Posts Tagged ‘Swimming’

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“LOSE IT” – Feb. 22

February 22, 2016

“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  1 Corinthians 9:25

“How could I have let this happen?”

This was my thought as I stepped off of the scales about a month ago.  In April of 2015, I wrote FAT DENIED  which chronicled my struggle with weight.  After writing that post, I continued to lose weight and got down to 182 lb.lose-weight-now-300x200

I felt great. 

My Strava account  testifies to the fact that I broke more PRs (personal records) from April through September, 2015 than at any other time.  I had demonstrated that the unnecessary layer of fat around my torso was the great hindrance to my athletic performance.  I was committed to keeping the weight off.

And then, the off-season happened;
My calendar cleared of all races;
Daylight savings robbed me of training after work;
And I ate my way through the holidays.

I was staring in disgust at a number on my scale that I had allowed to happen in just 4 months.  I had never wanted to see 190 lbs. again and here I was staring at 200 lbs.

“How could I have let this happen?”

Actually, I know exactly how it happened.  It is not a mystery.

I lacked self-control.

I ate more food than my activity level could burn off.  A snack here and there.  I ate a little extra of this and that.  I had maybe seconds and sometimes thirds, which was all  it took to make the numbers on the scale start to climb.   I am frustrated and disappointed with myself because this is completely on me.

I lacked self-control.

So, I have started again.  I have begun to lose that same 20 lbs. but I am not following a diet.  I am not subscribing to some method.  My weight loss strategy is simply self-control.  I have already learned what I should be eating.  I know how to exercise.

My issue is self-control.

Therefore, I am utilizing a self-control tool.  I am using the LOSE IT! app to help me maintain self-control.  I am not dieting.  I am seeking to live a balanced life.   After I reach my weight goal, I want my calories in to be roughly equal to my calories out.  I want to lose weight at this time.  So, I want my calories in to be less than my calories out.  I need data to help my self-control.

The LOSE IT app allows me to set a weight goal level and the date that I want to achieve it.  Based on those parameters, I have a daily calorie account.  I log what I eat and the app tallies it up.  I log my exercise and the app subtracts the calories burned from my total.  The goal is to keep each day below my daily calorie total.

I have found it to be an incredibly helpful self-control tool.

Several times I have climbed on by bicycle trainer, when I didn’t feel like it, simply to burn some calories because I had eaten too much.
I have foregone seconds and certainly thirds because I know how many calories that I have left for the day.
I am better at keeping my hand out of the nut jar because I know how many calories are in a handful.

I realize that some will think that I am being legalistic about my use of the LOSE IT app.  However, they don’t value my goals.  What they term legalistic, I define as self-control.  I wish that I did not need to use the LOSE IT app.  I know a buffet is not beneficial for me.  I wish that I could be free to eat whatever I wanted without any detrimental effects to my goals.   I can’t.

I lack self-control.

I could not help but think of the spiritual application of my recent weight gain experience.  Paul encourages us to live a life of self-control.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.  1 Corinthians 9:27

What does a self-control life look like to you? 
I think many may be too quick to confuse self-control with legalism.

The problem with legalism is that it is self-control with the wrong goal.  Legalism seeks righteousness through works but lack love for God.  Self-control seeks to love God by eliminating the stumbling blocks to our weaknesses.  I know that all things are free to me but all things are not beneficial.

I have to live in the world but I don’t want to be of the world.  Therefore, I can only consume a certain amount of the world; I have to exercise the spiritual disciplines to stay strong.   This is how I maintain a balanced spiritual life.

Some may criticize me for being legalistic.
Others may call me licentious.

However, I know what my spiritual goals are.  I know the race that I am in.  I am not running aimlessly.  I am not boxing as one beating the air.  I have learned the areas in which I have freedom and those in which I need self-control.  I know how to practice the spiritual disciplines.OpenBible

Based on those parameters, I strive to live as one who is running to obtain the prize.

How about you?

