Trust! When?


Maybe If I Had A Speed Limit Sign I Will Swim Faster?

Trust is defined by Merriam-Webster as follows:

  • a:assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
  • b: one in which confidence is placed

I bring this up in regards to training and specifically speed.  At some point we all started at X:XX/mile pace and overtime steadily improved and are now running at Y:YY/mile pace.  You can substitute bike speed or swim speed as well.  There was a starting point and through hours and hours and miles and miles we got faster, but the question is at what point did you trust that was your speed?

When I started this triathlon journey I would swim 100 yards in 2 minutes to 2 minutes and 10 seconds give or take.  I wasn’t the slowest but I certainly wasn’t the fastest.  I have worked at my craft to the point that I can swim my fastest of 100 yard set in 1 minute and 35 seconds and have that be fairly consistent but I still don’t trust the pace.  Why?

I’m not sure of that answer, but here is some background.  Earlier this year I did a 1,ooo yard time trial and I finished about 1:50/100 yards and felt like I wasn’t winded.  It was as if I didn’t try.  I will say that Coach always says to do these time trial sets as if it were a race.  In a race I go out and settle into a groove and that was what I did but I felt like I cheated myself and her.  I emailed her and gave her the splits but told her I had more in the tank.  The following month we did another and my pace decreased to 1:45/100 yards and yet I still felt strong at the end.

Instead of doing another time trial test I just assigned a random number of 1:42/100 yards for all sets that she asked I swim at race pace for.  A moderate pace  was not going to be between 1:45 and 1:50 and a slow easy pace was going to be 1:50 – 2:00.  Every time I got in the water though I questioned if I could hold that pace for 300 yards or 400 yards.  Never mind that I had actually swam that pace for longer distances.  I didn’t trust myself to swim at those times.  It has been an odd feeling.

I can recall running my first half-marathon and marathon and just about dying at the end.  I know that I had to get better and I did.  I trusted myself to run faster and I did.  To the point that my first marathon was a 4:29 and most recently ran a 3:31 in December.  I trust that my speed for a long distance run like a marathon is 8:00/mile.  I know that a half-marathon can be run in sub-1:40 without pain and a 15k can be run in sub-7:25/mile pace.  I trust these numbers because they have proven to be true, but I also know that I’m training smarter and that those times will drop.

On the bike I was an 18 mph rider but now I am a 20 mph rider.  I trust that speed.  I also question that speed to the point that I think I can hit 21 mph on the bike in one week in Puerto Rico.  I trust that I can ride that fast for 56 miles because I just rode 19.5 mph for 92 miles.  It has proven to be true and thus why I may question my speed in the water.  In two Half-Ironman races I have swam 40:37 and 40:08.  Almost identical times and so I don’t trust that my current speed will translate to 1.2 miles.  I am questioning whether or not I can get down to somewhere between 36 and 38 minutes for the distance.  Time will tell and I will put my mind to the test because I am fairly positive that my body can.

That is the key to this whole scenario.  Silencing the mind.  Telling the mind to shut-up when it questions whether or not I can go that fast.  I have a goal of 5:10 in Puerto Rico and that means that I MUST swim between 35 and 38 minutes otherwise I will have to ride faster and run faster than I have planned and trained for.  Trust the training that I have done and put the work to good use.


** maybe its just the taper week crazies starting
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  1. Jen says:

    This is a tricky question. My experience is different as I’m only a runner but I will share what I’ve learned with my own running. For me personally, it’s so much the story we tell ourselves. When I started running 50 or so pounds ago, my pace was around a 12+ min. mile. Of-course it was. I had never run before, I was out of shape, etc, etc. I was still proud to be running.

    I had grand dream of running sub 11 min. miles. I discovered that I could to that. I got comfortable with this progress. I would set out to run a race around that – I don’t look at my time much when running and discovered that I was selling myself short when I was breaking into the 10’s when applying myself.

    I became content being around 10:30 because from where I was that was great progress! “I can’t run faster than that!” But i could.

    A good friend (and the guy who writes this blog) once said to me, “If you want to run faster, then run faster, period.”

