Tuesday, July 23, 2013

When Little Things Add Up to Something Big

I think the most rewarding thing about training for endurance events is seeing progress after training really hard. I don't want to say I was in a swimming rut but at the same time I didn't really think I had much progress to make unless I started putting in a ton more hours than I wanted to. Even if it was only for a quick 1500 yard swim I have been swimming regularly since February and was reminded yesterday why.

LOVE open water swimming

During the middle of training for the Nike Women's Half Marathon (which seems like it was so long ago!) Mike started having me swim 1-2 times a week. I wasn't thrilled about being back in the pool but figured it was good cross training since swimming is so easy for me. Some workouts I did pretty easily, some I worked harder. I pretty just went with how I felt that day. I figured getting a head start on swim training would make it easier to focus on running and biking during the triathlon season.

Just like those of you who grew up runners and know your running inside and out, I have a few ways to measure how swimming is going for me. The first is the obvious time. Yesterday I did a workout that I did a couple weeks ago but this time I did it much faster and with more ease. A month or so I was really struggling to see 100s at 1:10 but now 1:11-1:12 is a pace I can hold for 10-15 repeats. I haven't done an all out 100 in awhile but I'm betting that time would be considerably faster than the last time as well.

My second favorite type of pool

To go along with the first way, another way I measure my swimming fitness is how long I can hold a certain pace, or how strong I feel at that pace. Holding 1:11-1:12 I felt really strong and quick, like I could have kept going. I didn't feel like I was holding on for dear life and struggling. They felt strong and in control.

The last is my technique. During my swims in the spring I did some type of technique or form work during the majority of my swims. I think the best way to see improvements on the swim is by focusing on technique first, not speed, and so I did a lot of my slower swims with my technique in mind. When I first started swimming back in the spring my technique would start to waiver during longer intervals, even if they were easier. The longer I swam, the worse my technique would get. Now that doesn't happen anymore. I still make a conscious effort to pay attention to my stroke even during hard repeats though.

Besides just steady and consistent swimming I have also been doing regular strength and conditioning, focusing on my shoulders, arms, upper back and core. I had shoulder surgery a few years ago because of swimming and my other shoulder isn't in great shape so if I want to be able to swim healthily and also get better I need to take care of my body. Besides a noticeable physical difference, I can tell that all this work is showing in the pool. Seeing progress like this is what motivates me to keep training hard.


  1. wowza, girl! holding 1:11s is super impressive. I'll happily stick to like 1:30 hahaha...having hit lower than 1:15 since college :(

  2. Progress is definitely motivating. Love seeing how far we have come and knowing we can keep improving as well. Congrats on great progress!

  3. Those are great times! I'm glad to hear you're seeing progress! You should be proud of yourself!