Breakthrough Swim

I wanted to share a quick post about how important it is to engage others, group up, and find mutual support in your training.  As triathletes, this sport is widely an individual endeavor, however the preparation for this individual pursuit can (and I would argue SHOULD) be undertaken with others.

There is safety in numbers, you know...

There is safety in numbers, you know…

Last summer, soon after my friend Derek inspired me to consider taking my running for fitness’ sake to a new level via triathlon, I learned that there was a Northern Delaware triathlon team locally called the Delaware Swim and Fitness TriDawgs.  While we have over 250 members, the team is really comprised of a smaller group of very active and dedicated age-group athletes.  Several members are 140.6 multi-time finishers, and some have qualified and raced Kona, in addition to shorter course distances as well.  I participated in some Open Water Swim sessions last summer in preparation for my September and October sprints – but this spring I’ve been taking part in some organized masters swim sessions with the team.  These sessions have been by “invite only”, since we only have 6 lanes and 90 minutes of time, but I’ve learned that not only can I hang with the team, but I’m also pretty fast – or faster than I thought I was anyway!

This past week, I pressed myself hard and did a speed/power session that was shared by one of my Twitter friends:

BluebTweet

I did this same workout, but I pushed HARD!  I maxxed it out, to the point where between the 3rd and 4th sprint I puked in the pool gutter, and then kept going.

Thursday and Friday were recovery days – my upper body really felt sore, especially with all the pulling with paddles.  One thing to know – be careful about technique when doing pull drills with paddles, since the added resistance could cause undue pressure on your shoulders.

When we show up for Saturday practice, we do not know what to expect specifically.  When I saw “XX x XXX on X:XX” I knew something was up.  Once I heard the “Aw crap” mutterings, I thought “This can’t be good…”

We did our warmup, then some drills, then the coach split us up evenly across all 6 lanes. When I say “evenly”, I immediately sensed that each lane had a balance of top, middle tier, and developing swimmers.  I was the low man on the proverbial totem pole in my lane.

Our mission – (10) 100 yard sprints FULL OUT – balls to the wall – on 5 minutes.  I initially thought “On five minutes – this shouldn’t be too bad”, but I was mistaken.  For the first couple of 100s, everything was fine – I was breathing hard coming into the last 25, but I was OK.  Then in the 3rd and 4th repeat, the wall smacked in the face.  My arms didn’t want to move, and my pace went from 1:20 to 1:32-ish.  I felt like quitting, but the swimmers were cheering each other on and making a big deal of it.  Every minute a new swimmer left, and when they came into the wall to turn for the back-50 we raised the roof.

At that point, all I could do is just go with it.  It hurt like a mother-effer, but it wasn’t going to get worse, I wasn’t going to die, and if I push through it, I’ll have accomplished something.

My 100s dropped back down into the low 1:20s.  I was suddenly swimming at a level and intensity I’ve never approached before, and I was in some pain and suffering but I was dealing.

The thought crossed my mind that if I can become comfortable with finding that limit, and pushing slightly beyond while living on the edge of the suffering, I might learn how to manage that pain and find it within myself to win.  When I mean “win” I mean just winning against myself.

So my average was 1:25 over the (10) 100s.  As a point of comparison, I averaged 1:36 in my last five intervals on Wednesday night (when I puked in the gutter).

Sad but a little true.

Sad but a little true.

This drives the point home to me – I need to start running and biking with others.  If my level is actually this much higher than I thought it was in the pool, then I’m assuming that similar gains in the other segments may be found.

When you have had the opportunity to work out with a team or group, have you found another level?  After going back “solo” were you able to maintain?

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