Joining the club

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This week I took the plunge (as it were) and joined a local triathlon club.

I still feel a little out of place doing this. If a Swiss person engages in sport at all, s/he is likely to be far fitter than I am. I am a total beginner to this whole triathlon scene, and to be honest I'm a little nervous of being both female and near the bottom of the heap in my age group, as far as I can judge. I don't really want to be the one holding up training rides while everyone waits for me, because let's face it, I'm still rubbish at hills.

On the other hand, I did attend a swim training session a couple of weeks ago on a trial basis, and even though I am not a great swimmer the sessions are such that I don't hold anyone up. Also, I had some attention paid to my swimming technique that turned out to be useful, and I'm pretty sure I would not have swum 2000m in a single session if a coach hadn't been pushing me to do it. A year's club membership seems a pretty reasonable deal for being allowed to go along to these sessions every week, and it also means that I'll have a way to dip my toe (ha ha) into open water swimming when the season opens.

In a way it's swimming that got me started on this whole fitness lark last November. I have never swum competitively, so I'm not fast at all, but I enjoy being in the water and I've been comfortable there since I was a kid. So when I went to the local pool for the first time and swam my first couple of lengths of face-in-water freestyle for about fifteen years, it was pretty intimidating and embarrassing but at least I had perfect confidence in my ability to go through the motions without drowning.

When my thoughts began to turn to triathlon I looked for some guidance on how to get better (i.e. faster, less wiped out) at swimming. The first thing I found was the Total Immersion (TI) course, so I bought the book and went patiently through the drills for most of December and January. It certainly helped, and I have a better and smoother stroke than I started with as well as a better appreciation of my balance in the water, but once I had gone through the drill progression there seemed little to do but endless laps that may or may not be helping me get any faster. To make matters worse, when swimmers who write books talk about speedwork and intervals, I run into the same problem as I do with running. They're all just too fast for me, and write as if it's beyond their comprehension that someone might take more than 2 minutes to swim 100 meters.

So there I was at this swim training session of the triathlon club, and the coach immediately pointed out a couple of bad habits I'd picked up while coaching myself through the TI drills (e.g. over-rotating and crossing my arms over in front of my head when I reach forward.) I picked up another swim advice book, Swim Smooth (YES the lack of -ly also sets my teeth on edge), which seems to be a bit of a TI competitor but had a section that described my style(s) pretty darn well, including the bad habits and including the implication that it's bookish nerds like me who go the TI route and pick up bad habits that way. I have tried to do some of its drills but there is more of a learning curve and I need more of a coach, which hopefully the tri club will provide.

I am consciously putting swimming and cycling on a backburner while I go through this half marathon program, but I'll try to get to a swim session every week or two and see if I can get any better at this whole freestyle lark. It's probably good to have some way to build up my measly upper body strength anyway. (Although if that's the goal I should be doing breaststroke and butterfly instead. I guess there is a limit to the extent to which I'm a glutton for punishment, after all.)

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This page contains a single entry by Tara published on March 11, 2013 1:42 PM.

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