You know the Polar Bear Club?
No, not the American post-hardcore band from upstate NY that formed in 2005. (Although I do kinda like that song).
I’m talking about the other Polar Bear Club. Those crazy people who jump into ice cold water to show how badass they are? They emerge from the freezing cold water looking something like this…
Well, today I joined their ranks without meaning to. But let me back up.
I’m on a mission to make my mini goal by December 19th. With this plantar fasciitis that I’m dealing with, most workouts are really painful, especially walking. Since the weather warmed up today into the mid-to-high 70s, I felt like swimming was the perfect activity to burn some serious calories, yet still baby my heel.
I was so happy to get to the pool and find it completely empty. I quickly kicked off my flip flops, threw off my coverup, and dove headfirst into the pool.
(I’m not sure I looked this graceful, by the way).
As I hit the water my heart stopped for a second, and my brain froze as surely as if I’d had a Slurpee.
It quickly became apparent that they’d turned off the pool’s heater. I mean, I know it’s October 16th, but we’ve been having warm weather, up until last week. Well, this was a fine predicament I’d gotten myself into!
As I saw it, I now had two choices:
- Get out of the pool and figure out another workout that would baby my heel.
- Summon my inner rockstar/badass/superhero and deal with it.
I knew my body would eventually get used to the temperature, so I just had to hang in there and do my best to get my body acclimated. My swimming was very labored for the first ten minutes. I could barely catch my breath and couldn’t quite find my rhythm between strokes and taking breaths. I felt like my lungs couldn’t get enough air and each breath was a struggle.
Instead of getting frustrated, I turned over and started the backstroke, which is much easier on the breathing than freestyle swimming. Every so often I stopped swimming and did some “swim running” in the deep end of the pool. This is a term I made up myself, but just imagine the motion of running your fastest, fist pumping race, all the while suspended in the deep end of a swimming pool. That’s swim running. I made sure to use high knees, for added calorie burn benefit.
After about 10 minutes, which passed by quickly thanks to my AquaBeat, I felt my body get accustomed to the temps. (Amber, I cannot thank you enough for telling me about that amazing underwater mP3 player. I couldn’t have made it through the polar ice caps today without my tunes to keep me going). My swimming became smoother, and I actually enjoyed my workout.
Beyond my usual happiness that comes from feeling weightless in a swimming pool, I have to admit that I adored the feeling of being a rockstar for sticking it out and pushing myself past normal limits (and maybe even sanity!) and continuing to swim in the unheated pool.
Now that I know I can do it, I’m planning on going back for more on Thursday. At least I’ll be prepared for that initial rush next time. It’s all in a day’s work in pursuit of my dreams.