For many swimmers and triathletes, the holiday season is one of the most difficult times to keep up with pool swimming. Most of us are bombarded with family gatherings, a hectic work schedule, and frantic shopping trips. The frigid outside air temperature and gloomy weather only add to our temptation to stay in bed in the mornings, or to skip the pool and come straight home after work. However, with all of the stressors of the season – positive though they may be – I argue this is possibly the most important time to get in the water.
There is something incredibly calming and restorative about finishing a grueling pool workout, especially on those days when there were many reasons not to show up at all. The satisfaction gained from grinding out a workout when you felt the worst can propel you through the toughest of days. It’s funny in that I never regret swimming a workout, but rather I find myself frequently regretting not getting to the pool.
Telling yourself to go swim is not always enough. Sometimes we need a looming challenge. Something that simply by being there makes us get in the water.
So here is the challenge of the holiday season: At some point in December, find a pool and complete the insanity that is the workout below.
Right now the workout below my look senseless. If it doesn’t, adapt it and make it harder; it’s intended to be punishing. What is the furthest you can push yourself while still making your interval? Right now, before you do anything else, decide what day and time you will do this challenge. Commit to it in writing and sign your name. Between now and then, make sure you get in the pool so you’re ready when that day comes. This will (hopefully) keep you in the water this month.
100 fast + 100 easy
2x100s fast + 100 easy
3x100s fast + 100 easy
4x100s fast + 100 easy
5x100s fast + 100 easy
Take this pattern up until you cannot make it anymore. Set the fast 100s interval at the tightest interval you can reasonably make**. The easy 100s are on 2:00, or any interval where you can get a minimum of 30 seconds rest. You’ll need it. If you do this right, it will take you to your limit. Be honest. Make the interval challenging yet attainable. Go up the ladder until you miss an interval. Find your edge.
Remember, if you accept this challenge, it is a choice. If you’re miserable during The Set, or during your practices leading up to The Set, try to focus on why you’re motivated to do this. Perhaps you’re looking to find where that limit lies for you. Maybe you love challenges. It could be simply a way to keep you in the water through the holidays. Whatever your reason, keep that in mind and go back to it when things get tough.
After you complete The Set, I would love to hear from you and hear how it went. Please write me via either of the websites below, or comment on this blog post.
Marathon Swimmer, www.jenschumacher.org
Sport Psychology Consultant, www.jenschumacher.com