Henley Swim Thames Marathon Highs and Post-Training Lows - Part II
It’s taken me far longer to write this blog than I intended. Why? Several reasons really; the main one being my mental health.
With more on that later, let’s go back to August 14th, the Thames Marathon. What an absolutely wonderful day this was. After 32 weeks of training (with a little holiday close to the end), the event had finally arrived. The weather was beautiful, the sun was scorching, and so I think it was actually easier swimming that day than it was being a spectator. I was fortunate enough to have my mum, sister, and coach Mike with me, walking on the tow path for the majority of the distance. This also really helped as I was able to swim to the side whenever I needed for a drink or snack, rather than queueing at the water stations when we had to exit the river.
In terms of nutrition, I used Clif Bar strawberry bloks, which are not only vegan, but delicious. I had an estimate of how many I would take within each hour, but actually ended up taking them as and when I felt I needed. It wasn’t a very scientific approach, and if I did the event again, I might plan it more carefully, but it worked for me. I had a bag of the bloks in my tow donut and so, for the small section of the course when my support team were not able to walk alongside the river, I was able to just rest on the float, take the bloks out and eat what I needed, and then carry on my way.
I’d hoped to complete the 14km in about 6 hours, as I didn’t really know what to expect. I was really chuffed however to see that my finish time was 5.15. I was on such a high during the event, and when I came out of the water at the end too. The whole thing went so smoothly, and I only really felt tired, and achy in my shoulders, in the last 2km. I was able to draft on several people for some long sections of the course which also really helped conserve energy. The Thames Marathon is an event that I would definitely recommend to anyone wanting to swim something long-distance. The fact that it’s in manageable chunks is a big plus and the sense of achievement when the exit ladder comes into sight is second to none!
Although the training was manageable, it was quite intense, and so I thought that I’d probably be relieved when the event was over, and I was able to do my own thing in the lake again. In reality however, the opposite was true. In the weeks after the marathon, I felt quite lost. The lack of structure felt very odd, and it was strange not having something to aim for. It didn’t help that I have been experiencing many of the symptoms of perimenopause for a long time now, of which low mood is one, and so it’s taken about two months to find my mojo again. I do feel like I’m coming out the other side now, and my main goal for the time being is just staying healthy. I’m trying to get outside more, move for at least 30 mins per day without getting caught up in terms of speed or distance, and just focus on the little wins. I’m really looking forward to the winter swimming season and we have started swimming again in our ‘Three Amigos’ group, which has been really up-lifting.
As for next year, who knows? For the time being I just want to enjoy each swim, each run, or each walk, with no expectations of results, whilst appreciating being outdoors and just feel thankful for the fact that I can do these things at all. The sense of peace I get from the lake at St Andrews is something that is hard to put into words, it works wonders for my mental health, and so I know that swimming during the winter will continue to do me a world of good.
You can follow Lindsay on her Instagram page @lakelife_lins