There are times, not many, but some, when swimming really, truly sucks.
This has been a truly sucky swimming week.
And the trick to getting through it is to keep the arms turning but not burning.
I've been really pushing the training. One Monday I visited four pools to train a total of 7km. By the Wednesday I had completely blown up. A quick trip to the physio and I posted a new PB for 10km the following day. The next day I was fine. The day after that ... whoo boy! My recovery from that swim had been comparatively lacklustre to say the least. 2 weeks later I was still feeling it.
I continued over-training for where I'm at, over Christmas and New Years (note to self, don't try keeping up with the fast Vladswimmers on 5 hours sleep).
All of a sudden I found myself not enjoying swimming on one of the more superlative days in Bondi. We swam to Mermaid's Rock (Ben Buckler headland) and then in along the rocks, one of my fav things to do. Wasn't enjoying it. The sun was shining, the water was sparkling and everyone was having a ball except me.
And it just kept getting worse. Didn't enjoy the Gerroa swim, had been holding 1:52 pace for 100m (slow for some, lightning quick for me who used to require fins to hold 1:50) and all of sudden I couldn't hold 2 minutes.
Basically, my body had had enough. This week quickly became an enforced rest week. Trips to physio, ensuring sleep and recovery, ensuring hydration (upping electrolytes) and nutrition, and keeping the arms turning over. I went home to my wonderful mama for a massage that didn't involve pain.
It's worth noting, for the female athletes out there, that your period can be a nightmare to train through. There may be an automatic drop in peak performance.
Coach Zoe gave me the brilliant advice that this week sleeping, eating, drinking and stretching were my training sessions.
And slowly, it's working. This morning I sluiced through the water as the sun burnished the water a brilliant hue. I glided with gold. And although my arms ached, the muscles didn't scream with every stroke.
Slowly but surely, swimming stops sucking.
And I start to train smarter, not harder.