After 90 lengths, 2,250 metres, I left the pool with wobbly legs, wrinkled fingers and reddened cheeks but also with a big fat smile on my face. I haven't been able to push myself this hard since before my injury, and it felt great! But I have no idea how I managed it. After a lazy Sunday, I felt like I had a lot of energy to burn. After just 10 minutes of swimming, though, I was exhausted! And I had no idea how I was going to do even half the distance I wanted to achieve.
After scolding myself for trying to come up with excuses to stop (there weren't any – I just kept fantasising there'd be a power cut and we'd all have to get out and go home) I decided to break up my swim into slightly more manageable chunks. Essentially, this is the same thing your mum used to do when you refused to eat your greens as a kid – separate the mountain of horrible brussel sprouts into sections to create small, manageable goals. You still had to finish your plate but it was less intimidating.
So that's what I did. I split my great big stinking mountain of a swim into sections. I was aiming for 80 lengths, so I focused on doing four lots of 20. As I had almost completed the first quarter, I felt like I could carry on to get my first goal. Right, 20! To get to length number 40, I knew that I just had to get my (ever so slightly OCD) self through to length 24. That way I would have to get to 30 (I have to finish on a multiple of 10) and then I might as well finish to get half my target. Then I'd have to devise a way to trick myself into getting through the next quarter goal.
It turns out I didn't need to play mind games with myself after that 20th length. My energy had burst back and I was enjoying pushing myself. I even threw a few minutes of treading water into the mix. The only thing I found tough was my uncomfortable swimming costume. (Do you still can it a 'costume'? Or was that only for when you're in primary school, to make jumping into the moss green ice box they called a pool sound more fun?) It turns out, yes, I did shrink it in the wash and so my strap was eating into my shoulder, leaving a beautiful raw mark after its meal - not quite as sore as it looks, the perfect little war wound. This offers a good excuse to buy a new 'cossie', (ugh! Hate that word, too!). Because, after reaching my ninetieth length, I'm starting to feel a bit fond of swimming. Don't get me wrong, as soon as I can run I'll be straight out of that pool but it won't hurt to invest in future splashes.
For next week, I have homework to do. Along with the task of buying new swimwear, I've got training plans to read through and videos to watch. I need to mix up my swims to get the most out of it and, after discovering Speedo USA's Pace Club, hopefully I've found the perfect way to do it. The site offers different training plans depending on your fitness level, your workout goals or the stroke you want to work on. There's even an app where you can track your progress or see how far down the amazon river you've travelled! Looking briefly at the training plans, it's certainly going to be a step up from my usual length counting and I will probably have to write the session plan on my arm in permanent pen (damn my bad memory), but I'm quite looking forward to it! Until then, I shall mostly be gulping like a goldfish to practice my breathing.