Practice is the process and the game is the outcome. You spend a week in process for the next week’s outcome. Film study, conditioning, game planning, practicing offense, defense, and special teams, and then you’re ready.
The Problem is the Outcome
Yes, it’s a problem. So many times we focus on the outcome but, we are never guaranteed a successful outcome, are we? You may lose the game no matter how well you prepared for it. And isn’t it the same for many things? A chef may spend all day preparing a meal only to have it taste bad. Or an artist may work days on a painting and then decide it looks terrible (I live with one, so I know). So, if you only focus on the outcome, you may never be happy. But, if you focus on the process, you’ll love what you do.
About now you’re, you’re thinking, “I thought this was a rowing blog? OK, Giles, what the hell does this have to do with rowing?” It’s got to do with rowing because I love the process of rowing.
Love The Process
I’m not the best rower, not even remotely close. Not even close for my age group (60-69). But, I love the process. For me, the process includes planning my workouts, eating the right food, and rowing, of course. My rowing day process includes dynamic stretching (because at 66, these old tired muscles need A LOT of stretching), a warm-up pick drill row (of about 5 minutes or approximately 1000 meters), a purposeful workout (most times not more than 20 minutes), a cool-down row of another 1000 meters, then long stretching afterwards (which is surprisingly painful – LOL) During my workouts, the process includes focusing on improving my technique so I can be the best and most efficient rower that I can be. On my non-rowing recovery days, the process includes a body weight/dumbbell strength training workout with exercises focused to improve my rowing skills followed by a 5k walk. This is the process I have been living for the past 18 months and I look forward to it every day.
But don’t get me wrong, I do have goals I am set on achieving as far as fitness, weight loss, and health (my outcomes) and I am using rowing to achieve them. For rowing, I’m on a quest to complete a 2000 meter row (the standard distance indoor rowers gage themselves by) in under eight minutes. I recently attempted this (for a second time) and failed (for a second time). My second failure was a big improvement over my first. So, instead being disappointed by failure, I was inspired! I’m getting closer and I know I’ll make it, eventually, because I’ll just keep focusing on the process.