Stairway to Mental Health Day

I really am learning how much my mental state affects my physical state with this endurance swimming. The last couple of weeks have been a bit rough. I went from feeling really good to just feeling really pathetic. I’d been working on my form based on Tom’s feedback the other week. I forgot about anything to do with times during my swims, which was fine until this week when I got a workout from Jamie to do a “ladder”. Ladders are where you start off with a short swim one day and gradually increase over several days. In my case, he had said to do 2 x 20 minutes on Monday, 3 x 20 minutes on Tuesday, etc. with 7 x 20 minutes on Saturday. Since I was planning on taking Friday off since I have to be at work early that day, I was going to start on Monday with the 3 x 20 minutes and go from there.

I spent last weekend in Delaware for my nephew’s first birthday so I hadn’t swum in 4 days. Holy crap…I felt very weak on Monday and only did 2 x 1000 yards (since the scoreboard counter at my pool is still busted). My abs were hurting too which I’ve taken is a good sign really that my lower body is doing more work and holding the rest of me steady as I rotate on my axis. On Tuesday I requested a counter on my side of the pool from the lifeguards. My times for my 4 x 1000 yards was 25 / 27 / 21 / 25 minutes respectively. WTF? The 21 minutes was either a total anomaly or the fact that I was busting my butt a bit becasue the swim team was invading half of the pool at 7 AM. Usually I swim the first two sets faster also so coming in at 27 minutes on the second set was a bit alarming. On Wednesday the lifeguards knew exactly what I was going to ask for when I walked up to them and they were nice and put the counter right next to my lane (which I’m at the very left lane usually anyway). This was probably the point where my mentality started going downhill as I could see that I was definitely going slower. I stuck to the 5 x 20 minutes since I could see the time while swimming. I was only pulling off about 800-850 yards per 20 minutes. WTF? 800 yards?? Today I was supposed to do 6 x 20 minutes, which they had the clock on the scoreboard actually working and I was in a lane where I could see it while swimming. I did 800 yards during the first set and was poised to do another 800 yards during the second one. I stopped halfway through as I wasn’t thinking about much else aside from feeling like the world’s slowest lamest swimmer ever. I’ve been wanting to do interval training to see if that would help. I started off with 100 yards and could see after the first flip turn that I was at 32 seconds. I forget what my time was after the 3rd flip turn was, but I came in on the 2:10. This didn’t really help much since I was trying to bust my ass through it without resorting to shoulder-driven technique (which is great for sprints). I stayed in the water for about 5 minutes trying to figure out what to do. I knew my head wasn’t in it which was going to be hard for me to do anything today. I had a choice of staying in the water and feeling pathetic or getting out of the water, taking some time to work on my mental state, which I knew would also involve getting upset with myself for not finishing the swim. I chose the latter because I know that despite my automatic ability to beat myself up over something, I really need to get my head back into a place where I can deal with this ****. This wasn’t the first time that I’ve felt like a lame swimmer and it won’t be the last time. Ignoring it though won’t help me in the future on how to deal with it, especially say if I’m in the middle of a large frigid lake. My brain needs a workout too so that’s what I’m going to work on for the next couple of days.

My old form was able to do 1000 yards during that time frame and that was a form that was losing speed. So if my stroke should be more efficient now, why am I going so damn slow? I do notice that my lower abs and legs are feeling it more while swimming as I really have to use those muscles now. My legs are in a position where I have to use the entire leg to kick which also means that I’m also feeling my quads during the second set. I’m guessing and hoping that this is a good thing, but at the same time, I’m concerned that maybe I just f’ed up my stroke badly. I don’t know. It’s hard when I know that yes I changed my technique and it is (hopefully) for the better, but that doesn’t help how I feel when I see the counter ticking away and knowing that I’m really going *that* slow. It’s a real defeating feeling for me, and I’m having a hard time snapping out of it while I’m in the pool. I’m not sure if a change in technique (ven if for the better) can cause someone to become that much slower in the beginning of starting a new form. I’ve pinged Jamie and hoping to hear back soon.

I think it’d be different if I was getting continuous feedback while swimming, but I don’t have the luxury of that right now. Cindy and Tom have been awesome with giving me any feedback while not swimming Masters which I really deeply appreciate. Of course I don’t want to bother them either during Masters practice since they’ve got 8 lanes of swimmers during practice that they’re supposed to be paying attention to (and they do!). Right now I just wish I’d get some feedback on if I’m on the right path to having a more efficient stroke or am I doing it wrong.

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