Know when to say when

When I started with the triathlon newbie group, one of the first swim lessons we had talked about practice.  Besides showing us technique drills and how to set up an exercise plan for swimming, we also got tips for getting comfortable in the water.  One of the tips that stuck in my head was “Swim until you get tired, then get out”.  In other words, your technique starts to fail quickly when you get tired in the water and you develop bad habits.  So work hard, but if you get fatigued, call it a day and come back tomorrow.

I never really thought about this until today.  After a couple of pretty intense workouts, a sick kid (read: limited sleep) and a hard race on Saturday started to wear on me this morning.  I could tell I was tired because I didn’t want to get out of bed.  My greatest victory of the day was winning that arguement with myself and actually dragging my sorry butt to the pool.  I started off fine but I could feel the energy draining faster than usual.  The pool was unusually warm this morning, which didn’t help.  I have really been working hard to be more symmetrical with my rotation in an effort to try to straighten out my track.  I still pull to the right.  I have also been working on slowly increasing my cadence now that my technique and arm placement seem to be a bit more natural.

But I noticed early on that I was having trouble with my left side.  I was dragging my arm out of the water and not placing it out in front, but rather to the side.  My kick was also much more erratic than usual.  I got to the last part of my set, 8 X 100 with 15 second rest, and I was just spent.  Mark Livesay’s (coach) words echoed in my head at that point “If you are tired, get out”.  As much as I wanted to keep going, I know he is right.  I was routinely breaking form and felt like I was dragging through the water.  It was time to go.  So I got out.  My dad’s favorite saying “Live to fight another day”, was also on my mind.  I’m so focused on getting in as much training as I can that I have to remember that I will get to train again tomorrow (heck, I’m riding this afternoon!) and that I need quality right now as I am trying to get the muscle memory down.  Doing things wrong or poorly just for the sake of getting in the miles makes little sense.  Regardless of whether they are wet miles or dry miles.  I wouldn’t run this tired, why should I swim?

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