I’ve written a few posts over the last few months about exercise and especially my swimming and Midmar training journey. Over the last 6 months, it’s been a huge learning curve, going from hating the idea of exercise to almost over exercising my body to a point of exhaustion, to finally finding a balance which now leaves me feeling strong, healthy and happy. Here’s how I did it.
If you’ve read my other blog posts you’ll know that I have had a love-hate relationship with exercise for most of my life. In high school, I trained so hard for track that I racked up a number of injuries (most that I have luckily recovered from completely). I also chose training over friends and sometimes I felt worthless if I didn’t do my 6 training sessions a week.
After school, I wanted to avoid that pattern of self-destruction so I stopped exercising completely. In the beginning, it was hard but the less I did it, the less I wanted to exercise.
In my mind, exercising lead to unhappiness and pain and I didn’t want that again.
Slowly I started getting back into exercise more and more and marrying a man who grew up with sport running through his every fibre, I slowly began to find joy in exercising again. Parkruns every few Saturdays and pilates were what I needed to get me back into it.
Unfortunately, I slipped back into the pattern of over-doing it when I started swimming. I wrote a blog post about Control and Exercise last year and how it really can be the ugly side of healthy living.
It happened to me again, and I wanted to be so in control of my exercise routine that I exhausted my body completely. Before my Sun City Swim in October last year, I was swimming 3 times a week and pushing myself to 155 heart rate training for at least another day and then running as well. I was exhausted and after the Sun City race a part of me wanted to stop. Swimming was not making me happy in the same way it did when I started anymore.
You know that saying: When you get tired, rest, don’t stop… Well, I guess I followed that advice and took a break…
It was the best decision I could have made. With the husband’s help and inspiration, I decided to change up my workout routine.
I had been so scared before the Sun City swim that I wouldn’t be able to finish the 1.5km swim. But I did finish it and after that race I knew I could do even more.
I decided to take a look at what it was that was making me so tired. I loved the feeling of being stronger and healthier than I have even been in my life – for the first time in my life I have a bum! I know it might sound silly, but having a bony bum is one of the most uncomfortable things ever! I realised that I was tired not from the amount of exercise, but because of the execution and the combination of exercise.
So, I decided to change it up a bit and add in more different types of exercises…
I now swim twice a week in preparation for Midmar, and I feel strong and motivated every time. I have seen an improvement in my times and strength and last weekend the husband and I did a full Mile swim as a practice and I could finish it well (even beat the husband).
I’ve also rediscovered my passion for running. Running had left a sour taste in my mouth after high school and even running after school I used to get a lot of injuries. I’ve now realised that the problem was that I wasn’t fit enough yet to really run in the way my body needed to. Swimming has given me that fitness and strength. We do Parkruns on Saturdays and I’m slowly working towards my new goal of running a 5km sub 27 minutes (literally shaved off 3 min in the last 2 months). We also do a lot of road running training and I’m loving it! I am so strong in my running that I do not pick up injuries and I can run through fatigue and even the crazy heat we’ve had in Joburg lately.
I love running so much now again that I would like to start training for a longer road race or trail run after Midmar.
I also realised that when doing strength training I need to work against my own body and not use weights and equipment, it simply causes injury in my case. I now do home workouts including things like squats, planking, star jumps and other high-intensity training. I’ve rediscovered why I loved Pilates so much and am doing more Pilates training routines.
I still end up exercising 4 to 5 times a week but I don’t feel tired all the time, exercise now revives me. If I do have a tough week and feel my body close to burn-out I allow myself to take a break and skip a workout, even if it means going off schedule. My exercise routine also changes from week to week. I try to get the same amount of training in but the days on which a swim or a run or a strength training happens always changes.
The short and sweet of it is that I’ve taken the pressure off myself and found enjoyment in exercising again. By balancing types of exercise with the amount, I’ve found a good rhythm for my body and it has made me stronger and happier.
I’ve said this before, I don’t agree with cutting exercise from your daily routine completely at all. There are too many benefits to doing sports and exercising. I have however come to understand that balance is the key to growing stronger, achieving your goals and enjoying the journey as well.