Oh hai, I'z back now.
I've been back in training for a few months now, and starting to see some results. My trainer has been easing me out of 'rehab' mode and back into regular training mode. This means I can't whine my way out of doing something quite as easily and he is enthusiastically finding new ways to hurt me every Monday morning. We've been adding more weight to leg presses, and doing lots and lots of squats and lunges. This is still kind of amazing to me, because all I can remember is that I couldn't do ANY of those things just a few months ago. I have been able to jog slowly for short distances on the treadmill, but there will be no road running until March.
I've been swimming about twice a week, and while I'm mostly in the pool to do stroke drills, my trainer and I have been working on upper body weight training to get me ready for when I start my endurance & speed workouts. I HATE HATE HATE upper body weight training. I hate shoulder presses, I hate chest presses, I hate pull ups and I hate push ups. I was a strict girl push up kind of lady until I realized that this was for sissies and now that I am an athlete, I need to cut that shit out. I heard about the 100 Pushup Challenge and I was a bit intrigued; train for 60 days to be able to do 100 consecutive push ups...OK, MAYBE. Then I saw that the running nerds at Flotrack were upping the ante by doing it for time: 2:47 to be exact. Check out the video to see how hard it is to beat this time (set by a GIRL, BTW).
Currently I can knock out 1 set of 10 full push ups (well, 8 good ones, 2 iffy ones) comfortably. That's pretty weak sauce. Lets start the challenge on Jan 1st, and see how far I get before I want to die.
Anyway, I'm doing a lot of upper body training, and it hurts bad. So bad, I am RELIEVED when it is time to go do abs, and given the choice, I'd rather do a double ab workout than upper body. Hey...wait a sec. I've NEVER been happy to do abs, but all that pilates, all those crunches, wood choppers, sit ups and leg raises...must finally be wurkin'. Yay me!
You know this swimming thing I've started doing? Its hard. I started a tri-swim class 9 weeks ago with a vague notion of how to do a free style stroke, and the idea that this would just be kind of like when I used to swim in the lake at Girl Scout Camp. Well...no. My stroke was sloppy and my breathing was uneven. I sucked. Every week we would focus on a different element of the stroke, and I would do my best to not look like an idiot as I swam my lengths. Once I got over the fear of looking dumb, I started to pick it up a bit, but I needed to practice more than once a week. My gym has no pool, but there is a City Parks & Rec pool just 10 minutes away from my apartment. 2 outdoor pools, 1 indoor pool, lap swim times thrice daily, and its only $75 per year. 7am lap swims are getting hard to roll out of bed for now that the weather is so cold and dark, but the payoff is a mostly empty pool, and the time to wake up and clear my thoughts before a full day of work. And the chlorine smell doesn't really wash off, so my anti-social side kind of enjoys inflicting it on a crowded L train in the morning. Hey, if you're not going to voluntarily move to the center of the car to make room for the people getting on, I'll give you a reason to at least move away from ME.
For 9 weeks, I'd do drills, and at the end of every session, I'd try a few continuous swim laps, but I was always wiped out by about the 3rd lap. I was getting pretty discouraged, but at the last class, I had a breakthrough.
Swimming is so much about technique. You can be physically strong, and have a great cardio fitness level, but if your technique is off, you will be swimming in wake and physically spent before the race is over. I still wasn't rotating enough, and compensating by powering through the bottom of the stroke too much. My instructor had me do a few laps with closed fists - this forced me to use my forearms, extension and rotation to power forward, rather than pushing against the water with my hands. Then we did a few laps of catch up drills to remind me to keep one arm extended at all times to keep a long lean line in the water. Then he told me to cross the pool with as few strokes as possible. Just relax and glide between slow strokes. After half an hour of that, it was time for our first pack swim.
Spacing everyone out in the lane is great for workouts and drills, but doesn't really give an idea of what a tri-swim is like, so we all crowded into the far left lane of the pool, and started in groups of 4 with 2 seconds between each group to zig zag our way across the pool and back. There was a lot of accidental kicking and hitting, but after 3 or 4 lengths, the pack broke up, and I was able to find a pocket to swim in. But THEN there was the added challenge of swimmers turning at the other end of the pool and coming back up the lane to zig zag to the start, made timing breathes more difficult. It was much more challenging than the lap swims I was used to doing in class and on my own, but...I swam 7 continuous laps! The light went on, and I realized that once I just relaxed into a steady cadence and didn't try to muscle and sprint my way down the pool, I could swim longer.
The drills definitely helped my form, but I still wasn't feeling confident that they were really imprinted on my muscle memory, and when ever I got thrown off my rhythm by a kick or a gulp of water when someone passed while I was turned to breathe i found it hard to recover, so the instructor and I decided that I was going to take the level again. Which is fine, as apparently EVERYONE takes level 1 twice. Also, I will be joined next time by Nixta, so please check back in when we start in January. There will be much rivalry, taunting, and support between us, so it should be great fun. For me. When I win. Not that its a competition, but still.
I will be spending my New Year's Eve at the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park with my teammate Mark, so if you're there, please say hi!
Enjoy the off season, and I'll see everyone next year.