Usually I try to limit the whole “pushing the workout to new heights” thing to about one new height per workout.
That makes sense, right? You know, like 3,000 meters in a workout for the first time, a 600 for the first time, or a race off the blocks for the first time, etc.
Not today. No, no. Today was about just doing the workout, and if I happened to do more than I ever had, well that was just a bonus and an allowance to walk away from the pool with somewhat of a sense of accomplishment.
So after the warm up of 10 75s – odd swim, even kick. And four 250s – 125 swim, 125 kick. Jeff gathered us all up at the pool and separated us into two groups. The IM group and the freestyle group. With a warning.
The freestyle group will be doing a loooonger workout, he said.
Of course, I didn’t really have a choice. And that meant I was going to the loooonger freestyle group. I was nervous about the workout. When he gave it to us, and even the swimmers next to me grumbled nervously about doing it, I knew it was okay for me to also be worried about my ability to get it done.
Here’s how it broke down:
8 100s kick
6 100s kick
4 100s kick
2 100s kick
I knew we wouldn’t finish the whole set. There was no way there was enough time. But the fact that we were starting at the top meant that I was about to try the longest swim I had ever tried. Twice. In a row. With 800 kick in between.
Jeff gave me a little pep talk before we started, letting me know that no matter what, when I finished this it would be about the accomplishment. Forget that I was training to swim a 50, he wasn’t just going to train me for the 50s. It wasn’t about that. It is about the experience. And here was another new one for me to try.
And you know what? It wasn’t THAT bad. Yes, it was long. Yes, I was tired by the end of it. But I learned how to develop a rhythm — minus the times my pull buoy slipped down and I had to briefly stop at the wall to adjust before pushing off again.
I picked a song in my head — Kanye West, which I had listened to in the car on the way over — and just went for it. I tried to focus on breathing every three strokes to keep it going to both sides and not start swimming on my side. And I just pushed.
And when I finished, it felt good. After my kick, I started the 800. I was more tired than I had been in the 1000 but I had learned the way to push through. And so I finished that one, too.
By that time, it was basically time to get out of the water. I did four more 100s kick. And then I raced a 100. And I swam a strong time considering the workout I had done. A couple of the faster swimmers got to the 600 swim. I think one or two got through the 400 swim.
If this project ends — I guess this blog will end at some point, though I’m not sure when my swimming will end — I will be able to look back on this workout and remember the first time I swam a distance like that and how it felt. I’ll be able to laugh about doing the 800 right after and that after I got halfway through the 1,000 my thought of “you’re halfway there” turned into my brain singing “Living On a Prayer.”
And Jeff’s right, it is important for me to experience it. And I did walk away with that sense of accomplishment.
Washington Post reporter Paul Tenorio will train with a swim club over the next few months and chronicle his journey as he attempts to transform from regular guy/sports reporter to competitive swimmer — everything from his waistline to his best times.