Monday, July 8, 2013

A Lot of Time Alone to Think

That's what we have as triathletes, especially long distance triathletes.

We pound the pavement and spin our wheels in the sun, snow, rain, moonlight, and whatever else Mother Nature throws at us.  We head out no matter what the season or time of day.  And then there's the swim.  Only those with those swimming ear buds know what it's like to swim with something other than the sound of your own internal voice in your head. 

We have a lot of time to think.  

The thoughts go in some interesting directions at times, but every once in awhile, they turn in and even become helpful in more than just the "distract me from the monotony of what I'm doing" way.

This past week, I went with friends to our usual Friday evening open water swim.  We had about ten people and went a total of 1.7 miles.  The only respite from the monotony of "stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, sight, stroke, stroke, breathe..." was the turn around stop at the island we swim to which only lasted two minutes.

On the swim back, I started getting a tightness/ache in my left hip; it might have been the hip flexor but without land to stand on and test it, I wasn't sure.  I started thinking about how odd it was to have an asymmetrical tightness (really, that's not odd at all) and then started listing all the asymmetrical oddities with my stroke.

  • My left hip starts to feel tight late in a long swim.
  • My right arm enters the water much smoother.
  • My left arm occasionally skims the water when I get tired/lazy.
  • While I do breathe bilaterally, I prefer the right side.
  • I always sight off of a right-side breathe; sighting with a left-sided breathe is very awkward.
  • My right arm falls short of completing a full stroke (exits the water slightly earlier than my left).
  • My left arm tends to pull deeper through the water.

As I made note of the last two, I had an epiphany and went straight to work.

First, I stretched my left arm out and held it, taking note of the position of my hips and legs.  Then, I kept swimming while consciously deepening my right arm's stroke, making my left arm's stroke more shallow, and paying attention to the positioning of my hips. I was actually surprised.

What I had discovered (I think) is that my left arm travels deeper into the water which tilts my right side higher than what occurs on the other side.  This would explain why my right side breathe is less hampered by waves (my head is able to tilt higher) and why my left hip bothers me later on in a swim (it gets stretched more by the extended left side stroke). 

In the end, whether I fixed or even identified anything, I was able to distract myself enough to make it through the swim without going crazy.

Mission accomplished!


1.  What happens when you have time to think to yourself?

2.  How was your weekend?

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.  

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