Do you have a spiritual goal?
Do you know your weaknesses?
Do you practice any spiritual disciplines?

Are you running to obtain the prize?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving me a hope that surpasses this world.  Thank you for completing the work  you have started in me.  Thank you for giving me weakness.  Thank you for teaching me discipline.  Father, help me to live a balanced life that strives to glorify you.   Help me to be in the world but not of it.  Enable me to run as one running to obtain the prize.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Please feel free to follow me on Strava or Lose It!

Francis Chan

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WHAT I’VE LIKED – Jan. 2

January 2, 2016

next waveThe following are some of my favorite waves
from my web surfing over the last couple weeks.


 QUOTE:

corrie ten boom


FAITH:

I ran across this article through a link at Already Not Yet.  I appreciated 7 Ways to Become a Better Sermon Listener as a nice change from many articles.  I read a lot on how preachers need to improve but I don’t hear much advice about what we in the pews can do to get more out of what we are hearing.  This was a good reminder for me.


POETRY:

Today more than ever,
we need to be alert . . .
when with temptation
we begin to flirt.

We need to treat,
all temptation as a threat
so that we’re not filled
with remorse or regret.

We need to consider,
the warnings they create
our spiritual senses . . .
we must always elevate.

We need to be sober,
to the flags that are red
unless unto temptation
we might fall into bed.

Today more than ever,
we must not be ignorant
temptation must be treated
as a threat imminent!

Deborah Ann Belka, Red Flag Warning


RUNNING:

While How to Stay Motivated to Run this Winter had some good motivation to stay running, it was trumped by the 12 lbs that I have gain during this off-season.  So, I found weight loss to be the motivator that actually got me back to pounding the pavement.  I love the motivational stories in 15 Incredible Stories of Weight Loss Through Running

10349738_536245763197986_5504518_n(1)

A winter run – I actually did one!


CYCLING / TRIATHLON:

Good advice to change my bike trainer attitude:  Make Peace With Your Bike Trainer

However, I will take a ride in the cold over a ride on the trainer any day.  This article has a lot of good advice for those who are willing to embrace the cold: Why I Bike in Cold Weather–And How You Can Too

Best Motivation for Winter Cycling - The Beardcicle

Best Motivation for Winter Cycling – The Beardcicle


GARDENING:

I can always get my garden fix from FLORATUBE.ORG.  As I am surrounded by white snow, I was contented to see all the green from this video which FLORATUBE.ORG linked to.  So, I will do the same:


SCIENCE:

I have a new excuse – my tapeworm made me do it.  This article freaked me out.  Hidden Epidemic: 
Tapeworms Living Inside People’s Brains gives you all the reason you need to make sure your pork is cooked properly.

People forget that science is a process pursued by fallible people.  I was dismayed by the number of retractions cited in The Top 10 Retractions of 2015 due to shear fabrication of data.  It is always good to remember that many scientist have motivations other than pure science.


ART & CRAFTSMANSHIP:


FUNNY/HEART-WARMING:

You have got to love someone with a style all their own.


 

 

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WHAT I’VE LIKED – Dec. 26

December 26, 2015

next waveThe following are some of my favorite waves
from my web surfing over the last couple weeks.

QUOTE:
newton

 

FAITH:

Never underestimate what God may use to draw the lost to himself.

 

POETRY:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
~ Christina Rossetti, In the Bleak Midwinter

 

INSPIRATION/ENCOURAGEMENT:
This article by Derek Rishmawy was a very encouraging reminder, “to strive to become Spirit-empowered readers who are disciplined in the interpretive virtues.”  Admiring v. Flying Boeing 747

RUNNING:
Since I still haven’t done any running this winter, this article was truly needed.
How to Stay Motivated to Run this Winter
cold run 1

TRIATHLON:
A lot of good reasons to get a coach…we’ll see if this advice is enough to shell out some cash.  Why Did You Start Using a Coach

The article was encouraging to remember that the primary aspects of triathlon are mental.  11 Traits of Top-Notch Triathletes

GARDENING:
I love the power of gardens!

