As I write this I am beaming with satisfaction and pride. Over the last 14 days, to simulate my Manitoulin swim, I have been swimming 10kms(400laps) every, single, day. Challenge completed! I took on this challenge to push my self, boost my confidence pre-expedition and to simulate my swim in a controlled environment. This way I could properly prepare and anticipate challenges that could arise during the MSMS expedition. After all of my challenges, I like to take a little time to reflect and meditate to see what I have learned.
The Bad -Pain, lots of pain -Chaffing, lots of chaffing -Dry itchy skin from chlorine exposure -Red irritated eyes, also from chlorine exposure -Gnarly feet from being wet all the time -Occasionally grappling with feelings of loneliness -Passing out from exhaustion most days around 7:30pm
The Good -New weekly swimming volume personal record(PR) 70km -New monthly swimming volume PR 185km -Refined my recovery process -Maintaining swimming efficiency despite the big increase in volume -Eating tons and daily naps -My weekly visits with Kim Brouzes at Active Therapy + -My weekly visits with Troy Beauregard at VO2Peak -Chats with my swim coaches Phil, Dan and Craig -Stretching sessions at Apex Warrior -Daily experiences of Flow state -Solo dance parties in my car -Pre-swim meditations to get into the zone -Huge confidence boost toward my Manitoulin swim -Incredible feeling of pride and accomplishment
The Lessons :
The Wall - The hardest part of most of my swims was getting to the pool. The mental and physical walls my body and mind put into place got much higher as the challenge went on. I considered it a blessing that I do the bulk of my training in Espanola. The act of driving 45 mins to get to the pool was an act of commitment. Some days, as I drove to the pool, my stomach was churning, as if my body was saying : "Don't do this to me again!". As I got moving though, it was only a matter of time before those walls melted away and my body and mind embraced what I was doing.
Cultivating Flow state - Flow state(sometimes referred to as the zone) is the best! It is a wonderful state of mind that is usually achieved when you are challenging and pushing yourself. I have been researching and cultivating how to enter flow state and it was a blessing to experience it so much during this challenge. Ecstasy is probably not the word you would expect someone to use to describe a 10km swim, but that is what the zone feels like. Your body is performing at it's peak and it feels totally effortless, such a cool experience! Beyond the pain cave, there is usually light on the other side.
Exploring my Mind - Your mind goes to weird places when you are alone with your thoughts for so long. I love psychology and used these long swims as time to explore my own brain. Basically swimming 3.5 hours staring at a blue line at the bottom of a pool every day was a form of sensory deprivation. Your mind craves stimulation and when you do not give it what it wants, sometimes it feels like it is eating itself. It is not pleasant.
There is a transition point though, the mind switches from eating itself to feeding itself. Because you do not give it the stimulation it wants, it begins to create it's own stimulation. My mental visualization skills got much sharper, and it sounds weird but I could play music in my own head as if I had my ear buds in.
Our minds always want MORE, MORE, MORE! An unintended consequence of giving my mind LESS is I began to delight in the simplest of things. The sound of the bubbles of my exhale, the feeling of gliding through the water. When I drove home, the scenes of nature were a feast for my senses. I was oblivious to the beauty on the drive there but on the drive back I deeply appreciated all of my surroundings.
The human mind is never satisfied. As soon as you give it more it is satisfied, but it is not long before it wants even more and grows dissatisfied. If you keep giving your mind more, this is actually a recipe for unhappiness, since it requires more to be in a neutral state. I am not going to lie, giving your mind less is painful, but afterwards you become much happier since it takes less for it to be delighted.
Time to rest up and recover! MSMS Expedition laches in less than 2 months!
Get Moving! Keep Moving! Amaze Yourself!