The Scribbler

20 July 2012

Why I love Thursdays

Filed under: swim,training — The Scribbler @ 07:50
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Thursday morning is regularly my earliest alarm call. And I often wake before it goes off.

On Thursdays I’ve been rained on, wave soaked and sand blasted. But more often I’ve felt the soft sunshine, the cool quiet of the start of the day, the fresh tang of sea salt and the gentle ripple of applause from the sea.

I have run, jumped, stepped, pushed, pulled, twisted, reached and dragged myself through workouts with kettlebells, a weighted bag, a tyre and sledgehammer, a sledge, and rubber bands. Run, crawled and variously shuffled along the sand. Made use of steps and walls, iron railings, slopes and flagpoles.

It remains my favourite day of the week.

Today was no exception as I started the day in my usual fashion, saying hello to Ian, catching up on training and wondering what lay ahead for the next hour. It’s always a challenging workout, always fun, always different – even though now I know a lot of the moves. And the time always goes by too quickly.

But there was something different about today as post workout, shower and porridge, I didn’t have to scramble to make myself presentable and get to work. Instead I got to spend the afternoon, chilling out with my friend Beth at Linden Hall, enjoying a swim, massage and afternoon tea as a pre-wedding treat for her. It was lovely, and it felt very much like skiving as we tucked ourselves up in a cosy armchair and read our books for part of the afternoon. What absolute luxury!

I do owe an apology to the nice massage therapist who got the knots out of my shoulders with a nice back massage and then told me to take it easy for the rest of the day. Sorry pet, I don’t reckon you’d think shimmying into a wetsuit and swimming in a lake counts as taking it easy.

But it was such a nice evening, it was too hard to resist the lure of an open water swim session at the QE2 lake near Ashington. Besides, I had afternoon tea to burn off!

I don’t have any more open water races planned this season, so I think it says a lot about how my attitude towards open water swimming has changed, that I actually wanted to go and swim in the lake. Besides, I need as much practice as I can get if I’m going to step up to swimming 1500m open water next year.

The lake was as clear as I’ve seen it, and not too cold from the comfort of my wetsuit. I made sure I took my time getting in and just floating around before I started swimming. Sadly, clear doesn’t necessarily mean clean and there was a distinctive whiff of eau de duck poo in the shallows. Thankfully it disappeared as I struck out into the lake.

I’m still a bit nervous heading away from the shoreline, and I took my time, mixing in a bit of breast stroke and treading water to take a bit of a breather at the buoys.

As usual, I kept away from the long and fast swimming groups, content just to do my own thing and swim around the short route. The aim was not to complete any distance, just to enjoy the experience.

It has got easier to relax every time I have ventured into open water and I managed quite a bit of nice, slow front crawl in the clearer water. I still find small distractions put me off and make me nervous, and that can be anything from spotting a rock on the bottom, to becoming aware of a swimmer nearby.

And there are times when the negative thoughts say things like “How am I ever going to be manage a longer distance for a Standard tri?” But I remind myself that my swim confidence has come on step by step, or stroke by stroke. Not so long ago, I was worried about completing 400m in a pool. Now that feels relatively easy.

I also draw great inspiration from others, including my friend Peter, who couldn’t swim 3 years ago and just completed his first iron distance event. He’s telling his swimming story on his blog.

So, little by little, I take positives from each swim, but know I have a lot to work on. Getting out of the lake on a sunny evening, after a short swim, I found I could actually say I enjoyed that.

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