“The human body is a marvellous machine”, says swim coach and guru Paul, “it finds rest wherever it can and uses it”. He’s referring to my swim stroke in this instance, my tendency to haaaaang on the front of my stroke, resting, before catching the water and starting the next pull. Now, in my mind, this is a good long stroke – which is what I have been trying to achieve for the last months. But Paul sees a dead spot with neither arm in motion and the deceleration of the poor girl who will have to overcome the ‘static’ resistance with the start of her next stroke. No wonder she needs the rest there! And no wonder her swim times seem to be getting slower!
He’s dead right about seeking rest out of any situation, grasping it and hanging to it for dear life. It’s natural, this preference for the easy option, the body is trying to preserve itself and it’s energy reserves. So much so that even those of us intent on overriding nature’s will, pushing the body and training it to be better than those of others, don’t even notice, let alone question it, and allow it to become habit. A continuous leg kick, for example – don’t see many club swimmers with one of those, do we? The legs sort of mirror the arms, waggle a bit to balance the body rotation and our arms match their rhythm. Paul had me practicing continuous leg kick with fins, to accentuate the sensation in the legs, and my arm turnover suddenly seemed to flow more continuously. It felt nice, smooth and fast. It also felt really quite tiring. Proof enough that Paul was right – I was missing the 23 micro naps each length!!
Applying the same idea to cycling, I discovered more shocking facts – my body really IS a marvellous machine when it comes to forming lazy habits! All cyclist have been told about pedalling through the entire circular stroke. I certainly know that’s what I should be doing. Do I do it? Do I hell – its far easier to stomp the down stroke and then…take a rest….stomp the down stroke…..take a rest. And I’m a relatively strong cyclist. It’s true that with riding the decelerating effect of this ‘rest’ is far less than in the water because the opposing leg is forced into position in time to take it’s turn so its far less noticeable.
So, on today’s ride, I was feeling good, and for a bit more power up a few of the hills I rode spells using ‘full circular pedal stroke’. As with the swimming, there was a noticeable increase in speed followed quickly by Dicso Inferno (burn, baby, burn) in areas of the legs untouched by my usual idle pedal stroke.
I looked for similar example in running. Couldn’t really find one….slowing down to a rhythm that requires minimal cardio effort doesn’t really count – that’s just slowing down. But I suppose that the ‘shuffle’ would be the best example – not bothering to lift the legs sufficient to extend the stride, land on the fore foot and benefit from the rebound that the ground can only really offer to an object landing above a certain critical speed.
Again – guilty.
I reckon we can find parallel examples in everything we do form how we file our paper work to dropping out H’s and T’s and saying ‘fucking’ instead of thinking of proper words….
And a quick update on the training/preps for Ironman Wisco:
Since writing my last blog post, I bombed massively. It all fell apart on Wednesday….possibly NOT a coincidence that I’d gotten up 2 hours earlier that usual to watch the Olympic Games triathlon events live on TV at 3am the previous 2 days, whist trying to maintain my high volume week. So Wednesday morning, at 6.30 I’m stood at the edge of the lido , feeling extremely tired, a bit giddy and not very happy at all about the thought of a swim. A slow swim. Got to the office by 7. logged on ..felt really bad tempered, pissed off about the swim, and giddy. Back on the bike and headed home, called in sick and spent the day eating/trying to sleep/trying to decide whether to do my other planned sessions (tempo run/another swim) before coming to my senses, with a little help form Steven, and officially calling it a rest day. Damn, I needed it. The relief was massive – I did NOT have to train – I was starting my TAPER.
It took a few days to recover from the fatigue and drag myself out of the black hole of a mood that I’d been in, but I’m there now. And as if by way of thanks, my body gave me a little bit of reassurance today with a really good brick session. I felt strong and keen riding hard over the rolling terrain of Somerset, covering my usual 3 hour route so quickly that I had to add another 5-6mile loop to bring me close to the panned session time. I’d got my legs nice and cooked for the brick run, but pushed through and managed to get the first 6 miles knocked out at 7:20 pace.
It was almost as if body says to mind: “It’s OK , I’m in shape – look I can do it – but now I need you to take care of me and get me to the race fresh.”
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