Hope you have all had a great start to the New Year and for those of you back at work hopefully it's not been too much of a struggle!
Speaking of which, I was talking with the Wednesday 5.30am crew the other morning (who are predominantly doing the Rottnest Solo / Duo swim or Half / Full Ironman) about the "ups and downs" of training for an endurance event and thought it might be worth bringing this conversation up on the Blog too. Sometimes we get bogged down when we feel that we're going through a bad patch and it's very easy to tell yourself that this struggle isn't worth it, especially when you're tired and potentially a little grumpy. But it is. Have read of this article I wrote for the old Team Core site a couple of years ago: http://www.theteamcore.com/mentalfocus.html for those of you maybe feeling a little like this right now.
Case in point - last Sunday I raced the 5km open water swim at Leighton Beach and had probably one of my best races ever, finishing 12th in a time of 1h05' - I was ecstatic and on a massive high all day. Then came Monday morning...a 3km swim down at City Beach at 5.30am - urgh! I could hardly even turn my arms over let alone keep up! I was hoping for better when I trained by myself on Tuesday afternoon, but again, the same thing...lethargy and heavy arms feeling like I'm swimming through treacle, totally unable to hit my target times which I'd been able to do easily last week and even able to hold a faster pace for the entire 5km race on Sunday. What gives? I'm not sick and am generally feeling good, it's just simply that Sunday probably took a lot out of me and as a consequence this week training has been really tough, but you get that. The key is to not get too overwhelmed by this sensation of fatigue and under achieving and always focus on the next session - today's being much better if still not great.
As a young junior in the UK racing as part of the British elite triathlon team, I freely admit that I had my fair share of "ups and downs" and would often focus unfortunately on those down times more than the ups. This is not good. As a coach you feel that it is your duty to teach and share things with your swimmers, but I truly believe that I learn as much from watching you guys train and race as you do hopefully from me coaching you. A prime example of this would be Emmy Poulson who swims with the squad and in 2009 bettered her 2008 Rottnest Solo swim time by over 3 hours! Amazing stuff. A similar story with Suzanne Narbey last year who attempted the race for the first time and had a stellar performance. What I learnt from observing both Emmy and Suzanne was that they were always upbeat and general "even keel" taking every session in their stride and then getting on with the job on race day. No one particular session will make or break your Rottnest swim aspirations, but a consistent "steady away" approach to your training will pay massive dividends come race day.
So, onto this weekend then:
On Saturday there is the Cottesloe Classic Mile swim at 8am. For those doing this event, a small group of us will be meeting on the grass bank in front of the pylon to start in the water at 6.45am for a quick warm-up swim. You are more than welcome to join us.
We also have the 1pm squad swim at Claremont Pool on Saturday afternoon. We've missed the last two Saturdays with Christmas and the New Year so am hoping to see a good number of you down there on Saturday for an awesome, fun session focused on developing those open water swim skills!
Bit of a plug here, but over the last two years, myself and Adam have been working to produce our latest Swim Smooth DVD entitled "Catch Masterclass" which shows you how to develop and refine your feel for the water and ensure you generate good propulsion within your stroke. It's all filmed with our awesome HI-DEF filming rig at Challenge Stadium and features legendary local swimmers Jono Van Hazel (Athen's Olympian and son of Guy and Annette who train at 6.30am), Shelley Taylor-Smith (your coach whilst I was away in November and 7-times World Marathon Swimming Champion with arguably one of the best catch and pull-throughs in the business!) and recently retired Melissa Benson (Australian representative swimmer for 5 and 10km events and who has a PB of 59 minutes for 5km!!).
The DVD went on sale on New Year's Eve and has had a tremendous response so far - poor Linda is holed-up in North Wales desperately getting the DVDs out to swimmers and triathletes all around the globe as we speak!
You can see a nice trailer for the new DVD at http://www.swimsmooth.com/catchmasterclass.html - maybe worth a gift for that important swimmer in your life or as a treat to kick-start your New Year!