Getting Rid of My Training Wheels

In 2014, Mike and I decided to join the world of triathlon. The first time I met someone who had done an Ironman, I felt like I was in the presence of greatness. Talking with this athlete about his experience made me want to do one even more.

When I first began training for a triathlon in 2014, I ate a plate of humble pie. My humble pie was swimming. It scared me almost enough to give up on my dream of doing an Ironman. The very first swim practice, my coach asked if I could swim. Well of course I can…I thought. I jumped into the pool and barely survived “freestyle swimming” (if you could even call  my sad attempt at survival swimming) my way to the other side of the 25 meter pool. Promptly, my coach asked me to go over to the side and work on blowing bubbles with her. What a slice of humble pie I ate that day.

From that day forward, swimming continued to be my nemesis. The whole season getting ready for 70.3 Vineman was filled with a love hate relationship with swimming. There was one day I just stopped in the middle of the pool and cried. I couldn’t exactly figure out why, other than I probably felt defeated and hopeless. Having come from a running background, I was used to being a decent athlete. I have never been the best, but I could hold my own when it came to running. Running has always been my passion. Sure, running takes work, but I loved the work! Swimming just seemed to defeat me almost every time I got in the pool that season. The distances were achievable but I was so slow. I am happy to say that with the help of my coach, husband and teammates I was able to finish 70.3 Vineman within the Ironman time limits.

So that was a long intro to the point of this blog…discussing my training wheels.

So what are my training wheels? Well, when I began swimming in 2014, I used a nose clip. This clip helped calm me down and was a sort of security blanket in the water. Every triathlon since 2014, I have used it…depended on it…felt unable to swim without it. The nose clip had become training wheels I was scared to take off. What was I scared of? Not being able to swim? Having too much anxiety in the water that I couldn’t calm down? I really don’t know. Using it had just become my normal and I was not convinced I would ever race without it.  Admitting that I don’t think I could compete without it made me realize that I had become far too depended. I would be so sad if my son felt he couldn’t swim without a clip because Mommy doesn’t. It was after that moment that I decided to get rid of the training wheels off. It is amazing what having a baby will do to you! He inspired me to learn how to swim with confidence.

When I told my husband that I wanted to learn how to swim without the nose plug, he knew how big of a deal that would be for me. As I took gradual baby steps, I let go of the training wheels. I started swimming without the clip during the cool down of my workout. Then I did the warm up and cool down. Then, the warm up, cool down and part of the swim workout. One day I did the whole workout without the clip. Two weekends ago, I swam open water without the clip and it was so encouraging. I am proud to say that my training wheels have officially been taken off.

It is so exciting to think that one day, I will go swimming with my son and will not be afraid of swimming without a nose clip. Have I inhaled water and gotten chlorine up my nose, of course. Did I suck up water at the lake, yes…but I kept swimming. That security blanket is gone and it is so exciting to be on the other side of fear. I hope in reading this, you have been able to identify with some training wheels you need to take off. Do it, you will be so encouraged you did!

One thought on “Getting Rid of My Training Wheels

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  1. Impressed by you taking up triathlon, was a swimmer myself, but never much of a runner. Your story reminded me of “Elephant Rope”, sorry its a long comment, but thought you might like it – congratulations for breaking free!

    “As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.
    He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
    The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.”


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