Jamie Lawrence

The key to my best swimming

I was pacing around the house this morning drinking a Berocca, looking for paracetamol and procrastinating about going to the pool. My back was really sore; I was tired; and was feeling sick (I’ve got some long-term stomach problems). When I arrived at the pool I actually thought I was going to throw up.

I really did not want to go swimming.

And that’s my key.

On a fairly consistent basis, I swim my best times or furthest distances when I feel the least like doing it. And only the days that I feel great? Swimming isn’t so good.

Why is this?

Well, I have a theory. I am not a morning person. My brain is foggy, and I can hardly string a sentence together. I hobble out of bed like a drunk 80 year old. And I’m useless for programming until at least 11am — my analytical, creative, brain just hasn’t spun up yet. All my brains wants to do is go back to that sleep state.

And that’s why I swim better.

My analytical brain is still asleep so there’s no one to notice the pain in my shoulders, or the burning in my chest, or question why I’m struggling after only 400m. There’s no self-doubt to question whether I can swim 2km at that pace. Everything about the swimming is about a habit: same locker, same routine, same stroke, over and over again. My primitive morning brain is like, “Just shut up, stop bothering us and keeping swimming”. The creative and analytical, self-doubting, afternoon brain is still asleep.

Sometimes I wish he’d stay the fuck asleep.