Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Beautiful Day in my Neighborhood Pool

Michael Phelps took the 200 butterfly in 1 minute, 52.09 seconds.

By the time 4 p.m. rolled around, I had only gotten up from my desk twice: once to get a glass of water and then again to make some CoCo Wheats for lunch. And I felt much more inclined to go home and take a nap than jump in the pool.

But I promised myself months ago that particularly on days like today I had to at least give my activity du jour a try—whether it’s swimming, running, yoga, nagging or cycling—because I know I’m grateful when I’m done. Such was the case today.

I swam away my stressful day with a sunny 3,100-yard workout:

  • 1,000 yards free
  • 5 x 200 yards free
  • 1,000 yards free
  • 100 yards free

No timed sets or butterfly this afternoon because I not only lacked any real energy, but had a nagging pain in my right arm that left me a little tense and wincing. In fact, I still have it. It must have been caused by some tragic right-clicking incident, considering the physically eventful day I had. Either that or I’m being attacked by that silent work killer: carpal tunnel. If my crumpled little arm could move, I would knock on wood right now. I guess my good intentions will have to do.

But enough of the sympathy: the swim was great. Despite the energy slump, I have to admit that reading about Michael Phelps’ record-breaking ways helped me get out there. And I really needed it. It’s incredible what something like running or swimming can do for your mind when it has been a stressful day, week or year. Sure, I can get lost in my thoughts, but I have sworn off work-thinking during my training as much as I’ve sworn off the rec. center track (although whenever I ran on the track I mostly did career-path planning, so it wasn’t mentally all that bad).

CoCo Wheats can't be beat!For the second time this week, however, I had someone at the pool approach me for the same swimming advice. Both people (one last Friday, another today) had the problem with swimming endurance, such that they would swim a lap of freestyle, rest, swim a lap of breaststroke or sidestroke, stop, swim a lap of free, and so on. They both wanted to know how they could get the magical thing called endurance.

My response: swim.

But apparently it was not the answer either person wanted. The one asked, “are there any other exercises I can do to improve my endurance?” Swimming, I suggested. The other said, “after I swim a lap, I don’t want to stop or have to switch strokes, what can I do?” Ummm, swim. I realize that there are exercises one can do to help swimming, improve swimming. But I believe that the only way to get to lap 2 is to swim! Same with laps 3, 4 and 5.

I wasn’t sure what else to say, like “eat a can of fava beans before 5 a.m. every Wednesday and then ride a stationary bike for 30 minutes and you’re there!” I think that's how Michael Phelps mastered his craft. (Smack forehead.) I know that getting in shape in any exercise or discipline is difficult (and we all know my downfalls and inability to understand the best approaches!), but don’t try harder to find the easy way out than the real answer. Grrr.

Nevertheless, I have discovered that skipping lunch and swimming at 4 p.m. is my favorite time to swim. Not only do I have time freedom while I’m swimming (rather than having to swim, shower and get back in about an hour), but I get to go home when I’m done. And I have to admit that today could have easily been a 2-mile workout, but that bright sun lured me outside. I took Friday off work and cannot wait to enjoy what is shaping up to be a lovely day.

Knock on wood for me, please!


miss petite america said...

as much as i love working out in the morning, i'll bet a great workout after a hard day feels just as good, if not better!

way to get your @ss to the pool...i know i would have gone for a nap instead :)

The Salty One said...

It always amazes me how stunned people are to learn that good things come from hardwork rather than some voodoo magic luck kind of thing! Hard work, perserverance, consistency, and patience are the keys to success in just about anything!

Mmmmm coco wheats!

Papa Louie said...

And don't tell the asking one that it'll take years of swimming before you notice changes.

Joe said...

> swimming, running, yoga, nagging or cycling

Nagging! OMG!

Triteacher said...

Sounds like you're ready to start your own advice column. ;)