Thursday, December 6, 2007

Why I Can’t Quite Grasp Running...

How sad: I actually had to google “swimming” on my blog to find the last time I hit the pool. I found plenty of posts that lamented my absence from the water before I landed on Nov. 3. And the strokes before that were taken Sept. 12 at the Akron Women’s Triathlon.

Needless to say, it took plenty of mental tricks to get my butt in the water today. And as usual I aimed low for my yards. On Nov. 3, I swam 1,500 yards—something I considered a major feat—and felt only a little rusty. How would I feel today?

Well, you might remember that I’m a total baby about getting into the water. Especially during the summer when the air is warm and the water cools you down. But I don’t like to be cooled. So, I warmed up for ten minutes on the elliptical before jumping in the water. The combination of body warm-up and average water temps made the jump-in easier than usual. At least there was no squeaking or squealing this time.

I started out being nice to myself. I would swim until I felt tired, I thought. My warm-up started as 200-yard free, then extended to 300, 400 and stopped at 500. I hit my lactic acid threshold (a.k.a. the point at which I wanted to die) and burned from about 250 through 350 yards. And then I was warm.

To my surprise, I didn’t feel as out of swimming shape as I had suspected and completed the following 4,000-yard workout:

  • 500 yards free warm-up
  • 4 x 250 yards free drill
    (5 x 50 with emphasis on pull, kick, breathing every fifth stroke, follow-through and bringing it all together!)
  • 4 x 600 yards IM
  • 100 yards one-arm fly cool down

Right before the last 600 IM I started feeling a little tired, but I couldn’t stop 700 yards from 4,000. Could I? Pushing myself the extra yards felt great. And my cool-down was less vigorous than it sounds: it was a slow, stretched-out one-arm fly that was most yogic than high intensity. It was the perfect end to a decent workout.

This swim, however, highlights the reason I’ll never be able to train myself in running. In the pool I can eternally push myself harder than I should and continue to see improvement (balanced with rest, obviously) without the fear of stress fractures and going too fast.

It’s not a flaw with running; it’s a flaw with me. Would I, after not running for almost three months, kick off into a 20-mile run? Not without killing myself. But since I grew up swimming, my brain just has a hard time accepting that it’s not a practical thing to do. Luckily for me, my body stops running before my brain sees any of the red flags.

Hence the reason I'm having a running-free December. Sob.

The best thing of the swim had to be splashing around in a pool while the hills outside the tall rec. center windows were covered with a clean blanket of snow. It’s a beautiful incongruity. One of the rec. center employees, however, kept opening (and leaving open!) an outside door right next to the pool as he carried things in and out of the building. Talk about cold! But the frigid breeze was the deciding factor in making those IMs 600 yards and not 200s! At least I have that.

Now I want to swim tomorrow as well!


Joe said...

Great job! Wow, 4 x 600 yards IM. I wouldn't wish that set on my worst enemies. You're one tough chick.

kelsalynn said...

I'm dumb when it comes to swimming, I have no idea how long 4,000 yards is, but comparing that to your last swim, it sounds like a lot so kudos to you! I'm sorry to hear you're having a run-free December though, but hopefully it helps your stress fracture!

B Bop said...

That's one heck of a swim workout. I've never hit 4000 yards in one day.

As far as your ability to go so hard in the pool vs. in your running shoes, I think you made an important grew up swimming. Be patient with the running....heal that injury.

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice swim!! The first line of the post was funny!

I just caught a glimpse of your previous post - I have an Over the Rhine CD that a friend gave me 2 years ago, and I love it!!