Master Yourself, Master the Swim…

by Coach Kevin

This year, I decided to train for a 3.7-mile swim, the most I have done in a long time.

So far, I’m learning a lot about myself. I want to get back my old stroke, so far, it’s not there.

I have a lot of learning to do myself, practicing what I preach!

Part of that is learning about myself, and what I’m made of.

In a triathlon swim, this need to be introspective and mindful will become very apparent.

Here’s what I mean:

  1. You get punched, kicked, fondled, or pulled during the first few minutes of your swim in a race. Your anger starts to rise. But, if you let that anger get to you, your race is going to suffer- could even end, as you spend all your energy trying to move forward and get mad at people around you.You learn to deal with this in whatever way works best for you. I recommend deep breathing before the race, then keeping in mind that 99.9% of the physicality in races is accidental, then remembering that this part of the race is part of the challenge. If you give in to it, you are not meeting up to one of the challenges of triathlon.
  2. You get lost on the course. This happens to even some of the more experienced triathletes on a regular basis. The question is, how do you deal with this? To avoid panicking, completely stopping and getting your bearings is an option. Or doing a little breastroke. Yes, you are going to have a slower swim split because of this.But it pales in comparison to getting lost on the course, or missing a buoy and having to go back and swim around it (I’ve seen this happen and it cost the leader her race!)
  3. The piano comes crashing down. This is what we used to say about some of the middle-distance races in the pool. You go out hard, thinking you are swimming at a reasonable pace, but you are over your head. Sometime around 70% of the way through the swim, you feel everything start to crash, like a piano is landing on you.

Getting to the swim finish at this point means just going through the motions- no kicking it into high gear this time. Is this going to screw up your entire race? This is where you learn a lot about yourself.

Other opportunities to transform:

It’s raining but you had a bike workout scheduled.

The pool is closed.

You have to pee during a race.

Focus on the fact that you are lucky enough to experience these frustrations, and you will continue to grow as an athlete, and as a person.