Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Avoiding burnout and the 100 X 100's

One of the keys to staying fresh and energized while training for the Ironman or for any endeavor is to incorporate variety into your routine. As much fun as swimming, biking and running is, it can get a little monotonous if you don't mix it up. You should be flexible and be prepared to alter your plan as your available time and conditions fluctuate. By varying your workouts and not being totally in thrall to a given prescribed training session is OK and, in fact, should be encouraged. Otherwise training becomes a chore and burnout is close at hand.

That's where the 100 X 100's comes in. On a "normal" week, my brethren and I at T3 will have a long bike ride on Saturday followed by a long run on Sunday. This past Sunday was different in that T3 held it's annual 100 X 100's swim workout. This involves 10 sets of 10 one-hundred meter swims (two laps in a 25 meter pool). You can swim as much or as little as you like so long as you do it in 100 meter increments. To keep it fun and interesting, our coaches mixed in a variety of drill sets, pulling sets with paddles and sets with fins. The total distance is 10,000 meters or 6.2 miles of swimming.

We descended on the pool at 7:30 am and started swimming. Two hours later, I bowed out, having covered 6000 meters. By this time my shoulders felt like they belonged to someone else and my mouth was parched from the chlorinated water. It seemed I had stuffed and entire bag of cotton balls into my mouth and then chased it with a box of saltine crackers. No amount of water or sports drink could cure it, until I got out of the water. I know what your thinking....so where's the "fun" part of all this?

Truth be told, triathletes are a strange breed. The tougher the workout the more we like it. Oh, we'll complain the whole way, but when it's all said and done we've enjoyed ourselves more than you can know. If the conditions are tough, we're happy. If the hill is steep, we want to tell people we climbed it. If the distance is insane, we want to cover it and tell our non-triathlete friends about it, just to see the looks of abject horror on their faces when we tell them what a blast we had. So the prospect of swimming over 6 miles, early on a Sunday morning is like manna from heaven to our sick and twisted species. Oh, and there was bacon...

That's right, bacon. As alluring as 10K of swimming is, you can't go wrong by throwing a little bacon on top of it all. Coach Maurice (Mo) was poolside most of the morning whipping out flap-jacks, eggs sunny-side up, and yummy crispy bacon. Some of us made pancake, egg and bacon fold-over sandwiches to...ahem....refuel after the workout. It was a nice team building experience, and it was fun to finally see some of the really good swimmers "struggle" as they pushed through the last few 100's. Keep in mind their "struggles" still looked graceful and almost....almost effortless to those of us who swim in the lanes way on the other side of the pool.

To all who participated, it was great to see you. To those who swam all 10,000 meters, well done and......are you freaking nuts!!!!???? Cheers.

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