January is my least favorite month. Snow, slush, ice and the cold north wind make me glad that I have a membership at our health club. I am the only woman in the group of men that hustle into the club when they first open the doors at 5:00 a.m. The men make a mad dash upstairs and into the weight room, I walk into the warm and completely quiet pool area.
Last month I concentrated on listing a few ideas that could help you build your endurance as a novice swimmer. The first item I mentioned was working on one concept at a time. Making the freestyle my dominant stroke instead of the breaststroke became my focus for the first month that I was in the water. The second item on the list is to commit to getting into the water at least three times a week.
Until I found the best time of day that worked for me I procrastinated about swimming. Then I found the perfect time by picking up the pool schedule and studying it. The prime lap times were at 5:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. I chose to commit to 5:00 a.m. I feel as though I own the pool at that hour of the day. I am alone. The water is undisturbed and just waiting for me. I can finish a 30-minute workout before the high school swim team comes on deck.
Swimming three times a week is the minimum amount of time you will need to set aside if you are hoping to swim in a sprint triathlon. Three times a week allows you to vary your practices. Take one session to concentrate on your breathing techniques by breathing every fourth stroke instead of every stroke. On another day try to increase your speed by timing your laps and then attempting to beat that time by five seconds. And if you are training to swim one third of a mile work up to swimming half mile and then one mile distances continuously.
On the same four mornings that I am committed to swimming I run three miles on the treadmill. I keep my pace to about an 8 ½ minute mile. Then one morning a week I will run one seven-minute mile. Working to increase my speed is my least favorite part of training because I feel the most discomfort. I can plod along forever at a slow pace but I want to move from a plodder to at least a slow dasher! And this means enduring the feeling of being out of breath.
I have read that our bodies will learn to give us the oxygen that we need. As we increase the need for oxygen by increasing our speed while running or swimming or biking, we don’t have to be afraid that we will not have what it takes to keep going. I am learning to take deeper breaths, to relax and to tell myself that I can endure the discomfort for the short duration of the faster paced mile.
Next month we will talk about how to find a mentor.
"Training for a sprint triathlon is a lot like eating an elephant, you can do it one small bite at a time."