    My last 10K (up hill for the first 3 miles btw!) I ran at a 10:03 pace – never thought I could do that!

    I got out of my own way of “saving gas in the tank” and “if you run too fast you’ll hurt yourself” “you’re not fast but that’s OK” and began to simply work on running faster – (mostly on runs of 4 miles or less).

    It hurts, I sweat like I’m insane, I’m sucking wind but I’m getting faster. Yesterday I ran 2 miles a 9:12 and a 9:13 pace – a pace I would’ve never dreamed I could reach. I find that I can now easily maintain around a 10 min. mile instead of “hoping” to be a 10 min. mile someday.

    Long distances are different – and what you are doing with ironman is entirely different – your “new speed” in swimming and biking has to be carefully considered so you can endure that bear of a race. I realize in distance and endurance you HAVE to set pace carefully – for me, I think I’ve always tended to be too careful.

    So what’s my new half speed? I don’t know. I’m not sure I want to know because I just want to keep pushing to see where I land. I don’t want to tell myself stories that sell myself short. I have no idea what this will translate to a real life race yet. But for now, I’m just running as fast as I can when I can. In training I want to see where I can go.
    Jen recently posted..No TWO miles left behind: running shortMy Profile

  2. Bob says:

    When age creeps up on you, you are happy to just get close to the times you had when you were 35. Or at least that’s what I am dealing with now. I know I will probably never match my 3:52 marathon PR . Since I want to do this until I can’t walk anymore, I really don’t try to push the envelope on training anyway. One false move could end it all in training.

    I say that but I do intend to give Kona qualifying one shot and that shot was going to be NYC this year but due to our move to TX, I will probably pick a race when I hit the 60 – 64 AG (my AG attrition rate will be my friend in my efforts to get to Kona)

    sounds like you are on track for 5:10. Have fun with it and we will be watching!
    Bob recently posted..SAFE ? and politically correct in the USAMy Profile

  3. Tonia says:

    First, Katie’s post on the mental barriers of racing and now this one really have me thinking about how I am holding myself back because I don’t trust that I will be able to hold the paces that I have trained for. For me, it takes a lot of proof to get me to trust that I can do something. I get caught in the fear of “what if” and it can be hard to break.

    It’s easy to be careful. It’s hard to take a risk. You have the ability. Don’t question it.

    Yes, I realize I should be saying this to myself.
    Tonia recently posted..Live Like the Honey Badger: Principle 6My Profile

  4. When do I know?? I HAVE NO IDEA!
    Mamarunsbarefoot recently posted..Holding My BreathMy Profile

  5. misszippy says:

    It’s such a tricky one. With swimming it used to be moving up a lane in master’s and hanging with the faster people. With running, it’s consistent training and good racing. I’m in a similar predicament right now, b/c I have no idea what my speed is going into Boston. I like to have a plan for my pace and need to figure out how to gauge my current fitness level. Ok, I’m giving you my post today. All about me, right? ; )

    You are going to have a great day in PR!
    misszippy recently posted..A need to knowMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      I like to have a plan too, but pacing in the water is impossible. That is a true RPE event. I get out of the water when I get out of the water but I can push it and get out knowing I did the best that I can.

      You can write your blog posts here anyday.
      CTER recently posted..Trust! When?My Profile

  6. Megan says:

    I always doubt my speed in running, but not biking or swimming. I always shy away from running with friends that are faster than a 9 min/mile pace, but then they force me to run with them and then I easily run sub 9 miles. I guess I’ve never thought of myself as a fast runner, so even though I improve and my paces drop, I still think I’m slow.

    Thanks for posting about this – It’s got me thinking…

  7. marlene says:

    I definitely had a similar experience with my running. I spent all of last year battling pace demons who told me I could not hit my targets over longer distances. And then I just proved those demons wrong over and over again. It’s amazing how much you have improved in the pool – gives me hope!
    marlene recently posted..Morning LoverMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      It truly is about shutting your mind off. I learned from Jeff and Kevin last weekend that lesson big time. These guys were in big time pain but pushed those last two miles by shutting off their brains and going for it.

