Whatever your sport, we can all agree on the little things that keep us going; that much needed headspace, an excuse to get some fresh air and the personal satisfaction of reaching a goal that once seemed impossible to you.
If you're looking for a new challenge in 2019, why not push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something different? We spoke to people who took part in both the Simplyhealth Great North Run and this year's Great North Swim at Windermere in the Lake District National Park to get their perspectives on the two disciplines.
You'll be surprised at how much you've already achieved is transferable to swimming
“The mentality required for both is very similar, they are endurance sports after all. You need to have the commitment to train sufficiently in the build-up and during each event, the mental strength to tough it out because they are tough by their nature! What's great about both is that they appeal to people of all abilities and achievements are all relative as the only person you compete against is you. Mark
Both swimming and running provide time to free your mind, unwind and enjoy the landscape and appreciate everyday beauty. They also push you to be your best and give you real sense of achievement and adrenalin afterwards. Kate
Both sports require you to have good pacing and endurance. I think they are both mentally challenging although in different ways. Both require discipline in training and pacing. Issy
What's so great about Swimming?
The sense of freedom you get and also, given it's something I've only really been doing for 3 or 4 years, the improvement I've seen in my swimming is really satisfying. Mark
The scenery is fab! And it's quite a giggle squeezing into a wetsuit! I am actually scared of the sea/open water as I can't see the bottom. But that just makes me swim faster and adds to the challenge! Laura T
When I go open water swimming I go with a friend and love the social aspect of it, getting up early, packing lunch and going on a day out in the lakes in the most amazing surroundings. And then going for coffee and cake afterwards and absolutely deserving it! Amelia
There's nothing like open water swimming to bring people together. It's freezing cold, it seems totally crazy, and we're usually screaming. But then you start swimming, you look around you, and you feel well and truly alive. Laura
Open water swimming I found very different to running, you have to concentrate. I enjoy it because it makes you focus your brain on just swimming, it relieves stress and afterwards I feel great. I also like it because it takes a while to get your stroke and breathing, when you do it's a brilliant feeling. You feel strong and like you've achieved something. Alice
My favourite thing about open water swimming is the sense of peace and calmness in beautiful surroundings. Water is so therapeutic. I love to swim in open water as it reminds me of what I have achieved, how far I have come and how much further I can go! Nicky
Why should you have a go?
I would tell anyone thinking of doing an open water swim, don't think about it, do it! It is such a different challenge to a running event but with the same sense of achievements and rewards. Run out of your comfort zone and dive in 🙂 Nicky
Do it!! You'll never look back. If you're not a strong swimmer, get a few lessons in a local pool first. Choose a nice calm sunny day for your first open water swim and borrow/buy a well-fitting wetsuit with a decent amount of buoyancy so that you feel comfortable in the water. Make sure you go in the open water with someone more experienced to start with and never go alone. Tiffany
Yes, it's a daunting thing, but once you get going you will enjoy it and feel the same empowerment I felt. Don't worry if the first couple of times you really struggle with technique and breathing, be ready for a big difference compared to being in the pool. Persevere, meet new people, go to training sessions and enjoy it. Remain positive and don't worry about the water. Remember you can just enjoy being in the water if the suns out, and if it's cold wear a good wetsuit and look forward to some lovely warm food! Alice
Don't put off doing it. It is one of the best things I have ever done. It is some much more than just swimming length upon length in a swimming pool. I'm bored after 20 minutes in a swimming pool. I can swim for over an hour in open water and not be bored. Neil
I would say to anyone wanting to give open water swimming a go – do it! It has changed my life. I'm healthier, happier and more confident. If I can do it, anyone can. Laura T