Some weeks ago, I started to really get hooked on the (harp-related) blog of Deborah Henson-Conant, a harpist with a difference.

Here Gliding onto Stage she talks about the difference between effort and glide. The easiest way I can think of this, is when you see kids that are just starting out on rollerskates. Their skates are strapped to their feet, and they are certainly moving on their skates, but they might as well be walking for all the actual skating they are doing. Then, gradually, they work out that there is an extra step, and they start to feel the thrill of the glide. This is the difference between rehearsing and performing, and in particular when your performance is going really well. Some people refer to it as being in the zone, but I like the Glide concept as I can relate to this physically.

Last night I went swimming. It was the first time I’d been in 2 weeks, and the first training session of any kind for 9 days due to a nasty ear infection and unpleasant side effects from the antibiotics – I was pretty much wasted for most of last week. I was worried that all the fitness that I’d started to develop would have evaporated. (On the plus side, I lost 3lbs which I was pretty pleased about!)

Instead, I felt pretty good. Not technically good at swimming or anything like that, but I definitely found it less of an effort than previously, and I had shorter pauses between lengths.

My first session 4 weeks ago, I managed about 20 lengths (a LOT for me) with lots of rest in between. My second session, I managed 30, still with lots of breaks.

Last night, I did somewhere between 30 and 36 (kept losing count). I’m doing 2 lengths at a time without stopping now. Gradually, I started to feel the glide – I stopped focussing on everything around me, and noticed how much quicker the lengths were going and how I felt as I swam.

This isn’t anything marvellous on the Olympic scale, but in terms of my own fitness, I’m feeling a huge improvement each time.

For the triathlon in September, I have to swim 1500m, about 60 lengths of my local pool. Except I have to do it in open water, in the sea in my case. I’d underestimated what this would involve, and my first swimming session really scared me. I realised I wouldn’t be able to see as well in seawater. It will be salty, it will taste horrible, and given how much I swallow in the pool, it’s not going to be pleasant at all.

Not only do I have a set distance to complete, I have to do it within a cut off period of 50 minutes, otherwise I can’t continue onto the next 2 legs of the race. I’m not too worried about the bike ride, and the run, well if I’m too tired I can walk (lots if required!).

Rather than dreading it however, I am really excited about it now – I’m really up for the challenge, especially on the back of how I felt after finishing my Nightrider adventure Nightrider blog post. I am starting to feel the improvement that is coming just from the small amount of training I have managed to do, and this is really spurring me on.

Still a long way to go, especially my first run in a while which is coming up tomorrow…


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