Friday, April 4, 2014

Challenge announcement and training

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by today and if this is your first visit, WELCOME, it's great to have you here! This post is likely to be another long one, but as with everything else, it's very important, so please do stay with me to the end. Thank you!

In the first post of note to the blog, Why "Battling Back"? and in most posts since, I've hinted at the nature of this year's charity challenge, which follows on from one I did in late 2009, but I've not revealed the nature of the challenge. Well folks, the wait is very nearly over, at least for the announcement!

You've waited nearly a WEEK for it, but I've waited over FOUR YEARS to make it, having decided on the nature of the challenge even as I traveled back from the last one! So, without further delay I can FINALLY announce...

"The "Battling Back Military Charity Challenge" will be a multi-session endurance swim, undertaken by myself, Rev. Em L. Fairley, with a total distance at this point to be determined, but I can confirm that it will be NOT LESS than TWENTY THREE MILES. The total distance to be covered will be split into individual swim sessions of around TWO MILES. While the exact start date is still to be determined, it will be around MID OCTOBER 2014, the exact date will be announced nearer the time. The exact end date IS known and because this is a challenge in aid of two military charities, a fitting end date can be announced at this time; November 11, 2014, Veteran's/ Armistice Day. This end date is all the more poignant this year, the one hundredth anniversary of the start of First World War, being as a trip to the Battlefields of the Somme when I was a teenager helped shape who I am and my love and support for the military."

Before I go into detail about my initial training, I want to go into a little more detail about why this challenge has been titled "Battling Back". In the Why "Battling Back"? post I mentioned that I'm now mentally and indeed spiritually stronger than I've ever been and you can find more details about that in a previously written, but ever evolving article, that I've written for our Ministry page on Facebook. Please do take a look at that.

Each of us faces our own battles, and I've never been one to make the exact nature of my own known, not even to some of my closest friends. Instead I've always put others first and will continue to do so. But having said that, and having titled both the blog and the challenge itself Battling Back, it is right and proper that I say what I'm about to...

I've always battled depression, for years without the need for medication. At times of extreme stress, I'd hit the pool and swimming became my therapy as I swam more than a mile at a time. In the months before the 2009 challenge, I added the gym to my routine and so when the offer came up, I was able to go out on twelve mile training sessions, having done nowhere near that previously.

I vowed at the end of the challenge to maintain my fitness level and as I've stated numerous times now, work towards the new challenge. However, in the year that followed, my mental health took a nosedive and for the first time in my life I knew that I now needed medication to help me, which I began immediately and so did the long route to recovery.

I have been off the medication now for eight months or so, having needed them for over three years. At my lowest, I became severely agoraphobic, only leaving the house when I absolutely had to and returning as soon as I could.

As a result, having been at my slimmest before starting the meds, I'd gained over forty pounds by late spring last year. In the time since then, I've dropped around twenty, but if I'm to have any chance of completing the Battling Back challenge, I need to lose the rest, though with the needed strength and stamina for the challenge and with muscle weighing more than fat, I'll be happy with around another fifteen off.

I've not done any sort of training for years, other than prescribed exercises to overcome a shoulder injury that I briefly mentioned in the post A few notes of thanks. So, I really am starting over, right from the beginning and as such, I'm starting slowly, but with a long term plan which will get me to the start date ready and able to complete it. I'll be training three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I started training last Friday, March 28, the day before the blog was started. My first priority is to work on some cardio and I found a relatively short, 16 minute long dance workout on YouTube. It might be short, but I gave it my all and by the end of it, I felt it.

By this Monday's session, 3/31/14, the niggly cough I'd started with over the weekend was getting worse, but having only just started, I was determined to keep going. For this reason, I did a double session, repeating the video. At the end I felt I'd gotten somewhere and rewarded myself with a long soak to help both my breathing and aching muscles.

On Wednesday, 4/2/14, I wasn't so fortunate. Still battling the cough, I only managed 20 minutes, but I paced myself and was so glad to have done more than the basic.

Today, Friday, 4/4/14, I'm finally feeling better, though the cough is still persisting a little. I knew that I wanted to push myself and I did so. Today I started the third rep and did my longest workout yet, getting to forty minutes before stopping.

Looking to next week, I'll continue with the home cardio workouts on Monday and Wednesday, but hope to hit the pool for the first time next Friday. From there I'll be aiming to do one pool session between two cardio.

I'm still having to be careful with my shoulder, though as of now, it's holding up great. In about a month, I'll take my cardio sessions into the gym and add in some strength training and weights, perhaps switching up to two pool sessions when I make the change.

I've got more than six months before the start of the challenge and I know that given my determination, as well as the support and inspiration I'm getting from everyone, that I will succeed in Battling Back to physical fitness personally and that the challenge will also succeed.

Thank YOU for being a part of my journey, it truly does mean so much!

God bless,