 

SCIENCE:

We live in amazing times.  I was once again amazed by our Creator and the incredible nature of DNA.  The concepts of using DNA to store data is more than a few science classes beyond my understanding.  Data Storage on DNA can Keep it Safe for Centuries

Molecules Arranged in Double Helix --- Image by © Imtek Imagineering, Inc./CORBIS

Molecules Arranged in Double Helix — Image by © Imtek Imagineering, Inc./CORBIS

The contrast of God’s hand in the molecular and the macrocosm (Hubble Snaps Breathtaking View of Colorful Veil Nebula) can be summarize as simply astounding.

This image shows a small section of the Veil Nebula, as it was observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This section of the outer shell of the famous supernova remnant is in a region known as NGC 6960 or — more colloquially — the Witch’s Broom Nebula.

This image shows a small section of the Veil Nebula, as it was observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This section of the outer shell of the famous supernova remnant is in a region known as NGC 6960 or — more colloquially — the Witch’s Broom Nebula.

 

CRAFTSMANSHIP:

FUNNY/HEART-WARMING:

 

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WHAT I’VE LIKED – Nov. 28

November 28, 2015

next waveThe following are some of my favorite waves from my web surfing over the last couple weeks.

QUOTE:
“It’s nice to be great, but far greater to be nice.”
~ Joe Newton

FAITH:
I appreciated this article of strategies to help enjoy continuous communion with God.  Nancy gives 10 very practical aids to help set our minds on God.  I particularly liked her reminder, “our all-gracious God chooses to bless us when we seek to bless him.”  Ten Ways to Keep Mindful of God

POETRY:
“And then one day He wasn’t there –
no voice, no touch, no sense
that He was watching over me,
the heavens just seemed dense.
And then I knew just how it felt
to be an afterthought.
To not be top of someone’s list,
the first thing they sought.
It took some time to make it up,
I learned to make amends.
But now I guard it preciously
that God and I are friends.”
~ Ann Marie Thomas, Neglect, My Stroke of Inspiration

INSPIRATION/ENCOURAGEMENT:
This article by Tim Challies was very encouraging as he exhorts, “You can be far holier, far purer than you ever thought possible.”  A Simple but Life-Changing Realization

RUNNING:
It is a familiar story –
I am seeking inspiration to run;
maybe some running movies will help.
12 Great Running Movies

CYCLING:

Tri-Bike Trainer

I hate it when the weather gets too cold and I am forced onto the indoor trainer.  I just can’t take long trainer workouts so that is why I liked this article.  The author recommends short, hard efforts to build our aerobic energy system—in less time.  Work a little harder but get it done in less time – I like that.

The article has workouts to do two to three times a week.  I am going to give these a go this off-season.  How to Ride Inside:  Indoor Trainer Workouts for Cyclists

GARDENING:
I will warn you – if you like great gardens, it is hard to watch only one episode.

 

CRAFTSMANSHIP:

AMAZING:

 

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TRAINING PLANS – Jan 2

January 2, 2015

“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.  Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8

 training bibleAs I languish on the couch with used tissues accumulating around me, I am still sick (AM I SICK), I have been diligently working through my recent Christmas present.  I received the book The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joel Friel.

It only took a few chapters for me to realize that my training could be so much more effective.  The training philosophy espoused by Joel Friel is very different than what I have been doing:

An athlete should do
the least amount
of the most specific training
that brings continual improvement.

I have not been following this philosophy.  I tend to do random training workouts that usually focus on my strengths rather than weaknesses.  This haphazard training regiment survives reasonably well through approximately two-thirds of the season.  However, I have a tendency of burning-out toward the end of the summer.  I probably could be the poster-boy for the weekend warrior athlete’s battle with consistency.

Joel Friel is teaching me something new regarding how to maintain consistency.

