Today is the second installation in SBM’s “Fix Your Life Friday” series with our resident life coach, Carrie, of Tempo Life Coaching. I love Carrie’s response to this question in particular, because it deals with body image and swimming – two very awesome topics in triathlon (whether you want to admit it or not!), and two topics which I have shared my horrors quite frequently.
“I am a runner and biker….and now want to try a tri in the summer. The problem is the swimming! How do I get over the issue of being in a swimsuit? And do I start out doing laps right away or would a water class be a good first step? Thanks, Kim.”
Coach Carrie’s response:
STAY AWAY FROM THE MIRRORS!! Seriously though, let me first congratulate you on your jump into the triathlon world. Be forewarned, this is addicting!
Ah, the ole bathing suit issue! Why do we women (and some men too) have such a hard time accepting ourselves just the way we are at any given moment? I wish I had a magic answer to your question of how to “get over” the bathing suit issue, but I don’t. There’s so much behind body image (excuse the pun) that it’s impossible to address in a general email. I will offer some suggestions though…
- Where does your brain go when you see yourself (or even think about seeing yourself) in a bathing suit? Is your inner voice even right? Is that inner voice even yours? This is the deeper issue that really needs exploring.
- When it comes to lap swimming and training, most women either don’t give anyone else a second thought or they are thinking “Wow, look at that woman, I wish I had a body like hers” rather than, “Oh my gosh, how can she even stand to show herself in a bathing suit?” Bottom line, no one is looking, no one cares (except for the women who were wishing they looked like you).
- Now the rest is just a mental exercise…remember why you are at the pool. You are there to train! You are there to train for a triathlon, gosh darn it. You are awesome just for attempting the craziness of that. You are AWESOME just for training. Focus on the reason you are at the pool. Repeat after me… I. Am. Awesome. Just. For. Being. Here!!!
- If none of that works, wrap yourself in a towel, hang said towel as close to the pool as possible, and run like hell to get into the pool. Seriously, if the idea of being in a bathing suit is going to stand in the way of you tri’ing, then do whatever you have to do to get to the pool to start with. If that means covering up as much as possible, then by all means, do it! It won’t last long, I promise!
As for just getting in and doing laps or taking a water class, I think that really depends on your comfort level in the water. A water class (I’m assuming you are talking water exercise or something like that) is not going to work on your stroke, but if you’re not too comfortable in the water, a class is a fantastic idea to get acclimated. Otherwise, start with laps. Please, please, please have very low expectations of yourself when you first start out. You bike, you run, you probably assume you can do a few laps without feeling like you’re going to have a heart attack. Many fantastic triathletes I know could barely swim one lap to start. Just know we all started there!
My biggest recommendation for swimming would be to take a few lessons at some point. Form is the key to success in the water, and a lesson or two can make a huge difference. It’s not necessary to start off with a lesson right away. In fact, it’s not necessary to ever take a lesson, but it is really helpful. I personally took a lesson right off the bat (I thought I was going to drown, by the way) and now I take a private lesson every once in a while just to tweak things a bit. I also do a weekly swim clinic where we work on drills, which I find helpful and I enjoy the commeradere.
I wish you much success with your jump into the triathlon arena. You are Awesome!!”
– Coach Carrie
SBM Life Coach, Carrie Hanson, is a mom of 3 kids (ages 20, 16, and 11), a newbie triathlete, owner and life coach at Tempo Life Coaching. She has a Masters degree in Marriage, Family, Child Counseling as well as a school counseling certificate. Give her some love, and submit your questions (using the form below) for next week! Remember, if you wish to remain anonymous, you shall be!