Monday, May 5, 2008

Swimming and Racing: not so much

I have come to the conclusion that I just should not ever race while swimming. I just need to swim. There is a difference. When I am trying to race or not get passed by someone I get all anxious. By breathing goes to hell and I start flipping out for some reason. I came to this truism today during swim class.

I have been doing great swimming recently. I have gotten either as fast or faster than the fellow in my lane that has been faster than me this term. [We have two lanes and 4 to 5 swimmers in each lane. I am in the slower of the two groups and I am the 2nd fastest of the 5 of us.] I have been comfortable letting him lead, because he has the fastest 500 time (that was about 3 weeks ago) out of our group. However, he has recently missed some classes, and my stroke has recently gotten better. He realized this too and suggested I go first. Fine, whatever. No biggie. At least not for awhile. Then I realize that I am going faster than what I should be swimming for the workout we are doing. So I slow it down. He starts 10 seconds back of me at each interval and he never came close to catching up, yet I have to race every time for some freaking reason. I am doing 50's in 50 seconds and so forth. For class I usually like to keep them just under a minute so that I don't go anaerobic during the later laps. 5 of 10 seconds faster at that length is a big deal. And the thing is I don't have to swim that fast to keep him off me.

Anyway, during the middle of the workout we are supposed to be doing a couple of 150 yard lengths, each one at 2:20 or so, including rests. During the first one I flip out and have a mini-panic attack. I had started thinking negative thoughts about swimming in open water. I was feeling tired and so I was thinking thoughts along the lines of,"if I am tired already, how am I going to survive the open water swim where I won't have a wall to hold on to like in the pool for 30+ minutes?" My breathing became accelerated and when I was done with that 150 length I told the guy to go ahead and start ahead of me. I started 10 seconds after him and I decided that I didn't care how slow I went I was just going to swim the lengths at moderately easy pace.

Wow, what a difference it made.

I was swimming at good pace--sub 1 minute 50's-- but my stroke was more relaxed. My breathing was calm. I wasn't that much slower, but my mental perspective was changed. I was just swimming. Not that swimming is my favorite thing to do. In fact, of the three parts to a triathlon it is by far my least favorite. I think it is because I still feel like I might die while doing it. But there are times when the water and I have at least a cordial relationship. I need to practice zen or something, because if I feel I have to race in the water, soon it is all over. I flip out. I must be mentally weak or something.

Oh and the guy I let pass me--he wasn't swimming faster then me. I would start to catch him on every interval. What a spaz I am.

Today's Run:

I ran on the treadmill today. I am trying to avoid injuring further my meniscus so I am doing as I am told: running only on the straight and flats. For this reason, treadmills are the way to go. I started off running at about a 5.7 to 5.9 mph pace. I would occasionally bump it up to 6.2 to 6.4 mph followed by dropping it down to 5.5 mph to get me heart rate down. After about 30 minutes I noticed that my HR was not going back down much. Crap. "What the heck is up with this", I thought. I learned from last year that training at too high a HR is bad, or at least not good for training for a tri. I just started dropping the pace until I got it down to an acceptable area. At the end of my planned run--6.7 miles--I was only able to run at a 5.2 mph pace without going above my target HR. Weird. Maybe I was tired from the swim class, or just worn out generally.


Fish said...

I'm jealous of your swim class. Going it alone isn't paying off so well - my conditioning is fine, but my times keep getting worse. I'm trying to get more drills in to see if that helps.

Mr. Flynn said...

There is usually a time at least every couple of days where I consider pulling out of Vikingman--the cost, driving out and back solo, actually surviving, etc. Plus, I still haven't run for more than 8 miles. Hopefully this week I will be able to get in a 10 miler. But even still, it has to be better than last year's Spudman right?

I guess if there is anything to slack off on it is the swim since it is the shortest part of the race. As long as you can swim for 30+ minutes straight I guess that is all that you need to be able to do by the way last year's times went. I am sure you will be a hammer out there.

Mr. Flynn said...

BTW, I think the best part about the swim class is just being able to see the way others that swim faster than I swim do. I can adapt what works and it has helped quite a bit.

Surely there are swim coaches around there. There are a number of them out here.

Fish said...

The swim coach thing is tough - the relatively affordable ones meet at times when I've got to work. The private guy helps, but it's hard to get our schedules together and it's expensive. I'll be using the coach for the Ironman, but I'm not ready to spend the money for the entire year.