Grinding Out Swims

Four weeks out from Ironman 70.3 in Haines City, and my training (at least parts of it) has fallen into it’s normal pattern. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What’s happening is I’m falling into my normal M/O with the swim. Forget doing a bunch of laps kicking (which I hate), and forget drills. It’s time to get mentally prepared to do the distance comfortably. The best way for me to do that in the pool is to jump in knowing I have a lot of laps in front of me and decide that I’m going to just keep swimming until I’m done.

That still doesn’t really get me as ready as I want to be. There’s still a HUGE difference between getting in the pool and knowing I’m about to swim 100 lengths and looking out at the open water course on race day and knowing I have to do one BIG lap. Big swim courses intimidate me in a way the thought of lots of laps staring at the bottom of the pool doesn’t. Even open water swims can’t remedy this for me because I don’t go out and look at a course that’s laid out; I can’t see exactly how far it is I’m going to be swimming…I just see a lot of water.

It’s almost like the reverse of what happens on the bike. I like to train with multiple 5-7 mile laps for my bike rides. It is very boring. And it builds all kinds of mental toughness for race day. On race day, you only have to do 1 or maybe 2 laps. It doesn’t matter how long those laps are. At least you aren’t looking at the exact same thing 10-12 times over. And it’s not the same thing you saw yesterday and in every ride you’ve done for the past 2 months.

And unlike the swim, you can’t actually see how long the bike race course is when you start out. It’s just a road in front of you.

So I feel like the best way I can prepare is to show up at the pool knowing I’m going to finish the entire length of the swim with no stopping to rest between sprints and no drills to mentally break it up. Just grind. I’ll vary my speed for 250 ¬†yards here and there and breathe every two strokes, and sometimes I’ll do a few laps where I practice spotting looking forward and keeping my eyes closed underwater so I can’t follow the line on the bottom.I know I’m probably giving up a whole minute or two by bailing on the drills and kicking.

Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll be saving my legs for the bike where I can gain real ground.

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