After my last triathlon for the season was done September, I wasn’t feeling the pool. With no triathlons in the near future, there was no external pressure of an upcoming race to stay in swimming shape. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without swimming and when January hit I realized it had been over 3 months since my last swim workout.
Now that I’m winding down marathon training, it seemed like a good idea to join a friend for some laps at 6:00 AM Monday morning. When triathlon season rolls around in March/April, I’ll be back in the swing of swimming regularly, or so I plan. After a short warm-up, I jumped right in to a set of 100’s and my arms felt good until about a 1,000 yards. Oh right, you haven’t swam for 3 months, your arm muscles are going to ache a little.
I called it quits after 2,000 yards and felt pretty happy that I was easily able to hold 1:22’s on a 1:30 interval for a set of 10 x 100’s. See my Swim Workout 101 if this is gibberish.
The next day, I joined a few friends for another swim workout. This time there was somebody about my swimming speed and my true “swimming shape” was immediately put into perspective when I found myself needing to speed up in warm up just to stay with him. We got really creative and did another set of 10 x 100’s @ 1:30 after warming up. First 100 yards in 1:10. So, don’t want to hold this pace for the next 9 x 100’s because I’m sucking wind already. I said this to my friend and he replies back, “No slowing down! We aren’t going to positive split this set.” Ok, slave driver. The next couple of 100’s I held between 1:12’s and 1:13’s and my body resisted with burning arms and a deteriorating stroke. At this point, I wasn’t happy because I’m the type that likes to ease into training but pride wouldn’t let me slow down. I finished out the last few 100’s with 1:14’s and was breathing pretty heavily after we were done with the set. Thanks for the invite, so glad I joined you to have my butt kicked.
It’s laughable that this set was difficult when I look back on what I used to be capable of when I was training 6 days a week with doubles and a team full of people to push me past my limits every practice. This is when you need perspective though. It’s a good thing I experienced the consequences of taking 3 months out of the pool last night and an even better thing I swam with somebody who pushed me. If I focus on how “out of swim shape”, then I’ll just get down on myself. Yesterday was a starting point for this upcoming season and the next time I’ll push to stay under 1:14’s the whole set or focus on not letting my stroke fall apart. Each practice will be an improvement and that, I feel, is the proper perspective.
I’ve been trying to figure out ways to get myself motivated in the water. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. Train with somebody and preferably with similar speed to push me
2. Swim with a local Masters swim team and maybe even swim other strokes besides freestyle
3. Pick a Masters swim meet to race in over the summer. I need several months to get to the point where I won’t be embarrassed to step up on a racing block again
4. Sign up for the 12.5 mile Swim Around Key West in June before February 1st. I have a few people interested in swimming the whole thing or being part a relay. There is no way I’d slack in training for this event. Should be “fun” if you are interested!
How do you find motivation to swim, especially since the swim ratio is rather small in triathlons? What about former swimmers, what is it like getting in the water post-competitive swimming days?