Monday, September 7, 2015

Swimming Reality Check: It's Not All Bad

I wrote a bit last week about how frustrated I was with my progress--or lack thereof--as an open water swimmer.  Well, we've been back from vacation for almost two full days now, and I'm starting to think that I was being a little unreasonable.

Truth is, it's easy to focus on the negative.  That's true of all kinds of athletics, and if you're an Army Football fan, it's probably hard-wired.  To be successful, however, we have to be able to move past the negative, see what's true, and evaluate ourselves honestly.  It's no good to be satisfied too soon, but it's equally bad to be relentlessly negative, to take counsel of your fears and quit before you've given a full measure of effort to whatever it is you're trying to accomplish.

As a matter of reality, I'm swimming more and better than I have in quite some time.  If a true return to form is taking a little longer than I might've hoped, it's also true that I'm twenty years older now and not necessarily in the most reasonable frame of mind about it.  Yes, I am struggling to feel comfortable at open water intervals of more than an hour, and that's frustrating.  At the same time, it's also true that I'm in a better place now than I have been in a quite some time.  That's worth acknowledging all on its own.

We got back from Maine Saturday evening, and I went to the pool to work out for the first time on Sunday.  I wasn't sure what to expect after struggling at distances of around two miles in open water, but I wound up feeling good, probably because there's less to worry about in an actual pool, and using a pace clock makes marking your progress a lot easier mentally.  Of course, I've always known that the mental aspects of marathon swimming would be the hardest, but being confronted with the reality of the thing on a measurable basis makes understanding and accepting it quite a bit easier.

Sunday's workout:
200 SKIPS*
15 x 200 @ 2:50 (aerobic pace)
50 easy
150 hypoxic:**
 -- 50 breathing every 3rd/5th
 -- 50 breathing every 3rd/7th
 -- 50 breathing every 3rd/9th

Total: 4200 yards

At some point soon, I'm going to have to do a breakthough workout and get past the seemingly impenetrable 5000 yard barrier.  This is not news.  What's new is that this was the first time I've felt confident about doing it and feeling good afterwards.  If all goes well, I may try it this weekend.

I felt tired today--unsurprising, really--but hit the water this morning with a long stroke.  For the second day in a row, I wound up going considerably further than I'd initially planned.

Monday's workout:
2 x 200 warm-up
200 kick
3 x (4 x 100 @ 1:25, every 4th 100 tempo pace)
8 x 50 kick @ 1:00
1000 pull (goal: under 1:20/100)
50 cool down

Total: 3250 yards

Granted, I need a rest day now, but that's still 7450 in two days.  That's more swimming than I've done in two decades, and that by itself is definite progress.  I still have a long way to go, of course, but I'm moving in the right direction.  I feel like I have to acknowledge that, so that I don't lose my mind.

* 200 SKIPS = 200 Swim / 200 Kick / 200 IM / 200 Pull / 200 Swim = 1000 yards.
** Kids at home, please don't try this.  It is not at all safe if you don't know what you're doing. 

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