So ever since my difficult swim at the Marshman Triathlon, I’ve been battling what I’ll call a confidence problem. I’ve been feeling “bleh” on the topic of swimming, and I know myself well enough that this is a temporary funk – nothing more.
I’m still astounded that my body has responded to triathlon training. My weight is now in the mid-220s (back in June when I bought my bike I was in the high 230s) and my borderline ADHD transfers well-enough to the multi-modal training required by triathlon events (swim, run, bike, weights, yoga/flexibility, etc).
So I’ve been going through this uncomfortable period following my rough swim. I know you’re thinking “WAAAAH! SUCK IT UP!”, and that’s exactly what I’m saying to myself. The brain is a weird and complex thing, and in a quiet moment I remembered back to something an old brass instructor I had in college told me (* note – my degree is in Music Education with an instrumental concentration on Tuba Performance).
I was having a rough time with a particular piece one semester, and my professor sensed that most of the issues were “between the ears in the squishy grey stuff”. He asked if I still had my old original 8th grade mouthpiece – something entry-level that I could use instead of my professional-grade custom designed mouthpiece. I did in fact still have it in a drawer since I’m a pack rat! He told me to use that mouthpiece for exactly one week, and took my new one so I wouldn’t cheat during the week (I had a duplicate, but I didn’t cheat).
So I headed off on a week’s worth of practice studio time with the old mouthpiece – which normally saw lots of 8th grade-level “OOM-PAH” concert band parts (middle school and high school tuba parts are not very sexy!). It felt off to go back to something that was once so familiar, but in a weeks time I returned to my professor and played the piece on the old mouthpiece. He then asked me to play through the first movement of the piece on the old mouthpiece, which I slogged through – grade of performance approximately a B-minus. He then handed me my good mouthpiece and had me play it again – grade of performance an A-minus (keep in mind one week prior I was a solid C, so both were marked improvements).
Why did this happen? By giving my brain something else to focus on, I got out of my own way and allowed things to naturally happen. Sometimes the brain just needs a little bit of interference to focus on so that the good outcomes can rise up to the top.
OK – so how does this translate to swimming, and getting over my issues? On the way to my workout yesterday, I stopped of and bought three things:
- New goggles with a brighter tint (contrast to my dark smoke goggles I’ve been using)
- Nose clip
- Swim Paddles
You can guess the rest. Everything FELT different. The world was brighter underwater. I could focus on breathing JUST through my mouth (believe it or not really helps me), and I broke up the workout a bit by adding a couple of 100s with the paddles (never used before).
End result – I had a good swim experience for the first time in a month.