I have some exciting news to share this week: I’m officially learning how to swim for exercise! Way back in the fourth grade I took swimming lessons that taught me how to handle myself in the water and we had a pool in our backyard for a time growing up. It was enough to get me through the Notre Dame swimming test many years later, but not enough to make me feel comfortable in the water. Well, that’s about to change. I signed up for a winter membership at Meadowbrook (pictured below) and swam twice this week with Adam’s helpful guidance.
On Monday morning I felt really sore (knees especially) from my long run the previous day, so I opted to warm up using a spinner rather than by running. For twelve minutes I kept the cadence high and the resistance low. After my warm up, I did a workout inspired by Adam’s new bodyweight routine, but using the handy assisted dip/pull-up machine. I did twelve dips and twelve pull-ups with 70 lbs removed (a lot!), then tried to do some push ups. In the process I felt so much strain in my right tricep I had to stop. Instead I used the flye machine they had nearby. I also did planks to work on my ab strength. I repeated this cycle four times in total. Afterwards I used a form roller to work out some soreness in my legs and I felt pain from this process for the first time. Later that (Labor) day I spent a lot of time cleaning and reorganizing the apartment so I was on my feet more than usual. My knees and heels were really hurting by the end of the day which I took as a warning to back off on the downhills during my runs.
Tuesday morning was my first swim workout in the Meadowbrook pool! I woke up at 5:30am and was in the water with Adam by 6:15am. I was intimidated enough that I intended just to kick with the kickboard to acclimate myself to the water and the early morning while Adam did his workout. Luckily, he instead convinced me to try some real swimming. It was rather warm out so we used one of the 25m outdoor lanes. This was especially awesome since the sun rose sometime during the workout, though I was too distracted to notice until we finished. In total, I swam about 500m and kicked 250m with plenty of breaks to rest in between laps. I had quite a bit of trouble with water getting up my nose and into my sinuses so I had to practice breathing out my nose. I found that it helped to start breathing out just before my face went underwater. This wasn’t a strenuous swim workout, but it did a lot for my confidence and I felt very accomplished afterwards.
On Wednesday morning Adam and I were joined by our friend Adrien for a bike ride around northern Baltimore. It was relatively cool so I had to wear long sleeves under my cycling kit. As usual, I forgot to start my watch until five miles into the ride, so I don’t have the full route. According to Adam’s GPS, we covered 15.8 miles in 1:18:00. It was great to have the guys there for company and to look out for me as we shared the road with some early commuters. It will still be a while before I’m comfortable enough to go out on my own, so I’m grateful that they took the time to go slow with me. By the end of the ride my legs were tired and my triceps were killing me, but I was happy to be out riding. I was especially proud that I didn’t have any trouble with the clip-on cycling shoes!
I woke up at 5:30am again on Thursday to swim at Meadowbrook. This time we opted for one of the less crowded indoor 25m lanes. I practiced my freestyle and did my first set of drills to work on form and practice breathing. I was still having trouble with my nose, but I felt pretty comfortable by the end of it. My last few laps were freestyle with breathing every third stroke (rather than my usual two) and I felt good though I could tell I need to build up a lot of strength before I can handle sustained swimming. The drills were one-armed strokes and catch-ups with a pull buoy to keep my legs high in the water. My kicking tends to be sporadic when I’m uncomfortable/struggling so these drills helped my calm down a bit and tone down the kicking. Overall, it was a great workout and I felt very accomplished by the end of it. When we got back from the pool, I went out for a 5k run to maintain my running fitness while I play around with swimming. I felt really slow at the beginning – low on energy and possibly water – so I’ll have to be more conscious of this next time. I felt stronger by the end and finished the 5k run up north in 29:26.
Friday morning Adam joined me at the gym for another lifting routine. I did just a kilometer run for warm up since I was feeling pretty tired from my workouts the day before. I did four sets of 20 reps for back, chest, shoulders, triceps, and biceps with an ab workout in the middle. I could have gone harder, but I was still glad how everything turned out.
On Saturday I took the day off from exercise since errands and a 1pm Orioles game ate up most of the daylight hours. I like to exercise, but I’m not going to pass on grocery shopping to do it!
On Sunday morning Adam and I were joined by Adrien and Howard (from work) for my 8 mile long run around the harbor. After last week’s tough run along the Jones Falls trail, I was really looking forward to this easier run. This was also my first time running in a group where I’m clearly the slowest runner there. Luckily it didn’t cause much stress since I knew the guys would be receptive to any suggestion that we slow down. At the very least, I knew Adam would be there to look out for me. That said, it all went very well. We started from Boston Street Running as usual and I was conversational until about 3.5 miles in. At the six mile mark I had to stop to rest, something I don’t usually like to do. I could feel my body temperature rising with my face starting to flush and my heart rate wouldn’t go below 180. I stopped in the shade for a little more than two minutes during which time i experienced a very minor asthma attack (no inhaler necessary). I don’t know if it was stress or the heat, but I was glad when it passed and we could continue running. I was on my own for the last half mile as Adam and Adrien raced to the finish and it really made me appreciate how nice it was to have them there for the rest of it. Overall I finished the 8 miles in 1:23:08. It was a good run and not nearly as brutal as the one the week before. I actually had some energy left for the rest of the day!