Dread, and other stimuli
Dear weakest link, Today I discovered who you are and where you live. Rest assured that I'm going to be coming round very often from now on, to chat and get to know you better. With time we'll become best friends, in fact we'll be inseparable. Then I'll be able to start calling you 'strength'...
Yours sincerely, WT
There is that moment when you realise that a skill that you'd really like to possess is very difficult for you, or when you realise that you're putting off doing something because you dread it: in that moment you have actually been profoundly empowered. You now possess the knowledge of what needs to be done.
In that moment two paths (briefly) open up for you: in one you tell yourself you really ought to put more time into it in the future, but for now you're just going to carry on with what you've been doing for a bit longer; in the second you turn the full glare of your undivided attention onto that one facet, there in that very moment.
So if you feel dread of anything in training, whether it's a particular exercise, training table, stretch or type of dive, then that is the calling card of a weakest link. Analyse it, isolate it, and make a commitment - the type of commitment you know you can't break - to turn it into your strength. Then begin.
I had this revelation recently with training for the monofin kick. Most of my training tables are designed to be as hard as I can manage, but I realised that I couldn't even stomach the idea of doing a dolphin kick table without fins of any kind for propulsion. My barefoot dolphin kick technique used to be so shocking that I would just lie there in the pool and wiggle my hips without any forwards movement (but occasionally some backwards). These days it is at a point where I can swim a lap in a semi-respectable time, but still with major expenditure of energy. So the idea of doing a table of repeated swims like this, with short recoveries between them, well it wasn't just that I thought that it would be hard, but I doubted altogether that it would be possible for me. As soon as I realised that I had this belief I set out to prove myself wrong.
Having now completed some of these tables, I know that I was wrong, but I still have a long way to go before I can think of calling this a strength. Ask me about it again in a year!
So, can't get your arms into a streamlined position above your head? You could swim with your hands by your sides, or you can start stretching those lats and shoulders and not stop until you can lie one forearm on top of the other.
Hate doing CO2 tables because they are so claustrophobic and bothersome? Look under the rug and your weakest link is hiding there, waiting to pounce. Start conservative and build the tables into a powerhouse of training stimuli.
Don't think you have a weakest link? Maybe that is it…