Friday, January 30, 2009

The Basics

Last night after swimming I felt I had pulled off quite the feat. I had managed to complete my workout (2,000 yards, 43 minutes total, no biggie) without my head exploding (due to the ridiculously hot water), grabbing any children or the large floating animals they were riding right next to me (it must be family night at the pool at 6:00pm), or accidentally hitting any other swimmers (two guys in a non-existent lane with me at the far side of the pool). I was taking a hot shower (no idea why when I was so dang hot in the first place) when I heard one of the little girls outside in the public shower area talking about how she did swimming that evening.

She went on and on about how it was so fun and she loved swimming. Her Mother quickly brought her back to reality and had a little talk about "the basics." When Mom mentioned she needed to make sure she got better at "the basics" before she moved on to swimming in the deep end or with other kids by herself, the little girl politely questioned what she was talking about. She explained, "the basics are the things that you have to do no matter what to get better. You have to do them all the time, and that's what you build on so once you've learned them, everything else comes much easier. For example, one of the basics is holding your breath, you have to do that every time so you should get better at it before you move on."

I wondered if she knew I was in there listening and this talk might just be for me after all.

After I heard the dialogue, I thought a lot about the basics myself. I've been doing triathlons for three real seasons now and feel I am obviously much more proficient than I used to be at many things. I understand so much more about why we do things a certain way or what kind of time is required to excel. However, this time of year I have to come back to some of the basics. It's the only thing that makes any sense to me. I'm about to start into a full-years journey, but how can I be ready and keep improving if I neglect to think about the basics.

Therefore, I've made some decisions about areas to improve and work on as I begin my base building phase over these next few weeks:

1. Cadence. I want to check it continually on my trainer rides. I will be between 85-95 for the duration of the ride unless I am focusing on some strength work in the middle with bigger gears.

2. Swim Technique. I want to be analyzed again and really try to find things I can improve. Little things make all the difference in swimming and I am 100% positive about one thing - I am NOT doing everything right at this point so I need some stroke analysis and then drill work.

3. Staying within my heart rate zones. This is the time of year to swallow my pride. I was at the maximum aerobic of my heart rate the other day and I'm not even going to put my mins/mile on this blog but let me tell you, it was just getting started running you wouldn't have thought I was ever a runner ugly. So, if you're discouraged about this too, don't be, most of us are in the same boat at this point in the season. Swallow it, walk the hills, and move on. Believe it or not, that makes Champions (one name - Mark Allen, I rest my case).

4. Lifting. It's time to get serious. I'm not going to skip exercises. I'm not going to do them too quickly and I am going to learn to do each exercise as correctly as possible.

5. Nutrition. Let me say it again, NUTRITION! I know what I need to do, I have the skills to do it.. well then JUST DO IT! as Nike says! It's time to practice what I preach, buy the right groceries, increase fruits and vegetables, get enough protein, and even eat before bed (I know, some of you are wanting to gouge my eyes out with a toothpick right now, but I wake up in the middle of the night hungry and it messes with my sleep, something has to be now).

So, there you have it. These are five of my basics that I want to improve and work on here at the beginning so that during the throws of training things are a bit easier because I put these in place early.

In other news, I have talked the swim coach into letting me swim with some of the "age group swimmers' that get to use the pool from 6:30-7:30pm. It's not ideal, but I'll take it. Next week, swimming at Clarion commences!

Have a great weekend!

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