The thing is, I’ve always enjoyed swimming. It was something I learnt as a child when I was 5 or 6 – having the kind of swimming lessons where they gave you floatation belts and arm bands and ‘threw’ you into the pool with the rest of your class mates. If this sounds odd to you, please note this happened a long time ago in the communist Czechoslovakia… I learnt swimming quite quickly and it wasn’t too much effort – as far as I remember. I created my own breast stroke style which was fast…ish (looked a little funny though) and kept swimming like that until about 2 years ago.
That was when, for the umpteenth time, I decided I wanted to get fit (after numerous failed attempts at getting there through running, gym sessions and various classes) and thought that swimming might be the way forward. However I would first want to learn to swim ‘properly’ hoping that if it went well I would actually stick with it long term. I asked for swimming lessons for my 35th birthday and learnt how to swim front crawl – for first time ever. I was lucky enough to get a great coach (Damien, ex military) who taught me well and I really enjoyed the sessions. Thank you, Damien for your patience!
For me, doing exercise means getting up at 5:30am, going to the gym or pool first thing before going to work. However I can be lazy at times so getting up at that time especially when it is dark and freezing cold outside is not easy. So at the beginning of this year I decided I needed something to motivate me to do exercise regularly, that I needed a ‘real’ goal. In the past I used to think that goals such as ‘I’ll feel better when I look slimmer and stronger’, or ‘I want to look good for when I go for a holiday’, or ‘I want to get into a particular pair of trousers’ would work, but they never did. I realised I needed to train for a particular event, something that would encourage and push me – getting fit and slim would come as a side effect. This strategy worked for me once recently when last year I trained for 2 months going to the gym 6 times a week (yes, at 5:30am) because I agreed, for better or worse, to climb Mt. Fuji and didn’t want 80 year olds overtaking me on the way up (no disrespect to anyone intended). And I did it! (picture below)
So whilst browsing online I found the Henley Mile race, and thought why not, I’ll give it a go. Sure, I don’t like cold water (less than 27 degrees), who knows what’s in the river with you (better not to think about it) and there’s no stopping after 20 meters in the pool having a rest if you feel like it. But all this makes it more attractive and appealing (and terrifying at the same time). I know I’m challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone and that’s exactly what I’m looking forward to.
In the last couple of weeks I swam a few times in the pool (about 1.6km each time), which is slightly disappointing, particularly because about a month ago I could do 2.5km. Sure, it may be because my right hand is currently injured – tried to help Mum open a jar of home-made jam and injured my thumb / wrist in the process (if you are asking how that is even possible, believe me I’ve been asking that myself as well). It is a small setback but I’m determined to push through and hope to see some progress in the next couple of weeks.