You would think this is the first time it's happened.
I leapt from the pool deck into the water and began my warm up. I felt like I was literally gliding effortlessly through the cool water. My arms felt light as a feather and before I knew it I was pushing off the wall to start another lap. My stroke count stayed down by one without any particular concentration of effort.
[On a side note...we witnessed an INCREDIBLE sunrise this morning from the pool. However...the incredibleness had to do with the fact that the air is so smoky from all of the fires nearby. It was a deep, blood orange red sun that was just unlike anything I'd seen. Sort of like this photo that I got from goldencompass' Flickr page.]
The ENTIRE WORKOUT this morning I felt simply incredible! Refreshed! Full of life! My muscles had no traces of soreness, tightness or any of that general "oh crap, are you really making me do MORE?" feeling.
In fact, our coach had us doing a very looooooong set of 100s where they had to get faster and faster (by one second). It was a landmark day for me - I have never held so many consecutive 100s at the speed I did in my entire swimming life. Not to mention the fact that I felt like up until the last one or two, the integrity of my stroke remained pretty intact.
Yesterday, during spinning class, I noted to everybody how I typically have my long ride on Sunday, but since I hadn't been feeling well over the weekend, I'd rested instead. "It's amazing how FRESH I feel!" I remarked. (Then one of my students snickered back "OH GREAT, TAKE IT OUT ON US WHY DON'T YOU!)
Last week was an intentional rest week for me - I had done the 3 weeks of build, and it was a fourth week of recovery. However, the weekend had more rest time than I had originally built in, as I wrote about yesterday.
And I am so...recovered.
I don't know why I feel like a kid with a new toy every time this happens. OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD!!! THE REST ACTUALLY DID ME WELL!
How about that? The rest did me well.
Gee, what a freaking amazing concept. To write it out seems so, well...duh.
And YET - it is such a difficult practice to master. We want to keep pushing and pushing because we believe (well I know I believe) that pushing makes us stronger and pain is the weakness leaving your body (quote I absolutely love that I was reminded of this morning by my teammate Tom) and no pain no gain, right?
Sort of. But it's so much more complicated than that. There's a time to push and there's a time to rest. I've got the push part down, no problem! I KNOW how to push!
I just don't know how to rest very well. Half the time I take these 'rest' weeks I fail miserably and don't do it right so that I start the next build phase still feeling kind of wrecked and not refreshed the way I felt yesterday and today.
When I do right, I get so excited and giddy and I try to tell myself "remember this. This is the REWARD for resting. REMEMBER how good you feel. REMEMBER how strong you feel. REMEMBER!!"
There are so many articles out there on the perfect taper. People constantly find my blog searching about triathlon tapering. It's everywhere. Unfortunately for all of us, it's a concept that is continually evolving and changing. It's different for everybody and it changes for us as individuals as well. That's why they say the taper is as much of an art as it is a science.
So...three weeks from now, as I wind down for my big day, I will do my best to remember. Remember my amazing strength in the pool this morning. Remember the freshness and renewed vigor with which I swam each lap. And remember what it's like to truly enjoy what I do.