Learning new skills – it’s not all plain sailing!

Marvellous Mimi / Blog  / Learning new skills – it’s not all plain sailing!

Learning new skills – it’s not all plain sailing!

Over the past few months I have been attempting to master a couple of new skills, at times it’s been tough but I keep plodding on knowing that one day everything will simply fall into place (she says crossing all her fingers)

One of those skills is the front crawl.  I don’t think I have ever felt so much out of my comfort zone as I do when swimming.  Many years ago as a child while living in Norway I watched my sister float down a freezing cold river, I thought she was going to die.  Luckily the story ended well but subconsciously the moment has stayed with me, hence being out of my comfort zone!

My first lesson was literally going under water and blowing bubbles.  What an idiot I felt but with encouragement from my marvellous coach Kevin and practice by me I am now able to swim lengths, I’m well chuffed.  I watch in awe as other people in the pool swim up and down with speed and grace – perhaps one day that will be me.  Waking up in the morning to go swimming really doesn’t motivate me but I know that once I start swimming it was worth getting out of my nice warm bed!  People ask me why I’m learning how to swim if it scares me so much; the reason is simple, I somehow have to overcome my fear of water and I have been promising myself for years that one day I would learn how to do the front crawl – that time is now!

Scary photo! 

Having signed up for Ride Across Britain (Cycling 964 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats) I began cycling before Christmas on Marv my hybrid bike.  It felt great to be outside doing something positive.   Gradually over the next few weeks I increased my distances and felt more confident on the bike.  I did find myself feeling envious every time I cycled past a runner and wished that I was running rather than cycling. This was such a negative way to think but I was jealous, I missed my running, I missed ringing up my friend Caroline arranging to meet up for our long runs; I missed lacing up my trainers and being able to leave my front door and go for a run – I simply missed my running.

Somehow I needed to turn things around and try to be more positive.  OK I couldn’t run, it wasn’t actually the end of the world even if it felt like that.  I had to remember that although the knee was knackered I was still able to cycle and swim, that’s got to be a positive. After giving myself a big talking to I managed to turn my mindset around and focus on what I could do rather than what I couldn’t.

If I was going to cycle from one end of the country to the other I needed a road bike so Marvellous Mavis was purchased.  She is fantastic and gradually we are getting to know how we each work. A few tweaks here and there and we will be a perfect match.

My first lesson was to learn how ride with those clip-less shoes, absolutely hated them.  My knee got very angry with me and Mavis thought it was hysterical so constantly made me fall over.  I decided that for the time being clip-less was not the way to go and have reverted back to the good old fashioned flat pedals and trainers – the joy.

I’m rubbish on the downhills and find that most of my time is spent with my hands firmly on the breaks.  Possibly my fear of going downhills is the size of the potholes on the roads around Kent, they are awful.  I don’t even want to think what would happen if Mavis went into one of the deep holes!  The uphills are way easier and although hard work my legs seem to cope well, I do need to increase my “power” to become faster going up.

Apparently I have to get used to riding with other people to get used to cycling in a group and knowing the signs to look out for when there’s a car coming or another pothole.  After a bit of googling I discovered a newly formed group called Headcorn Wheelers and immediately signed up – loved it, great fun and very sociable.

With all the cold weather we have been experiencing in the UK I took the plunge and purchased a turbo trainer – now I feel as though I’m officially a cyclist.  I’ve signed up for Zwift and even have people following me and giving me the thumbs up – have no idea how to respond so continue peddling along happily!

Since returning from America so many doors have opened and boy are the doors exciting and totally unexpected.  I have opened them with huge enthusiasm (of course being sensible at the same time!)  Tomorrow I fly to Fiji to be the Race Director for a new race set up by Wes Crutcher called the Lost Island Ultra.  I’m extremely exited and privileged to be part of this event.  I have a huge amount to learn but I feel that with my running experience of multi day events I have a few nuggets of wisdom to give.  If I can one day be as good as RD’s such as James Elson and Jon Steele I will be happy.

I tried my first run this week.  A few months ago I did a couple of extremely short jogs on the treadmill and it hurt so gave my right leg longer to heal.  I don’t know whether you can imagine how nervous I was about trying to run again – what if my knee still hurt after such a long recovery, how would that make me feel?  My knee is never going to be able to do the long distance runs but perhaps if I’m careful it could manage a half marathon, that’s good enough for me, I just want to be able to run.  I got onto the treadmill and warmed up (on an incline) for 1km, then took the incline down and nervously pressed the speed button.  The legs seems to work, there was no pain, brilliant.  Ran for half a km, walked for a km, ran for 1km, walked for half, then ran the final km.  I was aware of my lower leg but no pain – I’m a happy woman.  Even if I’m able to run for 5 miles it will keep me happy.

Life throws us the occasional curve ball, our job is to find a way to deal with it!

Happy training.

  • Teresa Munday

    You are doing amazingly well. Overcoming your fear of swimming is brilliant. The clipless shoes thing is always frightening at first and once you get used to them, you realise how much they can help. I’m not brilliant on downhills but I no longer clench my knees to the bike and get huge black bruises – you get used to them and a bit of speed from a downhill in to an uphill is free climbing 😉 Good luck as RD – I’m sure you will be great. Watching you on Twitter. Runaway_Nan

    April 2, 2018 at 7:16 am
  • Hi Mimi,
    I have nearly finished your book and you’ll be pleased to know that you have inspired me to get my carcass out of bed and run. I am 43 and been a casual runner for a number of years completing a few half marathons and 1 full marathon. However, recently family commitments have stalled my progress. However, having read about your 840 mile run in 12 days, I commited that I could atleast get out and run for a few hours! I am keen to make running and/or exercise in general part of my life again and would like to be able to make a living out of it. Any tips? Keep up the good work and enjoy fiji. Jethro.

    April 8, 2018 at 9:35 am