Mary Eggers

Coaching

Open water

It’s hard to believe that in just weeks we will be swimming open water. I promise you…. the snow will stop falling, the sun will come out and the circle of life will begin all over again.

One of my favorite feelings is passing by a tree that seems to have been destroyed by winter… and seeing a tiny purple bud. Signaling that new life is upon us. A new season. A new beginning. Getting outside, breathing the fresh air…. it’s coming. I promise.

One of the things we did in our recent swim camps was to simulate the open water experience for swimmers. Click here for the recap. We simulated mass starts, time trial starts and were able to recreate exactly what happens in open water.

The feedback was great “I was able to feel that panic about being in the middle of so many people.” and “I realized that when people hit you in open water, they don’t mean it.” Exactly.

We worked on a few different ways to navigate a buoy, how to get the wetsuit off, how to dolphin in shallow water (and why to use that technique). It really helped us re-crate the situation many athletes find themselves in.

Preparation is truly key when it comes to open water. Many athletes will swim their first open water swim of the season during their first race of the season! For many reasons this happens, the main one being that access to open water can be limited, as well as temperature of open water if it is available.

So what can you do to get yourself ready? Here are a few tips to try:

1. Swim 2-3 people across in one lane. Grab 2-3 friends of similar speeds and jump in a lane. Push off the wall and swim a few hundred yards together, 2-3 abreast. You will simulate the feeling of swimming in close quarters and learn how to deal with it.

2. Take out the lane lines and swim! This would of course need to be something your pool allows, and many do not. If you get lucky and your pool does allow this….. grab some friends and swim circles around the perimeter of the pool. The waves created will give you some semblance of open water, and really….. you only need four

3. Swim in your wetsuit. It sounds funny, and is awkward to do, but bring your wetsuit to the pool. Not for buoyancy …… but to get into it…. swim and get out of it! Have you ever tried to take a wetsuit off and gotten your feet stuck? Every time you tell yourself…… I need to practice this! So practice it!!!!! Don’t worry what others think…. get in your wetsuit and own it!

A few ounces of practice goes for miles and miles in the open water.

I love open water. I love the fluidity (yes…. I know it is water!)…. I love the unexpected quality that it brings. In the ocean I love the rhythm of the waves, and sometimes the frantic nature of them. In lakes I don’t find that pattern so much but I find beauty in allowing myself to deal with whatever comes at me.

Like life…. water is not truly what happens to you….. but how you react to it. Ride the waves, don’t get angry with them, they are not something you can truly control.

Don’t let the cold weather scare you, don’t let it turn you away from your season plans and your season goals….. grab your wetsuit… me of your favorite friends….. head to the pool and have fun!

General

Believe

It’s been a good week, and we are capping it off this week with our first group run along the canal! If you are local to Rochester please feel free to join us ANYTIME on Sundays at 7am, from Towpath Bikes  in Schoen Place. While the shop won’t be open yet, we will be there running and heading to coffee afterwards!

All paces, all distances, all abilities. Our goal: to gather the awesome people of our community.

Race season is almost upon us. A few of my athletes have been jumping into some road races to test the legs. A season of inside work is about to come to fruition. Depending on the athlete, depending on the race…. some come out of the gates with PR’s in their sights while others still have a ways to go.

One thing I know for sure….. you can’t write the end of the story before it is written. An aquaintence complained to me this week that there was a ceiling, a limit to their racing ability. That every time they had run a certain distance in the past 3 years it was the same. exact. time. In turn, they were expecting the same thing to happen at the same, exact race coming up.  Expressing there was no speedwork in their program (when in fact not only was there base, there was strength, tempo and fartlek, a fellow coach and I  even reviewed and concurred… proper build! ) they were dead set that the same thing would happen in the upcoming race.  Well of course it will be the same. When you set the ceiling in a certain place, no amount of speedwork is going to change that.

Seriously? Seriously. That is the barrier that as a coach, I can’t be the one to break. It needs to come from within.

Champions don’t rely on the science. Often too, they don’t base expectations in reality. It doesn’t take a psych degree to know that PR’s and wins come from a place that is special.

Look at ANY champion on ANY podium. What will they say? They will say they pushed away doubt. They rose above the status quo, and they threw away the numbers. They looked within, they dug deep and above all else….. they believed.

If you don’t believe you can smash the barrier….. then why even bother toeing the line?

That little extra, that something special, that passion…. can’t come from an outside source. No coach, no interval…. can change that. It has to BE what you BELIEVE. It has to BE what is ingrained within you. It has to BE what you BREATHE.

If you don’t…. you won’t.

It can’t be as simple as that. It IS as simple as that.

Research it all you want. You won’t find it in a medical journal. You won’t find it on Pub Med. You WILL find it in the results. You WILL find it on the top spot of the podium.

Champions trust themselves. Champions rely on themselves. Champions don’t blame and accuse outside sources for what they do or don’t achieve. It’s within all of us to break barriers. Period.

Beyond that realize the gift. The ability. The chance and opportunity to BE an athlete in the first place. Those who feel entitled, who become wrapped up in the warped sense of what they believe the world and sport owes them….. end up in a sad, sad place. Open up. Throw up your arms, take a deep breath in and race from …. our heart.

Bullshit? If you think so. But what…. what would happen if you just believed. For one race? For one day?

What if for one race you let go of everything you allowed to hold you back. Numbers. Insecurity. Anything. Everything. What if as you stood on that starting line you allowed yourself FREEDOM. Freedom to totally FLY?

I saw it when Jennie won Placid. I saw it when Erin smashed her previous FTP. I see it often in those I work with. But only when they get out of their own heads, out of their own way…. push the temptation of excuses and clutter away…. and give themselves that clear path.

It doesn’t take a shrink to understand and see that.

It takes an open mind. More importantly…. it takes an open heart. It takes willingness to dare.

As that saying goes…. “this is not a math test. This is a completely different kind of test. The kind where passion trumps logic.”

As our athletes get ready to dust the snow off their shoes, rev their engines, and get ready to step up to the starting line I remind them, the key to performing at your best is honestly, to let go of the bullshit. Let go of the story. Let go of the barriers.

TO LET GO. PERIOD.

Only then, will you raise the ceiling, smash the barrier and truly have the performance you are capable of. It’s a lot faster than you are willing to believe, I can guarantee that.

But….. only if you believe.