Day 100 of the Great Big 10k Marathon Swimming Adventure: Cracking the 1k in under 15 minutes – and some lessons from the first hundred days

OK, first off: Yay! I did it! In less than 15 minutes!

Yesterday, on the morning of day 99 since setting out on this adventure, I reached a major milestone: I swam the 1k in under 15mins. The watch says it took me precisely 14:50 minutes to do 1000 meters (in the 25 meter pool I train most mornings). Yes, dear haters, distinctly un-impressive by some standards, but for me, personally, an achievement that took a lot of work.

(In case you haven’t noticed, I am bloody pleased with myself.)

(CC Image via Flickr by uberof202)
(CC Image via Flickr by uberof202)

This is not just a personal best, but a milestone that I set for myself many months ago. It feels good to set goals and then work towards achieving them, then reaching them. Especially when trying to achieve them has many side benefits, like keeping you happy, healthy and sane.

Since today marks the 100th day since I set out on this adventure, let me draw up a quick summary of the main points/events on the journey so far:

  • Gradually increased the swimming load from hitting the pool 2-3 times a week for practices over 1-3.5k to a daily 4-5k every morning, Monday to Friday. Which means that I swim about 20k a week currently. And I plan to do more.
  • Cracked the 5k distance in the 25m pool
  • Changed my daily routine to get up at 5am and swim from 6am to 7.30am-ish every morning (not weekends).
  • Changed my diet to a liquid breakfast and eating within a 12-hour-timeframe during the week
  • Given that I burn about 1500 kcal every morning in the water, too, I have lost almost 10kg of weight
  • I have not experienced any back pain since Day 1 of this adventure, and feel much healthier, fitter, etc.
  • Unlike normally, I did not succumb to any of the bugs and viruses that family members, friends and colleagues fell ill with

And, yep, I learned some important lessons so far that I hope to remember when the going will get tough (as it invariably does). Here are four that I want to share with you:

  1. Persistence really is key. Make yourself “auto-persistent”: Change your habits to “bake in” your workout (or whatever it is) into your day. Make it routine. Stick to it.
  2. Persistence comes from priorities! Ruthlessly prioritize your life. My – and most likely your – absolute priority, from which everything flows, is my identity. (Sidenote: Sure, you don’t have to be religious to have a sound anchorage in life and death, but boy does it help.) Knowing who you are and why you are here on this planet in turn helps you to focus. My focus is on my vocation as firstly a husband to my beautiful wife, secondly a father to those crazy kids, thirdly a professional worker, and so on. So, I hear you ask, where does swimming come into all of this? Well, it is essential! But “only” because it allows me to properly function in all these roles. Just like sound rest, good nutrition, and other things that are essential. (I wish young swimmers, some of whom get depressed from having swimming as the main goal in life, knew and understood this. Swimming – or any other activity – is not a raison d’etre by itself.)
  3. Persistence can be helped! Do what ever helps you to keep at it, within reason. Cameraderie or team training, friendships, saving up for excellent gear, finding inspiration by socialising with others passionate about the sport, online or offline….and write about it! One of the stated purposes of this blogging business is to keep me motivated and have a kind of public record out there to hold myself somewhat accountable. Your mileage may vary, but for me this has really worked.
  4. Regularly remind yourself: What would happen if I did not go down this path? How did I feel before making the change? This throws into stark relief the many fundamental motivational factors that can be clouded over by short-term concerns or moods – and makes you realise: You don’t really have an alternative that is preferable. Boom. Back to 1.

Though I rarely quote from the Bible, there is a real doozy from Psalm 103. A phrase that sums all of this up rather nicely, and using the metaphor of water no less:

inter medium montium pertransibunt aquae (the waters will pass through the midst of the mountains)