And my wiser self says: Ditch the swim albatross

There hasn’t been this kind of dread heading into a swim workout in quite some time. Well, perhaps “dread” is the wrong word. I just wasn’t particularly enthused about swimming. Particularly not with 400s on the agenda and the outside temperature minus-3, making the thought of staying in my cozy bed all the more enticing.

But to the pool I went anyway, huddled up in mismatched winter gear, ready to tackle the workout.

After the warmup came time for my four sets of 400s. Regular readers will recall that swimming is not my strong suit. In fact, it’s my constant struggle. I would call it my albatross, but anything with the connotation of something heavy (burden, fear, giant bird) hanging around my neck while in the water only encourages sinking rather than floating. And we not only want to float, we want to glide, easily and freely. And preferably fast, as “fast” is defined in the AmyMo Book of Speed.

My trend has been to nail times in sprint distances but once I hit the middle distances, I start to struggle. Those 400s were supposed to be done around 10:30. My fastest one? 10:48. Not exactly on pace.

Part of me wondered what I was doing wrong.Part of me wanted to lament: “Why oh why can I not get this better?” Part of me thought of the albatross and the line from the Rime of the Ancient  Mariner, “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”

But the wiser part of me prevailed on this particular frigid morning.

My mechanics are slowly getting better.  I actually could feel rotation (thanks to advice given long-ago from my tri friend Hitch just recently heeded) and could feel when my pull was effective and when it was flat.

Additionally, I became more at ease with the hard work. My arms, which felt like lead to start, started to settle into the pain. The end of each set left me winded and spent and with a smile on my face. The time that appeared on my Ironman watch was earned, regardless of where it stood in relation to the time in my workout log.

On this morning, my wiser self let go and actually enjoyed the effort. The time parameters did not define me. Instead, it became a game to play, a diversion to get in the yardage, a strategy to expand my comfort zone in the water. The results were not what was planned and yet I left the pool more enthused than when I entered, freed from the albatross of the AmyMo Book of Speed. Perhaps this lightness will make me a bit faster next time.

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