On Sunday I completed my first (and probably last) aquathlon. It consisted of 400m swimming in the pool (16 lengths of the local leisure centre pool) and then a 5km run*. As this is a yoga blog I’ll try to find the yogic connections for this event. One is the pre-race nerves and tension; there was a lot of hanging about and waiting (especially waiting to get into the pool as it was staggered with a gap between each person – it would have been mayhem in the pool otherwise!) and so being able to sit quietly on the poolside and breathe deeply helped keep me focused and calm. Once swimming I tried to keep my breathing rhythm steady and in time with my swim strokes to keep an even pace and prevent over-tiring.
The run was challenging in that I find running a struggle, although I’m beginning to think it’s more a mental struggle than physical. Without noticing that I was going faster than my usual pace, I managed to complete the race in a record time for me (full results are on the INTRtri club’s aquathlon page of their website) but I had to use great mental powers to keep going, repeating ‘I can do it, I can do it, I can do it’ over and over again. I’m not sure that I reached the meditative ‘blank state’ that Murakami discussed in his book which I featured in a previous blog post.
It’s got me wondering if I have an aversion to running because it’s difficult, and if I like yoga because I can ‘do it’ (by which I mean I find it relatively easy to put myself into physical postures, which is, of course, only one aspect of yoga). And thus, people who find many of the physical postures of yoga difficult (can’t do them) may not like yoga because it’s uncomfortable or a struggle and may not come to yoga classes. Do we tend to gravitate towards things we ‘can do’ and that are easier? I’m trying to combat this within my own yoga practice by working on things I ‘don’t like’ (read: can’t do very well), and which I tend to avoid. Which, coincidentally, are often the things I actually need more of.
I believe my yoga practice has helped with the aquathlon in that I had no muscle stiffness or soreness that day or in the days after. I’d be interested to know if other people who do a variety of sports find yoga complements their other sporting activities.
*NB – unbeknown to me, the race was actually not 5km, but only 4.5km or even shorter. My exceedingly fast time [for me] led me to measure it using string and an OS map, and also this great website for measuring non-road routes. On discovering that it was short of 5km I contacted the organisers who said that race distances in tri-duo or aquathlons don’t have to be the full length. They said “the routes in triathlon and aquathlon races are often not exactly the advertised distance so that they can meet safety or organisational targets. This is recognised by the BTF who allow a route to be a certain percentage short or long of the advertised distance. … and as this was a race aimed at novices it was decided that safety was more important. ” I’m just wondering why this information wasn’t in the pre-race information, especially as if the race was aimed at novices, such novices are unlikely to know that the distances are allowed to be short. I personally would have rather done another loop of the park or round a nearby playing field to get the right distance.