intensity matters

Monday morning I swam a mile; same thing I've done the last 2 months of Mondays.  (well, 1,500 meters actually, but we'll round up & call it a mile!)  But over the last few weeks I've noticed that a small difference in my time can make a huge difference in how my body feels.  For example,

On my slow days I'll swim the 30 laps (up & back, 60 lengths of the pool total) in a time between 29:30 and 30:00.  That works out to about 59.5 seconds per lap.

On my fast days, I'll be under 29 minutes.  I've hit 28:40, 28:41, and 28:50 in the last month.  That works out to about 57.5 seconds per lap.

The difference between the two, in terms of time, is minimal:  2 seconds per lap.  Think about that for a minute. I swim all the way up the pool and back, at a personal record pace, and I'm only 2 seconds faster than the slow version of me. one one thousand, two one thousand.  That's it.

But the difference in my body is tremendous.  On a slow day I can get out of the pool and jump right into my day without a second thought.  I know how far I swam, so I know I got a good workout in that morning, but I don't have my body telling me what a good workout I had.  On a fast day, however, I feel that workout for the rest of the day.  I get out of the pool feeling lightheaded.  I shower & get dressed, but I'm still sweating.  I get to my office and I'm starving for breakfast.  I'm sore, hungry, and tired the rest of the day.  My whole body tells me, all day long, how hard I swam that morning.

2 seconds of difference; less than 4% in my time.  But a world of difference to my body.

For those of you thinking it's ok to just go through the motions, I'd advise that intensity matters.  A lot.  Make your workouts count.

-Chris Butterworth