Key words: solutions for swimming, dogwalking without a dog, posture and the home-gym; Stoïc philosphy; the art of doing nothing; bad habits.
The Olympic open water swim champion Sharon Rouwendaal and myself have been in a neck-to-neck race in our search for a solution for the closure of the pools. While she got pulled out of the French Mediterranean sea by the military, I conquered the Gooimeer. Not that we plan on racing Ironman or Tokyo this year, but people like Sharon and other IM-gekkies understand: It is easier to start a bad habit than to keep a good one, so I planned on fighting for my Spartan rhythm of getting up at 6am and swim.
When the pools closed, dry land cords seemed the easiest solution. Lying on my belly on a yoga mat was quite convenient untiI it gave me bed sores (doorligplekken). Having put on a bit of insulating bodyfat, I couldn’t find a reason not to try the 6 degrees Celsius open water. With two wetsuits on top of each other, a neoprene cap, gloves and socks my training buddy Nick and I were pretty optimistic we’d be able to handle the Gooimeer. Within 5 strokes the brain freeze spread from the frontal lobes all the way through my spine to the L5-S1 hernia. It took 30 mins in a hot bath to thaw.
So, two weeks after the shut down, I decided to fall back to my Stoic philosophy: “Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are motivation, desire, opinion, aversion, and whatever is of our own doing; not within our power is whatever is not of our own doing, you should learn to accept.”
Then this video (above) of Sharon pops up. My friends commented: She is mental. How on earth can you motivate yourself to do that? But I thought: This is a champion. And how much does such construction truly differ from 5hrs on the TACX, or running 2.5hrs on a treadmill? IM-gekkies do that all the time. So I’m saving a bit of money for an inflatable pool and just checked my back yard to see where it will fit.
The next hurdle: finding alternatives for cycling. The problem with cycling is that I tend to produce quite a bit of snot* and it is absolutely a no-go in this corona-era to look backwards and use your index finger to close one nostril to empty the other behind you. Supported by the research of the Irish neuroscientist Shane O’Mara who claims that people should take 15.000 steps a day, I introduced hiking to my daily Spartan rhythm: one hour before work and one hour after work.
After two months of walking everyday, I found that the animals are even more into rhythms than professional athletes. The deers, buzzards and owl seem to have an in-build atomic clock and global positioning system, enabling nature lovers like myself to pick the routes in such way that spotting them is guaranteed. Feeling an obedient citizen, however, I don’t feel very much accepted by fellow pedestrians, or more precisely: the dog walkers. They give me the looks like I’m a wandering lost woman. So again I found myself looking for a solution. This time Rodaan Al Galidi, a Dutch writer and ex-refugee from Iraq, had the answer. Not entitled to work and waiting for a residence permit, he was a lonely man, ignored by others on the street. Things changed when he had to look after a friend’s puppy: people suddenly started talking to him. He turned into a trustworthy man. When he had to return the puppy, he bought a leash. Ever since, without a dog to the other end, he walks with a leash. Tomorrow I will buy a one too.
I have more new habits and ideas to share. Pretty applicable to everyone in a full lock down, who is self-conscious of posture and shape, is the golden combi of the cross-trainer and the table-on-desk setup. My brother in law found me a crosstrainer at marktplaats for 150 euro, he dragged it to my attic (it is impossible to do that with the standard machine for running, i.e. a treadmill). At first, I refused mounting such 65+ machine, until I discovered that it is just perfect for watching Netflix (as your head doesn’t bounce as with running). It is also fantastic for anyone with a running injury as it brings your heartrate up to 130bpm easily and has no impact on the tendons and joints. I’m convinced that this will be saving more lives than any covid-19 vaccine. Finally, the table-on-desk setup (pic below) is the one of the few solutions I invented myself. Perfect for alternating standing/sitting without needing to buy an adjustable desk.
15000 steps and working 8 hours a day still leaves too much home-bound time for a triathlete. Hence I’m enrolled in a course on “the art of doing nothing”. The course material is mainly provided by Sporza Retro, the tv channel that solely broadcasts old bike races; I napped for a full hour whilst rewatching the 2015 Gent-Wevelgem bike classic. For the second day in a row I didn’t made it to the Hornbach before closure time. I’m SO mastering this lock down.
That was the wrap up of my new good habits, but I find it hard to stop my bad habit of using Strava. I know it is a bit uncool to record walks and cross trainer sessions, but I just can’t help myself.
*Well, I cannot bike or run at all at the moment, minor detail 😊