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Playing Favorites in Triathlon: How I Learned to Love Swimming

As a little kid, I remember trying to trick my mom into saying I was her favorite child.

Not surprisingly, she never fell for it.

But I admit it. I do have a favorite…come on, you know you do, too. Not a favorite child, but definitely, hands-down, always THE FAVORITE discipline in my triathlon world is RUNNING.

I can not lie. I’m guilty of favoritism. Any trail; any day, any time.

Unfortunately, playing favorites rarely turns out well and usually comes back to bite you in the ass or in this case, the ankle; multiple bone bruises and tendonitis to be exact. A classic overuse situation with a side of ramping up mileage too quickly. But, before I knew the diagnosis and exactly what was causing the pain, I experimented with my own remedies.

First, I tried to ignore the pain (didn’t work) and then get by with the shortest amount of rest between runs (also didn’t work). Eventually, I realized what everyone else had known for weeks--that I needed to see a doctor.

Fast forward to feeling sorry for myself (NOT my finest hour), then GRATITUDE that it wasn’t worse and knowledge that, eventually, it would heal.

So, what’s a Siren to do when biking and running are no longer on the training plan?

I hit the pool with renewed focus and channeled all my energy into The Swim. Before too long, I became a student of The Swim. I watched YouTube, went to swim clinics, swam in the ocean for races and training, read books and blogs and began to really get my swim on.

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In short, swimming saved me. It kept me moving forward as I healed. And believe me, as a mother of three teenagers, this mama needed The Swim.

I did all the workouts I could with my ankle wrapped, then KT taped as I began to learn patience with the healing process and most importantly, solidified friendships at the pool. Nothing bonds you like months of early workouts in a cold and overchlorinated pool supporting your teammates. And, believe it or not, sitting with my leg in the ice bath and drinking coffee after practice became (almost) enjoyable.

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When I reinstated running in August of this year, I was much more careful. More rest, more cross-training, new shoes, keeping up with the foam roller and chiropractor, and even learning to (almost) love strength training.

Swimming saved me from myself when I was feeling low and a little left behind as my peeps logged miles through the spring and summer. I’ve come a long way in my stroke technique, endurance, and core strength and I’m not willing to lose all that I’ve worked so hard for this season. I won’t soon forget what I now know, and I will always be thankful for what 2018 gave and in many unexpected ways.

Dory had it right when she said, “Just Keep Swimming.” Thanks, Dory. You are a wise little fish.

Written by Andrea Rutsky, Siren Luminary

Follow Andrea on Instagram @trailyogaaaahh

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