ironman wisconsin, triathlon

on getting better.

Halfway through an ohmygod-I-can’t-breathe-and-my-arms-may-fall-off interval swim last Thursday morning, Nick said to me from the lane over: If you aren’t pushing it, you won’t get better. 

I had been complaining that 200s sucked, cursing coach for scheduling 10 of them on a wicked fast (for me) pace. I nailed the first three, but that little seed of self-doubt started creeping in around the 100 mark of number four. I can’t hold this pace for six more of these. That’s so fast. I’m not that fast! My lungs may explode! Remember the last time you did this workout?! It was awful, and you resorted to the pull buoy! And, then, coach’s workout comments in TrainingPeaks – HIT THESE (yes, in all caps) – on running commentary, in sync with my stroke.

During the subsequent intervals – which I hit, by the way – both Nick’s and coach’s comments swirled in my head. Sure, they were partial motivation to suffer swim 1:29 per 100 pace, but they apply even broader.


 With anything – swimming, ironman training, life – getting outside your comfort zone is where growth happens. It’s where you learn about yourself, what your limits are, where the magic happens.

This early build for Ironman Wisconsin has been mostly outside my comfort zone. There’s been more cozy-ing up to the uncomfortable (i.e. pool panic, quads complaining) and some balloon-like legs I wish would pop (does this happen to anyone else?! OMG… compression). There have been hours in the saddle, staring at my watts, and my new perfume smells faintly of chlorine. And, my hair… it took me a few weeks to be ok with air-dried.

And, in the middle of all the intervals – and the occasional complaining – I’ve learned that there’s almost always one more breath left in my lungs, one more revolution left in my legs… and, a smile on my face.

It all goes back to my 2014 intentions:

Keep going + do the work.

Also good reminders this week when, in the midst of four inches of fresh snow, I was smacked with a late winter cold… just when I thought I’d escaped one this year.

Here’s to pushing it a little bit farther… to getting better!

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  • Reply Kecia 03/19/2014 at 3:11 pm

    Awesome post and attitude, lady!! Believing in yourself is a key component to improving ;) I’d LOVE to swim a sub 1:30 pace per 100 in the pool…CONGRATS on hitting your target :)

  • Reply Kerstin 03/19/2014 at 3:26 pm

    Any blog post with a swim photo is going to be my fave. Girl you are rocking the swims! And I’m sorry, but 100s suck more then 200s. No arguing with me. And HOW did you take that photo underwater? Do you have a waterproof case????? Just Keep Swimming….

    • Reply erin 03/22/2014 at 9:48 am

      Thanks, dear! Would love to swim together sometime! It’s a GoPro pic! :)

  • Reply Danielle @ I Eat Therefore I Run 03/19/2014 at 4:54 pm

    I’m so with you on this one. Make space between ‘I can’ and ‘I can’t.’ Training for my first half pushed me so far out of my comfort zone, but it made me a stronger and better runner. We just have to keep pushing, knowing a small part of you can do it. And let’s face it, when you succeed, and you always do, you never regret the huge effort and feeling uncomfortable. Way to go!

  • Reply Amy 03/19/2014 at 5:24 pm

    Your going to ROCK Wisconsin!

  • Reply Change of Pace 03/19/2014 at 6:01 pm

    A) Way to swim, Erin!
    B) love this, and thanks for the reminder. Getting out of our comfort zone is where magic can happen!
    C) Feel better soon!

  • Reply Kristen L 03/19/2014 at 9:46 pm

    Awesome work, Erin! Great reminder that it is important to get out of our comfort zone to keep improving. It can be scary to go against our doubts. Nick sounds like a smart man. :) Keep pushing it!

  • Reply Mom 03/20/2014 at 12:47 am

    You are one STRONG daughter!! Proud of you! :-)

  • Reply hyedi 03/20/2014 at 9:12 am

    Here here! You speak the truth. There is so much overlap between training and life and having the right attitude towards one can definitely help with the other!

