On Friday I set myself two goals in 12 hours:
- To swim a total of 300 metres in the pool for the first time ever
- To run my local Parkrun in a new PB
Here’s how I got on…
1 – The pool was empty. I had three lanes to myself (and my mate/trainer/lifeguard Greg) so I was straight in and going for it…with mixed results. The first length went okay but I was a little breathless at the end, so I tried slowing down on the way back and it all fell to pieces! The same happened with my next two lengths, and I realised that I was suffering from a very mild form of panic. Logically ridiculous, in a public pool with lifeguards I was never in danger, but I wasn’t thinking logically. Every time I took on a mouthful of water or missed a breath I thought “if I do that 150 metres in to a lake I’m sleeping with the fishes” and the panic would throw my stroke and timing off completely compounding the problem.
So, I moved from the centre lane where I had been to the side lane, to give myself the mental safety net of being able to see the side. Once again I struggled, although on these two lengths I was able to stop, tread water and go again. I struggled to get my breathing right straight after treading water so that’s something I need to work on.
Battling the disappointment of not gliding up and down the pool like Flipper, I decided to put discretion before valour and moved back in to the end segment of the pool where I could swim widths.Firstly I worked on head placement, I’d been watching Greg and another swimmer and realised I was putting my head much further in the water than them (staring at the bottom of the pool) so I worked on keeping my head up more and sighting along the surface of the water, meaning I had less far to move to get clean air with my breaths. I also wanted to try something new with my breathing again, and changed from bi-lateral every three breaths to breathing every second stroke. What a difference! I’d worked out I was finding it easier to breath on my right and I was suddenly in no hurry to get through the strokes for the next breath. I did a couple of widths like this and didn’t have a single problem, so to finish the session and my 300 metres I jumped back in the lanes and eased out the last 25 metres like I’d been doing it all day!
The key now is to remember how that felt, remember that there is no reason to let my mind run away when it should be swimming, and have another go at pushing out 12 lengths in one go. Reckon it could be Sunday/Monday before I get back in the pool…and I’m looking forward to it!
2 – I did something I’ve never done before this morning. I jogged the mile to Parkrun, incorporating heel flicks, high knees, side steps, skipping and lunges. I looked like a fool, but when I got to the park with 2 minutes to spare I felt ready to run all those little niggles I feel in the first mile had been worked out already. Instead of joining the scrum near the back of the group I lined up with the speed demons at the front and come 9am I set off at a ridiculous pace and still had people passing me. I kept the speed up for the first lap, even managing not to slow on the grass section as I have a habit of doing. Looking at the watch I was travelling well (I’d set the screen to only show me the time so I could judge my pace each lap rather than constantly checking it) but it was still going to be tight if I wanted a PB. Lap 2 I started to struggle. By half way round my breathing was ragged and I was having thoughts of stopping to catch my breath. It was then I thought what it means to challenge myself and how I couldn’t let negative thoughts win the day every time, and so I slowed my breathing down and focused on it for a minute. I ran through a quick mental checklist – my legs felt okay, my trainers were comfortable, my lungs were working, I was actually in good shape – and found no excuses not to keep running and even to do so faster. As I went in to lap 3 I took a glance at the watch, the PB was on. I’d like to say I threw everything at the final lap, but in hindsight I think I actually let the watch dictate and I felt able to relax a little. I’m sure I have a few more seconds I could find if I concentrated, but…
I just ran the Parkrun in 25 minutes dead, 55 seconds under my PB! (this is on my watch, still waiting for the official time)
So, that’s both goals acheived, to differing degrees, but I’m claiming a successful 12 hours of exercise! It seems that setting short term goals works, so here goes with another one…
I will make it to a big telly in time for the Lions game in 50 minutes and I will get riotously drunk with my closest friends
Well, we can’t be athletes ALL the time. ;o)