Today in the gym as I was cooling down (lying on the floor...) my thoughts went back a few years, 14 in fact, to the day I went from a kid attending swimming "lessons" to a kid going to swim training.
At the time it was a big jump. I had always been terrified of competitions, this in fact didn't change for quite a few years, so the thought of starting to race was a bit scary. In fact when the coach asked me after the Saturday morning "widths" swim lesson group if I wanted to make the jump up to competition "lengths" training I said no ... it was only after I had showered and changed that my mum encouraged me to change my mind. As I went to find the coach he was driving out of the parking lot and I had to (this remains a vivid memory) run after his car and hit my hand against the rear window to get his attention.
In hindsight risking my little life in order to tell my coach I had changed my mind might not have been the best idea, but as most 8 year olds I still didn't understand the concept of waiting another 3 days to tell him at the next swimming lesson ... or the idea of phonecalls.
Anyway ... after telling him I now wanted to be a swimmer I made my way home for breakfast, chest puffed out.
Later that morning in a conversation I regard as being completely fair and one a Dad was entitled to have with his son, my dad very kindly and discreetly reminded me that now that I was going to become a "swimmer" maybe I should lay off the cake a bit (I was in fact quite the chubby child). This might seem a bit mean but he was right, if I wanted to become a swimmer I couldn't be chowing down on cookies and chocolate all the time - I had to become an athlete.
The concept of training was still completely unknown to me so I went outside and ran around the garden. Twice. Now our garden isn't tiny but it also isn't huge, I'm talking 200m around at most. So there I was, 400m into my training, standing in front of the mirror inspecting my stomach - as if to be suddenly noticing the instant appearance of a 6 pack.
Little did I know it would take a further 13 years before that 6 pack would fully emerge, but there I was, hoping to see results.
Of course I didn't so that afternoon I convinced my dad to take me on yet another regular weekend swimming pool trip. There I stood in the reception of the Westhill swimming pool marvelling at all the swim accessories on the wall, swim accessories that "real" swimmers wore. And since "real" swimmers were lean and muscley I of course presumed that by buying some of them I too would become lean and muscley. So there I went, into the changing rooms, armed with my brand new pair of goggles and ... wait for it ... a nose clip. I still to this day don't know why I associated the nose clip with swimming prowess but there you have it.
Unfortunately neither the 500m I swam that day nor the nose clip seemed to make too much of a difference, and I guess therein started my since lifelong journey into the discovery of training and the human body.
It is funny to look back at myself as an 8 year old and to think of how little I knew back then, both about training and myself, but then I also can laugh reminding myself of how little I still know about myself, 14 years later.
The lesson I learned that day at the pool was that things take time. No matter how much you want it nothing will come after a few laps around the garden or a few hundred meters in the fun pool. More importantly I learned that no matter what you buy ... even if it is a nose clip, nothing can replace hard work and personal sacrifice. You have to be the one out there training, the nose clip's not going to do it for you.