‘Aqua Zen’ (how I became addicted to the comfortable swim)

I’m trying to focus on my swimming (again). As I’ve reiterated several times, I’m not the best tadpole in the pond. I would certainly not be fertilising any ovum. That’s right, I’m a damn slow swimmer. But since we started this ridiculous pastime called “giving up your life and training for an Ironman”, I have spent what feels like decades in the pool perfecting my technique.

Initially, I signed up to a swim stroke correction course. On day one, the instructor told me “it’s ok to slow down – it’s not a race”. And that piece of advice seems to have stuck. I spent session after session perfecting drills and getting my feel for the water tuned in. Then I started reading up on Total Immersion swimming – it was like a light turned on and everything started to feel natural. In fact, swimming began to feel amazing. I loved it. I went from struggling through a 2km set and having to stop after ever 200m, to just floating effortlessly through 4km as if it was a walk in the park.

But I seem to have got too comfortable. Is swimming meant to be enjoyable (and slow)? Or is it meant to be torturous and fast – like running and cycling? Well, perhaps not torturous, but I definitely want to be fast. Problem is, I’m really enjoying the ‘AQUA ZEN’ (thanks to Jess at the Bookery Cook for her terminology used to describe the post-swim bliss). That is to say, I’m hooked on the swim-trance that lazy laps are sending me into. And I need a kick up the rear.

An accurate representation of my swimming – comfortable, sustainable, enjoyable.                                          Although, I’m not quite this elegant.

It’s not a problem when I’m riding or running – I really thrive on the exhaustion and the feeling of pushing myself into sustainable discomfort. But in the pool, I havent yet found the way to tap into my inner-athlete. I know she’s there – she must be because she loves running and cycling and beating her own best. But in the pool I turn into an absolute punter. Total recreational. No pushing of limits here thank you very much.

But I’ve decided that things have to change around here. There is a cut-off time after all. I don’t want to spend a year training for an event, only to spend a couple of hours zoning-out during a mesmerisingly relaxing swim, and then not be allowed into transition to collect my bike because I was too slow out of the water.

So I bought a swim watch.

The idea is, that I can see in black and white how slow I really am (as opposed to not being able to see the pool clock on the wall because my goggles are continually either a) leaking or b) totally fogged up, thus allowing me to lie to myself about my time trial totals). The numbers are there to read, analyse, compare to those of my super-swimmer-husband when he trains in The Watch, and will hopefully form the basis of some kind of progression.

I realise it’s a very yuppy solution(gadget) to a very basic problem (lazy), but I remember how my running times improved massively when I first got a garmin a couple of years ago. And how my cycling efforts are much higher when I can see my speed/cadence etc. So paired with some good sets, I’m hoping I can start unleashing the inner athlete in the pool and racing my own times.

Phase two will be to join a swim squad. But I am literally TERRIFIED of the humiliation that will occur when they all stand and point at how slow I am, that I’ve been putting off joining in one for months and months now. If I can just get my times down to something respectable, oh, and learn to tumble turn (I’M SUCH AN AMATEUR) then I will be all about swim squad.

Aside from my new watch, there has been very little to report. I’m just manically tired all the time. Oh and hungry of course. Last weekend was a big double day ‘training camp’ (but in the city), with 110km ride + 15km run on Saturday, and then a 31km ride + 31km run on Sunday. It was only supposed to be a 2.5 hour run on the Sunday, but I when I got off the bike, in my delirious state, I did my clock-maths wrong. For some reason I thought I had to run out 1h45 and back 1h45 (and in my head that added up to 2.5 hrs!). After 1.40 of running one way from Mentone along Beach Road, I was past Brighton and almost at Elwood Beach. So I turned around and started running back. It was scorching sunshine. And I had only one gel for the whole morning’s activities (including the ride). And I only found two water fountains. After 3 hours I made it back to Mentone. It was hell. So last weekend was a total of nine hours training. Hel,l I tell you.

This weekend was a little less barbaric; we rode out to St Andrews and back (the base of the Kinglake climb). So that was about 90km of riding through great undulating sections, a few tricky but short climbs, and loads of crappy traffic closer in to the city. That was followed by just over 11.5km of running – 10km of which was a time trial of sorts (the brief: run to the park easy, and then run three laps as fast as you can, then run home easy), and my 10km was 47 mins. Which is four minutes slower than my best pace over that distance, but after a big ride I am super stoked with that. I think it’s because I had a bagel for breakfast. Oh and the beetroot juice – amazing stuff.

Yesterday was a different matter; gales, lethargy, moodiness and a general can’t-be-arsed attitude did not bolster the 1hr ride+2hr run combo. The ride was great, but the run was really crappy. Absolutely nothing to lie about there. And when it started pissing down with rain, I decided that 1.5 hrs was close enough to 2 hrs (not even anywhere near close enough – but the endurance logic prevailed and my head beat me this time) and went home. I’m not proud of myself.

Tonight, on the other hand, was rounded out with a wonderful Grass Roots Yoga session, and now I am felling very blissed out. So from now on, I will be getting my zen from yoga, as opposed to the pool. Thus leaving me free to THRASH IT OUT in the water. Or at least kick a little harder.

Goodnight folks xxx

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10 thoughts on “‘Aqua Zen’ (how I became addicted to the comfortable swim)

  1. davetrendler says:

    We’ve got a swim squad in a box coming in March! http://swimspeedsecrets.com/swim-speed-workouts/

  2. I too love a long and peaceful swim. Glad to know I am not alone:-)

  3. icallaby says:

    You totally amaze me baby. XXXXX

  4. Meg Gillmer says:

    Most importantly, you are enjoying swimming. That has to count for something. I love that you’re digging the yoga, too xx

  5. IowaTriBob says:

    Great post and I’d really enjoy hearing how the swim watch works out. I’ve tried my forerunner 310xt in the pool but its not very accurate and pretty bulky as well. I tend to be a pretty slow swimmer as well and am really focused on putting some sprint intervals into the routine.

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