Yes I know you know the date, but I couldn't think of a title for today.
However, I will say that the “getting better”, and Saturday's reference to starting to sense a return of some of my faculties, is becoming more evident in how I'm feeling at the pool.
So here is the workout and then I will ramble on a bit afterwards:
OK, so that's pretty straight forward, but the encouraging thing is I am starting to get the feeling that the cavalry are about to arrive. It's a funny thing, but if you can catch just a hint, and then run with that positive, then the confidence grows and you will be suddenly enjoying workouts more, AND you will certainly enjoy competitions more.
Now let's be honest here – yes, it's nice to have the "friendship” element in one's Masters participation, but I always feel there is nothing more friendly than commiserating with an opponent, after you have just beaten his time by a handy second or more.
When I'm racing in competition, it's about winning; there's no other way to put it, it's about winning.
I mean it's about YOU, that's why you're working out, to get better and improve, or hold your own in your age category. Certainly for me, it's not about sitting around singing wine-induced songs over a lunch, as I have witnessed over here.
They call them competitions because that's what they're all about - competing, not socializing.
And if I can be just a little self-promoting – My Kindle Book “Bedtime Romance: Short Stories for Sweet Dreams” is on SALE, starting tomorrow on Amazon.com, for only 99cents for a few days, and I do have two stories in there that are based around swimming experiences, in fact one is centred around a major Games.
Today I started out with 200 metres legs-only Free without any stops. I was kinda pleased I could get that far, and in fact it was really more to do with the boredom of legs-only, than fatigue that persuaded me to stop. Then I did another 4 x 50 m legs-only Free.
I mean, I used to do 1000 metres legs-only without thinking about it, but nowadays I want to get on to something more interesting.
So I followed with 12 x 50 m doing a kind of mix and match. Sometimes legs-only on the first 25 m and then full stroke Free back. Next one ... if the lane looked like it would be possible, 25 m full stroke backstroke and then after the turn, legs-only Free home. And so on. So really mixing up the combinations any which way. But it got me to the end of the 12 x 50 m with a tad more interest. And I was starting to feel just a hint of a glimpse of something from fitter days.
But I think, and I hope that I am starting to see a shimmer. It becomes evident to me that I may be, ever too slowly, getting back to being able to swim competitively in my Group. Not good, but better.
For example: if I swim a 25 m Free at 90% and I'm feeling under pressure and 'for crying out loud' it's only a 25 m, then I'm pretty sure I'm not ready.
But If I swim the 25 m and I feel that I can move the water about at will, play with my stroke, lengthen, go bi-lateral, hold my breath, alter my posture in the water and alter my leg kick rhythm as I please, then I think we are getting somewhere. But then again …
I finished with 2 x 25 m Free sprints and 6 Fly sprints (4 the full 25 m with no traffic and 2 just 20 m).
So there we go, that's my incoherent ramble for today, but I do honestly believe that once you get a feeling of authority in the water, then things can progress more quickly. And I have also noticed that I am swimming with a bit more intensity and focus, and that is not by a 'consciously' thought-out design, it is just the gradual progression of the mechanisms one took so much for granted in one's youth.
Now that I'm slightly more adult, they arrive a little later … but they do arrive ... and when they do, it's “Gotcha!! Good night, competition, or should I say, au revoir!”
God, I'd better train a bit harder now … 'cos one must be able to walk the talk.
Next pool day Monday – oooh Paddles, y'know my biceps are twice the size of Stallone's now … well they look it to me.
And remember: keep going, keep showing up and it will come. Sometimes takes longer than we'd like but keep going, there ain't no other option !
Before I forget, I would like to thank the people who played the guessing game with me and, in particular, the first three correct respondents … well, it wasn't difficult, was it? Also, to the two who connected with me on Skype: I enjoyed chatting with you and hope you did as well. And thank you for the kind things you both had to say about my book, it's encouraging to know that someone, other than my wife, enjoys my writing!
AND before I get started on today's – Allow me to tell you, I am putting my other book, “Bedtime Romance: Short Stories for Sweet Dreams” on sale starting the 11th Feb, on Amazon Kindle, at 99 cents for a few days. I mean c'mon, 99 cents! But, you know, that reminds me of an interesting thing about Scott Fitzgerald. Did you know that in 1929 'The Great Gatsby' earned him total royalties of … wait for it ... $5.10 cents(*) and his books, all of them, earned him $31.77 cents. Imagine. For today's money multiply by 10. Now, his short stories were a different kettle of fish and earned him most of his money.
(*) Source: “The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald” published by Charles Scribner's Sons 1989.
Well I'm just back from the pool and that was interesting. There was a guy swimming with the full USA colours Speedo, and I had noticed him doing a fairly active and quite fast 400 metres or so with fairly big fins on, but nonetheless he was moving along pretty good, so today I notice he's not in the lane reserved for 'equipment' users, and he's got no fins on but is still moving along pretty good.
