When I stopped swimming long ago in another time I literally stopped. Like I can count on my ONE hand the number of time times I have donned a swim cap and goggles and actually swam like a real work out. I have in my mind’s eye swum without actually getting wet; I have even gone so far as to put together a bag filled with what I would need to do a swim workout. I think one time I even brought said bag with me to the Y and placed it in a locker planning to swim but I ran instead.
Of course, there was a time in my life when I could not imagine not being a swimmer. I loved swimming. I thought I would coach one day and I pursued in part a degree in Health and Fitness both so I could hopefully one day swim or be a part of the fitness world on a deep level involving water sports of some kind (aquatics director or fitness instructor or water polo coach, something in the world of aquatics.) However by the time I started swimming in college, I was burned out. To be honest, I was probably done mentally with swimming long before that.
I kind of peaked in the sport by the age of like 10. I was not an outstanding swimmer; I think the elusive dream of being a better swimmer kept me going. The hope that one day it would all click into place. I was dogged in my determination which was good in some ways. Of course there always two sides to a coin so that continued persistence was probably not so good in other ways. I could only translate my failings as a swimmer as being a failure in life. It seemed to go along with so many of the issues I felt into my teens and beyond. It fueled years of fire in my personal life wherein I felt if I could not succeed in a sport I cherished than on the whole I must just be a loser. That was a hard pill to swallow during those years. I wanted to be the best but I was not and in my mind’s eye I connected being a good swimmer with a lot of other things in my world.
I started competitively swimming at the fine age of eight. I actually did not mind swim practice and I loved the team aspect and friends I had through swimming. There are many reasons I was not a successful swimmer. This is technically not about that. This is technically actually about being a segue way into running! I started running over three years ago. I love it. I honestly cannot imagine not making time for running in my life. I view myself as a runner. However the difference for me now is that I no longer look around and see other better runners. I see myself as the competition. I see my goals as my own, a time to beat versus other people. I love to compete do not get me wrong but unlike swimming I love it and do it for me and being good (or bad) at it is not tied to who I am. It is a part of me and life today but it is not the very definition of me.
Hind sight is truly a 20/20 endeavor. I would love to go back and tell my 10-year old serious swimmer self to take it easy on myself. That swimming will not always define me nor will it take me where I think I want to go. Rather the paths offered up will be wild and crazy and divergent and at the end of it all I will say I am glad I did that because it got me to where I am today. Running has been an amazing discovery for me. I have rediscovered the 10-year old I left behind except now I have 28 years of learning, knowledge and understanding.
I feel so happy when I run. I feel lighter and I feel a sense of accomplishment. I love the goals I have set and I run not because I have to or because I believe it will equate to success in any larger part of my life but simply because for the love of doing this physically exhausting sometimes difficult thing that makes me feel so alive. However the caveat to this is that I am more aware when running is a drag and I have given myself the chance to back off. I get so much satisfaction from running that I allow myself to know when I am not getting a positive vibe from it. I think that when I was younger I just kept pushing and that lead to despondence and unhappiness. I feel like I have mastered some aspects of sport and fitness in my life such as this knowing when I need to back off or take a break.
The one thing I have yet to master is that sense of fear. From time to time doubt edge’s in. I find myself wondering if I can get up the motivation for a long run or that slight fear that wells up as I drive by myself or I am sitting in bed reading a book wondering what if I cannot get to the goal or simply what if my heart is not into running fast to achieve that goal any more. I kind of stuff that niggling of doubt away and carry on. It is probably not the best way to deal with that doubt. I suppose I face it head on too. I mean in the same breath I may stuff it away but I also ask myself why I am fearful and I think my fear is more rooted in not succeeding than an actual fear of not wanting to run.
I still think about swimming. I may try it once the new Y pool is fully operational and I finish up the half I am training for in November though I do have another half on my plan for May and I am this close to getting that 22:00 5k goal so who knows... One day I will swim again. I have no fear about that.