Last week I took a pretty rare trip – overseas (Madrid, Spain) by myself. I wasn’t totally alone, I met a friend of mine that I used to be in the Navy with who was there for a conference, so I guess you could call it a girls trip. Because she was working during the day, I had about 4 straight days to myself. No kids, no work, no obligations. I figured because I planned ahead and had all this free time that I would find a local pool and go swim, then take my laptop to a cafe and sip wine while I wrote blog articles and people watched….

Expectations vs. reality: I wrote no blog posts. I got in no pools. I slept in, a LOT. I drank wine and ate delicious food. The closest I got to water was a visit to some very old Roman Aqueducts in a small town called Segovia (pictured above). It turns out I don’t adjust to the time change like I did in my 20’s and powering through the first day only meant that I was up until 3am watching Netflix and sleeping until 11. Surprisingly though, I did not feel guilty. I guess I needed a full recharge more than I thought. I did end up walking about 7-10 miles a day just touring around on my own, so I can’t call it a total workout loss.

I got home Friday, took the weekend off to spend with my family and yesterday had to get back in the pool after 9 days off. It went a little like this:

  • 100 yards in: Arms started to ache
  • 200 yards in: Very sore. Panic setting in.
  • Warm-up done: Convinced I’ve ruined everything I’ve built up over the past 2 months of hard work.
  • Aerobic set: Not as bad as I thought, maybe there’s hope.
  • End of main set: Powered through but now frantically (over)planning how I’m going to use the week to make sure I don’t slip any further.
  • Sprint set: Did the same set I did last Saturday as a gauge and swam the same times. Stopped panicking.

Before I left I was obsessing over high volume yardage so that I had a good base in case this exact thing happened – this thing where my plan to be a cool international traveler/swimmer didn’t workout. My coach kept telling me that rest isn’t a bad thing (I didn’t believe his lies). Turns out, as a 30-something, rest is okay. The walking around probably actually did count as exercise and helped me stay a little in shape. Sure, I was a little sore and stiff yesterday and my feel for the water was slightly off, but it wasn’t awful. I didn’t lose everything I’ve built. I was still able to do a short but useful aerobic set and get a decent amount of rest on a tough-ish interval. Is my motivation today to get back in a little low after so many wonderful days of vacation and relaxation? Absolutely.

The reality is that I built this week off into my plan back in September. I wrote down “Spain – swim amap (as much as possible)” fully knowing that as much as possible may be nothing. I don’t think that it was simply that I took a week off, I think it’s that I allowed myself to fully disconnect. How often do we do that? Never.

So what happened when I took a week off? Nothing really. I’ll struggle a little this week catching up in the pool, at work, and on my writing but ultimately it was GOOD for me. Maybe it could be good for you too 😉