I was completely unaware of it until I had mostly ruined my pool session…I was secretly competing with the guy in the next lane. I was NOT following my training plan. 

A competitor showed up

He arrived shortly after I got in the pool. I noticed that he was wearing Ironman jammers, had an Ironman Texas gym bag and a Roka swim cap.

My mind immediately started fucking with me… shouting things like, HE’S A COMPETITOR!! And, how good is he? Did you see how he looked at you, πŸ˜– .. blah, blah,blah.

If I’d been paying attention to what was going on in my head and how my body suddenly became tense, I would have paused and had a bit of self-talk to walk myself back from the edge.  I would have taken a moment to remind myself that my job is to run my race and train according to my plan. That’s it. The other things don’t matter right now. 

But I didn’t do that, instead, I fell victim to my emotions, my desire to win, to beat someone.

The training plan

I woke up early this morning and got to the pool full of excitement. I was eager to practice and make some progress , keeping in mind that I have two races scheduled next month and I want to crush both of them. Personal bests are my objective. 

Today, my training plan called for stroke technique and practicing the timing of my breathing. Stroke technique means that I wear my swim snorkel and focus completely on the placement and movements of my arms while rotating my body without twisting at the waist.  He calls it the popping and locking drill. Whereas to practice the timing of my breathing, I remove the snorkel and work on keeping my head in the proper position and taking a breath at the right time. If I take a breath and my arm is in the wrong position I end up popping my head up which then causes my legs to drop and creates more drag….I swim slower or have to use more energy to maintain speed.

Strengthening the fundamentals was the name of the game today. Not speed nor distance. 1 hour of FUNDAMENTALS only.

Time to do the work

About 15 minutes into the stroke work I realized I wasn’t getting into my groove. I kept focusing on the guy in the next lane and either trying to pass him or not let him get to the other side much faster than me. I was paying attention to his stroke rate and comparing it to mine. I’d completely lost focus and was mindlessly swimming back and forth.

Frustrated, I stopped and decided to remove the snorkel and work on my breathing instead. I thought that changing things up would force me to refocus and forget about dude in the next lane.

That worked for maybe four or five laps. Once I ended up next to him, my mind shifted again…


The lesson of the day

A few minutes later I snapped out of it and realized what I was doing. Unfortunately I repeated that cycle for another 20 minutes then decided to stop and get out of the pool. The session was over.

Clearly, I was not going to be able to remain focused on my technique, and I was not really swimming laps for distance. I was doing everything half-assed. What’s the point of that?

This is an important insight. I will need to pay greater attention to my ability to remain focused when others are around doing workouts. If this mental slip occurs during a race it’s likely that I’ll wear myself out quickly and blow the race.