I’m a great swimmer. Always have been. Feels completely natural and easy for me. It was a fulfilling and positive experience last time I put in serious laps in the pool. 25 years ago.
I’m pretty proud of myself that I’ve made a point of getting some of the basic training for my triathlon done before the start of the official 8-week training program. Instead of my usual daily run, this week has been a run, two bike rides, and a swim.
Biking is almost as easy to kick off as a run. For a run, strap on your shoes and go. Additional equipment and ahem, planning and record-keeping, are fun but optional. Biking is almost the same, but with a bit more equipment. Bike, helmet, titanium ass implants (oh, how I wish.)
Swimming requires a bit more planning. A place to swim. Goggles. A few different necessaries that took me until late in week 0 to get together. My race will have a 1.5k swim. Turns out my pool will be 25 yards. A little fun with math later, and it’s clear I’ll need to work my way up to 66 laps. My swim fitness class a little while ago (you know, college YES IT WAS 25 YEARS WHAT’S YOUR POINT) culminated in a swim just about that length. No sweat.
Ok, in hindsight, it’s really obvious where this is going.
Swimming is really really different from running. And honestly, I have no idea what it felt like when I was a beginning runner 12 years ago. I’ve completely forgotten. That memory is buried under literally thousands of miles of pounded pavement. And all those miles came after the last time I swam laps. Which means I probably was trying to swim my very first laps in 2.5 decades like I run now, at a pretty agressive pace, maybe 75% effort.
Protip: don’t do that.
So, it’s humbling to need to stop and gasp and cling to the wall after 5 laps. There’s a learning experience I can chalk up from this training program.
And here’s another: fear. You know what happens when you get really really tired running? You stop, walk a while. Depending on the size of your ego, it’s sorta embarrassing. Maybe you can manage to do it on a pretty quiet part of the course.
You know what happens when you want to stop while you’re swimming? You swim anyway. Because if you don’t, you drown.
And you know how my race will be different from the training I managed to conduct for 125 yards at my best stretch this week? No wall. Open water. Nowhere to gasp and rest and steel my resolve.
I’m not giving up yet. That was my first swim in 25 years. (Crap, I really never thought about how long it had been.) I’m pretty sure I just got my pace very very wrong, and I can fix this by starting out much slower next time. I stole a few moments at the pool with the kids this afternoon, took it slow and got to 6 laps pretty easy, still felt like I had plenty in the tank.
But this will be more of a stretch than I thought.