Yes you can, you just don’t know it yet

There’s hardly a week goes by when we will be faced with an opportunity that will likely take us out of our comfort zone and we have a difficult decision to make, do we go for it or not. How many times have you been in that position and turned it down because you don’t know if you can or not? The answer is yes you can, you just don’t know it yet!

I believe the question we should ask ourselves is never whether we can do something or not but how do we do it?


I’m going to use myself as a prime example here. In December last year, I saw the announcement about the launch of the Ironman 70.3 taking place in Edinburgh in July this year, the first Ironman branded event in Scotland and so I did what any normal person would do and signed up. Normal people do things like that don’t they? Thought it would be a great challenge for me – 1.2 mile swim, 56.2 mile cycle and 13.1 mile run. One small, teensy problem though……I’m rubbish at swimming. I can get by with the breaststroke but as the swim is outdoors, the crawl would be the most efficient and sensible option.

I put the swim training off for a while before I took the plunge (pardon the pun) and joined Perth Leisure Pool. I went a couple of times, largely to revisit my youth and go down the flumes and then to do a few lengths of breaststroke but I was still avoiding the issue and so I met up with my friend Greig, who offered to help me and give me some tips. I did as he suggested but barely got 10 metres, struggling to breathe and resemble anything that didn’t look like drowning. I took some time to watch him, and a few others, swim to see how they did it and try to copy them. This worked reasonably well but I was still not getting very far. I have learned in the past that periods of frustration are often followed by a breakthrough.


On each visit to the pool, I would watch the other swimmers to see what they were doing, especially the ones that made it look effortless. I also watched some clips on YouTube for the same purpose. I went back at the weekend there and swam 1300m all doing the crawl. I just played it through in my mind how I wanted it to be and did it. It flowed nicely for me, got my breathing right and stopped every 100m to catch my breath. The technique isn’t brilliant, that will come, but I did it! In the space of about 4 weeks, I’ve gone from being unable to swim the length of myself to doing lengths to doing 4 lengths without stopping and knocking out over 1000m!

Doing It Better

The thing to remember is that in whatever context your challenge is, you don’t have to be perfect at it, just learn how it should be done, think about how you want to be able to do, give it a go then work on doing it better.

If I can do it, so can you!