I went swimming yesterday. The boys are back with their dad so I went to the pool solo. I went mid-day. I checked the outside pool first and it had a couple open lanes so I snagged one quick. I had been swimming for about thirty minutes when someone asked to join my lane (the place had filled up fast). Anyway, I was polite and said ok. He was very fit and he seemed to swim just a little bit faster than me. I tried to tell myself it was fine, but really it was all sorts of uncomfortable. It was like he was always just ahead of me or just behind me. When he was ahead of me I was distracted trying to not run into him, and when he was behind me it was worse. I was terrified I was going to kick him and I felt like he was watching my form and judging me. Suddenly I forgot how to kick. My arms started flailing. The rhythm of my breathing even became hitched and erratic.
There are three main reasons I love swimming. One is that no one can really see you. You are mostly underwater the whole time. You could look like anything and be doing any sort of craziness beneath the surface and no one would notice or even be able to see. The second reason is that each lap is another chance to improve. Your form was crap and your legs felt like wet noodles? New lap, reset, focus, and improve, again and again and again. And my final reason for loving swimming is that its just you in there. All you can hear when you swim are your own thoughts, loud and clear. There are no one else’s voices, no one else’s opinions, no one else’s feelings or judgments or looks or anything. It’s just you and your thoughts, completely alone and completely attentive.
So this…. Intrusion… violation… desecration of my personal workout bubble was quite jarring. But I didn’t give up. And I didn’t blame my lane mate either. It wasn’t his fault the pool was so busy and he picked my lane to join. He didn’t know it would cause me so much stress. Besides, sharing a lane is something any swimmer has to be willing to do if they want to swim (unless of course they have a sweet lap pool at home #goals). If you close yourself off from the possibility of being able to swim along side someone else, well, it just sets you up to fail. It is like saying, I can’t go to the gym its too crowed, or the drive is too far, or I am too tired today, or I’m too stressed out or any other number of reasons to not go. It’s a slippery slope. I know when I was focused on finding a time of day that I wouldn’t have to share a lane, I never went swimming and as soon as I became willing to share a lane, I went swimming all the time. And, might I add, I very rarely have to share a lane.
So, I was determined to overcome this obstacle and learn to deal with how I was feeling. I took deep breaths (another thing I love about swimming, you are pretty much forced into slow, rhythmic breathing, very meditative) I pulled my focus off of him and back onto myself. I thought about each movement, each muscle, where my body was each second. It helped. I am not going to tell you I was suddenly fine and had no problem the rest of the swim, because that wouldn’t be true. I can tell you it helped me get back to the place I was enjoying the swim, and every time my attention drifted back onto the other person, I was able to catch it and redirect my focus back onto myself.
I was rewarded for my efforts! I kept at it and didn’t quit and I was feeling good again. I wasn’t tired at all. I was feeling so good I started thinking about bumping up my time another 5 minutes. As I reached 60 minutes and passed it without a twinge of fatigue I made the decision. Starting next swim I will push my workout time up to 75 minutes. I was willing to cut myself some slack and not begin the extra time while sharing a lane. And then something unexpected happened. My lane mate got out of the pool! He was done, apparently. I was so shocked. He was in such good shape, I figured he would be swimming at least an hour, and yet, after thirty minutes he was getting out and drying off! I took it as a sign that I could go the extra mile that day (so to speak). I swam for 75 minutes, five minutes longer than I have been working out for. I felt amazing. I honestly felt like I could have kept going, but I didn’t. Today I am glad I didn’t. I am sore everywhere. All the tiny muscles all over my body are speaking up in protest. I think I will just take a walk today. Nothing too hard, and give my body and chance to recoup. Here is the chart my Fitbit created:
My fit bit stopped registering my heart rate in the middle of this workout. That is the only explanation that I can think of for that random drop in the middle. The total workout time was 78 minutes, but there is only record of 47 minutes worth of heart rate data. So… I don’t count this as completely accurate. Zero peak minutes? Really? I don’t think so. But, this is the information I have, incomplete or not. Hopefully whatever happened won’t happen again.