Mid-December I was struggling with the seemingly enormous task of returning to some semblance of my previous fitness level when I read here about Sam’s run streak. I thought it was a great idea and the concept of ‘little runs’ consistently is quite appealing.
I think on any day I could get myself out of the house to jog for a mile. Multiply that distance by 3 and all of a sudden I build a wall of expectations (too far, too slow, too tired) that create a barrier to getting out the door.
Backing up a little. I was cleared by my GP to return to exercise in August after a long hiatus. Starting slowly I began with regular sessions in the gym, returning to swimming when my local open air pool re-opened in October, occasionally cycling with a local club and becoming a semi-regular at my local ParkRun on Saturday morning.
My long term return-to-fitness goal is a long course triathlon. But for now, I was lost. Standing at the bottom of this fitness mountain looking up and trying to develop a program that would fit all my expectations and needs it was all a bit overwhelming.
My fears were exacerbated by the searing heat of the Adelaide summer. We have already had numerous spells over 40C degrees (104F) and can expect several days over 45C (114F). I am not a little person and I find I get distressed running and cycling in the heat (anything over 30 degrees really). In fact, just thinking about it makes me anxious. So all in all, I didn’t know where to begin. But I knew I wanted to start.
One morning, shortly after reading Sam’s post I was in the pool and I thought to myself. “I should break this down, I always work better with a plan. Breathe, is my stroke okay? Stretch that right arm out. Where was I? Oh yes. Break this down. Breathe on the left, oops, cough, ugh, I really have to work on that. Yes. Break this down. Breathe. I should remember think of this in more detail when I stop swimming.”
Swim-uary was born. My commitment is to swim every weekday in January and February 2016. Focussing on improving my swim technique and endurance through summer seemed like a pretty good idea when starting down the barrel of a scorching summer.
I joined up with a local training group and we have swim squad on Tuesday and Thursday mornings so that will give my fitness and technique a good kick. Most other days I hop in with a tentative aim to swim for 30 mins non-stop. Ultimately my goal here is to swim sub-30 minutes for 1500m. Like running a 6 minute kilometre, swimming 2 minutes per 100m is a benchmark for the also-swims among us.
But I’m not pushing for that every day. The first step each day is to get to the pool, get in and start swimming. In the first few minutes I check-in with how I am feeling. Some days I know that it will be a cruisy 30 minutes and I just enjoy it. Others I’m checking in each 5 minutes – am I still wanting to go on? And reminding myself it is okay to stop if I am tired.
Not setting a specific time, distance or even a program beyond “swim” or “get in the pool” takes the pressure off. On days where I’m just not feeling up to it I can play around and relax or work on something specific. Yesterday was one of those days, so I worked on my tumble turns. Maybe by the end of Swim-uary I will have them mastered? Maybe not.
Breaking my return to fitness down to something manageable has already helped. I no longer feel I am circling the bottom of that fitness mountain looking for the beginnings of the “best” path up. I’ve turned face-on and every day I take another step, however big or small, up.
I already have the next step in mind too – “Run like the win-ter” has a nice ring to it don’t you think?