A sad check of my Voomaxer workout graph showed me last week that I had not logged a swim workout since last September. This was kind of the cherry on top of the pile of crap that I called last season. The graph has been flat since then. 4 months of masters classes, hard swims, open water, etc. all amounted to… well… me being wet a lot… but not much more improvement than that.
Now that the new year and training season has begun, my goals and races point to my first water event being the Xterra at Degray Lake in Arkansas on April 30th so it was time to get back in the water. I have about a dozen events on the calendar and half of them are triathlons so whether I improve or not, I still have to be in shape.
Even after my first swim on Sunday I have full confidence and no worries about making the distance. My longest swim this year will be 800M and it is my first one. Though I was slow (as always) and a little too fatigued at the end of the session to do ALL the sprints I wanted, I was only mildly sore the next day.
As I was plodding through the water during the workout I had time to think (a LOT of time) about my goals for just this sport for the year. In keeping with my overall theme of “fun”, I think that’s the first thing I have to focus on with swimming. I’ve only been swimming for two years so I think now is the time to just relax and enjoy the workouts. Speed will either come, or not. That all depends on how hard I work and if my technique is sound. The “fun” is mental and is purely choice. I may never have good enough technique to be fast in the water. But if I’m having a good time and getting stronger… who cares? As a wise man once told me “Triathlon is a three sport race. You aren’t going to win it in the water, but you can sure lose it.” Since it has never been my goal to “win” anyway, just get as good as I can be, my focus needs to be on not “losing” in the water. In other words, be a sound, competent, comfortable swimmer that can come out of the water in the middle of the pack without panicking or blowing up.
To that end, I have gone back to written up session plans that keep me in line and honest. They are a mix of drills, distance and speed work, where most of my focus can be on my technique (not some screwed up, overly difficult drill that only teaches me to drink pool water…). I will increase the intensity of these workouts but will only swim 3 times a week and don’t plan on swimming more than 2500 yards in any one session. Anything more would be overkill since I don’t plan on going more than a mile in a race this season.
Today’s session was an eye opener. I’m not a big fan of pool toys (fins, pull buoy, paddles, etc.) because I think they can lead to dependence if you use them too much. I have a pull buoy but only because a coach recommended it for me to help teach me balance in the water. But I bought a set of fins, again at a coach’s recommendation, because she said they would help with drills and kick strength. I wore them for the first time today and ho… lee… crap. So THAT’S what it’s like to swim fast!
The best way to describe it would be in terms of how the water felt on my arms. In normal swimming it feels like I am trying to crawl up a sand dune with my arms. I want to feel the pressure on the insides of my arms and hands. But with the fins it felt like I was trying to slow down while going DOWN the same sand dune. I had to pull much faster through the water or I could feel the pressure on the tops of my arms and hands if I didn’t pull hard enough or fast enough…! My normal stroke count for a 25 yd lap is 18. With fins it was 12.
I’m sure all this says something… I’m just not sure what. Nor do I really care! It was fun and I think it will help. Long live pool toys! I felt like David Hasselhoff in the Spongebob movie! If you don’t know what that is… good. It’s an hour of your life you will never get back, compliments of Spongebob and The ‘Hoff. It was kinda funny, though…
So the pool workouts begin. Not a good thing or a bad thing… Just a thing. It will be interesting to try to get an outdoor workout or two in before Degray. Its about 6 hours south of here so it’s warmer, but will probably be wetsuit legal. Or do only wussies wear wetsuits for Xterra races…?