There are a few times throughout a season when training can get tough for a swimmer. I don’t mean physically tough, training is generally tough if you are doing it right. I’m talking about those times when you get that “wonderful” combination of training being physically and mentally tough. These times are usually, in my experience; just after/during an illness or injury, around Christmas time when you go through a heavy few weeks training while society around you is relaxing, a month or two out from a major competition when you are borderline burnt out, and at the start of the season. These are all times when you are physically and mentally struggling. You know certain sets shouldn’t be as hard as they are, you aren’t doing as well as expected. The thought begins to seep in that perhaps this isn’t worth it, or that you’re going nowhere, or that you’re getting too old for all of this. It feels like a lifetime since you were last peaking for a major competition. You must convince yourself it is all worthwhile, you must convince yourself that it will pass. I’m going through one of those times right now.
After Budapest, I went through the same feelings as I did after London, I was energized. Spending a week in that atmosphere surrounded by masters athletes and being taken pretty seriously by LEN/FINA has a way of pumping you up. These events have a way of sucking you in and carrying you along. Even the Arena pop-up stores get you all psyched up and suddenly spending a lot of money in it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Competing in these events have changed the way I view my swimming and how I train, turning swimming from a 4-5 time a week hobby to something more. I have goals again and a proper season with “major” gala’s that I aim for. Last year after London I made the mistake of doing what I did every other year and going straight from my indoor season to my outdoor season, and on top of that I took up triathlons. While I did enjoy myself, and had a relatively good tri/open water season there were a few issues. When I returned to training for the indoor season I felt that I had lost some basic speed in training. I also had a bad October-November, and January, months where I just couldn’t catch a break and train consistently due to small injuries and illness. Some of the illness can simply be put down to having children in primary school, which means my family is subject to whatever illness is doing the rounds, but in the main I put this all down to the fact that the only proper rest period I had was a week’s holiday in Portugal.
I decided this time it would be different and I would take a month out of serious training. I still went for a swim one or two times a week, and did some running, cycling, and gym work, but kept it minimal and at aerobic maintenance level (except for the gym part). I also did what I do whenever I am injured or off training and went a bit nuts in terms of my diet. I had set my start date for the new season, but life decided to jump in the way. Work became a bit manic, partly because it’s the start of a new college semester (guess where I work), this year brought an unusually high number of problems and I couldn’t get out to the pool at lunch time. Added to this my wife had been assigned to a month of night shifts at her work place, which meant that I couldn’t train at night. To cap it all off, I spent one week with a sore throat and seem to have picked up a neck injury.
So now I am finally back in the pool, I should have a good run of training, and I should still be able to get enough training in to compete in the NAC competition in November. Unfortunately, a lot of the fitness from Budapest now seems gone and I’m going through that tough start of season time. As I swim up and down the pool I must ignore the way a set now is much harder than it was months ago, and my neck is just throwing off my technique enough to make it feel like nothing is clicking. Still I know this will pass if I just stay patient and stick with it, and its nowhere near as bad as other years when I missed months of training for various reasons. It’s tough getting back into training at the start of the season. – Mike