Thursday, October 18, 2007


Our karate dojo has a "theme of the month" that all of the senseis spend time discusssing during class. This month, the theme is "conditioning". Now my kids are groaning because their sensei took that to heart and had them do two-hundred jumping jacks, and one-hundred squats and crunches for warmups. But my sensei took the opportunity to speak about conditioning in a more wholistic way than I have heard the word used before.

Normally, when we think of conditioning we think of our lungs, our heart, our legs. We think of building a base of time and distance and getting our body used to a level of exercise that will allow us to be healthy, or perhaps allow us to pursue a specific athletic goal. I have to admit that when it comes to conditioning in karate, my goal is just to get to the point where my legs won't quiver after three minutes spent in shiko dachi (a deep squat with feet and knees turned out that is a common stance in karate). But this time, our sensei was reading a selection from Coach Wootten, a basketball legend. He talked about the importance of "moral, spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional" conditioning.

Sports can be a very self-centered thing at times. This can bring a real benefit to our lives - it can allow us time to be "self-centered" in the most positive aspect of that phrase, as in centering ourselves. The time spent in thought on a long run or ride can give us the ability to bring serenity and peace to our interactions throughout the rest of the day. It can give us time to think, to reflect, and to plan our actions instead of simply reacting to events that occur. But self-centered also can have negative connotations. A recent thread at disussed guilt and a feeling that in spending the majority of one's time and money in training for triathlons, one might be in fact disconnecting from the real world, from problems and issues that face many people. It might be a way to escape from issues that demand our attention, a way to avert our eyes inward from problems that need addressing.

When we look at our conditioning as not just physical however, we have an opportunity to address those issues. When we make it a goal to condition not only our body but our moral, mental, and spiritual selves, we can set aside time and money for activities that help others, bring spiritual enlightenment, or promote mental awareness. So this winter, I'm making it a goal to not just condition my legs, lungs, and heart, but to build a "base" of mental, moral, spiritual, and physical health. Anyone feel like joining me? What are your "conditioning" goals this year?


hak said...

1) Get rid of that Starbucks Belly.
2) Spend more QUALITY time with my family even if work/school keeps me from spending as much quantity time.

Jason said...

Great post. I really enjoyed the different take on conditioning and being self-centred.

I hadn't thought of it as conditioning, but after reading your post I've had a bit of rethink on my goals, which include (as separate from purely physical race performance):
1. Not let triathlon become my whole life, just part of it.
2. Be the best husband I can be
3. Excel and enjoy my work
4. Remove laziness from doing the basic chores of life
5. Make decisions that sit well with my morals and ethics

TriGirl 40 said...

Right now, I just need mental and physical focus to get through the next two weeks and IMFL. Though, I am looking forward to quickly setting some new goals soon thereafter! I've got a few ideas brewing - but really just need to wait a little bit longer before thinking through the details.

Robin said...

Those are all excellent things to work toward, and good food for thought (Jason, your "Remove laziness from doing the basic chores of life" hits a little too close to home, as does Hak's Starbucks belly - ouch!). And trigirl40, all the best at IMFL, that's quite a big enough goal for the next couple of weeks!