I’m a glutton for punishment. Really, I’m a glutton for punishing my own body. i run a few adventure races every year, including the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and some smaller races that are more fun than anything else (Read: I’m not trying to set any records while I’m doing these). My friend Ryan and I did some training while I was visiting him in Farmington Hills, MI, which you can read about here.
Point being, I love to workout. It gives me a high that I can’t get with any drug, from doing much of anything else. You might disagree, but that’s just me, and I don’t think that’s about to change.
Cue to about 4 weeks ago. I stay in shape pretty well, so when my buddy Brian asked me to do a sprint triathlon with him, I was of course game. This one is taking place in Boulder, Colorado on July 26th, so I had about 7 weeks to get in running, swimming, and biking shape. Normally, I lift weights quite a bit, so the endurance is often times a big pain to me. I don’t really like to bike, but will do it if asked. And I’m a poor swimmer, or at least I thought I was before I jumped into the pool for the first time.
To be honest, the swim portion of the triathlon is going to be the toughest for me. The swim is only 750 yards, but that’s a lot longer than I’m use to swimming. Normally, when I get in the pool, it’s to stare at women!
When I started my training, I could only swim about 100 yards straight without having to take a break. Since I knew pretty much nothing about swimming before my first training session, I decided to ask Brian’s wife, Mary, who swam collegiately at University of Richmond (she was a spider!). Mary proceeded to give some very good advice. That is, try using a few training aids, such as a foam dumbbell that would be put in between your legs to promote buoyancy, and to reduce the amount of times you kick your feet when you are training. Kicking, Mary said, is the number one thing that can quickly drain your energy. She said ‘think of it like your entire body is working so hard, and if you simply use your arms while training, you will be able to learn how to effectively swim without kicking too hard.’
I had always thought that kicking was one of the most important parts of swimming, which it certainly is, but so many people kick incorrectly. Kicking should be a little flutter with straight legs, and a good swimmer will try to never bend their legs at all.
Once I stuck the ‘buoy’ in between my legs, I was able to rip off a good 750 straight without taking a break (if you want to call turning a break, then go ahead, but it’s not pausing for air).
My next goal is to swim 1000 yards straight, which I should be able to do by next week, before the triathlon.
Fortunately, running and biking shouldn’t be an issue, as those are two more common things. The bike is 17 miles, which I’ve done before, and the run is only 3.1, which will be a piece of cake. I hope I don’t eat my words on that!