One of the hardest things about getting in shape is staying motivated to get to the pool every day. Since my spectacular burnout in college, I’ve had trouble forcing myself to get in the pool on a regular basis for an extended period of time. I would get out of shape, start swimming again, hate it because it hurt so badly and I sucked, and then peter out again. I would repeat this cycle a few times a year, and on the rare occasions I swam in a meet, I would be seriously disappointed with my results.
Since April, however, I’ve been doing a bit better, and I think there are a few things I’ve done that have helped me stick with it for more than a few months at a time. (This is the summer edition, because in the winter, the whole game will change – more on that in a later post).
Sign up for something scary. This was the first thing I did that really got me interested in getting in the pool. I signed up for my longest race in 20 years. I knew that I could swim 10 miles with no problem in the far distant past, but this was now, after years of not training or half-assed training. I managed a 10k last year, but this tacks on another 4 miles. Ack.
Swim outdoors. Something about an outdoor, 50-meter pool appeals to me so much more than a gloomy indoor short course pool. Even the 5:30 am workouts have much more appeal. The sun hasn’t come up at that point, especially as we get later in the summer, but the ambiance is so much better. The pool lights are on, the deck is dark, and there is mist rising over the lanes. The water is a beautiful luminescent turquoise that you just want to jump into. I know not everyone has access to an outdoor pool with ambiance, but I guess the main point here is to find a facility that you enjoy spending time in. If you can.
Find your people. There’s something magical about meeting people afflicted with your same kind of crazy. I was fortunate enough to cross paths with one who happens to be training for an English Channel crossing. He introduced me to two more, and the four of us went out to Lewes, DE this weekend for an ocean swim. Ocean swimming is not my strong point, but I think the more I do it, the better I’ll get. And the strange looks you get from the people on the beach as you wade out of the water are much easier to handle when you have other crazies with you to absorb the impact.