By the look of things, today was a normal training session. I experienced something far from normal though. But first things first; here is a quick summary.
5250 metres in 1 hour 39 of swimming
-200m free warm up in 3:08
-5x100m free sprints at 1:20 to 1:23 per 100m (Ugh. Such hard work. )
-1050m free at 1:54/100m on average in 19:59 total at a very slow and cruisy pace
-200m back with pull buoy and paddles
-200m back with pull buoy
-100m kick drills on back
-100m kick drills on front
-200m free with pull buoy
-200m free with pull buoy and paddles
-2000m free at normal pace but disappointingly slow at 36:49
-100m breast/dolphin kicks
Ok. So what about the ecstasy? Well, from about half way through the casual k I swam after those sprints (did I mention I hate sprint sets?), I experienced what is perhaps better described as a swimmer’s high. Maybe the endorphins, the sheer pleasure of having a whole lane to myself, simply feeling rested and ploughing up and down and up and down through the crystal clear water… probably all of the above. I just felt exuberant to be able to simply swim, with no phones or emails or questions or urgent appointments. Just one and a half hours of time to charge up the batteries. Bliss.
I wonder if there isn’t an element of physiological addiction in this, of course. And yes: The threat of narcissism, perhaps; but also on the other hand just the benefits of getting a healthy amount of exercise in. The experience of the physical self and of exercising that self in a certain discipline that is honed and shaped by the elements. And a panoply of cultural aspects, as described for instance in the book “Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero” by Charles Sprawson; and, rather differently but equally interestingly by Lynn Sherr in “Swim: Why We Love the Water”.
(Not to mention the whole theory of whether humankind evolved on shores and in shallows.)
Anyway. A daily routine of exercise to keep healthy, happy and sane isn’t just good for you. It will also make you a better husband/wife, parent, colleague and performer. And help keep you focused and on track.