Freestyle stroke engagement

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triathlon swimming trainingDo you sometimes you just feel “off” in your workouts?
You might feel sloppy or as if your stroke has lost its snap.

With this, of course, comes a decrease in speed and motivation and an increase in frustration and even anger!

There are many possibilities for the cause of these feelings, including fatigue, stress, or an oncoming illness, but, the most common cause of this I is often the lack of engagement with your stroke.

I define engagement as being constantly aware– evaluating where you are in the present water and how you are feeling right then and there.
When I am engaged, I am consciously placing my hand exactly where I want it and feeling and visualizing my arm make that perfect bend and pulling straight back through the water just as I feel my hips rotate, my toes pointed behind me, and kick.

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I can almost see myself swim as if I was watching myself on TV with a commentator giving a blow by blow account.

If I do mess up, I know exactly what went wrong and fix it. I might think (and feel) that my hand entered a little too narrowly then and my legs flared out, so, no biggie, I fix it next stroke. I am analyzing everything and 100% present.

Instead of worrying about one bad flip turn, I let it go and make my next one better. I am not thinking about what I have to do at work in an hour or about the bills I have to pay when I get home. I am there to swim, so those things can wait for a while. This is MY time.

This “trick”–for lack of a better word– can apply to any sport or discipline.
The more engaged you are on the bike, the more you feel saddle and your pedals. You know when in your stroke you are losing your efficiency be it at the bottom or just at the 5 o’clock position could practically guess your wattage or pace just based on your breath.
For running, you can feel your mid-foot strike and your toes roll off into your next stride.

When I do feel off and disengaged (which happens quite often), I just refocus on the bubbles (if I am swimming) and the breath. I might slow down my stroke and pace so that I can properly feel what I am doing as I am doing it.
More often than not, my form slowly begins to come back to normal. The pain or soreness evaporates, and my speed increases while my effort remains the same. It’s practically magical.

Give it a try and see how engaged you can be.