Effort – 1, ability – 0

I imagine the slightly sardonic, droll tone of the football scores announcer on the telly. And it’s not as bad the headline suggests. This is a post about a positive learning!

Preparing to glide?

Preparing to glide?

As a swimming technique, relaxing was never really going to work for me, fearful of drowning, panicking in water, unable to breathe, even with my head above water, without hyperventilating.

Time, persistence, gentle encouragement and mickey-taking later and I can be in the water – well I use the term advisedly, I mean the pool, with no-one in my near vicinity – without panicking. Indeed I can swim. But it’s a lot of effort. Really it’s a lot of effort.

But I said at the time, I felt the playing field was now level and instead of having to concentrate on breathing and getting to the end, I could concentrate on improving form, function and technique. I’ve taken my first tentative step (stroke?) down this lane.

Recently I went to try out a swim training session at my local triathlon club. Revelatory it was. Swim coach Carol was brilliant. The first thing she said to me, after watching me do some lengths, was that I was trying to swim too fast for my ability (now the headline will make sense). Slow it down, she said. I managed to ask, with conscious, deliberate effort – won’t I sink? (rather than asking – won’t I drown?). Evidently I have not sunk, or, indeed, drowned. Focus on the glide, she explained. I didn’t know what this was, let alone ever thought about it or tried it. I did remember having read about it and not really cottoned on to what it is.

Anyway, I’m now concentrating on swimming slowly. It is less physical effort, and I’m still getting to the end of the pool as many times. Just slower. But possibly with better form. I’d like to think so. It took a bit of time to adapt the breathing – I had to hold my breath for longer because my strokes were slower; little accelerations of the heart rate. All now OK on the heart-rate front.

It had never occurred to me that rate of perceived exertion (RPE) had anything to do with swimming. I’ve read it regularly in the run magazines (OMG, am I going to be buying swimming magazines now, too. I shall need to do more day-job work, to feed my growing magazine habit), where it vaguely makes sense but I don’t know what it’s supposed to be doing.

Perceived exertion made sense immediately in swimming. After a slightly panicky warm up, which I now know will pass – it’s just my heart rate getting up to swim speed. The same happens, without the panic, when I start out on runs. Heart rate has to get up. That’s all.  Anyway, after warm-up (and emotional settling down), the new, slow swimming is about a 3 on the perceived exertion scale.

As far as I can see, increasing the rate of exertion means moving arms and legs and hips a bit quicker. Then, as Carol suggested, all-out 8-9 is a big effort when all form and technique goes out of the window because you’re trying to be quick. And, yup, that’s how it happened in training. And I didn’t panic, I just couldn’t get enough air in, quick enough.

Bottom line is my new training is to focus on slowing down my swimming, concentrating on form and technique – and the glide. Speed will come later, I’m told.

I can handle that, I reckon.

However, I have already been told that my kicking has deteriorated to virtually non-existent while I’m concentrating on the glide. Flip. Too much to think about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *