I arrive at swimming yesterday and am not feeling particularly energetic so hope that it is not a tough session. Usually my coach posts the program on his website so you can mentally prepare yourself. "What are we doing today" I ask? "We are doing a time trial". "How long is it?", thinking it is going to be a 1500m. "750 metres". "I can do 750 metres" I say. So we do a warm up for ten minutes and if I was not feeling motivated already, I am moved into the fast lane. When I say fast lane, I am talking about ex New Zealand rep swimmers and leading age group triathletes!
We start the time trial and let me just say that I hate time trials. I believe that time trials are something that need to be practiced. You have to know when to go hard and when to get into a rhythm and when to sprint so as not to destroy yourself and be a dead weight in the water. I of course get this wrong all the time and end up going too hard at the start and then blow up about halfway into the time trial. Today I decided that for 750m I was really going to focus on going out hard to start and then try to maintain technique before bringing it home at the end. You can usually judge how you are going when you turn around at each end and see if you are getting closer to the person who is in front of you as well as if the people behind you are getting further behind. Today I was not losing time on the person in front which I was extatitc about as she is a fast swimmer and was thinking to myself, I must be doing something right!! To add to that I was gaining time on the people behind me so I was not going slow. I finally finished to be told that I had completed the time trial in a time of 12 minute 11 minutes. That is 1 minute 40 seconds per 100 metres which is a good speed. I think to myself that my technique must have been good, my stroke count must have been good and I have not had it confirmed yet but I am pretty sure that this is my best time. I am warming down and my coach comes up to me and says that he noticed that my stroke is still not right. I defend myself and state that I have just potentially done my best time. He is not impressed. He wants to see more focus on what he is telling me with regards to the depth of my stroke, particularly my right arm. "Nathan" he says. "It is time to take it to the next level". I sit there and think for while and agree that maybe it is time to take several things to the next level.
I come home and decide that forget these feet strengthening exercises that I am doing, I need to go for a short run. I have not been for a run in my Vibram Five Fingers since the first day I got them. I decide to go for around a 20 minute run. It is freezing tonight so put on the long skin pants and start running. I feel good at the start of the run and realize that my cadence is higher than usual however I can also feel that I am trying to stride longer and focus on reducing my step which will improve my cadence. I can also feel that I am still landing on my heel at times especially on my left leg. When I have been doing my exercises, this leg in a couple of the exercises is definitely not as flexible and is causing the heel strike which in a long run will definitely be painful.
We basically live on top of a mountain so the run was mainly down hill to the main road and then a long stretch of flat followed by a steady climb back home. Near the end of the run my feet are feeling tired and physically I am feeling tired. I am pretty sure that this was not due to the shoes though, might have been the 4 course industry lunch I was invited to today...
I finish up a long hill and by the time I am home my legs are tired. I feel quite tight as I finish especially in my calves but my feet feel pretty good. I get home and have been gone for 25 minutes. Probably is a little longer than I wanted to do but it was nice run. I take of the Vibram shoes and my legs are strangely shaky. It is almost like I have done leg presses and have gone too hard. I do some stretches and then have a nice shower before chilling for the evening.
I wake up today and my legs are tight especially in my calves. My feet feel fine which is a bonus as I thought with the heel strike that I was doing at the start of the run yesterday that I may have a sore heel but that is not the case. The Vibram Five Fingers have now proven to me that they will change the way that I run. I would not normally be so sore in my calves but as I am pushing off from the middle of my foot and using my toes, the strain is being taken in my calves. I am a little scared almost concerned about this change. What if I don't like it? I guess only time will tell but what I have learnt about my running is that over the next couple of weeks, I will certainly be taking it to the next level!