The big swim? I think I’m sunk.

I’ve just this week set myself a weekly posting challenge, and earlier this year I set myself a pretty tough fitness challenge, designed to keep me motivated.  The older I get, the more I have to concede that I am an irrepressibly goals orientated kind of girl!

Only three weeks ago things were going so well.  I was training regularly, I was getting the distances in, my stamina was improving.  I’d even done the full 5 kilometres once and clocked a good time, which I was hopefully expectant of smashing by the time my self-imposed mid-July deadline came around. I was feeling fit (if a little tired and achy!) and things were seeming good.

Hanging up my goggles. Well, for a while at least!

Hanging up my goggles. Well, for a while at least!

And then it all just pretty much fell apart. Asides from the fact that I’d gone through three pairs of goggles in the space of a month (‘they just don’t make things how they used to!’ etc etc), I was having to push through an increasing amount of pain each session.

I’ve got a long-term neck and back problem that I get treatment for.  It’s nothing really horrendous.  Sometimes things are ticking along quite nicely and I don’t get much pain, if any.  Sometimes I get horrible flare-ups, meaning painkillers, lots of physio, acupuncture, and trying not to feel too sorry for myself.

I’ve been getting treatment from a brilliant therapist for the past eight months and she has made so much difference for me. And she is really supportive of my general philosophy – that I should carry on exercising and living life as normal, and find ways to minimise but work through the pain.  Exactly what I’d always done before I started seeing her, so I could see no reason to change.

Well anyway, then I started getting pain down my arms.  And elbow pain.  And wrist pain.  Really constant, aching pain. I’m pretty good at ignoring pain, but I was starting to worry.  Was I spending too much time at the computer? Was the neck problem getting worse? Was there something more sinister that I needed to get checked out with the doctor? In addition to the neck and back pain I was already trying to ignore it was becoming a bit much.

Ahem, I am a wee tad mortified but also pretty relieved to say that having worked it through with my physiotherapist, it turns out I might have been a little too gung-ho with the swimming! Doing front-crawl really puts the pressure on the latissimus dorsi muscles (lats for short!) in the back.  And I’d not given them a gradual enough run up to the challenge, so they were struggling to maintain the pace, and therefore tightening up.  Which was then radiating pain down my arms and hands. Whoops, and other similar under-statements!

I’m embarrassed by my own idiocy to be honest.  I should know better.  But I wrongly assumed that because I was in a competitive swim squad when I was young, and I’ve always swum and kept in reasonable shape since, that my muscles would have retained their swim memory.  Now I know – ‘no pain no gain’ is not always a great motto to set your training to!

So having given me some remedial treatment, a wry smile and the strong suggestion that I step back from swimming for a while, in favour of low impact cycling and walking, my physio has gone back to treating the other aches and pains.  But seriously, who gets themselves in such a state that swimming isn’t advised?  What am I like?!

In the end, our household has been an entirely exercise-free zone the whole of this past week anyway.  We’ve all had colds and just felt really under the weather.  Well actually, my GP tells me I’ve got a bout of viral bronchitis, which makes me feel less like a total wimp for feeling so knocked about this week!  That’s the comforting shelter of big medical words for you!!

Long term, regular exercise and that rush of feel good endorphins is non-negotiable for me.  It really helps clear my head and focus my energy; I can’t imagine living without it.  So although my swimming goggles may be going into temporary holiday mode, I plan to dust them off and get them back in the water after my own little summer holiday.  I will just try easing into it a bit more next time!

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