When I started on this journey about three months ago I faced a couple of mountains – raising $1250 for cancer research and swimming 1km in the North Bondi Classic. The first mountain was quickly climbed, through the generosity of many, together we raised more than $1700. The second mountain was well and truly conquered today.
Back in November, I could barely swim 200m as I stopped and puffed along the way. For the last couple of weeks, leading up to this event I wanted to over-train and swim 1.5km.
How did that happen?
It’s been an interesting journey. I knew that this was a mental and emotional challenge, as much as a physical one. At the start I set myself three words: challenge, persevere and complete. I know myself well, these three concepts address the key areas of growth I needed:
Take up a challenge. Undertake an activity that you know is a mountain.
Persevere along the way and even enjoy it.
What have I learnt about myself?
1. I like feeling fit: I am now looking at what I am going to do next, as the water gets cold, heading into autumn and winter. Having a fitness goal also has an impact on other aspects of life – diet, sleep and priorities. I have also found that fitness gives mental clarity.
2. I am motivated by a big goal: The idea of swimming 1km was very scary. But I tackled it with perseverance and setting achievable sub goals. I wanted to be able to swim 600m by Christmas, 800m by new year and 1km by Australia Day (26 Jan). After that I stepped it up and I can now swim 1.5km.
3. I respond to accountability: The wonderful people who supported me financially by contributing to cancer research were never far from my mind. There were times I didn’t want to go to training, or felt like stopping short during a session, but I remembered what they had done. It wasn’t about me.
4. I don’t have to win to succeed: I have a tendency to choose to do things where I know I can succeed. In this challenge my focus has been on achieving my best and realising that success isn’t necessarily being at the front of the pack.
5. I am determined: Once I hit a rhythm with my swimming a new sense of determination set in. It was probably around the 800m mark in my goal-achieving that I realised 1km was achievable. When I went back to work after the summer vacation, we were up and at the harbour beach near us before the sun was actually up and then off to work.
6. I can win the mental game: This was one of the biggest challenges I overcame. I began to actually enjoy the headspace of swimming. It took a while to get over the moaning “when will this finish” to finding it motivating. Even this week, as I had a particularly challenging day at work, my swim was a helpful place to process. I wanted to get to the place where I became lost in my thoughts as I swam, and I did.