Mid Week Practice
While practicing this week I decided to use the lap counter and swim the 400 distance for the Tri for the Y. This is a distance I’m very comfortable with and if Shane asked us to start class with a 400, I would be fine (for reference, he normally starts us with a 200). I had finished going through the entire progression, and even completed 3 rounds of the “yin-yang” drill before starting this 400. Immediately upon starting the first 25 my stomach revolted. I felt like I was going to throw up for the first 300, and then I remembered that I had options for breathing. I could continue to breathe bilaterally, or breathe every stroke. I switched to breathing every stroke on my right, then my left and after another length I had calmed my head. I finished the 400 in about 10 minutes.
It was a holiday week, so our normal group of 5-6 turned to 3. We started class with sharing our thoughts from the week. I shared my tale of anxiety from my Tri for the Y practice, and we talked about competition. Shane shared that one way to think of the word competition was to think, “I’m petitioning for companionship” instead of thinking of it as a challenge between me and the person next to me. Then, my classmate admitted that she wasn’t all that interested in racing. The discussion that ensued was SO fascinating. This is one of the many reasons that I LOVE this class. Shane gives his classes what I consider a weekly does of Zen. He’s part swim coach and part life coach and there hasn’t been a week that I haven’t left class with some wisdom to take back to my every day life.
He shared his philosophy for fitness. He’s an endurance athlete and he runs, bikes, and swims to find flow state. He is a self proclaimed “flow state junkie” and this is his way of finding flow. He sees the racing as an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of his labor, see friends, and just enjoy. More conversation followed about triathlon culture, endurance athletes, and the marathon and half marathon scene.
Soon it was time to swim!!
The House of Cards
The evening started with our familiar set of drills; dry land and focal point swimming. Our first 200 was a lazy swim where we count our strokes per length followed by specific focuses added for each lap. The most helpful focal point for me during this class was the shoulder shrug. If I focus on the shoulder, other things that are often out of whack sometimes fall into place. It is during this focus that I find my lowest spl count every time. It is also the time when I swim with the most ease.
Eventually we got to the “yin-yang” drill. After one pass through, I felt like Shane may as well have been speaking Arabic for what I could get from the drill. But then, he demonstrated the recovery arm again and showed us that motion. It clicked and the next 3 times we did the drill I really started to understand. I still work on breathing properly (not releasing air the moment I take it in or holding it 100% and becoming out of breath) and not breaking the surface with my kick (less knee action) but I felt this drill was coming along ok for me.
The final 300
To end class, Shane asked us to swim a continuous 300. The pool had emptied out, so we each had our own land. We were free to choose our tempo with the tempo trainer. He asked us to focus on a sustainable breathing pattern. I started with the trainer set at 146. This is my typical “comfy swimming” setting (but Shane reminds me that for my short body I need to be striving for a much faster tempo). Halfway into my first length I realized I was hanging out waiting for the beep for awhile. I stopped to re-set to 136. I know one of my classmates typically uses this setting and thought I’d give it a go. To my surprise I was able to keep up with the beeps. Shane’s YY drill had really helped me move more into the front quadrant. That meant my turnover was quicker, so the faster tempo felt comfortable.
The End Conversation
When we finished, one of my classmates shared that she really struggled with the last 300. She panicked a little, and we had a short discussion about even seasoned triathletes panicking and needing to resort to backstroke in a race. I suddenly felt a lot better about my need to backstroke in the CLT this summer.
One of the things Shane had told us about competition and training in our earlier conversation was:
When I head out the door on a cold day to run, I know I’m choosing to be cold. I may come home with my knees hurting, but I know that this is good for me. However, in life you don’t always get to choose what happens. Sometimes frustrating things happen and you can only choose your reaction. I find that training helps me choose a good reaction.
I had spent much of the evening with my teeth chattering. I am always extremely COLD in the water, sometimes so much so that my hands and feet are blue and I have no feeling in them. During our last 5 minute discussion, I would normally be chattering away, hopping up and down and praying for class to be over as soon as possible. During this time though, I remembered Shane’s discussion about training and reactions. I was standing in the water, and was suddenly fully present for the conversation, and I was not cold. It was fleeting and it may not happen again, but I felt like I was choosing my reaction to the situation. I chose to be fully present in the conversation instead of thinking ahead, thinking about my comfort. The result; I was warm, and I was really engaged in the discussion.
I can’t believe that next week is the last class of this session!!! I started with this in September thinking I’d endure 8 weeks and hopefully get better. Now, I signed up for the 2nd session eagerly and I’ve come to really look forward to this class and my practice sessions. Shane shared a video of the “Zen Master” Shinji Takeuchi’s Ti Swim Video