I finally returned to the pool today after a several-month hiatus. I decided I didn’t miss swimming. Not even a little bit.
I swam competitively in middle and high school, and here’s what I learned after doing 20 hours per week for several years and then burning out (and discovering I was better at running anyway):
-Cold pools at or before 6am are the worst. I have horrible flashbacks to 5:30am practices during the winter.
-The chlorine stench never really goes away. I can still smell it on my skin after a thorough scrubbing. I’m convinced it was my permanent perfume back in the day.
-Goggle marks and strap chafing are par for the course.
-Once you’ve got the technique, you never lose it, but it sure does break down more quickly if you haven’t used it in awhile.
When I returned to the pool last May to train for my very first triathlon, I hadn’t swam in almost five years. It comes back, but endurance and speed take more time to build in the pool than on the track or bike. Now I realize that with longer races, I actually need to devote some time and effort to swimming because 2.4 miles is a whole different game than 750 meters. I was a sprinter/breaststroker in high school, so this whole endurance thing is new to me.
There are several additional challenges with swimming. The Wilson pool — DC’s nicest and only long-course option — is far from my apartment, so I have to drive, and it takes a solid 30 minutes to get home during morning rush hour. The lanes tend to be very crowded in the early morning or late evening because that’s when everyone else wants to swim too. Various teams take up three and four reserved lanes at once. I can only get an hour or so in before work, which is the most convenient time to go. And open water practice involves a whole lot of effort and is particularly unappealing while it’s still cold out.
Anyway, my reintroduction to the water went fairly well, despite the slower pace and less-than-ideal form. I wanted something relatively short and simple, so I used an entry from Scott Molina’s One-Hour Workouts, a series of compact yet effective training options for triathletes. It went something like this:
10 minute warmup: Ladder at 2RPE — 50m/100m/150m/150m/100m/50m
Main set: 4 x 400m
Odds are 400m free, RPE 2, 20 sec rest
Evens are 100IM/300 free, RPE 3, 15 sec rest
Remaining time: kick/drills (about 500m)
Total: 2700m, 60 minutes.
Now if I can just find a way to stay motivated, get my ass to the pool on a regular basis and actually do real, substantial workouts…