January 2008 Archives

A Miracle in 55 Seconds


Monday's run got blown off due to the crazy cold. I want to be running, but not THAT badly.

Monday's swim was a no-go, albeit a strange one. I was in bed by 9:00pm, but couldn't get up at 5am. Turns out I went back to sleep and woke up at 9am. I wondered if I was sick or something, but apparently I just needed 12 hours of sleep.

Today's swim was such that I decided to stop comparing the swims. They're all tough at this point, and picking the toughest is kind of pointless. The toughest one is the one you're currently in the middle of.

The warmup was 850 metres. The main set looked like this:
3x150 (100 fr, 50 fly) on 3:30
50 ez
3x150 (25 fly, 50 build to sprint back, 75 br mod) on 3:30
50 ez
3x150 (25, 50 br build to sprint, 75 fr) on 3:30
50 ez
3x150 (100 fly, 50 fr)

That's almost two kilometers of swimming, with a ton of fly mixed in!

The first set really set the tone. I led out for the lane. The ladies were on my feet for the 100 free, but I lost them on the 50 fly. I tried very hard to focus on kicking through the fly, since it tends to be the first thing to go when I get tired.

We got lots of rest in the set, but not enough. After a 50 freestyle to get some active rest, I again led out for the second set.

The challenge here was to build to sprint in backstroke coming off a 25 fly. I'm not really sure I got to a full out sprint, but with my backstroke it's hard to tell if I even have a sprint. The 75 breaststroke was a welcome recovery, though I had a hard time doing to proper breakout at the end of the backstroke sprint. The hardest part about breaststroke, it seems, is the lack of oxygen on the turns.

I slipped to second for the third set, as my backstroke had been holding one lady up. It was interesting to see how quickly I could make up the stagger on the 50 breast sprint. As a result, I never quite felt like I was going all out on the breast. Believe me, I was ok with that. I lost ground again on the 75 freestyle. The rest for this set seemed quite short.

The last set wasn't revealed until we were into the third set. I had serious doubts about being able to pull it off. I was back in the lead, which meant I could take some extra time before the set started.

On the first set, I focused on breathing every second pull, and trying to keep my kick active. At 75m, I thought I was doing great (considering!), but then I took on water and sputtered to the turn. I had to breathe every second pull for half a length on the freestyle before I got things under control.

The good news? 55 seconds rest.

The second 150 was much tougher. My kick went away earlier, and on the final 25 of fly I had to start breathing every pull once or twice to keep myself going. The problem is that, while doing so gives extra oxygen, it also involves extra work (raising your body out of the water). Bleh. I sucked air hard on the freestyle.

When I stopped and checked the clock, I again had 55 seconds before I had to start again. I remember thinking that I needed a miracle in those 55 seconds. It was all I could do to suck air for the full 55 seconds, and when I started I was still feeling like I was a long way from ready.

I can't tell you how I got through the last 150. Maybe the part of the brain that records memory is the first to give out when you're low on oxygen. Maybe I'm just blocking it out. I do know that it took incredible willpower to switch from breathing furiously every second pull on the freestyle to bilateral breathing. As always, it made swimming easier, but I really really wanted the extra oxygen.

Rideaa Lakes and Winterlude signups are both this week. Hopefully I'll be able to get into both, though today has me wondering just how much I'll enjoy the swim meet....

Feeling Sore-ry for Myself

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Any morose thoughts that I'm not really training much these days have gone out the window this week.

After Christmas usually marks the start of the competetive swim season. The first week back after the Christmas break gave us a chance to get back into it, but this week the intensity has been noticeably increased.

It started Monday morning, with the transition set. The transition set is the set after the warmup, but before the tougher main set. The tranisiton set was basically 1100 metres of IM, finishing up with a 400M IM where each stroke started easy but built to sprint. I don't know about you, but after doing 100 butterfly ending in a sprint, the last thing I want to do is 300m of anything, much less a bunch more sprinting. (And yes, the main set was arguably tougher.)

Today's swim was much, much tougher than Monday's. The main set looked like this:
2x25, fast, moderate
2x50 fast, moderate
2x75 fast, moderate
2x100 fast, moderate
1:30 rest

There were pace times, enough to give decent rest on the fast, but less on the moderate. The net result was that the longer sprints started before you'd fully recovered from the last swim.

The first time through I did freestyle, and my fast 100m was one on 1:28 or so. I really could not have gone any faster by that point. The second time though, I did breaststroke, and it was SO much tougher. I managed a 1:40 for my 100, which I was happy with, but I was ready to disintegrate. Fortunately, we only had time for the 25 and 50 before we had to cool down and get out of the pool. I honestly don't know if I would have tried a third set if I'd been given the choice. My brain was already trying to chicken out, on the plausible excuse that I needed to leave early.

I guess the long and the short of it is that I'm still feeling sorry for myself. Before, I felt like I wasn't in good enough shape. With the work that's been done this week, I now know I'm not in good enough shape!!


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The plan for this winter was to run less and swim more. I had hoped that, by adding 1 swim a week to my schedule, that I would be able to push my swimming to the next level.

