12/27/07

Triathlete Thinking

This morning I went to the Clearwater Y to swim. Rather than going to my normal 5:30am outdoor swim team practice at the Palm Harbor Y, I decided to stay indoors this morning since coach Matt is out of town. There is a small group of guys who swim Tues, Thurs, Friday morning at 6am so it is always nice to try to keep up with these fast guys. At the Palm Harbor Y for the SwimFit practice, I usually swim in my own lane with my own cycle (and own sets during racing season) but I absolutely love being in the pool at 5:30am with so many other people. There are usually around 10-20 people swimming and it is a great group of newbies to veterans. With a lifetime of competitive swimming, I'm use to not getting much rest with touch and go sets and a bit of distance and yardage. But other than that I am no different from all the other triathletes. We all have goals and we all have reasons for being there. As i was swimming I was wondering what each of the guys (5 others) were thinking. For me I often get my inspirations for my blog or an article but with many years of competitive swimming behind me, I've learned to think of nothing during swim practice so that I won't miscount laps. Since only two of the guys competitively do triathlons, I wondered what the others were thinking during the 500 warm-up? What motivates them to get in the water? Is it the competitiveness, is it the camaraderie, is it health reasons or is it because they just like it? I always wonder what people think when they are training, especially when they are swimming. Back and forth, back and forth and every 25 meters/yards you get a wall to make things interesting. How boring! Well, I love it and I was thinking just that as I was in the pool this morning. I guess I have to love the water if I've been swimming competitively for over 13 years. After the warm-up, one of the guys explained the main set. I found it funny that they shortened the set after one of the guys looked at the total yardage for the set. I think it was around 2200 for the main set so they took it down to 1800. The set we did was 2 x 200, 2 x 100. We did that 3 times and each set of 200's and 100's we separately dropped the interval by 15 seconds for each of the 200's and 100's. Well, a total of 45 sec dropped from the first set to last means that the first set felt like nothing. In all, however, I liked the set and it went by fast. As I was swimming, I thought about how hard the guys were pushing but they were getting so much rest. Maybe I enjoy the burning feeling of not getting much rest on the wall but a 100 on 1:45 was a bit too easy for me... and everyone else. They of course beat me by 30-45 sec for most of the set, until the end when I had a bit more steam in me to finish about 20 sec behind them. For most of the 100's I was coming in around 1:15-1:20 which was great for an off-season swim. Anyways, as I was thinking why they shortened the set. First they come to swim so early in the morning and then the set is shorted by a 400. But they were getting so much rest?? Hum, perhaps if I was swimming with a group of triathletes we wouldn't have shortened the set. If anything, we would have made it longer, faster and harder. Perhaps we would have used the words "only" or "that's it?" when looking at the set. I am happy that the guys who don't do triathlons are in the water and I think that for them, the workout today was just perfect for keeping them in the pool on a weekly basis. I always think it is great to find a sport/exercise which you love. You will only continue exercising when you pick something which is enjoyable. As for all those triathletes out there...what is it that keeps you going? I haven't quite figured it out yet since I am still diagnosing myself. What is it that motivates us to get up so early and train so diligently? What are we trying to prove to ourselves that we have to finish a set or get in all the intervals? Why do we often feel so guilty about missing a key workout? It isn't like the triathlon congress will hunt you down and embarrass you for life :) And why do we use the word "only" when to most people our "only" is a distance or a goal which many attempt achieve? The next time you are at the gym, swimming in a pool, out on your bike or running indoors or out, take a minute to think about why you do the things you do. I think for many people it is because you love it, it's a lifestyle and it makes you a better person, both inside and out. And most of all, enjoy what you do everyday! Have a healthy day!