Surviving the sprints

When the swim workout first popped up on my computer screen, I dropped a rather loud, emphatic expletive deleted.

This was going to be painful. In more ways than one.

It was in essence the same workout I tried to do on Saturday but could only manage half of it. Epic fail. Now, I had to try it all over again? My first week back to training? So much for the art of mercy.

The workout consisted of a short warm up followed by 20 sprints. On Saturday, I attempted the workout in a long course pool, meaning I was attempting to sprint 50 meters. Part of me wanted to return to that site, to right the workout that failed. But another part of me wanted an effective workout both physically and mentally. I wanted to not just complete the workout, but I wanted to feel good about it. So this morning I opted for a short course pool and undertook swimming 20 50-yard sprints. (Which mind you is shorter but not that much easier than sprinting 50 meters).

And in essence, distance didn’t really matter all that much anyway. The real goal was to swim fast on those 20 intervals. My instructions included to care less about form and more about turnover during this particular part of the workout.

My morning began with my simple breakfast before I jetted off to the pool. I decided I needed to not fear the sprints. Just go for it. Last time I made it through half of them. I will just do the best I can do. I will swim hard. I will think about my turnover. I will try my best to make it fast. I can get through this.

And here’s the thing.

I did.

After the warmup, the first 10 sprints were done with a pull buoy to help me feel the proper rotation and keep me swimming in a straight line. Those 10 felt great. The next 10, without the pull buoy, were actually a bit harder. I tend to kick too much when trying to swim fast which tires me out pretty quickly. So I focused on my turnover. It was slower as I neared the end of the set, but I still worked it, still thought about it, still tried to move my arms around as quickly as I possibly could. I was sucking wind at the end of each 50 and the 20-second rest interval was far too short.

I don’t know how fast I was. I didn’t time that. Because that wasn’t the point. The point was for me to swim fast, to swim hard, to work on my turnover. The times will come if I let go of obsessing over them.

My arms and shoulders ached. The final part of the workout — three sets of 200 yard swims — were relatively slow. I thought about my form more. I felt the glide of each stroke. I embraced the feeling of gently moving through the water.

The total workout was actually rather short but the intensity more than made up for it.

The fear of returning to training after two weeks off is slowly starting to fade. With each workout, confidence is boosted, even if by just a bit, and that voice that needs to be right about all the negative thoughts that bounce around my brain gets a bit weaker with each passing interval.

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