July 19, 2011

Rejuvenated Swimmer

I try to swim twice a week as part of my triathlon training. I just started swimming for sport a year ago, and really enjoy it. I have worked my way up from doing 18 laps (a lap being there and back) with a LOT of breaks in between each lap to doing an average of 40-50 laps per swim, with no breaks. I even sometimes do 60 laps, if I have the time and energy to spare, and once did 70 laps.

Last week, however, I felt like I had lost my swimming mojo. I still swam, but my heart wasn't in it. I realized that I was bored. It wasn't really a challenge anymore, and going back and forth and back and forth for an hour or more, without any music or any other input, could be mind-numbing. I usually enjoy the solitude of my thoughts in the pool, but lately I've just been bored. It's not unusual for me to be bored during a long workout, but at least on a run I can put on a new song on the iPod or look at the scenery. And it's hard for me to be too bored while I'm biking, as I really have to keep my wits about me and pay attention to my environment.

So I brought the issue up to my amazing community on dailymile. (For those of you who don't know about dailymile, the only way I can describe it is that it's like Facebook for athletes. I have "met" so many athletes from all over the country--and the world!--who challenge me, motivate me, and cheer me on...and I do the same for them. It's so inspiring to me to see my friends' workouts when they post them.....they motivate me to try harder myself.) Anyhow, I asked my swimming and triathlete friends how to combat boredom during the swim, and got tons of replies! The most common thing people told me was to shake up my routine and do drills (I'd only been doing straight freestyle, sometimes throwing in some work with paddles). Having never done drills before, I read their descriptions of some, and did some googling to find more drills as well.

Additionally, I did myself a favor last week and bought myself new goggles. I have been through MANY pairs of goggles over the past year---different brands, different styles--and had yet to find a pair that worked for me. I have a narrow face, so a lot of goggles would leak. The ones that don't leak tend to fit me oddly, and cut in sharply on my orbital bone. I had always lived with the pain, deciding that having pain was better than leakage, but I would often have to stop after doing a set of 500 yards to readjust. On Friday, I went back to the swim store yet again, and tried on dozens of pairs--again---and was about to walk out empty handed when the manager came over with a pair that was so new that it wasn't even out on the floor yet, nor did it have a price yet. I tried them on...and knew instantly it was for me (Jazz, by Barracuda). Not only did they have great suction, but the rubber lay so nicely over my eyebrow that my orbital bone didn't even feel it.

Today was my first swim since getting the new goggles and the new advice. I had an amazing swim! I did 2000 yards (40 laps). The goggles were amazing...no leaking, and I didn't even feel them during the 55 minutes I was in the pool. They were so comfortable! I did lots of laps with my usual straight-out free-style, and did my usual 500 yards with paddles...but also did some laps with closed fists, some with only using my right or my left arm, and sprints. The drills were HARD but challenging, and definitely kept my mind engaged. And I know they will make me a stronger swimmer. I am eager to work on these drills, as well as try new ones that have been suggested to me and that I find online. I'm even considering another private lesson with a swim instructor to learn new drills.


  1. I've heard great things about Barracuda goggles - there's a woman at my pool that shows them to me every time we're there at the same time!

    I just discovered drills & pool workouts too. It really does make a difference with staying motivated in the water - and will pay off with faster swim times too!

  2. @RunningJoeInJaxJuly 20, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    Another way to pass the time quickly is to do repeats or intervals on a weird time schedule. You end up thinking about the next take-off time, and you're pushing yourself so you forget about everything else. As an example, I did a set this morning of 24 x 50 yds (probably 24 "laps" for you). The first 50 was on :50, the second on :45, the third on :40, and then I would repeat it. This kind of set forces you to go progressively faster for 3 laps and then you get to step back and do it again.

    If you're doing open water swims for your triathlon, you may want to consider doing some laps with your head completely out of the water. Get a water polo ball and swim with it back and forth. This not only teaches you to press down at the start of your stroke, it helps you get used to the times when you have to lift you head up to make sure you're going in the right direction.

  3. I have a book: Workouts in a Binder: Swim Workouts for Triathletes...and while you can find most of it online I keep it in my swimbag b/c its small and waterproof. I can carry it to the poolside and do something different everyday if I so desire. It really helps break it up when the guys who school/coach me on form are not at the pool when I'm there....
    Glad you found your mojo....it can easlily get lost in the deep end sometimes

  4. Ohhhhhhhhhhh OHhhhhhhhhhh OHHHHHHHHHH guess what, guess what, OMG GUESS WHAT, I read in triathlete magazine to try swimming with your eyes closed! So I DID it! omg, it was FUN! Try it!!!!!


I love to read your comments!