Saturday, June 23, 2018

Be Stronger Not Faster

There has been a shift in my thinking when it comes to my workouts.  It started a few months ago.

I was doing a swim workout and Bri and been talking to me about doing better with my pull.  Basically when my hand goes in the water I need to do a better job of using my hand like a paddle so I propel myself through the water better.  I wasn't surprised that she mentioned this because Jon had also mentioned it before a time or two.

I am swimming and working on getting my hand to be placed right and really feeling it pull.  With me and swimming I often find that when I focus on something I forget to do other things.  This means things can fall apart.  A lot of times when I'm learning a new thing in the pool my swim times go down for awhile.  Once I get the new thing dialed in better my times get faster again as I am able to do all parts and pieces together better.

Not long after this I had a day where I was really tired.  More tired than usual which is always a bit daunting since I'm pretty tired most of the time.

I was supposed to do eight 100's at my best pace.  There wasn't an expectation of a particular time, just that I would give it my all for each 100.  Usually my best effort on the first one is faster than my best effort on the last one.

Not always fun to have a series of intervals that are supposed to be your best effort when you are tired and don't even want to do the workout at all.

I decided to not focus on being fast.

I was going to focus on being strong.

I was going to work on reaching really well and pulling hard and keeping my body lined up and keeping my kicking strong.

Did my warm up.  Did my drills.  Did my builds.

Now it was time for the first 100.

Strong not fast.

I felt good.  I felt streamlined.  I was working hard.  I was working at staying relaxed and breathing well.  Bri always tells me to absolutely give the last 25 yards my all, I can breathe when I'm done.  lol

I got done and looked at my watch.

I had done a 100 in 1:52!!

I have been trying to do a 100 in less than two minutes since last summer.

I stood up, threw my hands up in the air and gave a big WOO HOO!  I'm pretty sure that I freaked out some of the 5:00 a.m. swimmers.  lol  I looked at Bri who was the lifeguard that morning and she had a big smile on her face.

If it worked to swim strong not fast once and get that result, maybe I should keep doing it and see what happens.

Every single 100 was under two minutes.

What the heck?

Bri told me when I was done that the other lifeguard had commented that I was looking really good during my builds.  Bri agreed and was pretty sure I would do a 100 under two minutes.  She loved that I did ALL the 100's under two minutes.  😊  I have to say, it is a seriously cool feeling to have your kiddo be proud of you.  Love my girl.

Coach asked me later what was different.

At first I wasn't sure.  I thought maybe that my form was more dialed in, or my pull was finally getting better.

But some other things have happened in other areas of my workouts that made me rethink that.

Coach has also been working on my bike skills.

Not too long ago I had to do hill repeats.  I rode out to a road that has several hills and picked the one that was long enough for me to be going up for the time that Coach wanted.  I would turn around, zip down the hill, turn around again and go up again.

I found myself working on the uphill part and thinking about just going up the hill strong.  I'm not going to go flying up a hill.  Even fast riders go slower uphill than they do downhill.  I decided that if I wasn't going to go fast up the hill I would do it like my swim and just work at going up the hill strong.  I had pretty solid results on that ride.

I don't think it was a big aha moment.  Just a general awareness that has been growing over the last few months.  A big change in my own mind set.

My focus has slowly been changing from wanting to be faster to wanting to be stronger.

When I reflect on my Oregon Dunes Triathlon I realize that I had been thinking that way during that race.  I wanted to have a strong race.  Boy did I!!  It's been almost two months since that race and I'm still smiling.  😁

I have spent a lot of time being very bothered by being slow.  I want to be as fast as all my teammates.  I want to keep up.  I hate being slow.

I still want those things but I am realizing that I will be much more successful in the long run if I stay focused on getting stronger.

In my head I've had it backwards.  I wanted to get faster and that would make me stronger.  Now I know it is really the other way around.

Being stronger will eventually help me get faster.

Maybe this is something that is really obvious to others.  You might be reading this and thinking Duh!  lol  I know that my husband and my coach have both talked about this in many different ways.  Evidently I didn't realize that my thinking was backwards and what they were saying didn't really compute.  I was getting in my own way.

Seems like a small thing.  I'm not really changing my workouts.  I've always worked hard and tried to do all the parts and pieces the way Coach asks me to.

But I know as a teacher that sometimes the way a student approaches a hard task can make a difference on how the task comes out.  Perfectly capable and very smart students can struggle with something because they are so busy thinking about it one way they don't hear me explaining what they need to do in order to be successful.  When they finally are ready to really hear me and have that aha moment things get easier quickly.  They are so excited that it all makes sense and love being able to say, "I get it now!"  Best part of being a teacher!

From now on I'm working on focusing on being stronger.  Maybe the improvements that I have made the last few months are just because that is the normal course of where my training was going to bring me.  But I'm convinced the change in my focus is a big part of why I am seeing a sudden upswing on my improvements.  I have improved steadily since I started this journey but recently it has seemed more dramatic.

So now I have a new motto to add to the list of things I repeat to myself often as I'm working out.

Breathe, smile, have fun, repeat.

And now:

Be stronger not faster.

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