When I was at school I was a good runner. I was fast and I loved sprinting, so come athletics day I was more than happy to sweep up all the races that my friends didn’t want to do. Swimming however I was s*** at, it was one of my main sporting weaknesses. My god I was truly terrible. When I first got to school I realised that everyone, but me, could swim.
It was very funny for my friends so I don’t think I really cared and put little to no effort into learning. Then when the swimming competition came around I’d duck out entirely. One year I was rumbled and forced to do at least one race – 4 lengths breaststroke – and I was lapped SO quickly by my competitors. During the last lonely 2 lengths (yes everyone else had finished) I swear the audience did the slow clap of shame. It’s not hard to see why swimming has never been a favourite of mine.….
….Until recently. As I’ve got older, like most people I’ve talked to, I’ve cared less about how I look/perform when I exercise. It’s built in us to want to be good at everything. I want to the best instructor, I want to be the best wife, the best friend etc but I really don’t want that strive for perfection to apply to exercise/sport too. I want sport to be my escape, the one thing I don’t have to be perfect at. The thing that doesn’t judge me, or berate me, only makes me happy.
So, for this reason, my love for swimming has grown massively since moving out of London 2 years ago. When I moved to Oxford I no longer had the fitness choices I had in London. I’d gotten into a privileged routine of Power Yoga, Reformer Pilates, crazy HIIT classes and runs along the river but I couldn’t tell you the last time I’d been in a pool.
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I felt a little lost when I had to suddenly use my imagination. What sport/exercise could I do now? Swimming was one option but the usual ‘but I’m so crap at it’ crept in. BUT I threw myself in at the deep end (nice pun eh) and now I cannot recommend it highly enough. Here are some of the reasons I have loved embracing my sporting weaknesses so much:
- It teaches you that it’s ok to be average. You do not have to be good at EVERYTHING. You’re not performing at the Olympics, no-ones really watching you. You’re just doing it for you and you alone!
- If you find something hard you will almost alwaysget better at it. I find swimming hard because it uses muscles I just don’t normally use. Therefore, I can only get better at it.
- The pressure is off. I know I’m crap at swimming so I put no pressure on myself whatsoever. Put me in a Pilates class however and I’ll happily risk breaking a bone if it means doing the advanced options.
- It opens you up to more choices. Only doing the sport your good at is very limiting (and can get so boring) so challenge yourself to try something you tried to leave behind in PE at school (I’m still desperate to get back into trampolining).
- Ooooh it gets the old noodle firing up. Doing something you’re bad at really requires you to concentrate and be mindful. There’s no more sitting on your spin bike thinking about dinner when you’re trying your hardest to not drown/make it to the end of the lane without stopping.
So if you are stuck in a rut of pushing yourself too hard, constantly monitoring that heart-rate monitor/fitbit or Garmin, sitting mindlessly on a spin bike then try something completely alien, or scary too you. It might just reignite your love for sport all over again.
Did You Enjoy This Blog On how To Embrace Your Sporting Weaknesses? If so, be sure to check out my interview on BBC Worldwide about world inactivity levels and how we can all get more active in our day-to-day lives (trying something you aren’t good at could be a great opportunity to do this). Watch it HERE