It's never a good sign when your swim coach uses the phrase "you're not going to like me." It's even scarier when she uses the phrase again the next evening at bike class.
What followed in both cases were hard interval sets. The kind of hard that really tests you. The kind of hard that makes you wonder if you can actually get through it. The kind of hard that I once would have briefly considered and simply said "I can't".
But, I don't say that anymore.
I've discovered a new ability within myself. The ability to disconnect myself from the part of my brain that is screaming: "YOU IDIOT! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO YOURSELF!! STOP THIS IMMEDIATELY!!!" Instead of living in that part of my mind, I become an outside observer to it. I don't shut it off, because it's important to still be aware if the tantrum turns into an "oh shit. Something's wrong." I listen to it, acknowledge it, and keep doing what I'm doing.
This is where it's really good to focus on technique. To become single minded. Thinking about swimming long and strong, or even a smaller focus, like the angle my hand is entering the water. On the bike, rather then focusing on how difficult it is, making sure to keep my arms soft, or kicking over at the top of the pedal stroke.
It's amazing what the body is capable of, but the more I train, the more I realize what a small part the body plays. Yes, at a given point in time, there is a limit to how far a body can be pushed, but how many of us actually come anywhere close to reaching that point? Rather, it is almost always our mind that holds us back. And, because of that, it is our minds that we need to train. Our minds that we need to push.
That is why, you should periodically do things that you don't know if you're capable of. Stop setting limits and see just what your body can do when you're willing to push your mind to it's limit.