Consistent training, not extreme training, is the way to attain the highest possible fitness.  Illness, injury, and overtraining can cause training breakdown, and extended or frequent downtime from such problems inevitably results in a loss of fitness and the need to rebuild by returning to previous levels of training…Consistency must serve as the ultimate standard in all training decisions…The key is to strive for moderation in training while resting at regular intervals.
~ Joel Friel, The Triathlete’s Training Bible, Page 7

Friel estimates that you will need to double the duration of a training break to rebuild the lost level of fitness.   That makes consistency the key to continual improvement.  Friel’s solution is to emphasis rest and recovering while maintaining fitness to avoid the inconsistency of significant breaks.

Just as the farmer’s field must lie fallow every winter, so does the human body, mind, and spirit need a rest, with time to reflect, recover, and rejuvenate.
~ Rob Sleamaker, Serious Training for Serious Athletes

That takes planning.  I have finished my annual training plan based on the guidance in The Triathlete’s Training Bible.  It is still a work in progress since I don’t have all my race, vacation, and work travel dates but this is what it is looking like so far:   Annual Training Plan   I am still in the process of creating my weekly and daily workout schedule in Training Peaks so I cannot share those specifics.

This planning process has been an excellent evaluation of what I am doing and why.  As a result, I am optimistic that my training plan for 2015 will guide me to training according to Friel’s philosophy – doing the least amount of the most specific training that will bring continual improvement and help me to achieve my goals.

While I concentrated on my athletic goals for 2015, I could not keep from reviewing my other resolutions for 2014.  I did not do very well.OpenBible

I did not read nearly the quantity or quality of books I had hoped.  Most disappointing, I did not stay consistent in my Bible reading plan and did not complete it.

I failed to memorize Romans 8, once again.

I failed on every single one of my prayer strategies.

I was not as consistent in writing this blog as I had hoped.

I actually gained weight.

I didn’t start a home Bible study.

I did not send out a note of encouragement per week.

The sharing of achievements is much more satisfying than the acknowledgement of unfulfilled goals.  However, I share my lack of success because I don’t think that I am alone.  According to a study by the University of Scranton, just 8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions will achieve their goal.

There are a lot of reasons resolutions are abandoned but for me the number one reason is fatigue.  I get tired and give up.  My resolve breaks down under illness, disappointment, distraction, or simply taking on too much (overtraining).

The intent of my athletic plan is to increase consistency – consistency will produce continual improvement.  That is what I need in my spiritual life.  I want to make the most of the time I have been given.  Therefore, I am going to try an experiment in 2015.  I am applying what I have learned from Joel Friel into a new spiritual training philosophy for 2015:

I will strive for consistent spiritual training
as the standard for all my resolutions
while incorporating regular periods
of rest and reflection in order
to achieve continual spiritual growth.

That is going to take some planning.  I have finished my first draft of an annual spiritual training plan.  I am still working on what I am going to be doing for each “X” but this is what I have so far: Annual Spiritual Training Plan

It is still a work in progress so I will be interested to hear any advice or comments.

PRAYER: Father, you know my fickle, inconsistent heart.  You know that I love to start things but struggle to see it through.  Lord, help me to consistently walk in your Spirit through this coming year.  Father, I ask that you will guide and bless the plan  I have laid before you.  May it be a tool in my sanctification.  Create in me a pure heart.  Train me in godliness for your glory.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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A TALE OF TWO TRI’S – Sept 1

September 1, 2014

“For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” Psalms 149:4

The triathlon season has come to a close for me. I competed in only two events this summer, the Boise Ironman 70.3 and the Emmett Most Excellent Triathlon. I am confrontDSC_0085ed by very different emotions as I reminisce over the two events.

The Boise Ironman was an event that I trained specifically for. I blogged several times regarding my apprehensions associated with this new and longer distance. I had specific goals for each leg of the race.

