Finding my rhythm has been more than finding the physical balance of patterns I recognize I need while training for swimming. It’s been finding my mental focus and determination beyond my circumstances.
Rhythm is more mental – internal, than the external pattern of coordinating legs, arms, breathing, swivel, etc.
My internal dialogue will determine my rhythm and my stride, or whatever it is I’m doing. My mental, internal speak will dictate how I will perform. This is what I am realizing.
I’ve been helping a young girl learn to swim, and as I’ve been practicing and training myself, I’ve recognized some of the same “squeals” coming from my own mind. Though the verbiage may be different, the sound is the same – its discordant, inharmonious – and the effect is the same – it’s unfocused and difficult, making goal achievement elusive or a boring struggle more so because of these squealing complaints.
I was swimming in the ocean inlet recently when I first recognized this in myself. The tide was abnormally strong making what I find already challenging, extra difficult. My mental complaints were due mostly to the current which was making my swimming like I was in a wave pool – I was going nowhere, hardly, despite my trying to swim strongly. I literally swam my top off – I laughed when I stood up at one point and realized it had come loose.
The complaints, the distracting observations, the truths that inconvenience performance, the anything that lessens my ability to perform on some level, or want to perform, are all part of what I have recognized as going on inside of me, and what I have coined “training squeals.”
Trains squeals are any mental thought I’ve heard inside my head that conflicts with my objective. These are naturally natural, I guess, when learning anything new or training, however, focusing on them is what will lessen my performance, impede my progress and maybe even thwart my goals all together, if I give them more focus and more weight than the accomplishment toward which I’m striving. This is what I have realized.
I left the inlet that day a little deflated, feeling like I had not pushed harder or beyond the squealer. I realized my squeals that day. The contrast of how I walked in the water and how I walked out is not one I wanted to relive, and I haven’t since.
I walked into the water that morning feeling so accomplished because of a 3+ miles run I had just completed, but I left with less than that because I let the squealer win out on the swim.
I have heard the squealer since, but I have not let her win. I have pushed beyond her noise, and made focus my focus as the squealer screetched on. Focus wins out, and the squealer is silenced.
I have found in this training that there is nothing like “doing it,” or knowing you really pushed and gave it what you had. That is one of the best feelings – accomplishment. There is truly nothing like it, however small.
The screetcher is loud – hollering, “it hurts, I’m tired, I got water in my mouth, I’ve got hair in my mouth, I’ve got water in my eyes, it’s too hard, I can’t breathe, I’m not good at this.” Whatever its truth or whine, it’s distracting from the goal. Fix it and move on, or get over it, or, if you can’t fix it, in the case of a strong current, do what you can, and focus on what you need to do to overcome it, and stop complaining about how hard it is because that only makes it all the harder.
I went to swim in the ocean a couple of times last week. The first time was scary primarily because of the possibility of sharks. There was of course the dread, too, because my mental fears putting up obstacles about how I’m not good at it, and it was going to be difficult. Screech!
Do your best – what you can.
That is what I came to at the inlet too, eventually, which first got me out there. I first psyched myself up as I rode around the park trying to delay my entry. What I came to was the fact of how unrealistic it is to think I can do the whole thing right away, and of course it is a challenge – it’s new. It’s training! I need training, and it’s a step at a time!! So, that gave me boldness, and I got off the bike and got to it.
I waded in and out, but finally went in and gave it a go. I did alright. The squealer was present, but she helped me to realize I needed to focus.
Reach don’t screech! I focused on what I needed to improve. There is always a lot, but I keep focusing on what is right in front of me. I felt good getting out.
The next time I went to the ocean I was more focused. I felt pretty glad to be there. I waded out and got with it. I swam and swam.
Same thing – difficulty, screeching present, refocus, screech, focus, go, go, go. I found myself at one point, within myself, not my internal cheerleader, but my spirit, said, “I did it.”
I just knew I did it. But what? I’m not sure, but I accomplished something, somehow. Maybe it was the distance, or the constant continuous focus and eventual achievement from making a sincere effort. Not sure, but I liked that feeling! I swam on.
So, I have had no idea how far I’ve been swimming, however, when I have swam, I always try and swim what might actually be the 3/8 mile distance, whether I have to stop along with way or not. I always try and go the distance.
I have swum laps at the gym before, but only a couple of times and have had no idea how far I was going and have lost count of the number of laps I was swimming. As I’ve progressed with my swimming, I got a little more earnest about the laps and training.
I figured out a way to methodically count my laps as not to lose track, and went for it the other night. My goal was to swim for 20 minutes. I swam for 18 minutes. I’d done 12 laps. I thought to go for two more. I ended at 22 minutes, and 14 laps. I still hadn’t found my rhythm, but that was okay. I’d struggled with a new squealer and was doing what I could to focus on staying above it so I would stay above water – I felt like I was sinking. I actually had to counter the screeching with scriptures and positive thoughts this time – it had nothing to do with focusing on form – that came later. I had to find my mental focus first and swimming focus followed. I’d done it. I completed my 14 laps, and 22 minutes and felt I’d overcome what obstacle I faced that night well, and I headed out.
I found out the length of the pool and would later figure out the calculations of my distance. I headed to Starbucks for a celebratory and recovery latte, eager to know how far I’d swam. I figured the number of laps I’d have to swim to make the distance I would be required to swim at the meet was just under 14! I’d made my distance! That was the last event I had to do to make my distance. I’d already done my run and bike, and even put them all together one morning, but not in their entirety. I was on my way. I’d made a new accomplishment.
I felt my progress. It was good.
The next morning, I’d already planned on mixing up the work out a little – mornings were what I found worked best for training, but I thought I’d work out later in the day or even the evening again, as I had the night before.
Having produced quite a bit for work, I headed home, but after pulling in the drive, pulled right back out and I hit the gym. On the way there, the turning point happened. For the first time, I wanted to swim.
I was thinking on how the water would be on my skin as I swam through it. I was enticed and excited for it! It was then I realized I’d turned the corner, and…the training squeals were off.
When I arrived, I ended up riding and running first. I’d run hard. It made me sick. Headed home instead of following up with my swim there.
When I got home, I felt better. I jumped in the shower, rinsed off with a quick shower, and jumped in my suit. I’d decided to go swimming there. The water was about 80 + degrees, not refreshing. My googles were also not only leaking, but come to find out, the rubber had come off, and I was struggling to figure out the way to fix them. I figured it wasn’t in the cards for me to swim that night, but felt like maybe that was a…Screetch! I took a couple of laps without goggles, but that wasn’t working for me. I then gave an earnest attempt at fixing my goggles, with success! I put ‘em on, headed forward, and managed to swim for 30 minutes! And…finally found my rhythm. I’m a two stroke, and breath, girl with a swivel and lift, as I come out of the water!
I felt happy. It was good. The training squeals were off. Positivity and focus were on. I am on the way to a new path.