Solitude. Tranquility. Zen. Time in the pool is all of these things and more. I have spent countless hours in my life stroking up and down the pool, nothing to distract me from my thoughts other than the silento counting of laps in my head. I have planned a move across the country, changed careers, and written recipes in my head while breast stroking and freestyling my way to fitness. But sometimes, my thoughts are so loud that the peacefulness of lap swimming is more than I can handle and I need distraction to calm my demons.
I recently was driven from the pool because of my own inner turmoil. I have been through the ringer over the past year and, while I do my best to stay positive, solitude is not always a good thing. A steady stream of stress, doubt and loss would invade my quiet time and break my resolve. I lost the motivation to be alone with myself in the pool. So I stopped swimming.
But I am vain. I like being in shape, I love competition and I need to get my sweat on, so I went back to my roots, running, where I can drown out my own thoughts with really loud, very distracting music. I pound out the miles to the beat of the drums and sing along as I feel the sweat pouring off me. No thought required.
Two months have passed since I last dove in for some laps. A lot has changed. My hair and skin are retaining moisture for the first time in years. My muscles are hard and strong. My weight is the same, but my body is leaner. And my mind is sharp and clear. I have found that I have to talk myself through the miles some days, urge my legs to go faster and fight to the finish. Running is as much mental as it is physical. And I realized yesterday that when I am running fast, breathing hard and at my limit, I take the ear buds out so I can think.
So I got back in the pool today.