It hasn't quite happened.

In dropping from 5 runs a week to 1 run a week, I've naturally lost some cario fitness. It comes up in the pool more than I hoped it would. I struggle a bit more on the tough interval sets. I seem to take longer to recover from the sprints. Maybe it's just nostalgia, but the tough sets seem much tougher, and the challenges much less fun this year.

I had hoped that whatever losses the drop in running gave me would be compensated for by increased strength. It has, to an extent. Some of my isolated timed swims, buffered by plenty of rest, have been very good. My upper body and core strength feel like they're as strong as ever (not that that's saying much). In the day to day grind of swim training, though, it feels like a net loss.

Of course, in every year previously, I've been focused on peaking physically in May. This year, I'd like to aim for a more systematic development that stretches into the fall. Given that, maybe the differences from other years aren't such a bad thing.

One final note - I got asked to today if I was planning on swimming Winterlude in February. At this point, I think I am, though I'm less committed to it than I have been in other years. If I go, I would definitely like to do a longer distance breaststroke race, say 100m or 200m. Beyond that, who knows?


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They say it takes two weeks to form a habit. Yesterday was the second Sunday in a row that I'd run. It was also the fourth week a row that I'd run, once.

The local 5km route is a lot tougher than I remember it being. I've been consistently slow at it so far. Yesterday, though, I went out a little harder than usual. Last spring, I was able to run the out and back route on a zero split at will. Today, thanks to going out hard, I managed a hefty positive split of one minute.

One thing I'm very much focused on right now is stretching, and I did a very good job yesterday, despite the cold. The goal is to keep my legs healthy and strong(ish) over the winter, with a mind to picking things up come spring. Any extra work I can do now to avoid pain and injury has to be a good thing.

Leg Pain

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If last week's weather was an invitation to stay indoors and be lazy, Sunday's was an invitation to be outdoors. It was warm, with temperatures noticeably above freezing.

I laboured through another run, but was glad I was out. Glad, at least, until I stepped in a 2 inch deep puddle. The air may have been mild, but the water was cold.

I made a consciencious effort to stretch very well after the run. The IT and quads were particularly tense.

This morning featured a trip to a very full pool. The warmup had a lot of distance, and the main set was all timed. The times were fairly easy, but it was still a bit of a challenge to go on a fixed time, rather than when I was completely ready.

Unfortuantely, after a set of whip kick, I developed a calf cramp, and had to stop. I seem to be cramping more this year than in other years, and I think I'll need to start bringing water to the pool and drinking during the swim.

The back-to-back workouts are just the cure for holiday leisure. I just with my legs were as happy as my heart about it.

Five Long Years


"It's been five long year and I love you just the same."

Five years ago, I started running.

Ok, it wasn't like turning on a light switch. There had been two previous attempts. My life had been moving in that direction.

I'd love to say I've been a runner ever since, but that's not quite true. Nonetheless, my vision of the future involves me running for as long as humanly possible. It's not something that I plan to give up on.

The greatest gift that running has given me is that I just plain like/love myself more when I'm running. I love the sense of accomplishment, the challenge, the opporutnities to reflect in silence. I love the strength, especially the strength that comes from knowing I've pushed my own limits. Overcoming adversity is good for the soul.

Five years ago I made a resolution, and started on a new path. It has taken me to places that I simply could not have foreseen. It has also presented unanticipated challenges. The new year brings new challenges to life balance and to willpower.

I feel I'm up to the challenges that may come my way. Bring it on!

The Weather Outside is Frightful

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My running plans this week have been scuppered by bad planning and weather, though mostly the latter. An early week snowstorm gave way to a cold snap. Neither was conduscive to outdoor running, and not being compelled to pound in the miles this time of year, I happily abstained.

Swimming, though, involves nothing more than braving a very cold changeroom, wet and nearly naked. You know, now that I put it that way, I wonder why I get up at 5am for the priviledge so often. Nonetheless, swimming is my habit, and I was there again today.

Despite promises of an easy week, we still pulled off an even 3k today. Still, there was never really a moment of undue stress. Rather, it was 75 minutes of constant output.

One thing that I noticed is that I'm falling into the habit of breathing every second pull on freestyle from time to time. Whether it's the added exertion or added oxygen, it sends my heartrate skyrocketing. It's tough to do, but if I can force myself to breathe bilaterally, it all gets easier after a few moments.

The competetive swimming season is almost upon us, and I'm sure that the swims are going to be very tough in the coming weeks. This is probably exactly what I need. At times, I shy away from pushing myself speed-wise. This year, I intend to work on that.

New Year Swim

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I was a bit apprehensive about swimming this morning. I pulled a muscle in my arm over the weekend, and had been having problems putting my arm up over my head. As it turned out, it was the least of my concerns.

The coach promised to go easy on us this week. There wasn't much sprinting or distance, but what there was was a lot of kicking. It didn't take long for me to feel out of breath and run down. It also didn't take long for my left foot to cramp up, which make all that kicking a pain.

With swimming comes a slow return to routine and discipline. I'm looking forward to this year and everything it will bring.


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This page is an archive of entries from January 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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