Getting Back in the Pool—Talk Yourself Into It

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I used to swim a few times a week, in my early triathlon days. But, similar to riding, it’s not a get-up-and-go activity like running. It requires finding a pool, finding the right open lap times, getting there, swimsuits, goggle marks… It’s a pain in the ass, to be honest. But it’s a necessary evil with Ironman getting closer and closer. (Lucky for me, I’m a reasonably strong swimmer, so I should get through, but I’d like to be, you know, fast.)

So we’ve gotten in the pool more.

This is largely because I finally have a training plan, one that sternly reminds me that I need to swim. Added to that, because frankly, my new training schedule is much burlier than what I’ve been doing, so swimming means my “off-day,” and now, it’s a relief. Best advice? Make swimming the ‘relaxing’ day on your schedule to get into the habit.

On that note, I try to think about swimming as moving meditation. Running is similar, but usually I’m listening to a podcast or music. Swimming, it’s just silence in the pool. So if you have trouble chilling out, think of swimming as your ‘you time.’ Seriously, you can’t bring a phone in the pool, so you have a great chance to unplug.

Figure out what you’re into, swimming-wise. For me, I am not a workout-in-the-pool girl. I’m a ‘hit go and rack up as many meters as possible in an hour swimming. It’s way more enjoyable to me than counting laps. Maybe not the best way to get fast, but throwing some fartlek laps in there seems to do the trick. Some people get through faster when they have a defined workout. Experiment and see what works for you.

We’re also swimming more because we found a rad pool. Not always possible since sometimes, there just aren’t good ones around (looking at you, Hunterdon County). But the one we found for the month in Ventura is basically my dream pool: salt water, outdoors, reasonably warm, and rarely crowded. (We were there on a Saturday AM and had a lane to ourselves!) My best advice here is to shop around. You might find that a pool a bit farther away is a little nicer. In Canadian climates, you won’t find many outdoor pools, but in Collingwood, I wasted a few swim in misery and over-chlorination at the local YMCA before I realized there was a better pool with high ceilings and open windows in the summer just a mile away. Not all pools are created equal!

Last tip on pool search: befriend the receptionist and get the skinny on when lap swim is the least well-attended. I love going when I have a lane to myself, and usually the front desk people know which hours tend to be ‘off-peak.’

When all else fails, pretend to be a fish in a fish tank. It’s a weird visualization, but it gets me through a few minutes and reminds me that I train for a goal, but I primarily exercise and move because it makes me feel good and just play.

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