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IMG_0710It’s about play. I know it’s a workout, it’s training, it’s exercise. It’s a morning ride on the mountain bike doing extensive intervals, building capacity – all good stuff.  And… it’s about play.

There is something graceful in play, in the apparent purposelessness of an activity. Like the early morning trail ride. And, today it was play. A hard ride for sure and exhilarating. Yet, there is so much more. The movement, the changing scenery, the sun stirring activity on the trail and in town. The small subtle changes on the lake as the water, at first still, calm and clear begins to reflect the light and movement of the new day. There is the fragrance of lilacs that cross the trail like streams awakening and refreshing as you pass through them. There is the occasional early morning athlete on the trail and the knowing nod you exchange in the moment you pass. There are the delivery trucks and the maintenance folks on the empty street of the small town a few miles down that trail that will be gone before the rest of the world is even up to know they were there.

Yup, this ride, this workout is about target HR and aerobic threshold but, as good as the progress that comes with training will feel, that’s not where the grace is today. The grace is in the act of playing.

Stuart Brown, MD,  Director of the National Institute of Play lists the following characteristics of play:

1. Apparent Purposelessness – we don’t do it for it’s practical value, we do it for it’s own sake. Some people might even think it’s a waste of time.

2. It’s voluntary – nobody’s making you do it.

3. Inherent attraction – It’s just plain  fun. It makes you feel good.

4. Freedom from time – When we’re really into it we lose a sense of time.

5. Diminished consciousness of self – We stop thinking about thinking. We stop worrying about how we look. We’re just doing it.

6. Improvisational potential – We aren’t locked in to one way of doing things. We’re open to trying different approaches, messing about, making it up as we go.

7. Continuation desire – It’s fun and when we’re done we want to do it again.

And, there you have it in a nutshell; my morning ride. That’s what transforms it from just a workout into an experience of grace.  I hope I can carry that same spirit and thinking into the rest of the day. I hope you can too. Play with it.

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