If I thought that dragging myself out of bed early to go downtown for a run was difficult, it was much worse when all I had to look forward to was laps in the pool. The staggeringly beautiful weather wasn't much help either - as soon as I stepped outside, all I wanted to do was go back into the house and trade my Speedo for my running clothes. It was really the first time I was really unhappy about the fact that I don't have that kind of freedom anymore when it comes to my running life.
[dear self: suck it up and stop whining]
Anyway, the first 200 yards or so were very hard. My arms ached and I was breathing hard in between laps. In my mind, I scolded myself: "This is what you get when you decide to drop out for months, you dummy." Instead of concentrating on how exhausting it was to be in the water, I started to try to list all the reasons why I like swimming. This task turned out to be a good distraction, as it took some real thought for me to continue to come up with positives about this activity that I love to hate.
The burning in my arms reminded me that since I have abandoned yoga, swimming is the pretty much the only thing that stands between me and the dreaded chicken wing arm flab.
Being in the pool makes me feel like a kid again, even if I am just swimming laps. When I was a kid, I spent nearly every day of the summer (if it wasn't raining) at the pool with my brother and my best friend Abby. Like every other grade-school girl in the early 90's, we were obsessed with The Little Mermaid and spent hours pretending we were mermaids. This mainly consisted of seeing how many lap we could swim underwater, competing against each other in grabbing weighted rings and stars from the bottom of the pool, and torturing my brother by making him be the "crab" and try to catch us. That game always ended badly, as my brother is 4 years younger and wasn't ever able to catch both of us. But even to this day, when I hit the pool a small part of me wishes I was Ariel.
When I'm swimming, I don't sweat. Or if I am, at least I can't tell. Seeing as how I really hate the feeling of being drenched in sweat, this is a definite win.
Gliding through the water gives my prone-to-breakage-stupidly-delicate bones a chance to rest while still torching calories and getting a good workout.
Having to count laps really forces me to focus on one thing. These days, my attention span is so disgustingly short that I can't even write a full sentence in this blog without getting distracted. At the pool, I count a "lap" as one 25 foot/meter length and swim 5 sets of 8, alternating between freestyle and breast stroke. That is a lot of counting and it's easy to lose track if I let my mind wander.
Most of all, I like swimming because it saved me from insanity and kept me strong when I wasn't able to run. Now it is going to get me through marathon season and get me to the finish in November.
So thanks, swimming!
(But really, you are still a distant second to running. Mainly because I still smell like chlorine even after scrubbing vigorously in the shower. Oh, and the swim cap. I thought hydration belts were dorky but the swim cap really takes the cake. No one - and I repeat - NO ONE can look good in a swim cap. Forget good... no one can even look passable in one of those things.)