During one of the World Cup soccer matches I was watching with Carlos (2006 I think) I remember him saying that watching Brazil is like watching poetry.
I know that for someone like him who knows the sport and studies the strategy and plays this is a true comment. I, however, didn’t (and continue to not) see the poetry. Why? Not because I dislike it – I enjoy watching matches. Rather, it is because I am among the mass populous that enjoys soccer (and I can group football and many other team sports) but but do not see the plays developing and cannot anticipate the next play. I will say it. I enjoy these sports; I have teams I enjoy watching play. But, unlike my husband, I do not study and know the game. I know enough to appreciate the effort and strategy, and applaud and be excited by those beautiful plays. But I don’t see the elegance in the plays developing or being executed. The strategy is lost on me, even if I enjoy watching the sport. For me sports have been more of a social event and a chance to enjoy a game. As an athlete that trains for goals, I appreciate and am awed at the work these athletes have put in to get to the level they are be it collegiate, Olympic an/or pro but the poetry of the sport is lost on me.
Although not a direct parallel to the plays developing on a soccer or football field, in the past few months I have noticed I am gaining a heightened awareness and appreciation of the poetry in motion in a different sport: triathlon, as well as the individual sports of swimming, biking and running. And I am gaining and learning an appreciation for seeing and using strategies during the event.
And it’s poetry to me.
Where is started is a “which came first the chicken or the egg” question. I have found a great joy in training and racing triathlons. As I work on improving my performance, I am learning more about form and strategy and the roll they play in racing stronger and smarter. Is it that I enjoy the sport or that I am starting to train with these ideas in my mind that I am observing it elsewhere? Who’s to say….but it is happening. And it is fun to learn and see.
When I go to races or where people are training I watch people go by and look at their form and note hand or foot placement, body position and follow through. Where does their form fail? Where is it strong? What do they need to do to strengthen the weaknesses?
And then I start translating that to what I am doing, and what I can do to improve. I also ask questions. Right now I have several people I ask about what they see in my form and what I need to do to improve. And I work on it!
I have gone through pictures and videos of me after a race and see where my form falls, or where and when it is better/stronger. The video Mary took of me at the end of the Columbus tri is hard to watch. I felt strong but you can see with each step where my left side falls. Much different from the start of the run portion of the race.
I am working on ways to keep better form longer and at higher intensities. It is slow work, but I love it.
Then there is the poetry in racing strategy, and it is there in any race when ever you are racing for a goal. It’s about racing your own race, and rising to meet a challenge. In my track sessions with Mike and his team this summer he really emphasized and talked about running smart: knowing where and when to back off to reap big gains later. I took his words and applied them to swimming and biking as well running. It starts in training so that on race day it isn’t even a question: it just happens. Watching it unfold is a beautiful thing. And feeling it unfold in a race is wonderful, exciting and motivating. I know when I have raced my race and met my challenge.
I have never had an interest where I am able to observe and see the subtleties of a sport, or have voluntarily spent time to learn nuances. This is all new ground for me, and it really is fun. I hope it never grows old.