Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How I spend my Friday nights...

It dawned on me as kind of funny that as I'm about to jump in the water, at 9:00 on a Friday night, that most of my peers and certainly damn near everyone younger than me were either sitting in front of the tv or getting all "clubbed up" to go out on the town for an evening of drinking and debauchery....only to have to deal with the result of either (another sedentary day or waking up feeling like garbage and hung over) the following morning. I on the other hand just laid out all my swim gear and was about to start a 1600 meter swim set as per my normal Friday night routine. Sadly, I get told by lots of people that I'm "missing out" by not going out to or taking a day off. Missing out on what? I could rant about that until I'm blue in the face but suffice to say I love how I spend my Friday nights. I am a firm believer that learning to swim, I mean really swim for distance (not the swim to the side of the pool for a beer during a summer cookout), is one of the most difficult things you can do as an adult. We just develop bad habits if we weren't taught the "right way" to swim as kids. I'll be the first to admit that when "relearning" to swim and focusing on the proper stroke, hand placement and kick I would actually forget to breathe and have to stop mid pool and gasp for air. It wasn't pretty and it got to the point that the "no fear" guy...feared going for a swim.

don't fear the swim snorkle
Flash forward 3 years later (oh yes, that's how long my learn to not swim like a retard journey has gone thus far) and I not only no longer fear the swim...I LOVE it. There is just something about achieving that effortless stroke and kick in the water where swimming feels like its natural. Its completely different from the "Zen" I feel when I'm running or on the bike. I can't really explain it, which I know is difficult to believe coming from the guy that can talk all day, but it true. Once you get the mechanics of the swim down, swimming just "clicks" and I feel like I can go for hours. Weirdly, I know exactly when it "clicked". I was doing a Sprint Tri earlier this year and I went out for a swim on the course pre-race (which I always see other peole do but I never do because I'm always so focused on standing at the start and dreading the swim) and while swimmng I just had this settled feeling like this is not gonna be a big deal. And...amazingly, it wasn't! I actually swam with a smile on my face at that race. I had a great swim and my swim times since have continued to get better.

So back to my Friday nights...that "comfort" with the swim has come from lots of hours flailing and failing in the pool. I'm a do whatever you have to to get better kind of guy which is why you see all the "devices" I use at the pool to include the Finis Swim Snorkel. Oh yes, I have PLENTY of swimmer friends chide me or give me eye rolls when I mention it but it has honestly helped my swimming (Ryan Lochte and Dara Torres also use the snorkel in their swim training too so it can't be all bad) . The snorkel forces me to have proper head position, which equates to better body position, and allows me to to focus on hand and arm position at the beginning and through the stroke. And while my "swimmer" friends give me crap, that little training device has not only helped me be a more relaxed, efficient swimmer but help me take over 10 minutes off my mile swim time. I now swim a mile in about 38 minutes. I'm no Michael Phelps but I'm WAY ahead of what the swim cutoff times are for the 70.3 and 140.6 distances and it'll keep me in the competitive mix for my other racing (instead of having to burn so much energy chasing down the good swimmers on the bike).

So...enjoy the beer, clubs, TV and Doritos...I'll be in the pool with all my "toys" swimming a 1600 meter set...and loving every minute of it!


  1. Ha! 9pm on a Friday night, I'm getting ready for bed so I can get up at the crack of dawn for Saturday's training torture. And yes, I get all the same flak from my more sedentary friends. They just don't understand.

    I taught myself freestyle as an adult and while I'm still not very fast, my Coach says my form is great, just have to get in the water more to work on the speed.

    So enjoy your Friday nights! I think it's awesome. Wish I had a pool around here that was open that late!

  2. lol. You know you can do doritos and swimming. At least that's what some of us do, post swim workout to unwind before the weekend trainings ahead. What? I need the salt. :P

  3. This reminds me of one of my college roommates who never missed her Sunday morning spin class. Even if she stayed out late the night before she was at the gym at 5:30 on a Sunday in a college town. No one else was even awake by the time she was back home!

    I think you show that you have great discipline!

  4. I sell out my friends a lot so I can do something physically active instead of partying/shopping/drinking like we usually do. Exercise is my priority!

    As for swimming, once the weather gets a little cooler and biking will take up less of my time, I am going to start swimming more often. I want to go able to do at least 2 laps without being tired. My swimming is horrible right now but because I rarely do it. :(

  5. Love your blog....just catching up. Love the race recaps.

    I thought you'd enjoy this article by one of my favorite athlete/bloggers in the spirit of this.

    Dedication takes Friday night.

    @runlovelyone on twitter.


  6. S&A - I think its less discipline than need :)

    KoOty - I had to force myself in the pool...and then force myself again...and again until I started to get comfortable in the water. Then AFTER that finally happened I could start working on form and efficiency. Its also a great cross training/recovery thing to do to give your lower body a break from cycling and running. If I can offer any help let me know

    Jen - thanks for stopping by and reading the blog. I honestly just kind of write it to keep track of the stuff in my head and am taken aback when other people read and enjoy it. Thanks!