Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nerves

Well I really did intend to write a "long" version of my race report sooner. I have been waiting for some pictures of the meet to post but I'll go ahead and post those later...

Okay so I'm 38. Swimming in a dinky Masters meet. Why on earth should I be nervous?

Well I was. And I think I didn't appreciate how much until after the 50 free. True I had not been doing any major workouts. Our team had been doing almost all stroke work. So I shouldn't have expected to go much faster than last year, right? Wrong. That competitive spirit never dies. After the 50 all was well and I did loosen up a bit. Things got even better after the 100. On the 50 my coach said I was tense and tight on the start and got off slow after the gun. To make matters worse I was in a heat with all men going sub 23 seconds. Coach said I was behind their wave all the way. I couldn't feel it but he said it probably slowed me down. On the 100 I actually felt exhausted on the last 25. Age. I took a breath off the last wall. Ugh. Much room for improvement. But after that things got better. I whipped off a fast 50 fly and it felt great. I was going to scratch in the 100 fly because I was so tired and was swimming a relay immediately after. I wanted our team to go really fast and didn't want to go in exhausted. But then I figured what the heck? I am 38 and swimming in a dinky Masters meet. Who cares if I am tired? Who cares if I don't do a PR? And then of course, I did a PR! I dropped a second from my time. That felt good.

So nerves. I think I used to be better at managing them. I admired my friends Mary and Ange this weekend and how they handled their nerves. The easiest way to just say it doesn't matter how you do. But sometimes it does matter. You have to be nervous, because you care. But you have to let it go and observe the nervousness, not be driven by it. As I get ready for some bigger meets -- like the New England Championships -- and the Alcatraz swim next August, I have got to get better at handling my nerves. While I have never been a long distance swimmer until my forays into open water swimming recently, I find it so much easier to deal with my nerves in this forum. Every race is different due to conditions. Not so much in the pool. And not so easy to overcome nerves in 26 seconds compared to 30 minutes or 50 minutes.

How do you conquer your nerves? Does it matter if it is a pool swim, open water swim, a tri or a run?

1 comment:

IronMatron said...

You're right: the easiest way to manage it is to talk yourself out of caring. That's not the way to go, of course! It took me a long time to learn that...
I think trying to make nervous energy into I'm going to crush this race energy kind of works. That's my current strategy!