Friday, May 6, 2011

Fighting my weakness

I had a very good swim. Not so much physiologically as psychologically.

I am going to reveal my main set here because I think that it is important in order to understand the main idea of this post.
5 X (2 x 50 yards sprint! @ 1:00, 1 x 100 sprint! @ 2:30), holding :40's for the 50's and 1:25's for the 100's. Faster than that = better, but not so fast on the first set that you're dying at the end. Hold your form. IF you're completely falling apart after the 4th time through, skip the 5th set. Only do the 5th set if you think you can nail it with good form and fast times.

At first I thought that it should be not that bad because I will get 1min rest after 100s but then I realized that I will get only 20sec before crazy fast 100. Plus my fastest 100 to date is 1:23 so 5 of them at very close call! I was already sure that I was going to do 4 sets only.

1st: working as hard as I could on 50s: both 39ish, 100 was 1:27ish. Hm not too bad but not as fast I should have gone.
2nd: 50s: both in 40, 100 in 1:29. I was actually surprised to see sub 1:30 because it felt horrible. I honestly thought that it will be close to 1:40, that's how hard and slow it felt.
Already before this 100 negative thoughts started to creep in and I started to think that here is no way I can do the 3rd one and that I should take 1min extra break after the second one. But then as the clock arrow started to get closer and closer to my start time I decided no, that would be cheating at myself. And I gave myself a permission to take a longer break after the 3rd if I need to.
3rd: 50s: 40, 42; 100:1:30
Clearly I was getting slower and my legs were hurting badly on 100 and I could not move my arms as fast as I would want to although they did not hurt, they just would not move. But again, as start time for the 4th set was approaching I decided to go for it and not to cheat. What the heck, it is the last one, I can suffer for few more minutes. I was not worried about 50s, I can suffer for 40sec, it was 100 that was giving me chills. I was thinking "embrace the pain, embrace the pain". I have never had motto or anything but I like this and I think that I am going to repeat it to myself in races. I have never really thought about the way how to deal with pain (I am not much of a thinker when it comes to sports, except for negative thinking, in that I am an expert), but on Wednesday when I was surfing the internet looking for an advice about bike time trials I read something like this: Bike TTs are pure pain and you should not try to forget about the pain and push it out of your thoughts. You should think about the pain, be aware of it and embrace it. Wow, isn't it awesome? It had quite a powerful effect on me. Anyway, back to my swim.
4th: 50s both in 39; 100 hammer as fast as I could since it was my last one, in 1:27. Surprisingly it did not feel as hard as 100s before although my legs and arms were falling off but overall it felt easier. Thinking "embrace the pain" and it is the last one, then it is over definitely helped.
And when it was over I started to think that maybe I can do the 5th one. Why not? I can try. I can pull off 50s, they are short, I can suffer for 40sec. And for 100...well, no pressure. I can try and if it is very very hard I can quit because technically I am not hitting my times and I got clear instructions that I should not do it unless I can hit my fast paces. I know, not the greatest attitude ever but it somehow helps me to lift the pressure of myself. I know I am not going to quit but giving myself the possibility to quit helps me a lot mentally and I perform better when I do not put pressure on myself. So I went for it.
5th: 50s in 39, 100 hammer and hope it will be under 1:30, in 1:27. That was a surprise because again it did not felt that I was working as hard as in 100s before.
Actually, coming to think about it, it was probably physiologically harder than those 100 before but it was much easier psychologically.
During 1st, 2nd, even 3rd 100s I knew that I still had some 100s ahead of me and that it was going to hurt. But for the 4t and 5th one I knew that it was my last one and there would be no more suffering after it so I can go for it and spend myself and not trying to save myself for following set.

I did not hit 1:25s as I was supposed to, which is a bummer. I tried but I failed. So I am little sad about that.

But the fact that I did not cheat (not that I had cheated ever before) although I was very very very very tempted and then doing the 5th set is a major milestone for me. I am a wuss when it comes to pain and mental stuff and I tend to give up very easily in races. I do not give up in training but races are a whole new story. Not that I walk off, I just stop pushing when it gets hard. So this is huge for me. I think that I am getting mentally stronger and my racing will improve. I just hope I can transfer this mental toughness from training into racing effectively.
Some athletes might find this discussion stupid and have no idea what my problem is but I am very weak mentally and have hard time to make myself dig deep. I wish I were one of those people who can dig deeper than their actual capabilities are.
Thus I am thrilled about my progress in this department!

1 comment:

  1. Well done. That 1:25 was a stretch goal for sure but you've been surprising yourself in the water a lot lately so I thought I'd throw something out that would really push you. Sounds like you found 5th gear today. That is where it's at! And you're right- once you're physically fit, much of the hard work comes from our heads. You couldn't have faked that set a couple months ago b/c you just weren't fit enough in the water... but once the physical stuff is there, the mental stuff becomes KEY! Interestingly, that need for mental training never goes away... I struggled a ton in my head today when I was failing my swim test and not hitting my goals. Grrr. Sometimes it gets bad and you totally fall off the cliff- like I did today- that sucks. Better to keep your head in the right place and let your body do what it knows how to do! So good for you!!