10/1/15 - Comfort in the Cold
For the past several months I’ve been fortunate enough to take a mental break from the one mile radius around the gym that I call home to travel up the coast to Malibu for some unconventional training with a buddy. Part of the training includes some incredible pool workouts with combinations of weighted underwater walks, swims, and jumps.
Though the pool training always has a great deal of variance, the traditional routine involves transitioning from the pool to spend fifteen minutes in the sauna followed by a quick transition into a fully submerged ice bath. Some of the savages that we train with calmly collect five and six minutes fully submerged (to the neck) in a cocktail of what feels like mostly ice and enough water to get wet.
Our host often refers to it as the “truth serum,” because no matter what you’d like to accomplish in that ice, without adequate recovery and a connection to your breath, it will quickly transform your world into an icy hell. I dread it. I endure it, but not without serious mental resistance.
Lately I’ve been able to settle in to a relatively calm existence that, on the surface, is only compete misery. I went three minutes in the tub calmly yesterday rather than the usual minimum of two minutes in a frenzy. This was a complete victory for me.
The funny thing is I’m hip to mental challenges. I know the key is in controlling my breath. I know the difference time spent in the tub in misery versus the same amount of time spent in peace is in my mindset. The trouble is knowing doesn’t matter.
Finding comfort in being uncomfortable takes real work. You can’t trade knowing for comfort when your body thinks it’s going to die. If we could, it wouldn’t really be a challenge after all.
It’s no secret by now that we subscribe to a general appreciation for adversity. We should do the hard thing. We should seek the challenge. When you recognize that embedded right smack in the middle of those lessons we learn from adversity is actually feeling the ice, that is when you can sit back and feel comfortable in the cold.
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