Kick to remember

5 x (2x 50m) freestyle kicking

Merely the thought of this drill was paralysing. Till date, I have managed only 4 x 25m kick across the pool, with significant rest between the lengths. So actually doing 10 lengths, seemed almost impossible.

Lap 1: 2 x 50m: I struggled, but managed to kick all the way to the other end. “I am fresh,” I thought, “That’s why I have managed this.”

Lap 2: 2x 50m: This next one, was typical me. I began to kick. All was going well until 18-20m, when I began to feel the burn in my legs and realised that I had transformed into a crawling caterpillar. I could see the end of the pool just a few metres ahead, but I had lost the will to push. I stopped kicking and breast-stroke kicked my way until the end. This happened during both the lengths of this lap. A simple reason, of course, I wasn’t strong enough!

Lap 3: 2 x 50m Breast stroke kick: I This was my recovery lap, and boy, was I slow. I take my rest and recovery very seriously!

Lap 4: 2 x 50 m freestyle kick: Feeling rested, I started strong and managed the first 25m. Then came the awakening! I was just not kicking hard enough. All this time I was barely splashing like a kid and wondering why I was not moving.

And then my mind piped up: “It’s your attitude!  The casualness!”

The reason that I was doing this drill, was to imprint a strong kick as muscle memory.  To increase my swimming efficiency. I had to maintain focus and do it correctly.

Kick from the hip. Feel it in the glute! Wake up!

Like a child who has just been chided, I converted all these thoughts into action and managed to complete the second 25m.

As I rested, the regular swimmers, who have seen me over the last 6-7 months asked me, “Why are you so serious? Not even a small smile!! What’s happening?” My reply to them (Byram and an uncle-whose-name-I don’t-know) was, “I hate kicking. Oh I just hate it.” This took me back several years, when I had used the same tone, used the same words, for something else. I hate hills. i had said over and over again. The similarity, in my approach and in the significance of training on hills/doing kicking, was a revelation.

Each lap is making me stronger.

Like each hill repeat.

Like every mile repeat.

I have to steel my mind.

Each length is a test.

I cannot fail.

It is this work on the track, doing the drills, which makes us stronger.

Stronger athletes, stronger people.

This is why I am learning to swim. This is why I have a Triathlon-focussed goal. To challenge myself. To grow. To overcome my fears. Of course it is painful and it is hard. That’s why we do it.

Lap 5: 2 x 50m: I focussed on each kick, felt strong and completed it.

I had asked myself last week, what is harder, training during off season or training for a race. And here is what I think. If we are able to push ourselves during the off season, we are training the mind and the body to respond positively to a challenge. This mental and physical toughness is what we need, when we train for a particular race, to consistently belt-out hard intervals and challenging tempos. As we all know, the mind is what runs the legs. So when we train the legs, we are actually training the mind to dictate its will.

Yes, life rules don’t change. We just forget them. That’s why we need a new challenge to teach us, sometimes new things, and other times, old things, in a new way.

Life rules apply to running, running rules apply to life!

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