Missing the sport.

georgina-5Having spent a long time addressing my inner turmoil over almost all other elements of the recovery process I surprised myself by bursting into tears one day watching the Olympics on TV. “I just really miss swimming,” was my explanation to concerned onlookers. Initially I was slightly perturbed that I had found yet another thing to cry about, previously believing that I had been making progress on the emotional stability front. But then I realised that this sadness felt different to the other sadnesses I had experienced. It was free of angst and self-berating. It felt somehow honest. A straightforward intense desire to get back into the pool.

Initially I didn’t know what to do with this, it just seemed to add to the wealth of inner voices screaming at me to forgo rest and get back to training ASAP. However, having spent the previous few months insisting to myself that I WAS going to rest and recover however little I wanted to, sitting with this feeling I began to find it extremely heartening. Here was evidence that I did really love what I was doing, loved it on a very simple level. I really enjoy stroking up and down a pool!

Where it may be difficult to sustain the motivation to recover, for a prolonged period of time, based on a desire to swim a length of a pool faster than other people, wanting to get back to an activity that brings you deep pleasure is an easy thing to remain enthused by. Easy and simple and wonderfully free from any accompanying negative or complex thoughts and feelings. This was the thought that I could use to pull me through. Instead of feeling sad about the lack of pool time I was currently experiencing I starting using my craving to swim again as a motivator to recover properly.

Perhaps the greatest gift of disruption is how it teaches you to truly appreciate the non-disrupted times. There is nothing like a period away from your sport to remind you how much you enjoy it. On the conveyor belt of daily training it is easy to lose or ignore the joy of what you are doing. Training can become about chasing personal bests, increasing strength and speed, winning. We can easily forget what brought us to the sport in the first place. The joy of moving your body, being outside, the environment you run or cycle through, the feeling of being in water, the people you train with. Sport provides pleasure on one of the most basic levels; simply breathing and moving with a single focus, it’s liberating. We play sport because it is fun but it often seems to be the case that those of us spending the most time playing are getting the least joy out of it.

The feeling that I am missing swimming and the knowledge that I therefore really do love the sport, has never failed to lift me even in the worst of moments. Moreover, every time I have returned to training post break I have returned with boundless enthusiasm and excitement and gratitude. Learning to be grateful and appreciative of the fact that I am in a pool at all every morning has dramatically improved my attitude to training. I understand to a much greater extent now that how things turn out is often out of your control, but the process you go through to get there is yours almost completely. This has meant that I have so much more fun and having fun means that, results and further achievements, although still desirable, are largely unimportant.

Most importantly, during any time I spend away from the pool, the debate over recovery is quietened. It becomes irrelevant how long it takes for my body to heal because I am not trying to recover for the sake of a certain competition or accolade.  My motives are simplified; I just want to get back to doing something I love.

Find the full ‘Why does it remain so difficult to recover?’ series here.

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About Georgina

georgina-profile-resizedGeorgina is a full-time athlete, sprint-swimmer based in the UK.  Born in 1993 in Islington, London she moved in the summer of 1996 to rural Cheshire where she lived until early 2014 when she moved to Moscow. She spent the following two and a half years in Russia and returned to the UK at the end of September 2016.

She is an accomplished all-round athlete having competed in multi-event athletics and alpine ski-racing.

After leaving school with A levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics, English Literature and Art she began a Civil Engineering MSc course at the University of Bath in England before deferring her course in late 2011 in order to focus her activities on swim sprint racing.

When not training, eating and sleeping Georgina teaches flute, plays the piano and sings in various choirs and ensembles. She is currently involved in the building of a house in Birmingham and continues to study and learn to speak Russian. You can follow Georgina on Twitter or Instagram.