The mental aspects of sports are weird. The way that when an athlete really wants something, really feels like they must do something, they can do it.
I decided in a post last week that I was going to push through whatever it was that was bothering my shoulder. I was going to swim through the pain. I did and I have. The pain was pretty bad last week, but this week it’s been feeling a lot better. I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been doing sets built around the 50 yard and 100 yard freestyle race, if it’s just because I have been loosening the shoulder up by swimming more, if it’s because I’ve been making a conscious effort to avoid doing bad things to my shoulder — sleeping on it, etc. — or that I’ve started to take glucosamine regularly.
The point is, the pain is far less frequent and a much more dull than the sharp pangs I felt last week while swimming. And boy does it feel good to really workout.
Yesterday’s workout was the first real test as Jeff told our group it was time to start working on fast swimming with the district, regional and state competitions (and other championship meets) fast approaching. That meant our group was split up to prepare the different swimmers for their respective events. I was, of course, in the short freestyle group.
I don’t really remember exactly how the set broke down. It was something like 150 kick, 25 swim; 100 kick, 50 swim; 75 kick, 75 swim; 50 kick, 100 swim and 25 kick, 150 swim. Or something like that. I might have it backwards.
We did that set twice, I believe, and then mixed in some more swimming as well as plenty of vertical kick with 10-pound diving bricks.
It was the first time I had done a real set in a long time and I walked away from practice feeling so encouraged by it. It felt good to be a little sore and not in the bad way. It felt good to do the same set as everyone else around me.
It felt good to be a part of the group again.
Today, that trend continued.
I hopped in the pool and got ready to do some work. The set was again designed, I think, to prepare for fast swimming and events like the 50 and 100 free.
The warm-up was simple, and again for some reason I’m not 100 percent sure if I have this exactly right. My memory is failing me a bit this afternoon: 200 kick, two 25s swim — we did it six times and increased the speed of each 25 as we went. The instruction was also to make sure our kick was all-out, ankles out of the water kick.
After the warm-up, we went into a set that again had us swimming with racing in mind. We would kick a 200 and then swim a 200. While swimming, each 50 in the 200 would have to be descending. In other words, the last 50 should be the fastest one.
Throughout the set I started to feel the same soreness I had when I was really starting to get into shape a few months ago. The triceps were getting worked, the shoulders were sore and my lungs were trying to get used to the higher-intensity swimming again.
In an email I wrote to Jeff last week I talked about getting my butt kicked and this was it. I was getting back in shape in the pool.
After the set, Jeff had me vertical kick for 10 consecutive minutes as the other swimmers continued to do some swimming. I think he could tell that I was starting to feel it a bit in my shoulder and wanted to give me a bit of “rest.” That came in the form of the very difficult vertical kicking.
After the kick, Jeff smiled and gave me one of his favorite sets — something I haven’t done since Mantua this summer. I would wall kick for 30 seconds and then sprint a 25, then wall kick for 30 seconds, etc., etc. I did that set twice, once with fins and once without.
Afterward, I walked away with that same feeling of pure excitement. It just feels good to know that I’m getting back into shape. I don’t think I fell all the way off, but I’ve definitely got some rebuilding to do. Hopefully the doctor gives the okay on the shoulder and it continues to improve and then after that I’ll be ready to race soon again.
And even with some of the soreness I’m feeling right now, it just feels good to know I’m working swim sets again.