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Choosing Your Battle Suit And Setting Targets For Exercise

January 11 2021

Causeway Coast

Charity AWARE NI

Swim Distance 3.08km


Al Mennie entering the water for Swim Through Darkness. Picture by Mark Millar.

Last night we broke 35km mark meaning over a third of the swim is complete. You guys hit the target of £3000 I had set at the outset. I underestimated the generosity of people during this pandemic. I was very uneasy setting a financial target at the outset and it goes to show that others are willing to help even during a pandemic when everyone is feeling the pressure. So if you are reading this blog a lot, take the fact that lots of people have donated as a sure sign that help is out there. If you are struggling in some way know that there are people out there willing to help.

Last night I was feeling crap watching the news as things appear to be getting worse by the day. Hospitals overwhelmed.

I have lots of friends working on the front line in the NHS and in fact one of my closest friends Leigh,and part of my support team, is also on the front line. They are all in the thick of it day in day out through no fault of their own and they are facing whatever comes their way. I know that many of you reading this via instagram stories are also front liners in Police and hospital staff etc. Know that you are appreciated in what you are doing.

I hadn’t done any exercise yesterday, watching all this on the news was engulfing my mind. To be honest as much as I love swimming I wasn’t really feeling it. But as usual as soon as I got into my suit I became excited again and ready to go smash the 35km mark. I’m always optimistic about doing most things in life but also very realistic. I know that the elements are unpredictable and so setting a goal of a distance to reach is not always sensible if I don’t keep in mind that the elements may not allow me to reach it. The elements last night gave me my hardest swim to date. The surf was a fair size and breaking in relatively shallow water. The water was black, the sky dark.

If you look at the chart and compare it to others it’s very clear that was the most difficult swim to date.


Although I’m using this swim to raise awareness of depression, to keep it present in people’s minds so that it’s talked about and therefore if someone needs help it might be noticed and help given. I’m also using it for myself and to help motivate you reading this.

What I’m doing is based around a goal. When I don’t want to get up and get out there the goal makes me do it. It makes me want to put the wet wetsuit on and get it done and it makes me feel guilty for at times thinking otherwise and trying to persuade myself that I don’t need the exercise.

Battle Suit and Target Setting

If you are reading this and struggling to break the cycle of doing little to no exercise throughout this pandemic make yourself a plan. Start now and chose something, anything and set yourself some targets to achieve. The targets you set must be realistic to you. I don’t know you or your capability so I don’t know what you are capable of ( you might) or if you need help to see where you are at in the grand scheme of things contact a personal trainer and they will be able to help you find where you are and what is suitable for you.

Set aside some clothes that you wear specifically for your exercise. It might be a T-shirt or trackies or something, maybe a pair of shoes. Keep them specially for your exercise. Look after them, treat them like your life depends on them. Like my wetsuit, in my head is my battle suit. It’s a special piece of material that I only put on for special occasions and for me that is swimming or surfing. I carefully put it on and take it off so not to damage it and it has its own hook to hang on inside my little changing area I’ve made in my house. I take great care of it. Chose your own battle suit for whatever you are doing. It might sound silly that a particular item of clothing be given such importance but this is the kind of stuff that is required when you feel like shit and don’t want to exercise. You need to give yourself every opportunity to overcome those feelings and get it done. Your battle suit and some targets will greatly enhance the getting up from the sofa process!

Set long term targets and short term targets and then start the ball rolling. The short term targets let you chip away bit by bit at the bigger long term tarhet without being overwhelmed as easily. When you start to feel shitty and you don’t want to do it, your targets and your goals will pull you straight and you will before long be up putting on your battle suit and exercising. Exercise and being outdoors are great ways to lift the mood and distract our minds from our daily lives. Don’t neglect it.

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 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.


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