This weekend I raced the Pineappleman Triathlon in Melbourne, FL. Two years ago at the very same race I had the worst triathlon finish and swim of my racing career. It wasn’t the worst simply from a time or placement perspective, but the mental stranglehold I was under swimming in open water.
I thought I could fix the panic attacks I was experiencing since beginning racing in the open water on my own. I was so pissed after this race in 2016 and the impact it was having on me overall I realized I couldn’t fix this on my own or in the very near future. So I got some immediate help. I explain this in more detail in a previous blog titled, I Can’t Swim / I Will Swim!.
After two years of practicing techniques to overcome the anxiety in open water, working with a fabulous swim coach over the last 10 weeks and working my tail off in his Masters Swim Program, I had an effective swim in a race for the first time. I felt strong and in control the entire swim which has NEVER happened prior. Now I’m still not fast, not where I need to be, but I believe in my coach, believe in the program, believe in the process, and BELIEVE I will get where I need to be. When that happens I don’t know but I headed in the right direction.
I finished the race with a strong bike and run and won my age group…which one that is isn’t important… Geez I’m getting old…
What I take from this experience and think is valuable to share are a few things. First, it’s certainly fine to try to work through challenges we face. When it occurs over and over with inconsistent or little progress, it’s time to reach out for help and get it from the experts/professionals. This is true for me in both aspects, the mental issues I was battling as well as my swim speed wasn’t improving either. I got help in both areas.
Trust, belief and confidence then came into play. I trusted the inputs from my sports psychologist provided and it helped…not all the way, but enough to get me over the major attacks and I had belief in the strategies to employ when I got in trouble. I continue to work with the tools I was equipped today. The meditation and mindfulness techniques have been huge here too. Check out another previous blog titled, Exercise Not Just Physical, for more information there.
After meeting my new swim coach this spring, I immediately found a trust in him and believed what he laid out to get better. I will never forget in our first 1:1 swim session when I asked him, “how good do you think we can get my swim to compete at Nationals?” he responded with, “that is up to you!” I loved that response! He has been riding my ass for 10 weeks since and I love every minute of it because I know he has my best interests at heart. We together have built some confidence in me that led to my effective swim this weekend and race win.
Confidence on race day is everything. On this day I finally had confidence in the water that I was going to swim with what I call, controlled speed, and the anxiety never crept in. Now I still need a lot of work on my technique and engine to swim faster but on this day it was progress, trust, belief and confidence that led to a pretty good day.
– Add Health to Your Life