Too much mind

This week has been a slog through work, meaning no days off, go in at 8 a.m., get out sometime around 7:30, nine days straight.  The only good thing about it is that I can arrange things to step out for a couple of hours in the afternoon and hit the gym or pool, and I mean every day because it’s my only opportunity to get away from that place.  I immediately started noticing something funny (funny:  “ha-ha”) that seems to happen when I go straight from work to swimming hard:  as soon as I begin swimming free style warm ups, my legs almost immediately get a strange weak feeling, almost like they’re falling asleep.  I’ve attributed this to going straight from being on my feet a lot to going into a horizontal position and using a lot of upper body muscles.  It gets better after I push through it.  Today, I suppose I was a little tired, because the same thing happened but it was funny:  NOT HA-HA.  I was about four laps into warm-ups, out over the deep end, when it suddenly occurred to me that my legs couldn’t do anything and that if it progressed to my upper body (which was absolutely fine) I was going to instantly sink like a rock.  I felt fine as soon as I switched to kicks, but after that I believe I will begin warm ups with the kickboard first.

I’ve been trying hard to apply what I’m re-learning in Total Immersion, but it’s a mental game as much as a physical one.  If your time in the pool is limited (pretty much by definition, your time in the pool is limited), plus you’re really fixated as well on building a distance base, then it becomes easy to stop trying to practice new techniques to swim better.  Without realizing it, you’re just stroking the way you always have trying to hit whatever distance mark you’ve set for yourself.  I’ve already got a pretty good handle on the first two cardinal rules, balance your body better in the water, and make your body longer.  I was already doing that.  What I have not been doing is bi-lateral breathing, or breathing first on one side of a stoke, next on another.  The third rule, swim on your side, has suddenly made me realize why I should be doing that.  If I’m always breathing on my right, I do a pretty decent job of swimming on my left side, but because I never breath on my left I don’t get nearly enough rotation onto my right side.  This is going to take a lot of work, because my timing is all off when I try to breath on my left.

Today I began working on another piece of information I read last night, that I should not be trying to move my hand through the water, but instead should be using my hand as an anchor, as if I were grabbing on to the rung of a ladder and pulling the rest of my body forward.  To really do this right, you’ve got to start the power in your hips, which is one of those things that I seldom get right unless I think about it and when I do it feels amazingly effortless.  I was about twenty minutes into my swim when I hear a “Hi, Dad!”, and I look up to see my son Christopher has appeared.  What a great feeling!  I believe that’s the first time in a very long while that anyone has spontaneously come to join me doing something not mandatory.  I’m not complaining, that’s just the way things are any more because everybody’s got a lot to do.  But to see that it was Chris, who had his beautiful smile and sounded actually happy to be there, really made me feel great.

Anyway, Chris and I were sharing a lane, and as always happens when I start to tire, I had to concentrate more on my technique to avoid getting sloppy.  I was balancing my body, stretching really well to make myself longer, even trying to roll much more on my right to get more on the side.  Then I said to myself “now pull yourself up the ladder”, which actually worked pretty well although I think it is enough to say “start the movement in your hip” and I’ll get where I want to be.  But then I just had to remember another piece of information, that I should be a Front Quadrant Swimmer, meaning I should delay beginning my pull a bit so I’ve always got one or the other hand stretched out in front.  Thinking overload, and I instantaneously went from swimming fairly well to being a thrashing lump of spasmo half-way down the pool.  Turns out I already was a Front Quadrant Swimmer, and thinking about it just turned me into a dork.

I must have scared Chris, because he shortly afterward told me he had done his 1,000 yards (highly doubtful) and was heading for the whirlpool.  He had gone on to the weightroom by the time I was done, and I ended up eating a couple of sandwiches outside under the trees by the Y.  It was a beautiful way to spend a couple of hours, one of my better escapes from work.

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