I'm rather gently and gradually ramping up my distance and pace in preparation for the summer's events. I figure if I'm a turtle, I might as well go with it and do the slow and steady thing for my training as well.
Right now, I'm improving on a pretty steady curve, so I'm happy about it.
Most of what I do and how I track my improvements are objective. How many yards did I swim? How fast did I swim that last 100, or that last 1000? Am I in the pool at least five days a week? Either I made it or I didn't. I have specific measurements I aim for and a specific rate at which I am planning to improve.
For the most part this is as it should be. But I have a subjective measurement that's my real touchstone for how well my workouts went.
Is my hair hot?
I have long, thick hair that just about reaches my butt. This gets wetted down and piled on top of my head into a cap pre-swim. After my swim, I take off the cap, and the hair falls SPLAT! onto my back.
If it's not hot, my times don't matter. It wasn't a good workout because I wasn't working hard enough, It is an excellent way to tell me I need to set a new pace target. If I'm meeting a speed target and my hair isn't hot, that pace target is too easy. This also applies to temperature preference in the shower. If anything more than a lukewarm shower is uncomfortably hot (and I generally like a hot shower), I'm probably not pushing hard enough, either.
It's subjective, it's fuzzy and my times seem to reflect that it works.