All of us experience setbacks in training sooner or later. Any number of problems can cause you to miss workouts. That leads to a loss of fitness. Then a drop in performance.
My most recent challenge was a reticence to get to the pool. It started, I am a little ashamed to admit, with the last day of triathlon camp. We had run an hour that morning, then mountain biked 2 hours in the desert hills. Then we drove to a wonderful outdoor pool with the Arizona sun shining brightly. It should have been a welcome end to the camp. There was just one problem. My arms were absolutely cashed from the mountain biking.
My lane buddies had the same problem. We took a vote and stuck with swimming 50-meter repeats. That’s about all we felt like doing. We’d swim two lengths and stand there with our arms at our sides. It got better as we warmed up. But not by much.
That experience brought back all the difficulties and sensations of learning to swim this past year. The sudden fatigue that kept me at 50 meters, then 100 meters. The desperate gasps for air. Before the
Before the camp I was happily (well, mostly) swimming 800 meters non-stop. And that was progress. But it all came crashing down in my head during that swim session in Arizona.
And since I’d gotten back there were a thousand reasons not to make it to the pool. I know it sounds silly. But I also know that you know what I mean. Some aspects of training just go like that. Some don’t like the bike, or the run. Others hate hills, or the track. And those who get indoctrinated to the pool have a hard time getting up for that workout.
As it turned out, a friend of mine named Jim Webb was arriving at the pool yesterday at the same time. Jim is an Energizer Bunny with dedication to boot. He’s a great age-group triathlete. We chatted in our respective lanes and he told me how hard it was for him to get to the pool. “This is the hardest part of my training,” he admitted. “I’m good at making time for the bike and the run. But getting to the pool is hard.”
Still, there he was doing his one-arm drills and doing them well. There’s not an ounce of fat on Jim, and he’s only four years younger than me. That’s an inspiration to do better. Then he switched to hand paddles and got to work on that. We paused for a moment and he grinned that wet pool grin. “I hate drills,” he chuckled. “But I got sloppy in the water last year, and was all over the place. This year I’m working on fundamentals.”
And that’s how you do it folks. You’ve got to go back to basics sometimes. Square one.
For me, that means rebuilding the strength I’d gained in my arms and lats from swimming. I could feel that happening right away in the water. The one good thing about this time around is that I understand form much, much better. I rotated my body well. Paid attention to the elbows coming out of the water properly, and kept my tempo steady and pulls strong.
So I’m not an absolute novice anymore. I can do this. Now I just need to do it more. But Square One is not a bad place to be. There is still time to build back up and make a good go on the Sprints and perhaps an Olympic triathlon this summer. Those are happy little goals for me. The bike and swim will come along too.
Square One. You gotta love it.
TRAIN HARD. COMPETE WELL.