This off-season I’ve been pulled simultaneously in two opposite directions: the relentless desire to buy stuff to help my training and the relentless reality of limited finances.
These two elements battled mightily about two months ago when I found myself dying to buy a semi-fancy digital watch that could time intervals.
For those who are unaware, interval training involves alternating between exertion and rest for specified amounts of time in order to achieve specific physical outcomes. Interval workouts have been an integral part of my program since I started training about a year ago. One of my regular modules calls for a work-to-rest ratio of 10 seconds to 50 seconds. Another one is 30 seconds of givin’ ‘er followed by two minutes of rest. And my personal favourite is the good old scheme of two minutes on, two minutes off.
Up until recently I didn’t have a device that could manage these times for me, so I just counted in my head as I was doing my moves, not really knowing how close I was coming to the actual times. For example, I’d be grinding out a wind sprint, practically dying, while counting in my head, “20 Mississippi, 21 Mississippi ... come on 30 Mississippi!”
The system was quaint in its imperfection when I was first easing into this training thing, but as I’ve become more serious, I’ve felt a desire for accuracy.
In the spring I succumbed to temptation and conducted some online research into watches. I quickly discovered the Timex Sleek 150 and ascertained that it was the best watch for me because it allows the user to program three different interval schemes. I spent more time than I care to admit gazing at pictures of this prized timepiece.
The watch was out of reach due to the $125 price. Granted, this isn’t that much money in the grand scheme of things. Like, if I’d been facing some needed repair to my car or teeth, I could have come up with that much and more, but given that my hockey training is really a self-indulgent hobby that benefits no one else in my family, I couldn’t justify the expense.
But I must admit that I do sometimes become obsessed with objects of desire, and that’s what this watch became. Even though I told myself unequivocally that I couldn’t have it, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. One day I even ventured into a specialty running store to leer at the watch in person.
It took me mere seconds to spot it in its glass case, looking even more stunning than in the online pictures. How I longed to strap on that sleek little number and finger its buttons until a lap split, even if it was just a fleeting, one-time thing.
But I wouldn’t allow myself to indulge this fantasy. The display case remained unopened, the watch untouched, staring at me with snooty disdain as its $125 price tag dangled with a forced casualness that was as infuriating as it was alluring.
Days and weeks passed. I accepted that the watch would never be mine but couldn’t shake the desire to possess it. Then one day I couldn’t resist popping into my local sporting goods emporium to see if that store also carried the watch in question. It did. And the watch was on clearance for $60, less than half the regular price!
My reaction was instant. I shielded the display case with my arms and body while summoning a clerk with violent movements of my head and eyebrows.
The rest is a blur. There was a key, then a box, then a credit card, followed by a sense of elation as I drifted to my car.
I’ve been using the watch for several weeks now and it’s been one of those rare obsession purchases that has lived up to expectations. Truly, the watch has improved my life, and yes, I love it. There, I said it — I love my watch!
I’ve got three different interval workouts programmed into it and use them all regularly. It’s nice not to have to program it each time I do a different workout. And the watch counts the number of reps as I perform each interval sequence so I don’t have to keep track of those in my head.
But the best feature is simply that I no longer have to count Mississippis in my head. Instead, I can concentrate on doing my moves and maintaining them as my leg muscles melt, until that magical moment arrives when I’m saved by that most musical of sounds: “Beepity-beepity-BEEP!”