Sunday, November 10, 2013

To Improve and By How Much?

My triathlon coach and I were talking the other day about improvement in the sport and how once you reach an elite level, how many hours and workouts are required to simply take off seconds from an hour long race.  The amount of work that you have to put in for 1 watt, 1 minute, 1 second is so significant that you may question if it is worth it. 

This is not a story about how I have had to do this.

The BEST part about triathlon is that when you are new to or simply bad at something, improvement comes much more quickly.  You still must put in a ton of work, but you get to see results on a much different level than athletes who are already very good at all three disciplines.

Prime examples for me: Learning how to use a Tri-Bike since last October and first ever attempting to swim a few lengths free-style last September.

As I have mentioned previously, the first time that I ever attempting to swim a few lengths in a pool, I swam about 50 yards, hugged the side of the pool for a few minutes, repeated, about 5 times, called that a pool workout and went home.  Then, I decided to sign up for a Half Ironman where I would have to repeat that sad excuse of a workout about 14 more times consecutively.  It was during this time that I decided to start "Swimming Scared" and get into the pool as much as possible. 

The goal was to survive the swim.  That was it.  I knew if I could get out of the water without drowning that I could keep spinning my legs for 56 miles and at least walk the remaining 13.1.  I just wanted to make it.  Thank God and everyone else who helped me to survive this first swim.  It wasn't pretty or fast, but I got er' done.

However, now that I am looking to be more successful in this sport, I realize how important it is for me to get better at this aspect.  I can run with some of the best in my age group and am getting reasonably close to being able to bike with the better ones as well, but when you get out of the water 10-15 minutes slower than the top guys, you will never succeed in this sport.  This is where master's classes, video analysis, and many, many hours in the pool have helped a ton.  I am still far from good and even further from great but this time last year I was swimming about 2:20/100 yards and now I have improved to a point where I no longer need to attend the beginner classes at master's!

The coach the other day even gave me a complement on my swimming which would have never happened even 3 months ago.  I was so ecstatic.  However, after showing her the film of my swim, she had plenty to say about how to improve, and when I showed my tri-coach later, she had much more to say about what I was doing incorrectly.

This is definitely not a bad thing.  I know I have worked hard, and I know that I have made a ton of improvement.  However, if there was nowhere left to go, then this sport would be really boring.  I am glad that I will always be able to get better, and hopefully, one day, I will get to be one of those athletes that has to spend hours upon hours to improve one more second in the pool.  But for right now, I will be content seeing more significant improvement as I begin my second year of swimming.

Here is a video that was taken 6 months ago.

Here is a video that was taken last week.

I have been able to make many improvements, but still have so far to go.  I am ready to improve and will look to get this much:


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