We often talk about getting out of your comfort zone in Victory Lap Retirement (VLR). Having new challenges in your VLR lifestyle are important both mentally and physically. We have talked about finding work in VLR to keep you engaged, mentally stimulated and fulfilled, but finding something that challenges you physically is equally as important. After all, without our health all the plans in the world for our retirement will be for not. Having goals, putting in the work and achieving success will make for a more interesting and fulfilling life.

I wanted to share about a new challenge I have taken on for 2019. Since I retired, I have taken on a few new physical challenges.  I have started working out more consistently and usually do at least two work outs a day. A variety of running, biking, yoga, weights, walking, etc. Anything that gets me moving. On top of that, I have added new goals. Last year, I got back into marathoning and set my goal of finishing another marathon. It had been a while since I ran my last and it was nice to have a goal for all my work out sessions. Two years ago I trained for and accomplished a 900 solo cycling trip. What a great experience and feeling of accomplishment.

After my marathon experience last year I was happy with my accomplishment but felt I was falling into an old pattern.  I, like many other runners, have a need to run every day -“the runners high.” Now don’t get me wrong, exercising every day is wonderful but I do find the goal of keeping a running streak alive is not my cup of tea anymore. I have embraced the joys of having variety in my exercise routine. Last year with my marathon focus, my exercise of choice was largely running. Running during my working career fit in nicely when I was able to get my run in before I headed to work each day. Running was also great when I travelled as I did not need to pack much more that my shoes, shorts and a t-shirt in my carry-on luggage. In retirement with better control of my time I am better able to balance my exercise regime. I also found last year that I moved away from my bike and missed a few opportunities to ride with friends, or enjoy a day on the bike in order to meet my training schedule. This year my plan is to be more balanced, and I have decided to take on a new challenge by adding swimming to my workout schedule.

I am not a natural swimmer, but have always enjoyed the water and loved to get in the water at our old cottage. The water was crystal clear and nothing was better than jumping in the lake after a run or cycle. However “real” swimming is a completely different “ball of wax,” as I am learning, technique is everything. Jumping in a lake in swim trunks with friends is not the same as changing into a swim suit to swim in a public pool. I suppose at some level I was not overly thrilled to show off my washboard abs, which haven’t filled in yet … not sure they will. I got over my shyness and hopped into the pool during the first week of January. My form was so bad that unprompted, a kind life guard came over and gave me some tips. Since then I have watched videos, practiced my breathing, arm, hip rotation techniques, etc. I have filmed myself and while I am seeing improvement it is a long way from good.

If I am not good at doing something, I just to do it, I am working on that. I decided that I wanted to level set my current swimming abilities so I would know my current state. One day while surfing the net I saw a request for volunteers at an indoor marathon. I entered the triathlon and volunteered for a few hours before my “wave” started. While volunteering I was able to see what a real swimmers looked like live. Boy I have a long way to go!! Still as I have always found with any endurance events, athletes come in all shapes and sizes and get to the starting line for a variety of personal reasons. While I was humbled by the elite athletes, I was inspired by the young boys who decided to try the event for the first time, the older men and women who just wanted to get in the water, the non-swimmer doing whatever it took to get to the other end of the pool and the blind swimmer who swam with a guide. I have a long way to go as a swimmer but I have lots of company out there.

I have a professional swim analysis clinic set for the end of the month, which I know is key for my development. I will get a coach and continue to put in the laps at my local pool. I have entered a sprint triathlon for the end of July giving me a new goal to pursue. Getting into the pool was not easy for me, I am not a natural athlete, over the years I have learned that I am tenacious, I am willing to work hard and I can be very focused. I might not win the race but I will get to the end. I will get better at swimming, and I will get help to get there. It is exciting to have a new focus for my exercising, and it’s also nice to develop a new skillset in my “golden years.” It is also nice to have variety added to my exercise routine, which keeps me focused each time I jump in the pool.

Our advice to you— find something that makes you uncomfortable, then get out and try it. Love it or hate it at least you tried and you will feel alive getting out of your comfort zone. Who knows you might even become a Retirement Rebel.

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