Thursday, February 1, 2007

Of Swimming and Basketball

Swimming is a commitment.

When you decide to swim, you commit yourself to jump into a pool of water, to get totally wet and to swim long and fast enough to warm up your bones. If you're out of shape, you have to burn through the inevitable pain threshold and then you commit to whatever your workout is after that. You commit to drying off after you're done and getting dressed and primped for the remainder of your day. And when you swim for the long term, you commit yourself to doing the above on a regular basis.

So, it's easy to give up.

When I was growing up I don't think I ever achieved my full swimming potential because I abhorred swim practice. The last bell of the day would ring and I would often rationalize why I shouldn't go to practice: I had homework, I was hurt or I was tired. Really, I was just lazy. But times have changed.

My key to training: not thinking about it. If I consider whether or not I would like to run in a snowstorm or go swimming in the middle of a cozy day, I probably won't. So, I don't give myself a chance not to go. I just do it. (Thank you, Nike.)

Today I swam for 40 minutes, completing at least 2,800 yards (around 2,700 yards free and then 100 fly at the end). I have a difficult time keeping count, but it's all about the time. When I lose track, I just swim an extra 50 yards from where I left off. And let's just say I swam plenty of extra 50s!

I've come to prefer these non-stop timed swims now. Not only do I get greater yardage in less time, I'm definitely building my endurance (and that's what all this tri-training is all about!). But again, if I give myself the opportunity to rest when I don't need to, to split up yardage when I don't have to, I'll only cut down my production. These past two swims I've swum pretty decent yardage, I've swum pretty hard and been able to finish with ease and speed.

Since I have been swimming non-stop, I've had more time to think about my stroke efficiency in the act. My stroke has the tendency to break down a little half-way through a workout (probably around 1,200 to 1,500 yards) and then pick up at the other end.

The greatest sign of this breakdown is the rubbing rashes that appear on either side of my neck when I'm done. I realized recently that when my stroke wears, I overcompensate with my head motion as I breathe. Then my suit strap rubs against my neck and leaves a burn.

Today, I focused on my stroke accuracy whenever I felt myself getting tired. No bad breathing, no neck rash. What d'ya know? And now my friends can stop accusing me of having a teenage love affair at lunch!

But if you think it's difficult being a triathlete, try being a Cleveland sports fan. Sigh. Now that takes endurance. Oh, my, does it.

More on February goals tomorrow, I promise. The Cavaliers have worn down my will to live and succeed for one night.

Ah, just another season.