About a month and a half ago I started lap swimming at a local pool during my lunch hour. Nothing fancy, just a half hour or so of steady swimming. I’d come every couple of days and eventually I started to feel less rusty, more confident. I was slow, much slower than in my high school glory days, but not as slow as I thought I might be. I found out about a swim meet and impulsively signed up. It was in 5 weeks. I had been swimming again for about 2 weeks. I’d have less than two months to get ready.
The looming swim meet and my deep, deep desire not to be humiliated at it led to me having one of the most consistent months of exercise I’ve had in years. I have started and stopped exercise plans for years now. I’ve had good intentions, gym memberships, free time, a supportive husband, everything I need to get in shape. But nothing ever stuck. I’d get discouraged or distracted (hey, look a TV!) or lazy (why jog when you can walk? Slowly, listening to the This American Life podcast, with candy in your pockets. I wish I was kidding) and I’d just quit.
But having a meet to aim for changed all that. I didn’t miss a workout. I pushed myself. I liked it.
The meet was last weekend and I loved it. I loved racing, I loved cheering on the other swimmers, I loved being surprised by my speed. I loved having my husband and baby son cheering me on.
After the meet my husband and I talked about how fun it was and it became clear to me that what I need is competition. Maybe I lack intrinsic motivation and maybe that is a bad thing but the thought of racing makes me motivated in a way that just knowing the health benefits of exercise doesn’t.
So, then, here is the plan: for one year I am going to seek out one athletic competition a month. I’ll use the month of August to build a base of training and start competing in September. I’ll focus on swimming (which I am good at), running (which I am not) and triathlons (which I’ve never done). In the interest of not going broke in this endeavor, I’ll try to stick to meets/races within driving distance. I’ll be using this blog to post my progress, keep myself accountable and to moan about how sore my damn shins will be from the running.
I welcome comments, suggestions and links to good races in the mid-western part of the country.