Just Keep Swimming…

pool1

I was a competitive swimmer for many years.  I made it through 6 days a week practices morning AND afternoon, 5:00am practices, practices in the middle of winter in a pool with no heat, three hour “special Practices”, meets twice a week, frozen swimsuits, first place, last place, false starts, and personal records-some broken and some not broken.

I loved it all.

I’ve recently been given the opportunity to get back in the water.  Not only to swim, but to coach for a local Triathlon team, Illiana Multisport…check out their website here: http://www.illianamultisport.org/. It’s been great putting on a swim cap and goggles again.  I’m hoping it will also be good for my pain, as I’ve been struggling to find a workout since Baby A was born that doesn’t send me into a swollen, miserable arthritis flare.  It was an opportunity given to me by a friend who couldn’t have had better timing.  Just the week before I had (another) breakdown with my husband about my frustrations with getting in shape again.  I told him the only thing I think I could do was swim, at least twice a week , but I would have to learn how to motivate myself on my own …and then BOOM…the following week I’m asked to join!  Team motivation was just what I needed.

The practices have been great.  The team has been friendly and I admire these athletes and their determination, commitment and dedication to completing (what I consider) very hard races/Triathlons.

And then…well…I caught myself doing something unexpected.  I realized that (in my head) the people I’ve been coaching are athletes and I’m just guiding them along.  I realized my chronic pain illnesses are mentally keeping me from considering myself an athlete.  Almost immediately, there was a block in my head that told me, with my “defective” body, that being an athlete is something I just can’t be.

I can’t be an athlete if it takes me two days to recover from a hard workout!

I can’t be an athlete if I limp into practice from a swollen arthritis-ridden knee.

I can’t be an athlete who swims a practice and then goes home and gives themselves a shot to control their Illness.

It was a harsh realization of how much these chronic pain conditions change your thinking…

Into thinking you’re less of a person

Into thinking you’re incapable of things.

Into thinking you “CAN”T”.

I never thought I was this person-and it was a bitter pill to swallow when I realized I was thinking this way…or even worse…that I didn’t see anything wrong with me thinking this way.

So I jumped in the water and had a NEW realization.

I wasn’t so bad.

I was only a few paces behind the “top” swimmers in the pool.  I survived the workout, and most importantly, enjoyed it.  And I realized how much I missed it and how much I loved being in the water.

The “athlete” I always thought I “used” to be was still in me…just in a different form.

While doing Zumba, I never considered myself an “athlete.”  I was a “dancer.”  I had a way around calling myself an athlete officially…even though, by all rights, they most definitely are!

I’m angry with myself for not allowing me to see myself this way.

I’ll have to work harder than some.

I won’t have to work as hard as others.

My body will fight me and I will have fight back.

I’ll have to find my limits.

I will practice to my body’s ability and improve my skills at swimming…which in many ways is a simple definition of…an athlete!

I will stop defining myself by what I “can’t” do.

“Just Keep Swimming.  Just Keep Swimming.  Just Keep Swimming, Swimming Swimming.”

dori rocks

Advertisements