Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Perfection, Practice, and Parking Lots

A swim and a run yesterday... All is right with the world.  The run was a little slower than the same run the day before I got sick.  The pace was off by :12/mi.  I will see where I am next week before I totally overreact ("OH NO!  Not even two weeks off.. *sniff*.. and that speed was the only speed I had.. *sniff* and NOW IT'S GONE FOREVER!!!.. ***WAIL***)

Then I headed to the pool for a swim.  I had one of those swims where a good catch was just beyond my reach.  I could feel it (and the immediate increase in speed) and then it would be gone.   It was just enough to focus an already intense mood into a needle point of focused blackness.  I went to the parking lot and updated the workout on my phone and while I was typing it, someone sat in a car wanting my parking space (there were others).  To express their desire, they kept beeping their horn.  I sent an abbreviated note to DW and somehow managed to avoid it transforming fully into a scene from a Peter Jackson blockbuster.  "THOU SHALL NOT PARK!!"

The workout note, (which I later decided sounded really b*tchy prompting an email apology) addressed a conversation that we had last week about some lost efficiency in the water.  DW had essentially said that it was okay to not achieve full efficiency (in the face of the many challenges I face as an athlete).  On the one hand, he's right.  I may not be able to achieve the form I know I should have because I am, well, old, fat, and broken.  But I do not want to be let off the hook like that.  Not now, not yet, not ever.

By letting myself off the hook, I may get some mental breathing space but I am practicing and ultimately perfecting bad form.  I have enough limitations as an athlete to willingly accept one that I could prevent.  Sometimes that error is not a limitation now, but becomes one later, requiring correction.

When I used to teach riding, proper form was paramount.  A kid could probably get around with big position mistakes but as the jumps got bigger, tiny little mistakes would be magnified into huge errors, inhibiting the balance of both horse and rider.  SO, every moment of every ride was done with purpose.  Every time you sat in the saddle you practice something that will either help or hinder you down the road.  Same is true for triathlon (and life, I might add).

Every time I get in the pool, lace up my shoes, throw a leg over my bike, I am going to practice something.  Whatever I practice, good form or poor form, will become habit.  Those habits will shape my body, either making it stronger and more balanced or imbalanced with injury producing compensations.  Those habits will form the foundation that will determine how far I can go before I reach the limits of my talent (ahem).  Talent, determination, and correctness of form are the three elements of the equation that determines your limits.  A person only has control over two of those.

There is a reason Vince Lombardi said "Practice doesn't make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect."


  1. Good form, bad form. Can you imagine if you had no forma at all ? I think form is over rated, from the stand point of visual acceptance. If there's an end game that requires good form then I suppose it's necessary... on this planet.

  2. From a visual standpoint I would be inclined to agree, but I am referring to correct form in things like a swim stroke or a running stride. It is your interface with the laws of physics.

  3. It seems that swimming form is the hardest for me! You can lose so much efficiency without the right pull or reach...there's so much to remember!

    1. No kidding. Even though I come to triathlon from a swimming background, I still have so much room for improvement. Ironically enough, I find running form much more difficult to master though. Now THAT is rocket science!!