Training for my upcoming quadrathlon has been a real eye opener for me. A lesson in discipline, managing nutritional demands and mental strength, not to mention how to get out of a wetsuit. I still haven’t figured that one out incidentally.
More than anything, however, it has been a lesson in empathy. Empathy with my clients. You see, I now know exactly how people feel when they first get in touch about joining bootcamp or starting 1-1 coaching with me.
I often hear “I’m scared of being too unfit” and concerns about what other people will think. I have always offered assurance to newcomers that we are an incredibly friendly bunch and that nobody else is even looking at, let alone judging you. But I now have first hand experience of how sick you can feel as “the newbie”.
Standing at the edge of Histon Lake last Friday evening, surrounded by (literally) hundreds of triathletes, I felt horrendous. I almost had a panic attack driving over there, such was the fear that had built up in my head. Since practising mindfulness, my anxiety levels have dropped hugely, so this really took me by surprise as I haven’t experienced this intense feeling of dread since boarding the plane to Australia last November.
Needless to say, I didn’t drown, nor did I catch any gastrointestinal lurgy from the water. I did, however, establish that my open water swimming is going to need some practise! But hey, at least I took the first step and faced my fear of the open water swim. Without doing that, I wouldn’t be able to make any progress, and exactly the same can be said of your own fitness programme, and even your health in general. Just showing up and giving something a go is a huge step. If you don’t love it, then nothing has been lost and at least trying the next new thing will be less daunting. But perhaps you’ll discover that it’s not so bad after all, and that people are wonderfully supportive. We all have to start somewhere, so don’t hold back! Going with a friend can make things less scary so why not try and drag your bestie along? A friendly face will make everything better.
Incidentally, the following morning involved another open water adventure: Kayaking along the Cam.
For the first 90 minutes this was actually an incredibly pleasant experience, despite the rain. My husband was in his element spotting all the birdlife – coots, moorhens, ducks, even a grebe sitting on her nest. Oh, and swans! I can now say that I officially loathe swans. The above photo was taken prior to “Swan-gate”.
No animals were harmed during this hour long battle between man and beast, but needless to say, I can confirm that my (previously unfounded) fear of swans is completely justified, and they are VERY protective of their young. I shall leave you with the mental image of my husband exiting the kayak, and running along the tow path, jumping, clapping loudly and hurling verbal abuse at a very bemused male swan, whilst I half laughed / half cried and did my best to avoid capsizing. Oh the tales I will be able to tell on the back of this Quadrathlon!