You’ve Already Proven It to Me

Posted: July 21, 2012 by writingsprint in Triathlon
Tags: , , ,

Month 3 Week 1
30 minutes swimming
15 minutes light jog

On Wednesday I had my first session with the personal trainer in two weeks, after a weekend on vacation in Washington, DC and a week of overtime in work, which is a nice of saying “very little time in the gym.”

Holly took it easy on me. The workout was 12 sets of one lap where I was changing speed, to prove that I could control it, and one lap where I would do a fingertip drill. A fingertip drill is where you pull your arm out of the water and drag your fingertips through the water, with your hand above, until you reach full extension. Fingertip drills encourage you to have proper arm position while you swim. For me, it encouraged me to pull my elbow as far back as as I could, stretching my chest and getting maximum stretch out of my arm.

I did okay. Holly said she was glad she had me working on the fingertip drills, because it would really help my form. I’m not getting enough oomph out of my shoulders and upper torso. On top of that, my poor form was actually churning the water in front of my face, making it harder to swim no matter how far I reached or how hard I pushed. This was the first time it felt like I was swimming into calm water! She also noticed that I have my neck extended while I swim; I knew this already, because I was doing it to see where I was going. That’s fine for splashing around, but for a long distance swim, it’s a good way to bunch up the muscles in your neck and shoulders and burn extra calories that you’re trying to save.

Mentally, the lesson of the day is to talk to your trainer. One of the best things about my recent marriage is that I’ve learned how much it helps to just be open when you have a problem, because someone can usually help in ways you never thought of. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to training. Normally I’d fight through it, but in an endurance sport, when your need everything relaxed and flowing, holding or pushing away anything is a big waste of energy. So I just said to her, “Holly, I’m scared I’m going to drown when I get tired. Sometimes I feel like I’m a lost cause and I can’t do this. I’m not going to give up, but what do I do?”

Holly didn’t blink. I think she’s had this conversation before. “First, you’re not going to drown. You’re a strong swimmer. You can also flip over onto your back and just kick your way to the end if you have to. There’ll be more lifeguards in kayaks watching the swimmers than you’ll believe. Finally, we’ve got a year.” Firmly, she said, “I am not worried about your swimming ability at all.

“As far as the rest goes, that’s the biggest thing you have to overcome. I know you’ve got what it takes. You have to prove it to yourself,” then she smiled, “because you’ve already proven it to me. Try to focus on having fun with it. When you first started this, you said you just wanted to do it for the adventure and the experience. Get back to that.”

My wife agreed. She even pointed out that I’ve done the tri’s distance already. I didn’t have anything to refute it with, other than “it was only a pool, not open water and not under race conditions.” She smiled and said that lots of people find ways to say “Oh, but that doesn’t count,” when their accomplishments go up against their fears.

Friday and today I was in the pool again doing fingertip drills. I’m going to fake it until I make it, and just keep going and going until my head has no choice but to accept that I’m doing it and I’m strong enough.

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