I was talking to someone about the marathon swimming research recently and they asked me if I was a marathon swimmer. Without even thinking, I said, "I used to be". And then I was quite shocked to find myself thinking about it in the past tense.
I've been thinking about this quite a bit recently while working on my book. In the introduction, I talk about the different types and stages of 'becoming' that make up the process, and then reflect on the inevitable phases of 'unbecoming' - periods of illness, time out to focus on work or family life, or in my most recent case, injury. After 5 months of barely swimming, if I am still a marathon swimmer, I am certainly one who couldn't possibly do a marathon swim. Long lay-offs are very unforgiving and fitness melts away quickly, so after my long training break, and regardless of the injury, my swimming capacity is vastly diminished; even a couple of km sits rather uncomfortably in the shoulders and upper back.
One of the hardest things about training, I think, is that you have to start from where you are. So that's what I'm trying to do - start from where I am and build up steadily. The good news is that my shoulder is heaps better, and a recent session with Emma from Active Blu has given me a clear focus for what I need to be working on in my stroke to stop that happening again. But still, while I can recall and imagine the unique sensations of long swimming in tangibly 'real' ways, it seems an awfully long way off. And I miss it.