Monday, January 11, 2010

No wonder Triathlons are so hard...

Swimming is Rough!

This is going to be a lot of work...but I am ready for a new challenge!

As you all know, I enjoy running more than most things in this world.  After completing 2 Chicago Marathons now, as well as plenty of other races, I get quite the thrill when I am training for something. 

It keeps me focused, and keeps my head together.  It makes me happy and content...

However, I'm realizing that when I am not training for something, I tend to get a little 'down,' which makes the winter seem a LOT longer.

Two weekends ago, I was at home, lying on the couch like a slug with no intentions of getting up to do anything that day.  I was flipping through the channels on TV and came across the Universal Sports channel.  They were showing a marathon of the Ironman Triathlons from the past few years.  So, i stopped to watch.

I have always been a sucker for these, as I have watched them for many years, going back to when I was in grade school.  I always admired these people, but thought, 'there is no way in hell I would ever do one.'

As I was lying there on the couch watching some of the athletes' amazing stories, and then balling my eyes out as they crossed the finish line, I still thought to myself, 'Amazing for them...but that's too much work. I would never do one.'

But then something hit me...

I remember the feeling I had when I first decided to sign up for the Chicago Marathon when I was really only able to run about 6 miles at the most.  It seemed overwhelming, but I signed up anyway, hoping that I would be able to complete one. 

All of a sudden I had that same feeling.  Finishing a triathlon seems so out of reach, but why not just try?

Well, for one, I don't know how to swim!

But anyway... I got up off the couch immediately, (and set my TiVo to keep recording the rest of the Ironman marathon), packed up my swim trunks, stopped at Sports Authority to buy some goggles, and headed to the gym.

Now, I hadn't actually swam in years.  AND...I have never had formal swim training in my life.  What I know about swimming, I have taught myself from watching Michael Phelps or Summer Sanders through the years.

So I get to the gym, and luckily the pool was empty.  Phew...I didn't want to make a fool of myself!

I am ready to do my first lap.  I somehow manage to get to the end of the lane, and then I realize that this is going to be WAY harder than I thought!

I mean, i am not really out of shape, but i was winded!  After 25 meters, I was having trouble breathing! swim technique is bad.  I have a hard time kicking my legs correctly, and I feel like I am going to have a panic attack when I put my head under water!

"Paul, this was a dumb idea!", was all that I was hearing.

But I gave it another try.  I went back down the lane to where i started, rested for a couple of minutes, and then repeated this until I finally hit 300 meters. 

I hated every minute of it!

But...I still want to do this!  So, 4 swim sessions later, and after googling "swimming for beginners" multiple times,  I am starting to see small progress every time I get in the pool. 

I realize that it isn't meant to be easy! Then we ALL would be triathletes, right?

So yes...Swimming is one of the hardest things I have ever done!  I am going to continue to practice and hopefully with enough passing time, I will get to a point where it becomes much easier.

I know that many of you think I am crazy, but we just have different mindsets.  That's ok.  I am willing to appear a little 'out there' to you, because this is actually saving my life.

Please...if any of you have swimming technique tips, I would love to hear them! 

So, who knows...maybe I will do a triathlon one day.  Maybe even the big Ironman.  All I know is that it gives me something new to focus on.  It keeps my mind busy, and gives me a purpose.


  1. I give you major props for attempting something you've never done before! Don't worry. It will take time, but if you keep at it you will conquer it. Good luck!

  2. Swimming is a lot like running; you have to keep up with it. I was on the swim team in high school and could do laps wearing clothes, but was completely winded when trying to swim last summer after jumping off my friend's boat.

    Keep practicing, you'll get there. If anybody can do it, it's you. Just remember to keep a steady pace with both your speed and your breathing. You'll be fish-like in no time.

  3. Swimming is really hard! I was doing it for awhile and it took many times before I could actually "swim" in a somewhat respectable way. I still can't. I need a lot more practice.

    Good luck!!

  4. I seriously think you are amazing...I can not swim, but reading your story makes me think I want to learn,

    thanx for sharing;)

  5. One of the most important things to do when swimming laps is to keep a water bottle at the end of your lane and DRINK. Even in water, you sweat and will dehydrate. I also suggest you take one lesson now rather than later. It will make your training much more efficient and by swimming correctly, it lessens the likelihood of getting frustrated and/or injured.

    Good luck, swimming is great!

  6. I cry everytime I watch one of those too! Yet for some reason I can't seem to get my butt off the couch. I give you lots of credit for even trying this.

  7. Thanks for the advice, guys!

    Sean, I think you are right about getting a proper lesson. That is on my 'to do' list!

  8. When i see the Ironman on TV I ball like a little baby too, but that still isn't enough to get me to do one. Those people are nuts! But a GOOD nuts. :)

  9. I admire your persistence in the water, I for one can't swim to save my life! Also I can't Run. so pretty much all I can do is play tennis

  10. You may do anything your heart desires friend!! Life is full of challenges but this one seems like such a fun one!! You can do it! ;)

    I love swimming at the beach but I'm not a good swimmer. xD

  11. Paul!

    Running long-term is bad for your knees, right? Swimming isn't hard on the joints at all from what I heard.

    Good for you!

    I can't swim AT ALL but I admire your determination and desire to get out of your rut and make a change in your life! I wish I could be more like that!

    And I bet you look cute in your swimming trunks too! (~_^)


  12. I totally relate to what you are feeling. The best thing to do is to get a one on one instruction. After two sessions of "undoing" all my perceived ideas of technique, I am amazed at how much progress can be made. Best! ChristopherYVR

  13. I admire you for training for a triathalon, especially since swimming is not something you were already good at. Keep up the progess updates!

  14. So, my sister is training for her first triathelon too, and the swimming is defintely the hard part for her. She just did her 6th swim, and for the first time did 100 meters without stopping :) She said that her swim bud (a college swimmer) recommended and to get really good goggles...

    Good luck, Paul! I'm sure you can do it :)