The Art of Doing Nothing

cmalcolmMarch 4, 2012

As a full time athlete it often feels like you have copious amounts of time on your hands.  (and somehow… no free time at all?)

You have to fill this void.  You have to find creative ways to do nothing.  So that ONE, your brain won’t turn to mush… and TWO, you’ll also actually get those precious hours of rest in that are so important when sports are your job.

Who knew doing nothing could be so difficult? tedious? and often times unenjoyable?  For me it really did use to be all of those things.  But with some serious practice (yeah ok I have to take all aspects of this full time athlete thing seriously) I’ve gotten alot better at just that… doing nothing.

When we are not getting ready to go training, traveling to training, training, traveling home from training, showering (yeah even we sweat), eating, afternoon pre training snacking, getting ready for more training, training, showering some more, and of course eating even more… we still find ourselves with hours to fill.  And you see it’s especially important to master this skill in the spring and summer… because come winter and racing there is less training (and associated nonsense) to take up your time!  And when a rest week or tapering time comes around and you have not properly prepared… Hello mental breakdown or a rather mean case of little restless leg syndrome!

So for all of you out there here is a little (somewhat aggressive and mostly complete) list of how to do nothing like a professional amateur by yours truly, Corrine Malcolm.

Napping.  Master this tool and you are 60% better at doing nothing.  Eat some food, drink some tea, find a dark corner, snuggle up in a warm blanket and pass the heck out.  As athletes we know that resting is when our bodies gets stronger, right? Of course right. Moving on.

Embrace your artsy-self.  As a person who is not ashamed to rock full body spandex you must not be afraid to well… put it all out there.   Man this should really have it’s own section…

Paint or draw.  I do not care if you are the world’s best doodler or the master of stick figure art, break out that sketch pad or note book and get after it.  (Yes this is also where I start to shamelessly plug team mates and friends) One of my team mates Hannah is quite the painter and when she is on the road traveling for training and racing she makes some pretty incredible art work.  Check it out here!

Strum, Bang, Clang, Toot.  How many times have to talked about learning the guitar or the piano? (ok I know traveling with a piano is unrealistic) Well you know that time between nap time and snack time (man I sound like a kindergardener!) pick up that guitar and strum… strum quietly as to not wake your room/house-mates.  Use that solid 30 minutes of time before you get a hankering for some cereal to learn a handful of chords.  Let’s face it…your attention span isn’t much longer than that anyway.

Write. This is my go to.  I have notebooks of notes.  Of half written monologues, poems, and short stories.  Articles, imaginary and real. Pep talks. Conversations I will never have with people… atleast not real people.  Write because those thoughts that are screaming around inside your mind need to go somewhere, and paper won’t talk back.

Learn. Take a class. Read something really nerdy that you secretly can’t get enough of.  I have this odd fascination with nutrition.  With health sciences.  I was recently asked by a friend for a list of books on nutrition that were… “readable” Readable?  Right not everyone can read medical journals and stay awake. Silly me. Secret super nerd.   

Get Crafty.  Create.  Build. (rebuild) …what have you. Get your hands dirty.

Plant. Sew. Knit. Build. Spackle. Grout?   Grow something, basil, mint, whatever…. something that you probably won’t kill.  Get a pet Cactus (name it Jelly Donut). Sew something you wildly domestic freak. Knit a hat…. Or in my case attempt over and over and over again.  I have recently made a series of really horribly awkwardly shaped/sized purple hats…  Try, try again.  Help a team mate or friend with those house renovations that they can’t afford to pay outside help to do… because lets face it… you’ll work for food.

Cook some really time intensive things.  Sour dough bread? Apple sauce?  Baked goods that you will shamelessly give away because although you really like to make cookies and pie you really do not want eat a whole batch or an entire pie. (Someone has to ski up hill after all)

Dream.  I spend a lot of time day dreaming.  I’ve sketched the future garden I want to have some day probably a dozen times. I’ve dreamed about the houses, huts, cabins, yurts, and humble abodes I could see myself living in at some point or another.  Is it weird that I’ve already named farm animals that I may or may not want to have at some point down the road?  (on the ‘list’ might be two goats named Cornelius and Fergie… I will forgetfully refer to them as my ‘kids’)  Dream about whatever meal it is you really want to have when you finish that 3 hour rollerski… and then fight your odd craving for Sprite, Sprite? Why?

Lastly and most importantly… I highly encourage and suggest lying about how much time you might spend fumbling around the confines of the inter-web…

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