Sunday, 24 March 2013

Swimming With The Black Dog


The above goes to a really nice article about physical exercise and writing; the writers in it exercised because they are writers; a sedentary profession if ever there was one. I'm coming at it from the other direction; I got into endurance first at a young age and it does give me the perspective I need to not worry too much about how long it takes to write. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running has been on my to-read list for ages and I'm looking forward to diving in later this week.

Anyway. Sadly I have not been healthy over the last few weeks, again - I think I've had a permanent cold or throat infection since the end of January and the kids just keep bringing them home from school, joy. Because I've needed my voice so much for work I've had to let sport go for the time being - I'd already lost enough money due to snow cancellations. I ran my last classes this weekend, though, so bar the financial tie-up I'm a free agent now and no doubt the children will be delighted if I lose my voice again.

Not going swimming (or anything else) for a few weeks has, as ever, lead to a bunch of Bad Head Stuff - I'm sure you can imagine the way the black dog chases it's own tail. You're stuffed up and exhausted so you don't go, and the more you don't go the more your fitness falls off; you reach for the comfort food (ah, my old nemesis, the Chocolate Digestive); you feel more tired and well...why would you bother going? You won't be able to keep up and it'll really hurt the next day. The duvet's siren song gets louder than the call of the water even though you can't damn well sleep anyway. Oh, god, don't step on the scales. And then it snows so you can't get out at all.

Despite all that I hauled my carcass to USWIM Masters tonight and was pleasantly surprised to pull off 3.3km, including sprints (which I am rubbish at). My hypoxic breathing has improved, I didn't get cramp and I don't feel like toast. I do feel mentally muddled and could do with some external appraisal - I've learned so much about the technicalities this winter that I can't really feel what I'm doing any more. I noticed a horrible crossover in my stroke tonight, for example, and that's never been a problem before. I was getting quite down about it all the way through the session, and then coach Katie got us to do an open water simulation 600m at the end (that means you turn before the wall). She compared it to a big lap at Salford and suddenly everyone was very cheered up to realise that it's only 27 days to the beginning of the season. That was a huge lift and I came out feeling a lot better. I'm far less worried about Swimathon 5k at the end of April now. I don't think I'll have an issue completing it, though my time might not be as good as I'd hoped.

My rental wetsuit arrived last week and I have gloves and boots also. If the weather picks up a bit and it doesn't look too rough, I'm aiming for a quick dip in the North Sea next weekend. It looks about 6oC at the moment. I might only be in for ten minutes but I'm excited to give it a try!