What did you do this last weekend? I spent the whole weekend at a Masters swim meet. Sounds super fun doesn’t it. NOT.
I almost didn’t go, but my husband was going to be away, and I figured instead of a weekend at home, my daughter and I could take a trip to Boston. She could play with her cousin, and I could go to the meet. Even still, multiple times I wondered why I bothered to drive to Boston, arrange childcare for the whole weekend, and then spend my precious days off in a pool room.
Truthfully, I have thought about going to this meet for years, but it never worked out for me to go. Or I never wanted to commit to three days away from my family to do it.
I consider myself a swimmer. Swam in high school and college. I dabbled in master’s swimming as an adult. Enjoyed the practices, went to a few meets about ten years ago. Then the practice times changed, and it was harder for me to get there. And, as I mentioned, with a young child, it never seemed to make sense to take the time to go to any meets.
Last fall I decided to focus more on swimming. I have had some issues with fitness and overtraining. Of all sports or fitness programs, swimming is what I know best. I thought it would be a good place to start as I tried to figure out what kind of fitness regimen was going to work for me.
I planned to swim at least three times a week and entered some meets. It was more than a little depressing to see how much slower my times were, even from ten years ago. But I wanted to have some gauge of where I was at and something to shoot for.
I decided to enter a regional meet in Worcester, MA last December. I thought I had been swimming enough and that my fitness had recovered enough so I could expect to improve on my times.
I was wrong. I performed terribly. More importantly, I felt tired and worn out. I was gasping for air on virtually all of my races. It was so disappointing. I wondered if my breast cancer medication (tamoxifen) was interfering with my ability to improve. Or, in addition to forcing menopause upon me, did chemotherapy do some damage to my heart and that’s why I was so winded.
Not that I could do anything about those things. So I stopped thinking about the things I could not control and instead considered what I could do differently. I decided to make some changes. I did not have more time for working out. Instead, I needed to work out smarter.
I changed my swim workouts a little and added more consistent strength and conditioning (CrossFit). Seems to have worked. In fact, I think I spent less time working out in the last few months. Another reminder that more is not always better.
I know I spent less time swimming which was another reason I almost didn’t go to the meet. I figured how could I expect to swim faster when I haven’t been swimming much. I didn’t want another example of my aging body and declining fitness.
But then I decided I’ll never know if the changes I made are making a difference if I don’t test it. If I wait until I know I’m in great shape to go to another meet, I’ll never go. So I signed up. Not right away, but within a few days, I started to regret my decision, started doubting myself.
Why am I doing this? I kept asking myself that question, without a good answer. When I arrived at the meet on Saturday morning, I sat in my car for a few minutes to wrap my head around swimming and the meet; and, to try to answer why I am doing this.
It’s supposed to be fun, right? Yes. Pushing yourself is fun. Get out of your comfort zone. See what you can do. And it was fun, because I did well. For this meet, I felt strong. I wasn’t winded. I performed well in all of my events.
So different from the meet in December. However, it is because of the meet in December, and my crappy, disappointing results, that I made changes which produced better results. If I didn’t go to the first meet, I wouldn’t have known I needed to do things differently, and if I didn’t go to the second meet, I wouldn’t know that it worked.
So that’s why I compete. Pushing yourself is fun. It’s fun to see positive results. Clearly not all results are positive, though. But better things can come from disappointing results. Poor or mediocre results are not that fun, but are useful nonetheless and can be the reason for success down the road.
Put yourself out there. Be a little (or even a lot) uncomfortable. If you fail, learn from it, make a change and come back to try again. You’ll either enjoy the ride or learn something, and that’s a win-win.
Dr. Kate Killoran is a board-certified OB/GYN with 15+ years of clinical experience and a breast cancer survivor. Medical school, residency, and clinical practice educated her thoroughly about disease. What her medical education failed to teach her was how to be healthy and well. This she learned from her breast cancer diagnosis.
She practices what she preaches using her knowledge of health, wellness, and disease to help other women be healthy, happy, and well. She sees patients both in her office in beautiful Camden, Maine as well as online at www.drkatemd.com.