I have discovered, since heading back to the gym/pool complex in the next city, that five years when you’re talking 56 to 61 is a whole lot bigger difference in age, than when you’re talking 30 to 35—or even 40 to 45.
I was 56 when I had to give up my daily trips to the pool. At that time, I was swimming 50 lengths of 25 meters for a total of 1,250 meters. Five days a week. It took me roughly an hour to do this. I had to pause briefly at the halfway mark. Otherwise, I just swam. Up and down, up and down, always on my back because I am too ill-coordinated to swim any other way. I loved it then, that time in the pool. I felt younger. I believed this was the secret to getting more fit, easing my arthritis, and guaranteeing my health. I devoted two hours all told out of my day to this endeavor, usually very early in the morning.
I still love it, but it’s sure not the same experience as it was. First, I’m going later in the day—mid morning. I have no choice in this, because I have to give my body time to wake up, to ensure I won’t have any plumbing issues that day. Yes, I still have a few of those, although they’re nowhere near as severe or debilitating as they were.
I’m aiming for three days a week, not five. I really have too much on my plate to go every day. So Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are my target days. My first day was February 29th, and it completely shocked me that I was only able to swim 100 meters. Now, in my defence, that was after 10 minutes on the treadmill and 10 minutes on the recumbent bike. But still. 4 measly lengths of 25 meters? What a wimp!
I had intended to make up for not going every day by making it a full workout. During my previous regimen, I didn’t even visit that workout area, called the “weight room”. So going forward from my new beginning in February I defined a full workout to mean treadmill and bike, maybe even eventually the elliptical, as well as swimming. However, my arthritis did not like those first two options at all. At the one-month mark, I gave up the treadmill. At the two-month mark, I gave up the bike. It just hurt too darn much to continue. After visiting my doctor this past week, I am going to go back to the recumbent bike for just 2 minutes per visit. It doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve been assured that just two minutes of that different motion from swimming will benefit me. We shall see.
It’s nearly three months since I began this process, and I haven’t gone every single Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Aside from the vacation we took last month, I’ve missed a few days due to being under the weather. But I decided I wasn’t going to fret about the occasional missed day. If I do, I’ll just end up focusing on what I haven’t accomplished, instead of celebrating what I have.
I’m up to 28 lengths of 25 meters, or 700 meters per swim. And that’s taking me more than forty-five minutes to accomplish. I’ve just increased my lengths from 26 to 28. I need to hold to that new benchmark for a few visits before I’m not really straining hard to achieve the goal. So it’ll be another week before I increase the length count to 30.
The most frustrating thing in all of this is that when I get home I have to rest. Like, lying down and closing my eyes kind of rest. I had hoped it wouldn’t take all that long for my body to adjust its level of stamina to the new activity. That’s actually a partial lie. I was certain that it wouldn’t take long for my stamina to increase, to get to the point that I could just do this little thing, then come home, and buzz around like usual and perform my daily “multi-tasking”—that unique blend of housework and writing that is so me.
Unfortunately, it’s looking like I’m going to have to completely restructure my days. Go to bed extra early the night before, and get up extra early the day of, so that I can be certain to get some writing done before the pool. If I don’t do that, the chances of my getting any writing done those days are slim to none, and yes, Slim just left town.
This whole getting older business sure as hell isn’t for the weak of spirit—but it does, truly, beat the alternative.