Friday, 18 September 2009
fear and loathing; open water
okay, so let’s be honest, i have a slight fish phobia.
i’ve been known to do cartoon-like leaps back into the boat when snorkeling. what can i say, they get a bit close sometimes... and there’s something about those fish, something a bit... evil.
as a result, my open water experience has been limited. i’m afraid of fish, i don’t like waves, and swimming face first into deep blue (indeed deep brown) isn’t overly attractive. no surprises there.
however i learnt something from doing London, my first open water swim race. unfortunately it was recorded on these pages and hence my failing memory can not deny...
if you’re going to race open water, you have to train open water
these past few weeks have seen me in sunny, oceanside locations. the perfect hunting ground for the open water (ow) seeker. i’ve even got an ow race next weekend; so you’d think i’d be the first one heading out into the clear blue waters.
to be honest, it hasn’t been until week three, this week, when i’ve managed to get into the ocean for a ‘proper’ swim (bobbing not included). and while i was rather proud of overcoming my fish/deep blue fears and getting three separate 400m swims in -> in all honesty it’s a rather pathetic blip of a training exercise.
in reflection, i realise that i wasn’t training for speed, or endurance, or technique -- i was really just overcoming my fears and getting comfortable staring at something other than a black line in the cocoon-like safety of the lane ropes.
i was, essentially, overcoming the mammoth task of extending myself physically under a mentally stressed state.
i’ve been pool lap swimming for about eight years, and i’ve never experienced a calf cramp. a few toes, sure, but that’s it. yet within 400 metres of ow swimming during London, my calf was borderline seizure.
i believe it was a combination of things;
-- stress (tensing the body unnecessarily)
-- cold (our wave was delayed, more time unmoving in water)
-- inexperience (kicking too much and a lack of cold water experience)
tomorrow i’m taking the plunge (apologies for lame pun attempt) and heading out to a tri specific ow lake. didn’t know such things existed?! neither did i! apparently it’s just a normal lake, but with dedicated distance markers. so no more guessing you’ve done 400m. they also offer things like wetsuit testing, which comes in handy when you’re dropping a few hundred quid and your wetsuit can make+break your times.
now that i’m feeling a little more comfortable in ow, i’m hoping to have a proper training session. warm ups, timed sprints, even warm downs! success pending, report coming.