This is a post from YoungTri Contributor Patrick LaBrode. Patrick is a Sophomore on the University of Texas at Austin Swim Team.
Being an endurance athlete is the furthest thing from easy! We (triathletes, distance runners/swimmers, and cyclists) have to spend many long and grueling hours training a week for a race that could 1 hour to 12+ hours. Although endurance training seems impossible, once you “get in the zone” you can feel like you never want to stop!
I myself am a distance swimmer (swimming the 1650, 1000 and 500) and I have competed in many triathlons. So many of my friends and family members ask me “how do you do it?”
They are stunned when I tell them I swam 9,000+ yards (around 5 miles) in one practice. And the only response I have is that “I get in my zone and just go.” Getting in the zone is something hard to explain to people outside of the “endurance sports world”. All of the sprinters on my team say if they were given a long-distance set, they’d get extremely bored and tired and give up. But what is different about us endurance athletes is the ability to get into that distance “zone”.
Getting into my zone consists of me catching the right stroke rhythm. When this happens, my stroke seems in sync with my breath and my kick. I feel the pull of the water with every stroke and my stroke feels strong and relaxed. As my strokes begins to get in the right rhythm, I also might sing a song in my head that fits the speed/rhythm I want to achieve in my workout. Once everything is together, you feel it, and then you just keep going until the end of the workout or set.
As I’m in my zone, I also like to focus on what’s ahead of me. Is there a turn coming up? How long have I gone? What is my pace? All of these questions help yourself stay focused on the present workout and keep your mind from wondering.
So, next time you’re headed out to the track, road, pool treadmill, trainer, etc. try to think about your body and mind getting into the zone to maintain consistency and keep focused. It’s a great habit/tactic that distance athletes have, so use it!