Posted in Fitness, Swimming

7 Mile Swim; 7 Lessons Learned

Yesterday, was Earth Day. And the March for Science. And for me, it was the chance to finally complete a long-time personal swimming challenge: the Swim Around Lido Key.  The swim is a 7 mile swim around the island of Lido Key, located off the coast of Sarasota, FL.

I had heard about the swim a year ago when I was training for my Swim Around Key West. I was all set to check the Swim Around Lido Key off my swimming bucket list last year, but unfortunately the weather was not in my favor and the swim got cancelled.

So this year was my year for redemption.

I began my training in February, focusing on swim practices and some health and fitness related 30-Day Challenges including: Getting Fit and Going Paleo.   Going into yesterday’s swim, I felt confident and ready.  My actual experience, however, was a battle.  By Mile 3, the water had a surface chop that made it difficult to keep a straight line and sight, my motivation started getting tested around Mile 5 and by Mile 6, the final mile, an intense current  had developed that was not in my favor, making it the longest and most exhausting (and frustrating) final mile of the whole swim.

In the end, I successfully completed the swim but it was far more mentally and physically demanding than I was  expecting.  In honor of the 7 mile behemoth swim, here are the 7 lessons I learned from that experience.

  1. Find Your Motivation– This challenge spanned 3 months of hard work.  There were a lot of days that I didn’t want to work out, and during the swim there were plenty of moments where I wanted nothing but to give up and quit.  What kept me going was the voice that stirred inside me reminding why I was putting myself through this torture.
  2. Swim Early and Often– This goes without saying. For a big, physical challenge the training and work leading up to it is critical.  In post-race reflection, I could have benefited from starting my training sooner and pushing a little harder in some practices.
  3. Listen to Your Body– If I can identify the biggest difference between my training for the Swim Around Key West last year and my training for the Swim Around Lido Key this year, it was that I learned to listen to my body.  Knowing the difference between muscle soreness from a hard workout versus muscle aches or pains from potential injury is really critical.
  4. Train Your Brain– I neglected to do as many long swims in my training this year, in the end I think that caused me to lose focus on the actual race day.  Having a waning attention span or unfocused brain is difficult to deal with on race day, but it is definitely something that can be trained.
  5. Diversify– Early in April, I noticed that I was really struggling to stay motivated. I was bored with my workouts and as a result, I started losing interest in practice.  First, change up your sets (the style, the pace, the distance), which helps not just with motivation but also by activating different muscle groups. Secondly, change the type of workouts. I probably could have done with more workouts out of the pool, working on strengthening on my core, my arms and my back.
  6. Be Confident, but Not Too Confident– Having completed my swim around Key West last year, which was a 12.5 mile swim, I went into this training feeling very confident.  This swim around Lido Key was 5.5 miles less than Key West so I felt like I could scale back on my training.  The lesson here is that shorter distance does not automatically make for an easier challenge. Open water swimming can be unforgiving and unpredictable.
  7. Just Keep Swimming– No matter how difficult, determination and tenacity can be some of your best allies.
Posted in Challenge Recap, Fitness, Healthy Eating

Challenge Recap- Getting Fit

30 Days has come and gone, which means so has another challenge.  At the beginning of February, I set off on a 30 day challenge to Get Fit.  This included eating well (specifically avoiding junk food) and working out every day.

I definitely had some pitfalls and speed bumps, but overall I feel very pleased with the challenge.  More than anything, I felt a sense of accountability for my actions.  Not eating junk food meant paying a lot more attention to what I was eating.  In the end I wouldn’t even say I really missed the junk food I was avoiding (although I did purchase a box of Raspberry Pop Tarts immediately after the challenge ended).

Overall Challenge Enjoyment: 8/10 Working out and eating well was a lovely change of pace.

Success in Completing Challenge: C+

Likelihood of Continuing Challenge: VERY!

 

Posted in 30 Challenges, Minimalism

Staying Fit and Going Minimal

I am about 19 days into my challenge to Get Fit.  After a few early stumbling blocks, I now feel pretty confident in my progress, not necessarily in terms of weight loss or skinnier mid-section but rather in overall feeling and well being.  I have been working out every day, whether that is weights or swimming or treadmill.  I have also been diligent in not eating junk food.  It’s funny because I don’t really even miss it at this point, so I will consider that a success.

On a separate note, I am a few days into a new challenge this month to ‘go minimal’. I already feel like this challenge (perhaps more than any other challenge I have tried to date) can actually become a lifestyle change.  Already have been able to do an initial purge with about 6 bags of stuff donated to Good Will.

Minimalism is a whole movement. In my interest in going minimal, I did some initial research and found some helpful resources like the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  There is also a website I like about becoming a minimalist.

I will be honest, I like stuff. I have really had to come to terms with that aforementioned love of stuff.  Through this challenge my goal is not to truly adopt the title of ‘minimalist’ but there is an intoxicating pull to minimize and focus on what is most important.  I don’t intend to become one of those fancy people in a stark white, super urban apartment with soft lighting and a single utensil in a drawer.  I am not getting rid of everything so that my life can fit in a bag, but I am eager to simplify.

By minimizing, my larger goal is to reduce clutter and refine my focus. I plan to do this by adopting several of the most popular minimalism techniques and going through every part of my house to determine what I am holding onto unnecessarily. What stuff is important and what stuff is just stuff?

Posted in 30 Challenges, 30 Days, Fitness, Getting Started, Healthy Eating

Get Fit… Or Die Trying

Well hello there.  Today marks Day 10 of a rather unsuccessful and rather unremarkable attempt to GET FIT.

This may sound very familiar, as I actually attempted a similar 30 day challenge back in December to similarly poor results.

The month of February was an attempt at redemption from my not-so-impressive flop at 30 Days of Fitness from December. The plan was simple. Eat well. Work out. Get Fit.

Here’s what I challenged myself with:

  • Eat Well– No Junk Food! No cookies, cake, candy, donuts, pastries, fried food, fast food, chips, ice cream, or soda for 30 days
  • Work Out– Work out for a minimum of 30 minutes every day! I can diversify my workouts as much as I like (swim, bike, run, weights, abs, etc.)

Now I realize I am only 10 days into this challenge (only 1/3 of the way through, by golly!) but things have not been going well.  Thanks to a pesky cold I haven’t felt much interest in eating well and certainly have not had any desire to hit the gym.

And now, with what I can only classify as deeply rooted masochistic behavior, I decided I would Swim 7 miles around Lido Key.  The swim is in April and I feel woefully out of shape so I can only hope this will serve as a strong motivating factor to get me to work out and eat well.

So let’s hope the last 20 days of this challenge go a lot better than the first 10.