Training When Exhausted Is A Valuable But Two-Edged Sword


Hi folks,

Simon of Small Potatoes Farm has perfect posture

Posture is critical in the pool. For perfect posture, just take a look at Simon (left) of Small Potatoes Farm at his great local food stall outside Johnny’s in Carrboro, NC, USA.

I had four kick-ass workouts last Thursday (2 runs, 1 hour PowerCranks + core training), then on Friday I managed a 12-mile run, but on Saturday the standard 5,000 yard swim with Rick was a real challenge. In the final 4×300 yard set I had nothing in the tank, finding it hard to lift my arms out of the water on the recovery stroke. As I plowed through it I was thinking, “sneak through the water, but don’t lose your stroke.” This situation made me realize how important it is to be aware of internal mental conflicts during such trainingthe solution is to find the easy way, but don’t go easy. This is how you can really improve your level of conditioning AND the stability of your stroke. This concept also applies to running and other sports.

An example of the mental conflict: when exhausted your body will attempt to cheat, ‘dumping water’ (reducing load) by dropping your elbows. It feels easier but you unwittingly slow down, then you spot the problem on the clock and have to fight even harder to make the set. If, however, you hang onto your stroke quality, while working to reduce drag, optimizing your posture and position in the water, speeding up your recovery stroke, and so forth, you’ll be able to handle the set with the limited amount of power available – let’s face it, you can only deliver what you can deliver.

It is at this stage of your training, while exhausted, that you have the most to learn and are at the greatest risk of injury, but with a well-developed sense of body awareness you’ll stick to your program of safe exercise for better health.

  • Overdo it and you’ll pull a rotator cuff.
  • Give up and you’ll never do your best.
  • Win the mental battle and you’ll be the best athlete you can be.

And people ask me if I get bored swimming all those laps, can you imagine?

-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.