The Hardest Muscle to Train

On May 11, I participated in a super sprint triathlon and had an absolutely disastrous swim (400 yd).  I don’t know what happened.  Maybe it was allergies, maybe it was the hype of waiting in line on the pool deck and watching everyone else go (I was seeded at the back), maybe it was the pressure I put on myself to not be passed – I don’t know.  All I do know is that I lost my shit.  Totally and completely.  I could hardly make it one length without hyperventilating. I could not get a breath to save my life.  I had to freaking DOGGY PADDLE at least a third of the distance and was almost the last one out.  A few times, I started to tear up but I knew if I let myself cry, it would be all over.  I thought about stopping but then I saw my husband and Little Runner and kept moving as best I could.  I went on to have a good bike and a great run (9:20 avg. on the run!) and was very glad I didn’t quit.

Afterwards, we talked about what was different about this race and one of the biggies was the fact that I didn’t swim the day(s) before.  Swimming is totally not natural for me and my body likes to pretend it has forgotten what to do at regular intervals. The only way to keep it in check is to get out there and swim.  So I did what any logical baby triathlete does, I ignored the pool for three weeks. Oh, and did I mention that I have a real sprint distance, open water tri at the end of June?  Yeah….

Yesterday, I finally forced myself back into the pool.  I swam 800 yds.  It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty.  I started freaking out a couple of times on the first few laps.  Every time I thought about the impending OWS, my lungs just shut right down.  To calm myself, I tried to pretend I was swimming in a beautiful bay with colorful sea life.  It helped.  I also just counted 1-2-3 for a bit, to keep my rhythm.  That helped, too.  I saw some posts in one of my tri groups that kicking too much can cause hyperventilation so I tried to slow my kicks as much as I could and still stay afloat.  By the end of my time (I don’t even know how long I was there because I didn’t want to freak out about being slow), I was much more calm and my strokes and breathing were even.

Which just proves that it was all one big mind fuck.  My body knows what to do!  It’s my mind that the problem child (as usual)!  If I can keep it occupied with other things, then I can go on and do my thing.  I think I need to think up some good mantras and some other visualization ideas before next time.  I have 750 yds waiting for me in 4 weeks and I don’t have time for this mental nonsense!  Instead of dwelling on that bad swim, I am going to focus on picturing good swims.  I’m going to focus on staying calm and being strong and not worrying about what others are doing.  If/when they pass me, so what?  I need to worry about my race and forget the rest.

I know it’s easier said than done but, with practice, I know I can do it!

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2 thoughts on “The Hardest Muscle to Train

  1. Practice does help. I’m a decent swimmer but the first couple swims in the lake always get to me since my imagination runs wild. Mantras help and focus on you, not everyone else. I tell myself that they all just happen to be working out at the same time I am 🙂

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