In all honesty, I was hoping for an easy workout. It was my transition day. Technically, transition day is the last day of vacation, but in my world, it’s the bridge day — the day when I’m home from travels, starting to scroll through the work emails and catch up on laundry and unpacking while still having time to play. And after the fun and adventure of exploring Zoar Valley for a few hours with Mark, I wasn’t super pysched for master’s swim practice.
And I learned at the pool that there were good reasons not to be super psyched:
A. The workout was a timed 1000-yard swim.
B. The pool water was so cold I contemplated going to another pool to do the workout.
Seriously, I thought of leaving for a toasty-warm YMCA pool. But my friend Jen came to swim practice and said, “Amy, you’re already here” and she had a good point. So into the water I went for my 1,000-yard warmup followed by my 1000-yard time trial.
I am not a fan of testing days. They scare me. A lot. Because some part of my brain thinks it’s a referendum on my very existence. That I am worthy to call myself an athlete only if I’m showing marked improvement or hitting certain targets. This is what I like to label my catastrophic thinking. In training, it shows up as wondering and worrying if I’ll ever be able to finish my races, let alone hit any goal paces, after one bad workout. (And note that “bad” is very subjective here.) It shows up in my diet when I feel that I’ve gained 5,000 pounds and cost myself weeks of training after indulging in dessert. Catastrophic thinking shows up in other areas of my life — where one bad day, one wrong thing said can ruin a career or a relationship.
When I’m in a catastrophic thinking mode and explain exactly what I’m thinking and what that’s causing me to feel I realize I sound like a complete crazy person. I hear the crazy talk coming out of my mouth and yet I can’t stop it always. But it’s progress, at least, that I recognize it as crazy talk. The truly nutty, afterall, don’t usually know their own level of nuttiness.
Back to the pool.
I was not looking forward to my 1000-yard timed swim. All of my travel from the past month has taken a bit of a toll on my body and my performance would not be great.
Pushing off the wall for Lap No. 1 of 20 I let go any thoughts of what it all would mean. My time? It is what it is and if I focus on the fear of being slow, I’ll still be slow. So I thought that I’d pound out my 1,000 yards in 20 minutes (this would likely not happen, but what’s the harm in thinking that?) I then heard the voice of my friend Sue, who tells me often when we’re running that time and pace are only for our amusement. Are you working hard? Yes. I was. Steady. Consistent. Pushing the pace.
As I continued to count my laps, I realized how important it was to surround myself with great people — people who push me to do things, people who encourage me, people who offer me perspective. And I realized that the more I focused on what I wanted in my life, the more I drew in people who supported my way of being. That catastrophic thinking had been my default position for so long, that it took a while to learn it was merely a choice. I can choose something different.
So I did.
When my 1,000 yards were up I looked at my watch and was rather pleased with my results. Using an online triathlon conversion calculator, I found out my average time per 100 yards. Hmm. Not as good as I thought. Then I plugged in the distance for the Iron Distance swim I’ll be doing in September (2.4 mile) and a goal time (1 hour, 55 minutes) and converted the pace it would take to do that.
My 1000-yard timed pace? Spot on if I wanted to hit that.
Bye, bye catastrophic thinking.
Because even on my ho-hum days, I can still achieve amazing things. All it takes is plunging into that cold water and giving it a try.