Choose Your Battles
Experience tells me to choose my battles. I have been speaking to a friend online throughout the swim about some of the ways I am handling the mental side of swimming 100km in the dark, in the surf through the coldest and darkest months. He happens to be a Mental Performance Consultant to other athletes and sports people, Stephen Feeney. Last night I was telling him about how after breaking the 50km it was the first time I felt drained but I was compelled to swim again because I do not want to get comfortable out of the water. Stephen reminded me to Choose my Battles.
I have two days ahead of me where I wont be swimming because of North wind. The lack of light is one element I have chosen to have in my challenge but the risk of swimming in conditions where there is likely to be logs etc in the water is a risk not worth taking. The waters in which I am swimming are well known to me and as soon as the wind switches to the west/sw the water usually clears making it much safer for me to swim.
I generally don't swim in North Wind conditions due to the wind bringing ashore all sorts of logs, pollution and river water. I have a long time to swim yet, I cant risk getting sick or injured by something in the water. I need to stay fit and healthy. Since I started Swim Through Darkness, I have used the north wind conditions to recover and refuel. Two nights off actually means three days and it gives me time to take a step back, sharpen the blade and get ready for the next swim.
If you are reading this and you are struggling with something and you are debating whether to take a break or not, consider this. Taking a break may not make sense at the outset in your mind but if you take a moment and write down your 1)ideal conditions for whatever you are doing, then 2) less than ideal, 3)then the worst conditions... you will have some structure and be able to build in rest days more easily. When the worst conditions present themselves that's when the amount of effort required to complete the job in hand outweighs the rewards (all other things being equal). It would be better and more efficient to use those bad conditions as rest days, refuel time and get back at it when the conditions are more favourable. You will be fresher, sharper and require less energy to complete the task. For me those bad conditions are North winds. It's not necessarily because the swim itself might be more difficult but because it is potentially more dangerous and therefore the risk to the rest of my swim far outweighs the reward that one night in the surf might give me.
Some pictures of some of the stuff washed in with recent northerlies.
Info - I am swimming a total of 100km through the darkness, in the darkest and coldest months of the year off the North Coast of Ireland. My aim...to inspire those who may be struggling in dark times to keep going. I also aim to raise awareness and funds for the depression Charity Aware NI. We all face dark times in life at some point and it can be extremely overwhelming.
Safety - Please don't think that because I am doing this that you too should do this or something similar. I am very experienced in the sea with knowledge that is only gained through many years of exposure to the sea in all her moods. I have a safety and location system in place including continual contact with people on land every time I swim.