2 days after the park run I was feeling positive about training. I went to the evening swim session at Moss Side Leisure centre. This would be my second session with Manchester Triathlon club and the coach Helen Hyder. It was almost worse than the first session; I knew what was coming and felt I didn’t have the excuse of being brand new.

There were 4 of us in my beginner’s lane as before. I ploughed into the warm up of 3 x 400m front crawl. It didn’t feel any easier but I kept telling myself to be patient, get on with it and it soon would. After the warm up Helen wrote our list of activities on a white board:

Fc/sla/sra/fly/bstk/submarine /torpeado – WHAT THE ??? Apparently that means front crawl,/ single left arm / single right arm/ BUTTERFLY / breaststroke / swimming underwater.and swimming on your back with your arms above your head. Bitten a bit more of than you can chew here Billie was my thought. It was like the moment when you get found out (if you have imposter syndrome you will get that) and shown up for the fraud you are. I’m still having to skip the occasional length and I am quite clearly the worst swimmer in the pool but no-one makes me feel bad, quite the contrary. I suppose it’s for that attitude that I have joined a club instead of just trying to get fit myself.

I think now is a good time to ask why I do this exercise instead of giving in to my desire to sit and slob. The main reason is that I have been depressed in the past and have had to seek help from my G.P. I did try medication and to some extent it did help but it didn’t cure my mood or get to the route of the problem. I was offered talking help but the waiting list was so long it felt hopeless. As I mentioned before, I’ve been a single parent for the last 18 years and it was physically and mentally very challenging as is any parenting when done properly. It was just after the birth of my second child that I felt very low; I couldn’t eat or sleep but outwardly you would never know that I just wanted to hide away, I always put on a front of bright eyes and teeth. It was at that time that a patient asked if I wanted to join her hockey team. I found a babysitter for 1 eve a week and after working out which way was up with a hockey stick I set off to join. I am a tad melodramatic but, OMG, HOCKEY SAVED MY LIFE!! It did make a huge difference though. For a start, I was so bloody exhausted that I did get some sleep which made me hungry. The camaraderie and teasing by the other team members was just what I needed to help me turn a corner and although it was a super hard effort to go for the first 6 weeks, I got into the swing and started to feel in control of my life again.

I still find that if I don’t exercise I start chanting “nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll just go and eat worms”. Sometimes, the last thing I feel like doing is any exercise but now I know that even if it’s just a brisk walk, I feel tons better mentally. I think I now class myself as a genuinely happy person and that is the main reason I exercise.

I like to exercise with people because I know how good I am at arguing and if it was down to me I would just talk myself out of it. By going to an organised event I know I will be encouraged to just push a bit.

OK, you can put the violins away now.