Now he's a young guy, but I thought, here's a way to gauge how I'm doing. That's one of the drawbacks of training all alone: you have no real idea of how you're moving through the water. Oh yeah, there is a pace clock, BUT that is reserved for proper competitive swimmers; those in the local club or such.
Anyway, I try not to make it obvious but I set off just ahead of this guy at the turn, and I allow him to catch me so that now we're level. I can now gauge that a fairly slow, relaxed free is sufficient to stay ahead of him, and I can also get an idea of my turn efficiency – he's two metres back after the push off, so that's encouraging. So anyway, I'm not in the kind of shape where I want to keep going and I have my assessment made so I shut it down after 150 metres. And that was my warm-up.
So here's a case to illustrate a point about swimming alone without a club. It can get boring, and it can be very easy to cut yourself too much slack. Not that I am a proponent of the 'tough guy, demanding coach' rubbish. All that ego stuff is just a bore.
No, the point I'm getting laboriously to is: to liven up the interest in the training grind, find someone who can swim a bit and then tailor your depart to allow for them being either faster or slower, BUT use them as a tow or a rabbit you must catch. You can get pretty good at judging – I'll give them 15 metres and then aim to catch them by the 50 m or, if they ain't so fast, aim to catch 'em by the 25 m mark.
Right I explained that brilliantly, didn't I? … No?
OK, today's workout was:
On a side note, I have not heard back from the French club I intended associating with so I could compete in Feb … so, if nothing changes, I will look further afield for a competition that allows US Masters members, which I am.
Next pool day: Saturday
It's strange but it is true that even when one doesn't really feel the most all-fired up enthusiastic, about going to the pool, after you have completed your workout, you almost invariably feel better. So as I have said before it's that 'just showing up' that makes the big difference.
I would say for sure that if you allow 'reasons' for not going to the pool to gain traction in your deliberations, you're on a slippery slope where the next workout becomes a 'decision' rather than an assumed, automatically scheduled 'show up' day.
One time deciding not to go is a start, but two days deciding not to go is a pattern and three days deciding not to go is a movement … I'm cutting to the chase there, and if you are not following my ramble, then I guess you don't know the classic “Alice's Restaurant” by the wonderful Arlo Guthrie.
God, wouldn't that one just fly over the heads of our modern music aficionados.
Anyway, I digest … no, that's not right, I dissect … no not right either, “digress” Yes !! Digress. Now what was I on about ... oh yes, the Workout. Here it is, uncut, uncensored and probably uninteresting … it's a Workout for God's sake, gimme a break:
Next pool day Thursday.
So I'm in the pool, and I get to the end of about a 200 metre loosen up, and I'm bobbing at the end with the other 'nageurs' when this fella leans over and slaps his hand on the surface of the water.
“This is what you're doing and it's all wrong,” he says in almost perfect French – well, I mean he is French, but - anyway, “No, he says … see you're swimming like this, but you should be swimming more at this angle.” And he gives me a sympathetic, knowing look to show he understands and empathises with my inability.
Now there's not a lot you can say at times like these but, “What?”
I had a similar occurrence once in Libourne when the lifeguard commiserated with my attempt at backstroke. Now, in relative terms she would have had a point, but we're not talking that level here; so I listen politely and then at the end of this long instructional diatribe, I say, “No, don't think so.” And carry on with my workout.
Now, I don't swim backstroke BUT, when the Meet program is such that it interferes with my working with and riding my horse, I adjust.
So two weeks later I adjusted and swam backstroke – and won a Sleeping Bag and a 2nd or 3rd ranking in France's Masters. Might have done better but for the 1½ foot deep turn area (was a kiddies-biased pool). Jeeez ... I almost broke a fingernail!
So, there we are, I'm sorted re my Freestyle and all thanks to a generously critical Frenchman who has put me right.
I saw him swimming and I think he would be good for a 50-52 sec 50metres. He was swimming side-stroke when I left – here they call it 'educatif' - oh please!!!
The arrogance and the ignorance are stellar.
But then again, without that all-consuming patriotic arrogance, how could they sell any wine at those ridiculously inflated prices when a bottle of Italian Bardolino will knock spots off them.
Anyway, here's the workout what I did today. Who else has used that (bad grammar) phraseology in a very famous book … clue Ketchum? Mostly tried to take advantage of fewer bodies in the way:
And I hate to admit it but that was about it, – now you're thinking, “He's not doing much here, and I'm not getting much out of reading this blog.” But remember it's not how far you swim each workout. It's HOW you swim, certainly for sprinters. Quality. Stroke technique quality, not necessarily speed, but quality, precise, totally adjustable stroke.
Well yeah, you might be right, but it's the consistency of showing up that makes a huge difference and the even-greater difference is the mental game. Tougher and tougher into the countdown.
Next pool day Monday.
~ Author of fiction