Last week, as part of my training schedule, I swam just over 30 miles both in the pool and in the San Francisco Bay. This was my most demanding training week so far. Reflecting on this substantial mileage, I am left amazed. Balancing this commitment with my full time job and more mundane - yet equally important activities - such as sleep and preparing meals is not easy. Yet as the focus on my goal sharpens, so too does my ability to manage my responsibilities. And there is little time left for anything else. Sacrifices in my personal life are a given. But I am thoroughly content with that, because, behind the scenes, I am blessed with an incredibly supportive family and group of friends. They are my cheerleaders who bolster me when needed. And they understand that I simply love the commitment, intensity and focus this sport demands. Although the training is at times challenging, it is extremely fulfilling. For is it during this period of mental and physical challenge that marks the beginning of my long solo journey across the sea.
Counting the days and weeks off my training schedule as I approach my next swim, the cylinders in my body operate in overdrive. I can’t help but notice how I am responding to the demands. As a former ballerina, the physiological changes to my body are fascinating. The ability of the body to adapt for my needs is nothing short of incredible. My shoulders are bulkier, my back is more muscular, and my waist is thicker. Weight gain is inevitable, but with a distinct purpose it is of no concern; my vessel is in the process of becoming as sea-worthy as possible.
Through the intensity of training, I am learning the value and importance of rest and recovery. Allowing time for my body to rest, repair and rebuild is critical. Yet, as the momentum in my schedule builds, and my body continues to respond favorably, it is oddly difficult to hit the snooze button on my alarm clock and sleep in. Sometimes the focus with hitting my weekly target mileage eclipses my judgment. The urge (obsession?) to make my goal makes it difficult for me to adhere to my carefully pre-planned training schedule that specifically designates rest days.
Still, when I do rest, I am reminded of its importance. And I notice just how tired my body has become. As this fog of tiredness crawls over my body, I am enveloped with a restorative tenderness that is both protective and reassuring.