Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Exertec Health and Fitness Center, Napa, California, USA

December 31, 2013

This essay, Endurance, is the companion piece to
  1. Presence Of Self
  2. Performance Is Action
in that order.

If I don't exercise, things go downhill pretty fast physically. The benefits of exercise aren't cumulative (I wish they were) - that is to say if I stop exercising, whatever benefits I'd gained previously, fade fast. With exercise, I'm either moving ahead or I'm falling behind. There's no staying in the same place and keeping the accrued benefits if I stop. It's not an option.

It works best for me to exercise at dawn. It jump-starts my day. My current regimen is run one day, then swim the next (freestyle mostly, alternating with breaststroke for a cooler interval), then run, then swim etc. I prefer to run on an elliptical. It goes easier on my ankles and knees. I prefer the elliptical to a treadmill. The elliptical exercises both upper and lower body.

When I run, I keep a notepad and pen in a slot in the elliptical to write down any ideas I get while running which I'd like to develop later or incorporate into these Conversations For Transformation. For swimming, I wrap the notepad and pen in a towel which I place at the end of my lane on top of a styrofoam kickboard. That way, if I'm inspired by something while swimming, I'll not only have something dry to write it down on: I'll also have something to dry my hands with before doing so.

When I began this regimen I set distance and time targets for running and swimming, something to aim for which I didn't always reach. Later I noticed not only was I reaching both running and swimming targets without thinking too much about them: I was reaching them effortlessly. They didn't become easier because of repetition. After running / swimming, my heart pounds and my breath is accelerated. Although I hadn't had my attention on it, through trial and error I'd discovered the access to endurance. And when I noticed how that  came about, it had me reaching for my notepad and pen.

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:


the ability to keep doing something difficult, unpleasant, or painful for a long time

Along the way to discovering the access to endurance (staying the course  if you will), I first keyed  my running / swimming to distance: determining at the start of each session how far I would run / swim. The trouble with keying to distance is when running I have to look down and focus, from time to time, on the elliptical's odometer - a distraction. When swimming I have to count laps  - easy to forget and even more of a distraction.

Then I abandoned keying to distance entirely, and keyed instead to time:  determining at the start of each session the duration I would run / swim. Keying to time is less distracting than keying to distance. You keep running / swimming until you've run / swum for as long as you said you would. There's a clock on the wall in front of the elliptical. There's a clock on the wall at the end of the pool lane. Nothing to remember. Less of a distraction. The preset time has elapsed - or it hasn't. The session is over - or it isn't.

Here's the incisive observation I made about keying exercising either by distance or by time: who I am  isn't necessarily present in either of them. Neither distance nor time, as it turns out, is an adequate context  for who really I am to show up  while exercising. I began to realize the access to endurance isn't simply a matter of approaching physical limits while exercising, then pushing through  them. Nor is it resisting  the call of distractions like aches, pains, weariness, and / or occasionally flat out boredom  and wanting to do something else, to go easy, to slow down, or to stop entirely and end the session prematurely.

I began to realize the access to endurance is a matter of staying present  throughout exercising - in other words, the access to endurance is a matter of having an exercise session be a context for who really I am. To have an exercise session be a context for who really I am, I have to key exercising, in addition to distance and / or in addition to time, ... to ... being  ...


Keying to being. Only secondarily keying to distance: how far have I run / swum? How much further? Only secondarily keying to time: how long has it been? How much longer? Primarily keying to being: I'm here, and running / swimming is here. I'm here, and there is running / swimming. The distance will be covered - sooner or later. The time will pass - sooner or later. Being, however, is a broader context than both distance and time, broad enough to include  aches, pains, weariness, and / or flat out boredom without being distracted, without stopping entirely and ending the session prematurely. In certain respects, it's the global context within which distance and time (and running and swimming) (and everything else, for that matter) all show up.

Keying exercising to being as the context for keying exercising to distance and / or time, is the access to endurance. Keying any  human endeavor to being, is the access to endurance.

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