Monday, January 25, 2016

No Matter Where You Go, There You Are

It's 5 am and the chimes on my phone are gently waking me up.

I roll over, turn it off and start grumbling about what I want to accomplish today, when my mantra, "You'll feel better in the water" drifts through my brain.  I get up, take care of this and that, get on my swim suit and throw on several layers.  It was 7F when we got up this morning.  (That's ~-14C for the rest of the world)

Get to the gym, stuff my crap in the locker, shower off in HOT water to brace myself for the shock of...

Woah, warm pool.  Oh yeah, I'm a total rock star, getting in this comfortable pool to do what's essentially a warm-up to the real swimmers.  Lynne Cox, look out.

I do my workout, pushing hard to be under time for the particular distance I'm doing.  Didn't quite make it, but I was all red in the face and breathing hard and feeling mellow, so while disappointed, it was only a little. Mostly what I was feeling was glad of the swim.  No surprises there.

In the shower, as often happens, one of the other people who was in the pool strikes up a conversation.  Now this woman doesn't swim laps but does other exercises in the water.  I'm in favor, myself.  I mean, water is where any sensible person is going to work out, right?

"I wish I could keep up with you real swimmers," she comments after a bit of talk about water temperature (she thought it was cold) and this and that.

I shrug and say, "Hey, you're here, and there ain't nuttin' like a water workout to start the day no matter what."

Inside, I'm trying my best not to crack up since I'd spent the last half hour or so eye-rolling myself for not being a real swimmer.

I know comparing oneself is a thing you just don't get away from.  I see it from people who don't swim as well as I do, and I see it from people who are so far ahead of me swimming-wise that there's no way I'll ever catch up.

I don't even think it's necessarily a horrible thing.  A lot of personal rhetoric is all about feeling good about yourself, and that's fine, but we'd never accomplish anything if there was nothing to which we aspired.

It's really only a problem if it discourages you enough to quit.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

You'll Feel Better in the Water

I am a morning person. I love getting up early and getting going on the day.

However, I'd like to define "morning."   That term is reserved, in my opinion, for when there is enough brightness from the sun to see outside.  So, pre-dawn twilight on.

5:30 in the so-called morning at my latitude in the dead of winter is still night.  Dawn, in fact, is about 7:30 right now.

So no, getting up in the dark to get to swim practice isn't easy for me. This fall, I'd grumble, groan and do the "I don't wannas" all the way to the gym.  

Any coach will tell you that's a mistake and attitude really does count.

I'm changing the self-talk.  I'm going to be in the pool, miserable getting there or not, so I might as well see if I can change the mindset to "not miserable."

I just tell myself, "You'll feel better when you're in the water."

This is actually an easy one, as it's the simple truth.  I do feel better in the water.  It's not blowing sunshine up my own butt or sprinkling glitter everywhere.  I'm just reminding myself of something that's simply so.

See, the "I don't wannas" aren't really about not wanting to swim.   I love swimming.  I don't love getting up in the dark, or facing the cold, or rushing through my morning routine to get to work on time, or braving the cold to get to the pool.  (I mentioned the cold twice, didn't I?  I don't mind swimming in cold water, but the bleakness of a New England winter pre-dawn can get to me)

Being in the water and swimming?  That period of time feels awesome.  Well, it's why I chose swimming as a way to be active, for pity's sake. I've never bailed on a planned workout in the middle of it and I'm always a little sorry to get out of the pool.

So, I remind myself of the truth to make sure I get myself in the water and train.

I'm doing a couple of big swims next summer - gonna try for six miles in Lake Memphremagog in June and I'm doing the Alcatraz Sharkfest in August.

Of the two, I am much much more scared of the Alcatraz swim,  Memphremagog doesn't have particularly rough water, troublesome currents, or any record of Great Whites attacking things that are seal-sized.  (I'm seal-sized!)

Not that I'm not intimidated by the Memphremagog distance.  Totally am.  Just pales in comparison to other things, and I've already swum in that water.  Never swam in the SF Bay before.

The only real solution is to be dedicated to practice.  If something terrible happens, it will not be due to lack of preparation.

Anyway, I feel like I've used that one up, anyway.  I was not properly prepared for the Boston Sharkfest last September.  I got incredibly lucky with calm water and a warm day.  That could have ended badly, and I did kind of scare myself when I thought about that.  (And watching people around me get panicky reinforced that little lesson.)  I was pretty scared beforehand, mind. To be frank, I'm always kinda scared before a Big Swim.

But when I get in the water, I always feel better.