As you know, I am part of the official #BlogSquad for the Sport Relief Swimathon 2016, which means come Saturday 19th March I will need to be able to swim 60 lengths of my pool without stopping.
When you first hear ’60 lengths’ dropped into a conversation, it sounds a lot. But the more I train for this event, the less daunting that seems. In fact, in my training at the moment I am quite regularly swimming 40 lengths…albeit slowly. I feel like I could probably swim the 60 lengths already, but as I am choosing to fit in my swimming sessions before work I have to keep an eye on the clock to ensure I’m back in my office on campus by 8.30am. The prospect of a morning workout can be a little nauseating at first too…between setting my alarm for 5.30am, eating a very quick bowl of Weetabix, and then hearing my husband in his sleep-like state mumble ‘you’re a hero, it’s too early’ as I leave the house, I really do question my sanity. But everything falls into place as soon as I am in my warm pool and have the first glimpse of the sunrise through the floor to ceiling windows as I make my way up and down the lanes.
Now, lane swimming can be a love-hate thing, and my fellow #BlogSquad member, Adele, has summed this up rather well, here. On the whole, I love swimming in lanes as I enjoy the structure and routine of it all (quelle surprise!), but I do find that it reinforces how much I hate being around people (#onlychildsyndrome). For the past two Mondays I have shared a lane with the world’s most splashiest swimmer – he’s a fairly tall chap, with a somewhat unrefined technique, and I fear for my life every time we pass each other as it resembles something of a tsunami. That being said, I still find myself admiring him as I am fairly certain he’s aware of how much of an unrefined splasher he is but he still goes at it with unrelenting enthusiasm. And that’s what swimming is all about – enthusiasm, and not caring what others think!
I am also not completely innocent in the ‘causing problems in the lane’ debacle…because I am one of those abnormally long-limbed creatures. And long limbs generally equate to accidentally touching or kicking someone when swimming, which is a bit creepy. Or kicking the sides if you’re in an outside lane. My breast stroke really suffers when I’m sharing a lane with someone because I am trying to reign myself in and be a little self-aware of my shortcomings (or should that be ‘ridiculously long-comings’). Backstroke is really where I excel in swimming, but unfortunately we’re not allowed to swim backstroke in Swimathon – this is probably a good thing though as I wouldn’t be allowed to swim backstroke in a triathlon either so it really is forcing me into good habits from the start.
But back to the main point of this post – passing the time with all those lengths (and I really must take my hat off to some of the other #BlogSquad members who are tackling the 2.5 and 5K distances – you heroes!). Inside my head I am always overthinking things, and I have found that when I am swimming I can fall into the trap of becoming far too consumed by thoughts that really don’t belong in the pool – for me, the pool should be about channelling all of my energy into getting that little bit further or that little bit quicker, which is why I generally need something mundane and unimportant to think about. So, what am I now thinking about on each length? The alphabet!
I know other people who also incorporate the alphabet into their training but we all seem to have a different take on the game. I have different variations depending on what mood I’m in and how creative I want to be – if I’m sticking to the english alphabet I tend to set myself a theme like car parts, animals, or bones in the body and try to think of as many words within the theme for the particular letter that I’m swimming. I also switch up the language too and sometimes have an all-French training session where I focus on nouns or adjectives, and very occasionally I’ll switch to Spanish (I’m always proud of myself if I actually manage to make it to ‘zapatos’). Depending on how far you actually want to swim you can just keep repeating the alphabet over and over again – I generally get to 1 and a half rounds, but that will be increasing as I cover more distance in my February training. Either way, it’s a fairly easy way of making the time pass without letting other more important thoughts weigh you down.
Do you have any tips on getting through your swim sessions?