Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Building Mental Toughness

A major goal that I set for this mesocycle is to build mental toughness. One of the ways I want to do that is by always working one minute longer than I have to. So if I plan to do an eight-mile run, I run eight miles, then one minute farther at the same pace.

Today, I had a breakthrough with mental toughness, I think. I was swimming 34 minutes straight in the SwimEx, and it was not going well. I actually considered ending early and trying later in the week, because I was having so much trouble holding my form. The main reason is that I'm trying to improve my catch, but my arms lack the strength to keep up. The way I've changed my catch dramatically improves my pace, but I get significantly fatigued and sore on the lateral side of my right hand, from the knuckle of my pinkie down into my forearm. Today I was also experiencing discomfort in my tricep and anterior deltoid, as well as the antecubital area of my left arm (translation: the side of my right hand and forearm, the back of my right arm, the front of my shoulder, and the front side of my left elbow). So in short, my swimming is improving, but I need to build upper body strength before I can really work it in. Which is why I kept swimming: I figured I needed to push those arm muscles so that they'll get stronger.

I was counting down the seconds by the end of this workout, focusing all my mental capacity on holding a passable form. Then the timer went to 00:00, the buzzer sounded, and I was done. Except that I kept swimming. My goal was to keep swimming for one minute. But at that point, it was like I couldn't stop. As soon as I was technically finished, I just wanted to keep going; I was enjoying it.

I don't know how long I kept swimming; I lost track of time. It probably wasn't more than a minute, maybe two. But I was surprised to find how easy it was to keep moving, as difficult as it had been before, as soon as my time was up.

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