After years of frustration with my double kicking when breathing on my left side I have finally cracked the code! The problem was not in my body anymore – it was hiding deep inside my brain. Susanne and Paul have tried 1,000 tricks on me in order to get my legs into a proper rhythm, so I could get a better flow and kick some ass out there in the open water. But nothing seemed to help… until I tried to relax 100% and let my swimming come to me. At that very moment I realized that when I emptied my mind of all thoughts, my subconscious took over and followed a rhythm I used to practise when I first started taking swimming lessons: 1-2-3-breathe, 1-2-3-breathe, 1-2-3-breathe. In the meantime my breathing had become an automatic reflex, so the rhythm had unintentionally changed into 1-2-3-pause, 1-2-3-pause, 1-2-3-pause. I had never let go of this breathing kind of pause! Like a bloody Justin Bieber song that sticks to you forever. As soon as I realized that and made sure to skip the extra beat, the legs got instantly into the right rhythm. No more double kicking to compensate for the pause. The code was cracked and my body was released.
I’ve experienced this connection between my mind and my body several times both in my running and my swimming. Another example is my thumb. Susanne spent a lot of time in the beginning, trying to get me to take my thumb closer to my hand before I entered the water. I kept on forgetting it, so my thumb was kind of sticking out at 90 degrees all the way. Nothing seemed to help until we used a different mental image. It started as a joke, but it worked. In my mind my thumb was not a thumb anymore – I pictured it as an appendix hanging out of my hand. I don’t know you, but the last thing I want is an appendix dangling around my hand. So thanks to his unappetizing mental image my body reacted immediately and my finger came under control.
A third and last example is from yesterday. I was practising the front part of my stroke, trying to increase the reactivity of my wrist (I’ll spare you the rest of the technical details). It’s quite a challenge for me as lower arm muscles are not that big or strong. So, as soon as I overdo things (and I am an expert at that, remember?), I get so sore that the rest of the session is more or less ruined. But once again, I got this fantastic mental cue from my trainer. He made me imagine I was waving back at Dover with the palm of my hand on my way to Calais. I may not have royal blood, but I surely know how to mimic a Queen’s waving! And there it happened! Magically my wrist reacted quicker! Bye bye Dover! See you Calais!
My point is, if you ever get frustrated in your training, stop punishing your body. The key lies probably somewhere in your mind. Let your subconscious “open out” and see what’s hiding inside. Find the images and the mental cues that talk to your brain. Find your own language and share it with your trainer. His/her foremost job is to find the right way to talk to you.
Search for the code and crack it!
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