  • Reply carrisamarie 03/20/2014 at 9:50 am

    Awesome job! Just looking at that split I can tell you’re getting stronger! 200s are the devil. Just long enough to push outside the comfort zone and still short enough to be almost a sprint. My worst set of 200s ever was 20 in a row on the fastest possible interval I could make. I remember about half way through having those self doubts and dread at how many I had left. My coach just looked at me and said, don’t worry about how many you have left. Concentrate on the one your in. Your pull, your kick, your flip turns. When you hit the wall at 200, regroup and then just do it again. Don’t think too far ahead. Having that little regroup on the wall really helped, but focusing on my pull, hand entry and exit, kick, breathing helped to keep me in the moment of each 200. Just like they say “run the mile you’re in” well…swim the 200 you’re in and it will feel a lot less daunting :)

  • Reply Leslie @ TriathleteTreats 03/20/2014 at 6:12 pm

    YES!!!!! It is totally true. You are never going to get better if you don’t push yourself!! I have to continually tell myself that! Keeping mentally focused is key!! I love what Carrisamarie had to say. With interval training you have to be present in just the interval you are in. No looking forward and no looking back until you are totally finished! Swim, Swim, Swim!!!

  • Reply Emily Dingmann (@nutritionisteat) 03/20/2014 at 6:17 pm

    I can always count on you to motivate me! Love it.

  • Reply Ashley @ This Is The Place 03/21/2014 at 4:46 am

    Nice workout! And what a great attitude. When I started training for real, I had to get “comfortable being uncomfortable.” Having that attitude really helps me get through some hard workouts.

    Also 200’s suck. :)

  • Reply Sun Safety Barbie 03/21/2014 at 8:49 am

    nice job. 10×100 is a hard workout, but it’s feels so good when it’s done.

  • Reply swimmykimy 03/21/2014 at 2:37 pm

    Great job pushing through girl! Just remember to send that self doubt packing when it creeps into your brain. I’m heading to the pool shortly and will channel you while I’m there!

    • Reply erin 03/22/2014 at 10:13 am

      Thank you, Kim! Hope you had an awesome, speedy swim! :)

  • Reply Kristen @ Glitter and Dust 03/21/2014 at 8:26 pm

    Do share your secrets to swimming that fast… I wish my motivation in the pool were as strong as it is on the bike and out on my runs. Way to put yourself outside of your comfort zone and challenge your body and mind to overcome doubts. A lesson I could learn every once in a while. Great to see you happy and back at it strong.

    • Reply erin 03/22/2014 at 10:12 am

      Swimming is my weakest sport by far, so what does coach have me do? Swim. A LOT. In the first 3.5 months of 2014, I’ve swam half of what I did ALL of 2013! I think the key is to just swim often. I’m at the pool three or four days a week and do lots of intervals (20 x 100, 10 x 200, 2 x 1,200, ladders, etc.). Just keep swimming and you’ll get there! :)

      Hope your training is going well So pumped for you and your first 70.3!

  • Reply ktfit 03/23/2014 at 4:27 pm

    Hey Erin! I just nominated you for the Liebster Award. Check it out on my blog :)

    • Reply erin 03/23/2014 at 6:08 pm

      Aww… thank you, Katie! I’ll fill out and post soon :) xo.

  • Reply Candice 03/23/2014 at 7:36 pm

    Erin! It looks like training is going well! I think the saying “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” from Finding Nemo is a fitting mantra.

  • Reply cisforcourtney 03/23/2014 at 8:25 pm

    great post! definitely working on getting comfortable with being uncomfortable myself!

  • Reply Luv What You Do 03/26/2014 at 9:30 pm

    Wonderful post!
    What is with this new snow?! I think that I may be getting a cold too. Bummer!

  • Reply meghan @ little girl in the big world 03/29/2014 at 1:24 pm

    Cute suit in your picture! And very nice job sticking with those intervals. Once you start doubting yourself on anything related to time and repeats it’s so easy to give up. That’s fantastic mental strength training you put yourself through! Great job! Are you taking some step back before your IMWI training starts? When you say early build it interests me because Chattanooga is a week after and I think we’re doing an early build too. Wondering what the benefits of an early build are.

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