The Psyche of Triathlon and Swimming

Don’t Think…FEEL

Posted Chris Training

One of my favorite clips of any movie including Rocky IV (“I must break you”) and Mean Girls (“Is butter a carb?”) is Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon:

“We need emotional content…not anger….Don’t think. FEEL…It is like a finger pointing to the moon. **SLAP** Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory. ” Lee says.

In this day of high tech watches, on-demand structured training programs, social media “advice,” and blog posts, which all seem to be barking the latest and best techniques, it is easy to focus on the finger rather than the moon and to think too much. I have seen countless triathletes and runners getting bogged down in the metrics. Thinking too much.

  • What is the best test to measure my FTP?
  • Is my FTP 315 or 310?
  • Oh man, I missed my splits by 3 secs. I must be getting slower…
  • My running power meter was giving me bogus data…
  • My treadmill paces were so different from what I run outside.
  • Should I go with mirrored or tinted goggles?
  • High-intensity training or long slow steady training at 180 beats minus x plus y to the z power….

All the while they are missing the bigger point of the training and all the great feelings that come with it. We miss:

  • the feel of the water.
  • Our bodies moving in the rhythmic, “1/2/3. Breath.” pattern of a relaxed swimming.
  • Our upper and lower bodies being synced together.
  • Our muscles firing with tremendous power.

So I might be getting a bit poetic there but I hope you get my point: that sometimes we just need to stop thinking and analyzing so much and just FEEL. Feel these emotions–not engaging in them and making them drive our decisions–but rather just feeling them.

To some extent the nitty-gritty, the metrics, the numbers, the splits, do have a place but they are the last thing you should be worried about when wanting to get faster as a beginner and intermediate athlete. They are the last 5% maybe even the last 1% that you should be concerned about.

What is going to make you faster is the bigger picture concepts:

  1. The consistent building of volume (so time in the water, time on the saddle, hours in the shoes). Once again feel it. Not micro-analyze it!
  2. Then a little bit of high intensity (just feel it…it doesn’t have to be perfect but it does have to feel intense).
  3. Then making sure you balance 2 and 3.
  4. Repeat.

If you get those 4 down. You are well on your way to personal bests. So don’t think, FEEL while training in the light of the moon.

Coach Chris, Tri Swim Coach