Triathlete In Training: Journal Entry #4

author : Terese Luikens
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As a novice swimmer I have listed a few things that may help you build your endurance as you approach the water with a sprint race in your future. It can be overwhelming if you are not a fish.

By Terese Luikens
Journal Entry #4 for the month of November 2006  


I encountered my first illness since I began training. It was a sinus cold that drained my energy level well below normal. I knew that I would not be able to ride my bike or run in the cold November air, and I was discouraged. Then I realized I could modify my training, not end it. So, I swam and went to my yoga classes instead. Because it is the wiser thing to do, sometimes we have to modify our training.

I have become a temporary member at our local health club and in addition to swimming, I have taken advantage of some of the classes they have to offer. I was complaining to a friend how boring the traditional stationary bikes seemed to be, and she suggested that I take a spin class.

I have never pushed myself as hard as I did in the spin class. The combination of loud music and an instructor leading the way up an imaginary mountain made me want to endure the discomfort of burning quads so that I could feel the sense of victory that a good workout seems to give me. I think these classes will help me spin my way through the winter months.

My endurance in the water continues to build. I have graduated from swimming a slow breaststroke to swimming 24 laps of freestyle without a rest.

As a novice swimmer I have listed a few things that may help you build your endurance as you approach the water with the idea of a short distance race in your future. I will amplify on the first point in this entry and each one after that over the next six months.

  • Don’t work on more than one concept at time!

  • Swim at least three times a week.

  • Find a seasoned swimmer who is willing to watch you and give you a few pointers.

  • Relax the muscles that you are not using.

  • Always have a goal each time you get in the water.

  • It is okay to watch another person’s style but keep in mind that you should develop the style that works best for your body

Think about all that is required of you when you swim—breathing, kicking, stroke, endurance, and time. It can be overwhelming if you are not a fish.


I decided that my top priority would be to move from breaststroke to freestyle. I began with what I knew, the breaststroke, and integrated freestyle a few laps at a time. Now, after about six weeks I swim all my laps using freestyle.

My next goal will be to build my endurance with breathing. My rhythm is smoother when I breathe on every fourth stroke instead of on every two. So, I will begin incorporating a few laps of breathing on every fourth stroke.

“Natural does not mean easy. It means you are willing to hang in there because it is right for you,” Says Natalie Goldberg.
This quote is in reference to writers, but I think it also applies to those of us who are training or thinking about beginning to train for a triathlon. When we compare ourselves with those who seem to swim, run, or bike with a “natural” ability, we can become discouraged. But everyone encounters discomfort in the process of completing a goal, so hang in there!


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date: December 5, 2006

Terese Luikens