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Thread: Long Plateau/Mental Training

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Long Plateau/Mental Training

    A little background.

    I swam seasonally in high school, and despite the lack of opportunity for year-round swimming where I grew up, I always enjoyed the sport and training. After a ten year hiatus from meets, I returned to Master's a couple years ago. In the stretch of about a year, I went from swimming in the 2:00/100 lane to the 1:35-1:45/100 lane. At meets, I also returned to my high school speed, at least in longer events. I felt physically fantastic and like I was 17 again (i.e., youthful and goofy). But for the past 11 months, I have struggled to gain any speed. I had made it my goal to get into the training lane with a base interval of 1:30/100, but I can't seem to get past a 1:35/100 interval. On top of this, I have had more and more bad days in the pool since March of 2019. Phsyically, I feel very tense and I'm having a hard time focusing. It's almost to the point where I'm only continuing to show up because I know if I quit, I'll be back to ground zero and I'll regret that. Part of this plateau is mental; I tend to compare myself, but of course, only to the ex-college swimmers several lanes over, not the people trying to survive the triathlon swim.

    As far as the kind of swimmer I am, I'm a distance swimmer, but I enjoy strength and power workouts. I do IM too, but my fly has felt especially lousy. I'm aiming to compete in the mid-distance open water nationals in Cleveland this July.

    Is it normal to have an 11 month plateau, especially when you're not an elite swimmer? How have you gotten through plateaus in general? Do you have any tips on the mental end of the sport? I really want to get back to enjoying swimming, and I want to get faster.

  2. #2
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    Re: Long Plateau/Mental Training

    Between 2004 and 2014 my 50 fly was 25.xx every single time (I count eighteen of them here on usms). I believe that counts as a plateau. I think I got through it with a new personal trainer (not an option for everyone) and a new coach who had the knowledge and ability to work with a 30-something sprinter (also not an option for everyone). The same old generic Masters workouts were not cutting it for me. I also started reading a lot about this stuff - I learned about HIIT and USRPT, tried some of it, saw some results. Fwiw at my pool we also have a few great open-water swimmers, and I think they're seeing such success because the coaches are willing to write separate workouts for them.

    Anyway: yes, it's normal, and the solution is probably to change things up. Talk with your coach, lift some weights. You could try focusing on a different event for a while, just for fun.

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