Of the USMS postal swims, January’s hour-long SCY event is always is the most mentally challenging one for me. I think it’s because if I have a specific distance, such as with 5/10K LCM or the 3/6K SCY postals, I can pre-determine a race plan to (try) to execute. Consequently, the “swim as much as you can within an hour” postal feels all wild card. Challenging myself in the pool is always a good thing, so I try to do January’s postal every year. But it’s also always the hardest postal to do each year; this year it looks like I’ll miss it.
The two key factors that make it tough get it done?
1) The hour postal is the least likely event to have a dedicated time/date/pool space allotted to us locally (this year nothing was scheduled, at least that I was aware of). This means we have to squeeze it in individually where ever and whenever we can, which is not easy where I live—finding a pool with lane availability in a block longer than an hour can be challenging each January.
First, all kids don’t automatically go back to school January 2, so many holiday swim camps (both age group training and rec swim) are still running through mid-January, using the pool time we have normally. Second, it’s winter. While we have a few year-round outdoor pools, the one I have access to opens only when the air temp is 35-degrees or higher (e.g. last week only one day met that condition). Third, snagging an entire lane to yourself for an hour-plus ticks off others, especially during a month when pool time is limited and centers are flooded with New Year’s fitness resolutioners. Fourth, you have to find someone who’s available to verify your race, which isn’t easy as you’re likely to be swimming at a really weird time (e.g. “Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.”) due to lack of above-mentioned pool availability.
2) Flu and cold season. Normally, January is a “healthy month” for me (my challenge months are usually October-December and sometimes April*), but this year I caught that 5-6 week virus right after Christmas. I haven’t swum with my usual consistency, let alone done any weights since the holiday. There just haven’t been many “healthy day” swim race options for me in 2016 so far, even with the postal deadline kindly extended to February 10 this year due to extreme weather in many U.S. spots.
Looking ahead, I already want to do the January postal in 2017, and plan to do the rest of the 2016 postals—I’ll be very appreciative if I have more options to do them (with a shout out in advance to Nicole Vanderpoel who always does a fantastic job organizing the spring and summer postals for us!). Meanwhile, am still ruminating—is my January postal situation a “masters-norm” or peculiar to my region. Readers?
Next week: *Why October-December and Sometimes April Are My Health Struggle Months