Day 54 of the Great Big 10k Marathon Swimming Adventure: Being “Pool-Blocked” …and a major life lesson about what matters most

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CC Image by Peter Nguyen / Pixabay

Too much has happened again. Quick recap since my last update three days ago:

Work trip to Augsburg meant I could give the indoor pool in Haunstetten a go – it was en route and I left a good hour earlier to swim there beforehand. Place is 1970s throwback to steel, glass and concrete; needs a refurb to be sure, but the water is clean  and facility seems well managed. There is no cashier: You get in by purchasing a ticket from a cash-only machine, so bring change. Unfortunately, the pool was so crowded, what with two school classes and the morning round of a good dozen seniors and housewives, that I ended up DIVING under two elder gents who were actually “lapping” up and down in order to get some mileage in. Mileage? Make that 1500 meters or so – not counting diving and swerving and weaving between people. Though everyone was very friendly, they certainly weren’t going to let this whippersnapper with goggles just swim up and down minding his own business. Nein. Ah well. That was the second day in a row that I got “pool-blocked”, so I used my frustration to remind myself how lucky I am to be able to swim in the first place and have this kind of luxury problem to worry about.

That said, since I had planned to do a 2x2k or 4k swim, I was very ready for a proper long-distance set the next day (i.e. yesterday). And since this was my final day for a fortnight in the “working week pool”, I got up fifteen minutes earlier, left the house at 5:20 or so, and was in the water even earlier than normal. Turns out leaving just a few minutes earlier gets you a substantial amount of time more in the water. If I can toughen out a 5am instead of 5.30am get up, it will be very worth it in the later stages of the adventure.

Summary of Friday swim: 4400 meters including warmup and cool down. Took 1:07 to swim the 4k.

This was only the second time in my life I swam a straight 4k (if I remember right). It was very different from the last/first time, in as much as I did not get into a “zone” and experienced no excruciating boredome either; it was, not just psychologically speaking, an utterly banal experience. Did some laps breathing on the left, which still sucks, and practiced my bilateral breathing, which is getting more comfortable, but otherwise just cruised through.

Felt very happy, focused and energised for the rest of the day, despite having eleven hours of straight-up work to power through. Driving home after 7:30 pm on this epic Friday, I spent my meditation and prayer time reflecting in gratitude of how much I an thankful for – both the frustrating aspects and of course the fantastic experiences of swimming: They both give me so much that in turn allows me to work well, too – and arguably more importantly, come home relaxed and happy, not exhausted and distracted, to spend quality time with the wife and kids. My wife needs and deserves a relaxed and observant husband, not a stressed-out commuter and office jockey.

So, here’s the insight, or rather life lesson, which is simple but one I have struggled with a lot: There is no point in just tiring yourself out, burning the candle at both ends, even if you do it for what matters most: to be a good provider (or, in my case, a good Christian)! You have to look after yourself, within reason: Sleep enough, work out, eat well, and take the time you need to reflect/meditate/pray. Only then can you fully be the best person for the people who need you: Your wife or husband, your children, family, work and friends.