Saturday, April 19, 2008

2200 and Counting

Yesterday afternoon I left work, ran by the grocery store to buy food for the weekend (including a thin crust tomato/basil frozen pizza for myself for dinner that night-- a treat!), and then returned to the gym for the second time that day (I did an hour-long Power Pump weight lifting class in the morning).

On Fridays at 5:30 there's a class called SwimFit, taught by the same lady that's now teaching the swim part of my triathlon training class. I've gone a few times in the past few months, but it's kind of at an inconvenient time if I'm driving to Missoula on Fridays. But since I was staying here in Kalispell for the weekend, and I didn't really have anything else to do on a Friday evening (yes, I'm a border-line loser!), going to an hour-long swim class seemed perfect.

The class is pretty similar to a Master's Swim. It's less class-like and more of a guided workout. The instructor posts the workout on a board at the end of each lane, then folks separate themselves in lanes according to relative speed. The posted workout is designed for the most experienced/fit swimmers, and the rest of us modify it as needed (e.g. do fewer reps, or just realize that we won't make it all the way through the workout). The instructor watches from the pool deck and gives tips & encouragement. But pretty much you're on your own to do the workout. Here's what last night's posting looked like (with lay-person translations in blue):

150 Warm-up slow-pace, any style stroke, get the blood flowing
2x200 Free, 20 sec interval swim 200 yards freestyle twice w/ a 20 sec break between reps
10x50 Odds free, Evens choice swim 50 yards (down & back) 10 times; do freestyle stroke on the 1st, 3rd, 5th, etc, and any other stroke you want (I alternated backstroke and breaststroke) on the 2nd, 4th, etc
4x150 kick w/fins 1&3 kickboard, 2&4 streamline with fins on your feet, do 150 yards of kicking while holding onto a foam board to help keep your upper body out of the water; then do another 150 yards while in a Superman position-- arms stretched out front and clasped; repeat the whole process once
2x75 pull freestyle stick a little dogbone-shaped foam thingy between your legs to help them float and swim 75 yards using just your arms (no kicking)
6x100 Sprint free, 20 sec recovery swim 100 yards at a fast pace 6 times w/ 20 sec breaks in between
8x50 SPRINT FASTER, 15 sec recovery swim really fast for 50 yards, then catch your breath for 15 seconds; repeat 8 times
4x100 choice, 15 sec recovery swim 100 yards any stroke, repeat 4 times
200 warm-down swim nice and slow, stretching out and letting your heart rate come down, your muscles relax; use whatever stroke you want, or even just play around swimming on the bottom, float on your back-- whatever helps you relax
Total workout= 3,400 yards

I was swimming in a lane with just one other lady, and she and I were just about at the same pace for everything, which was a first for me. It was really nice to have a good lane partner. She would take off for a rep, and I'd take off about 10 seconds behind her. We never bumped into each other or had to swim around or wait at the end of a lane-- all of which are common if you're sharing with folks of different speeds/skill levels. It made it a great workout-- I pushed myself a little harder than normal to keep up with her, especially in terms of only taking the allotted time for rest breaks (often I'll stretch20 seconds into 30...).

We would stop and regroup at the end of each set and talk for a second or two about how things were going (e.g. "whew, my arms are getting Tiii-errrred!", "yeah, mine too!"). We got all the way to the 100 sprints, then noticed that there were only 10 minutes left, so we decided we'd do four 50 yard sprints and then do the warm-down. So the total workout for us was 2200 yards.

2200 yards?! HOLY COW! That's the farthest I've ever swum in a workout!!! It was great to have a good lane-mate to push me along (and to chat with in the hot tub once we finished our workout-- I learned that she did her first Tri last fall and is doing 3 this year, with an Olympic Distance planned in early Sept).

It feels great to have come this far with my swimming in such a short amount of time. Back in November when I first started hitting the pool, a 500 yard workout would take over half an hour and leave me wiped out. Here's an excerpt from an email I wrote to Robyn on Dec 6-- just a few weeks after I started swimming:

Just used my lunch break to go to the pool. I was in meetings all day the past two days, sitting, sitting, sitting, and didn’t get a workout in at all yesterday, so I had major ants in my pants.

Anyhow, I had a bit of a break-through a few nights ago. I was sharing a lane with a guy who was swimming lap-after-lap (as opposed to stopping to catch his breath, like I do, at the end of each pool length). At one point I started off just as he did, and realized that I was swimming faster than he was. Now, here’s a guy who obviously swims enough at least to have good endurance… and I’m a newbie swimming faster than he. No freakin’ wonder I can’t swim more than 50 yards at a time without totally dying!!!

So… today’s focus was going slow, keeping calm, slowing down more… and I managed to the previously-daunting-looking Endurance Workout on my baby-swim plan:
4x25 warmup (with 10-20 seconds in between to catch breath), then a “ladder” of 25, 50, 75, 75, 50, 25; finally, I did 4x25 drills (bouy in legs, working on arms), then 4x25 cooldown. The total: 700 yards!!! And it only took 30 minutes (ha!) But at least I learned the trick of slowing myself down to have some hope of endurance.

Funny, it’s just like when I started running… too much, too fast = discouraged. The difference now, though, is that a. I’m not afraid of an elevated heart rate, and b. I know that my body can do this, I just have to figure out how.

Could I have made such leaps in progress a few years ago? Perhaps, but I doubt it. I attribute most of my training success to learning to run. Running has given me physical strength and endurance that I've never had before. But more importantly it's given me a confidence to know that even this short, squatty, formerly-unathletic body can do some pretty athletic things. I know that if I work hard and train smart, results will happen. In whatever sport I choose (except maybe those that require hand-eye coordination....)

Oh yeah, and it makes that frozen pizza taste all that much better :)

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