Today, for the first time in about 23 years, I got back in the water. After a grueling week a few weeks ago, I managed to acquire plantar fasciitis in my right foot, an inflammation of the tissue that connects my heel with the ball of my foot. Since I was used to running a couple of times a week, the painful heel removed one of my main endurance workouts. I thought, for a couple of reasons, I should substitute swimming so that I can work on my endurance, do something other than kettlebell exercises, and get back in the water.
I scheduled a session with a professional swimming teacher on the Peninsula, some 12 miles from my house. Other than my instructor, I was by far the oldest person in the pool this afternoon. With a half hour session, we worked on a few skill transfer exercises and I was able to remember how to swim right away. More than two decades of being intimidated by the water are gone. I went to the lap swim pool to work on my skills, but having done CrossFit for more than five years made it easy for me to construct cues in my mind about all the little things to remember when swimming basic freestyle. I continued after my lesson for another half hour in the lap swim pool, practicing (sometimes failing) the front stroke and breathing without swallowing a mouthful of water.
I’m still doing CrossFit and I’ve recently passed my five year anniversary, but with plantar fasciitis, I have to substitute a lot of WODs with something that doesn’t kill my heel. Swimming a couple of times a week will also make me more confident when I go kayaking. I can even take up other aquatic sports, like sailing or paddle-boarding.
Like most things in life, this adventure seemed a lot more scary in my mind than it turned out to be. We all have a swirling quagmire of our personal mythology in our heads, reaching back years into our individual pasts. Sometimes, we need a reminder that we’re always free to edit it and even work on discontinuing entire chapters.