I hoped to swim the 1.2 mile distance between 40 to 45 minutes.
I wanted to do the 56 mile bike in less than 3 hours.
All I wanted to do was survive the ½ marathon; my goal was a time of 2 hours 30 minutes.

swim-massThe swim was cold – frigid cold.  So cold, I wanted to quit when my head broke the surface for the first time. However, the race start filled me with enough adrenaline and coursing blood that cold water concerns quickly evaporated. I swam my typical serpentine route as I struggled to stay on course. Other than getting a little motion sickness from swimming through a couple wakes and drinking a couple waves, the swim went very well. I came out of the water right at 40 minutes. I was thrilled.

My official time corresponded well with my experience – 40:05, 2:04/100 average.

DSC_0108My plan on the bike was to ride within myself and stick to my nutrition and hydration schedule. I tried to maintain a speed of over 20 mph on the flat sections of the course, knowing that my average speed would suffer on the hills. Surprisingly, I was averaging just over 20 mph as I descended back into the City of Boise. However, my stomach threatened to revolt. I had been regularly drinking the Gatorade that I was packing and consuming a gel packet on the ½ hour. By mile 45, the thought of eating another gel pack made me want to vomit and I acquiesced to the will of my stomach when it sent up a warning “erp”. I slowly watched my average speed fall as I tried to manage the fatigue that was creeping into my legs. However, I still held onto my goal of finishing the ride in less than 3 hours. I chuckled when the timer beep signaled the end of my ride with only seconds to spare.

My official time corresponded well with my experience – 2:29:53, 18.68 mph average.

I transitioned to the run and into the unknown. I managed the first couple miles relatively respectfully. However, my heart rate began to rise and fatigue was setting in alarmingly fast. I changed to a run-walk strategy. I ran until my heart rate cliDSC_0110mbed to 160 bpm, when I would walk it back down to 140 bpm. I did this throughout the run and to my surprise it was a reasonably pleasant experience. I was going agonizingly slow as a constant stream of runners continued to pass me, but at this point I did not care.  I just wanted to finish. I shuffled over the finish line just over 2:30.

My official time corresponded well with my experience – 2:30:53, 11.31/mile average.

0727_010853Overall, I finished with a time of 6:17:27. I had hoped to finish at 6:15, but I was very satisfied with my performance. I was 68th out of the 105 athletes in my age group; my typical place in the meat of the bell curve. My experience corresponded well with the official results.

My second race of the season came after a week of business travel, followed by a week of County fair. I went to sleep after 11:30 PM following an evening at the 4-H and FFA livestock sell with the decision not to race the following morning. However, I awoke with plenty of time to make the race that I had pre-registered and paid for. I never have the opportunity for open water swims so I figured I would do the race for the swim and see what happened with everything else.

I had the best swim that I have ever had in a race. I swam a reasonably straight route and did not have any major corrections. For the first time, I did not even get caught up in the melee at the turning buoys. I focused on stretching long and felt like I was going fast; very few swimmers passed me. When I came out of the water, I discovered that I had missed the start button on my watch so I had no time. I came out just behind this young guy and felt very good about the fact that there were not very many athletes in the transition area.

My official time for the swim was 27:20, 1:40/100 average.

This time was only 20 seconds faster than my time last year. I felt so much faster than last year. Also, according to the official time, the guy coming out of the water ahead of me was 41 years old, not the twenty-nothing kid I had remembered. My experience did not correspond this official record.

I had a very good ride. I was feeling strong and did way more passing than being passed. I was averaging between 22-23 mph over most of the route. A young guy passed me on the most significant climb and we exchanged some words of condolence. He became my pace setter as we headed back to the City of Emmett. Some weird cross winds picked up over the last third course so I contented myself with riding between 20-21 mph. The last check of my average speed was 21.75 mph as I came into the City of Emmett.

My official time was 1:10:46, 21.07 mph average.

This time was actually 19 seconds slower than my time last year. That did not make any sense. I know I rode that course faster than last year. According to the official time, the young guy that paced me on the bike was actually the same 41 year old guy who came out of the water 2 seconds ahead of me. My wife videoed me coming into the bike-run transition area and also caught a glimpse of the rider just ahead of me. I found a picture of the athlete who should have been ahead of me according to the official records on Linkedin and checked it against the video. They don’t look like the same guy.

