The Scribbler

12 February 2012

A new start

Filed under: swim,training,triathlon — The Scribbler @ 21:09
Tags: , ,

I decided Thursday was going to be a new start this week. I’d had a couple of days off training, feeling very tired on Monday and then being away with work on Tuesday. My mood was already a bit low after my first attempt at a walk/run session had resulted in a tight plantar and back to resting it.

It was a new start in more ways than one as I was woken very early by a text from my mum telling me my sister’s baby had arrived 5 weeks before his due date. Welcome to the world Oisin Marc. You were obviously as excited about meeting us as we are about meeting you.

I got up a few hours later for a motivational and positive hour with my PT, who put me straight and helped me get back on track again. We planned out a few sessions of things I can do while I’m not running. I promised I’d do a row, bike, row session and a swim.

Then a message on facebook caught my eye and reminded me about my local tri club training sessions. A quick email and I was invited to go along to their Saturday afternoon session.

It was at a leisure centre I’ve never been to before, and as I got there the public side of things was obviously closed up and there didn’t seem to be anyone around. But I found the changing rooms and could hear noises from the pool so I got changed and went poolside to see the place covered with kayaks!

The kayak club were just finishing their training, and soon there were some other tri club members around. One of them called me over as he was setting out the ropes for the lanes. It was a guy I recognised from the Aquathlon where I’d had a bit of a panic in the swim. He’d been on timing duty and just kept offering me encouragement at the end of each length. So I knew there was one friendly face. He explained that at this time of year the swims were mainly about technique and asked me about my swim times.

Eventually, I got in the lane with the slowest group but it took me quite a while to get started as I by now the nerves had kicked in.  I did my usual breathe and sink drill and just gushed all my air out in a second and popped to the surface like a cork. It took me 3 or 4 goes to bring it into something like control, by which time my fellow swimmers had almost completed 2 lengths.

We’d been given a card at the end of the lane with drill sets to do. Most of the time I just listened and followed what the others were doing. A couple of lengths with a pull buoy were tough and a few more with a kick-board were even harder. But there was only one I just couldn’t do, holding one arm out and kicking for six beats then alternating. I got my breathing into a panic again when I tried to break from my usual 1,2,3, so I made a hash of that one and just swam regular front crawl.

The main set was 6x200s off a time. I was last of the slowest group and they sped away from me, but I resolved to just keep it steady and swim my own swim. At the end of the first set, they seemed to take a longer break anyway, probably not much more than a minute, but it did allow me to recover. I just hope it wasn’t me holding them up. Looking at my poolmate afterwards, I managed to swim them at a pretty even pace around 4 mins per set.

During the session there was a lot for me to think about. I mashed against the ropes a couple of times and was doing mental maths trying to cope with a 33m pool with a deep end. I’m so used to swimming in my quiet 20m gym pool, it was good for me to be in a larger one with lots more people.

A couple of times I got an unexpected splash in the face which reminded me that’s something I’ll have to get used to when swimming in competitions again. And the coach offered me some good advice on my breathing, telling me to relax and breathe out more slowly. I think nerves were making me gush it all out at once, making me gasp when I was breathing in.

Anyway, I survived until the end of the session, having spent almost an hour in the pool compared to my usual 30-40 minutes. And the people in my lane were really nice and friendly. So I think I’ll go back. If nothing else, it gives me one really tough swim session a week and some ideas for drills I can try myself. And if I like the next session when I’m a bit less nervy, I might even join the club.

If you’d have told me 6 months ago I’d be happily swimming 6x200s in one session and over a mile in total throughout, I would have been amazed. And sure, it tired me out, but in a good way. And after a night’s sleep I was nicely recovered for a rest day today. It also loosened up my foot beautifully.

So that’s one good thing about this enforced rest from running – my swimming has improved. Even with the nervous squiggles, I’m a lot more confident and resilient in the water. And the nervous reactions are a good reminder that I will need to work on the mental aspect of preparing for my first open water swim. I know I can overcome that adrenaline fuelled flight reaction, but I need to be prepared for it to happen.

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