18 July 2006
Fear of Water, or How To Break Routine
17 July 2006, Monday
6 miles - 48.11 min - a cool morning of what looks like another very hot day ahead.
It's difficult to overcome your fears and still more difficult to break old routines even when they are only a few months old.
It's the heat wave here in France and throughout Western Europe, and I've been meaning to switch my runs from lunchtime to early morning. Which is my favourite time anyway. But only after I've dropped to 54 minutes on the usual 6 mile circuit last week, I finally made the change.
Morning runs on weekdays have an electrifying sense of urgency - there is a full day ahead with things to do. Still, if you get out on the road between 6 and 7 on a light Summer morning you can be assured of having a settled, focused mind for the rest of the day, and your body will stay taut and energised.
And the dogs, they won't feel as restless after a good run and a milk drink in reward.
We spent a long relaxed evening on a sandy beach yesterday. The sea was calm, and at low tide there were dozens of pools to wade through, going down to waste-deep, then rising up to ankle depth. This must have made the dogs more confident and they managed to overcome their nervousness and followed me right where they couldn't reach the bottom anymore and, so, had to paddle. Zoe, my old Border Collie running partner, loved water. When at the seaside she would swim and chase balls or sticks into the water non-stop. But, then I'd trained her to love a good splash ever since she had been a puppy, while the two Golden Retrievers I have now hadn't had much experience with water.
I must have been five or six when I learnt to swim at a Black Sea beach - my grandmother just threw me in the deep, off the line of semi-submerged wave-breakers - and I paddled back. That method may not be taken to by modern instructors, but it worked for me. Once I discovered the incredible sensation of floating in water without fear of going under, the pleasure of that experience had become one of the most powerful emotions, one of those learnt reflexes that help you condition yourself by just thinking about having had them. Think of apples, and the crisp sharp taste fills your mouth, think of chocolate and you feel the sweet taste...
The effort it takes to go for a swim or for a run is greater than picking up an apple or unwrapping a chocolate, but the enjoyment, I think, is, if not greater, than certainly longer lasting.
And there is an added element of feeling proud and more confident, when you know that you can overcome yourself.
Posted by Alexander Anichkin