DSC_0309I began my run with the usual trepidation. The day was relatively cool and I was feeling good. The normal flow of runners passing me did not seem as ferocious as usual. I was hoping to run the 10K under 1 hour and after a first lap of just over 28 minutes, I was right on pace. I checked my watch regularly with about two miles to go. It was going to be close. I lengthened my stride and really started to dig deep over that last ½ mile and I was encouraged as I gobbled up several athletes who had passed me earlier. The last check of my watch as I headed down the final stretch put me under 59 minutes, I was going to make it. I crossed the finish line and as they were cutting my timing chip off of my ankle, I stopped my watch – 59:something. I had done it and came in under 1 hour.

My official time was 1:00:08, 9:41/mile average.

That was a 10 second per mile average improvement over last year but it did not correspond at all to my own time. By my reckoning, I should have been about a minute faster.

Overall, I finished with a time of 2:41:10. I was 6th out of the 13 athletes in my age group and exactly 1 minute faster than last year. However, my experience of the race tells me that I should have been knocking on the door of the podium.

I can easily accept the official results of the Boise Ironman because they are confirmed by my experience. I probably will never fully accept the official results of the Emmett Most Excellent Triathlon because they are so counter to what I experienced. However, the official results of both races stand, whether I accept them or not.

In many ways, the tale of these two triathlons illustrates one of the most significant stumbling blocks to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel tells us that every person is a sinner in need of a Savior. It tells us that we are not good. It tells us that we have rebelled against God and have earned the punishment of hell.

The Gospel is good news to those whose experience corresponds to the official record of the Bible. For these, Jesus Christ saves them from what they know they deserve and gives them what they could never earn.

The Gospel is a stumbling block to those whose experience tells them that they are good enough. Their experience has them comparing themselves to other people and concluding that they do not deserve condemnation. Their pride leads them to follow their own understanding and reject the official record of pending judgment.

Just as it is pride that elevates my race experience to equality with an official timekeeper, it is pride that keeps a person from acknowledging his place before God and keeps God from exalting him. It is pride that makes people believe that they deserve the podium.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:10)

At the end of the age, it is only the official record that will stand. It will not matter whether we agree with it or not. All will be humbled before the splendor of His majesty. All pride will crumble and utterly pass away before the Lord.

And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled,
And the lofty pride of men shall be brought low,
and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.(Isaiah 2:17)

Don’t wait until that day to let go of your pride for then it will be too late. Today is the day to accept the official record of the Lord God and to receive the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for breaking my pride and enabling me to see past my experience and to the truth of your Word.   Forgive me for reverting back to that old pride and not living daily in the good news of the Gospel.  Lord, enable me to not think of myself.  Help to keep my eyes firmly fixed upon you. Father, break down the stumbling block of pride that is keeping the lost focused upon their personal experience.  Call them to yourself and salvation.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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Balance & Rhythm in Swimming and Life – July 1

July 1, 2014

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

I had a great swim the other day. It was a swim that finally felt right after a week of unsatisfying attempts. I have been getting back to regular swimming. A week was lost to business travel and my post – Boise Ironman 70.3 training break had stretched out longer than originally intended, resulting in irregular pool attendance.

Swimming technique goes quickly with inactivity. The delicate balance and timing of a smooth swimming stroke can easily be lost to a few weeks without a reminder. However, it is a wonderfully meditative sensation when one finds that intricate rhythm of a smooth free-style stroke.

I found my lost free-style stroke the other day and it was wonderful.

reachThere are three basic aspects of a free-style stoke. (Just a disclaimer, I have never been coached in swimming. Everything I know about swimming, I learned on Youtube and blogs.)

