Life in the Fast Lane


Back to the Basics

By 5:40 PM , , , , , , , , ,

My Saturday started before 7:00 in the morning — an ungodly hour by many people's standards. Groggy, I managed to get into my swimsuit, then collected my swim cap, goggles, kickboard, pull buoy, and training paddles. Within minutes, I met and shook hands with Coach Mac, who is now my coach for the swim leg of my triathlon training.

Coach told me to warm up, hit the showers to rinse off, then jump into the pool.

As soon as I got in, I asked what my warm-up would be. He said, "20 laps. Easy swim first."

20 laps for warm-up? The last time I did that many for a warm-up was, I would say, my high school swim team days. But okay, I took a deep breath and did the 20 laps as instructed.

Then he told me to do these drills, which required me to swim on my left side first, followed by my right. Doing these, he said, would work on my leg muscles. After another 40 laps of that, true enough, my leg muscles were dying a slow and painful death.

I was about ready to pass out myself. Normally, when I swim on my own, I do about 60 laps max. At this point, I had already done 60 laps. 

But my coach wasn't done with me yet. Not anytime soon.

"Because you're joining a sprint triathlon," he said, "the training's pretty intensive. We have to work on your speed."

With that, he told me to bring out my pull buoy and swim paddles. "Now, let's work on your arms," he instructed me. "Do 20 laps. Focus on your downward strokes." 

So focus I did. I was so conscious about my strokes that I took my time swimming, making sure I was treading water the right way.

"Nice," said Coach. "Your form's good." As he said that, in my head, I had to credit my coaches in the past, even if I didn't love them all the time (there were many instances I'd come home crying after feeling sorry for myself). 

"What's next, Coach?" I asked. I almost wished I didn't.

He brought out this very familiar round object; something I used to dread back when I competed. 

I shuddered inwardly at the sight of it.

Before, we were made to do "Minute-Man drills", which required us to finish X no. of laps within a minute, take a one-minute rest in between, then repeat the process several times. When we didn't get to complete those X no. of laps within a minute, we were penalized: we did duck walks around the perimeter of the pool, push-ups, sit-ups, or other kinds of exercises. With groaning muscles, we'd have to jump back into the pool after those exercises and resume the drills.

This time, although Coach Mac didn't tell me to finish X no. of laps within a minute (perhaps because it was my first day), he told me to take a one-minute break in between laps.

The catch? 3 reps of 300-meter sprints (12 laps in a 25-meter pool). Basically, he told me to "practice" the distance of the swim leg of my triathlon (which is 300 meters).

After the first 12, I was still alive. Somewhat. I enjoyed my one-minute break in between and drank water from my sports bottle.

Then it was time to do my next 12. This was a bit of a struggle. My legs were already heavy and so were my arms. But I had no choice but to push myself.

Thankfully, I managed to do the second set of 12. I was so happy to touch the wall after the 12th lap and rest for another minute. I could feel my lungs starting to heave slightly, so I drank some more water.

When my minute was up, I literally forced myself to swim the last 12. My whole body felt like it was made of Jell-o.

I was counting each lap, hoping that it would somehow speed me up. 

And finally, I finished the last 12. Hurrah!

Coach told me I was done for the day and to cool down with 4 laps of my stroke of choice. I chilled with my favorite stroke: the breaststroke. 

Even if I felt rubbery and wobbly, I had to smile inwardly. I had done 3 kilometers*, which is double my usual workout. 

Needless to say, the sandwich I had for lunch after that workout was the best sandwich I had ever eaten. I felt like I deserved it. And more.

Unfortunately, my workout this coming Saturday will be a timed one, meaning Coach will use that as the benchmark to see how much I'll improve in the coming weeks and months.

Oh, dear.

My poor Math led me to believe that, as of Saturday, I had done 2.6 kilometers. After computing again, I realized I had actually completed 120 laps x 25 meters = 3,000 meters

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