One of the many things I love so much about training for a long distance race is the training plan. I love a good training plan. Figuring it out, tweaking as you go, but mostly just the look of that beautiful, clean chart or calendar that steadily tracks your future growth as you go farther, push harder, and get stronger.
I feel a little at sea when I don't have a training plan, let alone when I can't run at all. This injury is forcing me to treat time and working out very differently, but I at least had the opportunity - once I did my test run which confirmed that my body won't let me run NYC this fall - to create a sort of training schedule. A shorter term schedule for swimming.
My goal has been to swim 3 times a week, but weather and doctor's appointments have kept it to two days a week for the most part. My original goal was to swim 20 laps by the end of the summer - and then I realized, why on earth wouldn't I shoot for 26? If I can't run a marathon in November, I can at least swim a symbolic number of laps on the last day the pool is open.
For the last few weeks, each time I swam I added two more laps. I'm pretty sure the first time I swam laps this summer, it was a gargantuan effort to get 1, and I wound up barely doing 8.
I kept building up, and it kept getting easier and easier, to the point where today's 26 laps felt somewhat unremarkable. Each lap, I thought about where that mile would take me through the NYC course - Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Manhattan again - the bridges, the neighborhoods, the crowds.
Swimming is one of the only other things I can find for myself besides running where it is (or can be) a completely solo activity. Just you, your brain, and your body getting caught in a somewhat mindless flow. One foot in front of the other, or one stroke at a time, repeat repeat repeat and just let your mind go where it's going to go - or give it some conscious direction. They're moving meditations in a way that even yoga isn't quite. They scratch a different itch, I think. Plus, swimming laps makes me feel connected to my Granddaddy, who swam laps in his pool nearly every day that he physically could, well in to his 80's.
I'm sad I won't have the Astoria pool again until next year. I'm nervous to see what my MRI results will be and what that will mean in terms of recovery (although I am making strides in my pain level and my PT, which is great) and most importantly, running. (I would also very much like to be able to do pigeon pose again, please.)
So, I need something else to do. Another physical goal to reach, some other hip-safe activity that can help me turn my mind on or off, whatever the day requires, and get caught in a mindless but beautiful flow.
26 laps, 1300 meters. It's not nothing, and I'm glad I did it. But I do also very much hope that they are part of a much, much longer training plan that concludes with 26.2 miles on November 3rd, 2019.
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