The Reach: The forward arm enters the water at a point inside the shoulder line and only fully extended under the water. I like to feel the full stretch of my forward arm timed with the rotation of my torso and exit of my other arm from the water in the recovery. The reach is important because it helps keep you from sinking. Also, a long reach increases the length of your arm which gives more power to the catch and pull phase.

catch 2The Catch & Pull: The forward arm should stay fully extended for a brief moment before “catching” the water – this enhances gliding through the water. The forward arm then catches the water with the hand and the forearm. It is important not to churn the water but to “feel it”.  This is where the power in the stroke comes from. The arm accelerates throughout the stroke as you rotate your torso using the power of your core, right up to the point of exit, when the hand passes the hip.

recovery 2The Recovery: Once the arm is pushing back (when the hand has passed the elbow) the elbow begins to straighten. When the arm exits the water, the elbow immediately begins to flex again, staying high with the hand close to the body. The exit of the arm is important because it causes the rotation of the torso, which reduces drag through the water and sets up a long, stretching reach of the forward arm.  It also let’s you breath – which is important.

All the aspects of the free style stroke need to be synchronized and balanced for an efficient swimming stroke. I have read that a swimmer with deficient technique can expend 50% more energy than one using a stroke that is balanced through the various stages. Swimming is unforgiving of poor technique.

All the stages of the free-style stroke need to be in balance and in rhythm. When it happens, swimming becomes easy.

reach 2I was thinking about the Christian life as I enjoyed re-discovering the rhythm of my swimming technique. The Christian life needs to be a balance between the future, the present, and the past – all blended into a seamless rhythm of continued forward progress; otherwise known as sanctification.

The Reach (Future): We are told to set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13). We have to stretch for this hope. When we are reaching for the hope of the Gospel, it lengthens us; we can glide through troubles and not sink into the cares of this world. In addition, a hope that is set on the full assurance of our faith corrects selfish motivations and gives power to our service and obedience in the present.

catchThe Catch & Pull (Present): The power of the Holy Spirit is manifested in the present of the Christian life. The present is where we do the work of service and obedience. We reach forward to our hope, check our motivations and then catch the opportunities of our life. The power of our daily lives comes by faithfully using our God-given strengths, being sensitive to the Spirit (feeling His presence), and then pressing into our firm foundation. The key to a powerful present is consistently pressing into the Spirit throughout our day. We need to be consciously setting our mind on the things of the Spirit from the time we wake to the moment we close our eyes to sleep. That is how we make the most of the present.

recoveryThe Recovery (Past): The Christian has to learn how to handle the past. Lingering in the past will only drag us down. Therefore, we need to exit the past cleanly – forgiving who we need to forgive; confessing what we need to confess; correcting what needs to be corrected – and then immediately get back to the Hope that lays before us. It is this quick transition from past experiences to future hope that will lengthen our time for good works in the present, which give the Spirit more opportunities to manifest His glorious power in our daily lives.

The Christian life is a wonderful blend of future, present, and past. I know how easy it is to lose that precious rhythm:

I have neglected meditating on the Hope that I have been called to.
I have churned away trying to please God with my good works in proof of my salvation.
I lingered over thoughts of the past that have drug me to a stop.

20131001-235329Throughout those periods of life, I could feel that my spiritual life was not quite right. Consistency has always brought me back to the wonderful rhythm of a life synchronized with the Spirit. Whenever I am not feeling it, I still jump into the deep water of my Lord and Savior. Taking a break from God never is to your advantage.

Our helper, the Spirit, is the one who always corrects our deficient and inefficient living. Let’s get back to living in the Spirit, for His glory, in all the aspects of our lives – past, present, and future.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for allowing my life not to feel right. Thank you for giving me your Spirit to be my helper – to teach me and correct me.  Lord, continue to work in my life.  Show me where I am out of balance.  Help me to come into rhythm with your Spirit in all aspects of my life.  Give me a heart that Hopes in you.  Teach me how to exit cleanly from my past and immediately reach out to you.  Grant me the power of your Spirit to live every moment of my life for your glory. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Photographs: Swim Channel Facebook

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