I've been struggling mentally with pushing through to the next level in swim training. My schedule has called for several times already for a 1 hour 15 min. swim. For a half Ironman, that seems a little much and gets quite tedious swimming laps in a short pool besides: 30 laps for every half mile. I've gotten used to that and would much rather have a short pool than a jam packed pool and limited hours of use, so I'm willing to deal with that.
And since the first of the year, I have gone from doing half mile swims to 3/4 mile, to 1 mile, and eventually 1.25 mile swims on a regular basis. The 1.25 miles takes me anywhere from 52-55 minutes, depending on whether I actually keep accurate count of laps or whether I am tired that day. Either way, I figure getting close to 1 hour is still not cutting off that much from the "1:15" swims. And I'm hitting the distance so I haven't really been that concerned about not doing more.
But still, I have had this nagging in my brain each time I get in the water to push through the barrier and go the full hour at least--or more. After all, its not that much longer in time and not that much farther in distance. I just haven't been able to do it. Until today.
I really don't know why today was any different, except that when I started with my first half mile things seemed to be clicking better than normal. Not faster, just feeling better than usual, not getting water in my ears from the start, and feeling more relaxed than usual.
A young woman from my office has decided to start doing tris and was in the pool with me today. I was pretty impressed and surprised at how fast she sprinted along, lapping me every 10 lengths or so. But I continued on with my easy and relaxed pace, knowing she would only last at that speed for 15 or 20 minutes. Which is still good. I'm not saying she didn't do well, but for the long haul, I have learned how to pace myself better and not be concerned about others' workouts.
By the time I got done with my first half mile, I knew then I was going to go for the full shot today: 1.5 miles. I think the challenge I faced helped break up some of the monotony of doing lap after lap after lap, and most of the time I was focused and didn't get distracted by anyone else in the pool, even when I nearly got hit in the face by another swimmer who suddenly appeared and did about 5 laps and got out. (We don't have lap lane dividers.)
I'm not sure how often I will do this distance, but now that I have, doing it again seems more likely. Fear of the unknown holds you back, but once you have faced the fear and met the challenge, there's no reason to hold back.