March 2, 2010

Timing is Everything

Some days I just don't like swimming. Unfortunately, since I really like triathlon, this is most days. While I wouldn't say I suck at swimming, I would say I am not great at it.

Swimming is wholly different from cycling and running. With cycling and running you basically get out there and do it and get faster. You can mess with bike fit and running stride to generate more power and become more efficient, but nothing like swimming. Swimming is nearly opposite. You can swim lap after lap, day after day, and get only marginally better. However, when you swim mindfully and focus on drills and form, you will see improvement. Unfortunately, any time you want to make a change you have to unlearn. And that, is difficult.

The other day I swam about 3/4 of a mile in a near empty pool. It was late Saturday morning and sunlight was flooding into the pool. There was only one other soul in the water. For once it was a lady about my age who weighed less than 200 pounds and was moderately attractive. Even though I struggled with poor early season form and fitness, I had a good swim. For a cool down I did some 50s, focusing on bilateral (both sides) breathing. During these closing sets I noticed how much easier it seemed to breathe on both sides and I was losing less momentum when breathing, meaning I had less drag, meaning I was going faster. It was a breakthrough of sorts. And it all had to do with timing. I realized that I was rushing my breathing, especially on the left (non dominant) side. Makes sense, I like air. Unfortunately, rushing slows me down.

This morning I was back at the pool to work on my timing. And it was off. And on. And off. And the pool was mighty crowded. I was flanked, and sharing a lane with two large displacers of water and the wakes they created made it difficult to concentrate on correcting my timing, an ingrained habit that I now have to break so I can improve. It was race conditions today with wave splashing all around. So I got discouraged and left early.

Some workouts I just don't have the drive to push through. Mentally or physically it ain't there. That is the beauty of cycling or running outdoors. You suck but you are outside, and even if you get tired you still have to make it back. Lifting or dreadmilling or riding the trainer or swimming in a pool are easy to walk away from. Even in a lake, if you are off, I can hug the shore and the thrill keeps me going.

Maybe tomorrow, or Thursday, will be better. Vikingman half in Idaho is on my radar...

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