Event Training with ZooFit

I am a part of an amazing team competing in the Whidbey Island Triathlon this Saturday.  In my continuous effort to practice ZooFit in all my affairs, I figured training for this event utilizing the principles of operant conditioning, enrichment, and even conservation would be a great experiment. While we are definitely a competitive team, I feel confident that event training with ZooFit will prove beneficial and effective.

I am the swimmer for the team. I will have to swim a half a mile, the shortest leg of the relay, but ironically the one my team worries about the most. Mainly because neither one are big on the water sports. Swimming a half mile in fifteen minutes or less seems like an impossible feat to them. But then again, I think running 3.8 miles in under an hour is an impossible feat, whereas Sam has been practicing his run under 30 minutes. And Phil, our cyclist, bikes the 19.5 mile ride in under an hour. I can’t even pretend to know how long that ride would take me. So we are a good fit for each other.

My fitness isn’t exactly where I’d like it to be right now. I feel I have too much body fat, and my cardio and endurance is pretty much crap. So training for this event could have been a struggle, or I could make it fun and positive with ZooFit.

The first principle of ZooFit discusses breaking down behavior into small steps, and creating a behavior plan. I got a little late start, but my plan involved getting to the pool everyday for the minimum of one half mile swim. My first several swims were at my leisure. I let myself take 20 minutes to finish a half mile. When I felt good about that, I started to practice different methods for the swim and got my time down to 16-17 minutes. I found a good cadence for my laps, an d even though I won’t be swimming laps in a pool for the event, I can use my practice to feel when I need to push myself and when I can ease off a little on the throttle.

I’ve been using positive reinforcement in this process as well. I own an aqua iPod to help pump me up while I’m swimming, but my earplugs are so poor that I can barely hear my music after only a few laps. So on the third day of practicing my swim method I broke 16:30 and decided to reward myself with a new pair of earphones. Now my music comes through loud and clear for the entire swim. That is one great motivator, which means the new plugs were a great reinforcer.

For enrichment, I enlisted the help of my Sloth Army, and my friend Krista came through in a big way. She is an Open Swim Instructor and gave me a personal lesson to demonstrate some great tips for swimming an open swim race. We went over tips on how to keep your sight while swimming without lanes, lane lines, or markers in the water. Most racers look down or to the side, and unfortunately, that doesn’t help too much in an open swim like a lake or the ocean. So it was great getting a lesson on sighting for an open swim. We also practiced my turns around the buoys, and my finish.

While we were at the lake, Krista exclaimed that Goss Lake was one of her happy spots, and was one of the defining reasons she decided to stay on Whidbey. That reminded me of my philosophy in Conservation Fitness- find your space and protect what you love. I love swimming. That might be an extreme understatement, actually. Swimming is as natural to me as walking. Having the opportunity to practice for the triathlon has reminded me how important it is to protect and preserve our water sources. Goss Lake is a gem on Whidbey. Water is a precious resource. Protect what we love while we get healthy. It’s so perfect. I am swimming and honoring my favorite element by doing my best this weekend in the Whidbey Triathlon.

ZooFit comes through and makes me a stronger, better athlete, once again.

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