      I know I have the fitness to swim 35-38min and still be fresh enough to ride at 20-21mph and then run a 1:45 half-marathon. I know I can do it and during taper that is all that I’m focusing on. I have put up wall paper that just shows 5:10 so I am always reminded of my goal. I have it written on my hand as well.

      As for how far the swimming has come……there is definitely hope. You are going to masters class which is a big help. I had an Ironman athlete who qualified for Kona next to me one day and I ‘raced’ her the entire time to just keep going and I know that Masters is just the same.
      CTER recently posted..Trust! When?My Profile

  8. Nate Wilson says:

    That is a tough question, I am new to endurance sports and still figuring things out. The only coaching I have received is from a South African friend, (who is also a silver medalist so I trust his advise), who is very anti-technology, and says to listen to your body not a watch, Garmin, HR monitor, or speedometer.

    For time trials I determine my pace by how my oxygen uptake feels.

    Running – I run at a pace until I feel my abdominal muscles start to contract assisting with ventilation then I back off a little and settle into that pace.

    Cycling – Similar to running but I use lactate threshold, when I feel it approaching I back off until I am just under it I settle into my pace.

    Swimming – same as cycling

    I only look at measurements after the fact. I use the measurements not decide where my pace should be, but compare them to all my logs to make sure nutrition is correct, and see where I am getting stronger and where I might need to pay more attention. I also go back over in my training block mentally and remember where I struggled (ie. I struggle on hills bc/ I am fat, and lack power, so during training I look for routes with a lot of hills). I have continued to make huge gains with this regiment, with no injury, so it works for me.

    My South African friend states training is for figuring out what your body can and cannot take.

    I am always looking for new advise.?.
    Nate Wilson recently posted..60 Days of INSANITY…Done!!My Profile

  9. Ann says:

    I have had the same trust issue twice. During the Marine Corps Marathon a few years back I said “Sh*t” at every split because I was sure I was going to fast but I couldn’t seem to pull back. I got a 20 minute PR that time. Then last year in the Patriots 70.3 in Williamsburg, I was flying on the bike. Almost 4mph fast than normal. I was so worried I would ruin my run but I ended up with a PR for the run as well. Sometimes your training works. You just have to learn to gage that. Thanks so much for this post.
    Ann recently posted..Running – My Arsenal and ToolbeltMy Profile

  10. Maria Simone says:

    I 100% understand what you are saying here. As you may recall, I’ve been having similar experiences with my swim (twins!!!!). I’m not sure I have the answer but I think part of the key is tuning into how it feels while racing. When I run, I can dial in my effort pretty well by feel, and I think that is why I trust my run speed.

    You’ve been spending a lot of time in the pool, so you know what easy, moderate and hard “feels” like. Focus on that while you are swimming. Use your mind in productive ways to think about the effort level. And, shut off the part of the mind that wants to focus on negative talk. Easier said than done, I know. But, if we are in the present and mindful, we can do it.

    As you said, swimming is an RPE event. So put your mind to good use and think about how your body feels. Describe it to yourself as OBJECTIVELY as possible so you can recognize signs of where you need to be effort wise. Feel easy? Steadily increase your effort. Feel hard? Back it down into moderate. Try to avoid spikes of effort (with the exception of the start…). And, remember – spending the swim anaerobic will not bode well for your bike and run. Keep the effort in check :)

    You have the magic in you, Jason. You are going to experience something incredible at San Juan. I can feel it. My twin spidey-sense is tingling :)
    Maria Simone recently posted..The Tutu Train’s A-Comin’My Profile

    • CTER says:

      We need to invent the swim goggle that works with Heart rate monitors and shows bpm on the lens every 5 minutes or so and we will make it more a science than RPE.

  11. Jeff Irvin says:

    Like any relationship, and your S/B/R training is a relationship, trust grows with time and experience.

    Distances and speeds that I used to think were impossible are now routine. That came with experience which was then followed by trust.

    Oh, and all of it needs to be wrapped up in consistency. Surely some corporate trainer has a chart/graph/pyramid depicting these relationships (-:
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..What is Harder?My Profile

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