First Time Triathlete Part 2: Swimming
I’m a great swimmer. Always have been. Feels completely natural and easy for me. It was a fulfilling and positive experience last time I put in serious laps in the pool. 25 years ago.
I’m pretty proud of myself that I’ve made a point of getting some of the basic training for my triathlon done before the start of the official 8-week training program. Instead of my usual daily run, this week has been a run, two bike rides, and a swim.
Biking is almost as easy to kick off as a run. For a run, strap on your shoes and go. Additional equipment and ahem, planning and record-keeping, are fun but optional. Biking is almost the same, but with a bit more equipment. Bike, helmet, titanium ass implants (oh, how I wish.)
Swimming requires a bit more planning. A place to swim. Goggles. A few different necessaries that took me until late in week 0 to get together. My race will have a 1.5k swim. Turns out my pool will be 25 yards. A little fun with math later, and it’s clear I’ll need to work my way up to 66 laps. My swim fitness class a little while ago (you know, college YES IT WAS 25 YEARS WHAT’S YOUR POINT) culminated in a swim just about that length. No sweat.
Ok, in hindsight, it’s really obvious where this is going.
Swimming is really really different from running. And honestly, I have no idea what it felt like when I was a beginning runner 12 years ago. I’ve completely forgotten. That memory is buried under literally thousands of miles of pounded pavement. And all those miles came after the last time I swam laps. Which means I probably was trying to swim my very first laps in 2.5 decades like I run now, at a pretty agressive pace, maybe 75% effort.
Protip: don’t do that.
So, it’s humbling to need to stop and gasp and cling to the wall after 5 laps. There’s a learning experience I can chalk up from this training program.
And here’s another: fear. You know what happens when you get really really tired running? You stop, walk a while. Depending on the size of your ego, it’s sorta embarrassing. Maybe you can manage to do it on a pretty quiet part of the course.
You know what happens when you want to stop while you’re swimming? You swim anyway. Because if you don’t, you drown.
And you know how my race will be different from the training I managed to conduct for 125 yards at my best stretch this week? No wall. Open water. Nowhere to gasp and rest and steel my resolve.
I’m not giving up yet. That was my first swim in 25 years. (Crap, I really never thought about how long it had been.) I’m pretty sure I just got my pace very very wrong, and I can fix this by starting out much slower next time. I stole a few moments at the pool with the kids this afternoon, took it slow and got to 6 laps pretty easy, still felt like I had plenty in the tank.
But this will be more of a stretch than I thought.Read more
First Time Triathlete: Part 1
I, as many runners like me, finally reached a certain point. A point where voluntarily running 26.2 miles wasn’t… quite… stoopid… enough.
There are many solutions to this. Some will dream up a costume or run in a full military or civilian service uniform. Those inclined toward becoming being highly caffeinated mountain goats will try ultras. Those who want to trade mind-erasing endurance for speed go for a 5k.
Me, I thought I’d attempt a triathlon. It’s not as bad as you think; I have no illusions about my ability to complete a full Ironman. (MUCH respect to all who have.) Fortunately for me there are many triathlon distances to choose from; I’ll be trying an Olympic length, the Westchester Triathlon in my own home town of Rye NY. Easy, yes? 10k run, 1.5k swim, 40k mile bike. Only I don’t ever, you know, swim or bike.
I have a relationship with this race already. It’s in my own town of Rye NY, which means that I have, for a few years now, been in the middle of a late September Sunday long run, training for one marathon or another, when it was being held on the quiet roads of the town of Rye. It’s possible that I may have mooched off its water stops a time or two.
Marathons are still a challenge. But a familiar one. I’m looking forward to being a raw newbie at this. There are bound to be a few massive mistakes along the way. (Will the first one be thinking I can be ready for this in 8 weeks?? Whee!) Or not. I surely underestimate my studliness (shut up, you.) Either way, I’ll record them here. Hope you enjoy.Read more
Workout Trends Debunked!
We’ve been wondering about a lot of things lately. For instance, why do our fingernails turn black when we make basil pesto? Where did all those ants in the kitchen come from? Why does it rain as soon as we get our car washed?
These are all timeless questions, of course. But today, we’d like to talk about a few exercise-related topics that have had us scratching our heads for some time. So settle down with a plate of cookies, put your feet up and watch us knock these babies down one by one.
Should I get a foam roller?
Foam rollers are these long tubes that are supposed to help you recover after a workout. The ladies above are using them after a race.
As someone who likes to push myself, but then always limps around moaning for days afterward, this sounded attractive to me.
But then I found out that the rolling part is also painful. Really painful. If you don’t dig in there, it doesn’t work.
So is it better to feel a lot of pain up front or spread out a moderate amount of pain over a few days?
That can be answered by another question:
Did you write all your term papers weeks before they were due?
If so, you should get a foam roller.
Click here for some rolling tips.
Compression gear. Should I squeeze my body into that?
Sure. Some studies say it does work, a bit.
But then others say it’s possible that it’s all in your head.
But if it’s all in your head, that’s OK. If you BELIEVE it works, it works.
Do I need that $200 sneaker?
If there’s one thing I’m a sucker for, it’s a shoe that fits. (Still waiting for that, hiking boot makers.) So I have been running in Asics for years. They cost a bit, but they make my feet happy.
And some feel that in running, a comfortable shoe is more important that wearing an expensive shoe.
If you’re new to running, get yourself over to a running shop and talk to the employees about the right shoe for you. You will be shown shoes in a range of prices, which may go up to $200. You could buy that shoe. But you don’t have to.
Find something that is comfortable and works for you, and if they do, it doesn’t matter if they are twenty quid or a hundred and twenty quid. — Roger Kerry, Associate Professor in the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Nottingham
Will you get ripped on the paleo diet?
Yes, but you’ll lose your will to live.
Does Crossfit work?
See above.Read more
How to be a bike commuting genius
Last week, we told you about how one of the keys to staying fit as we get older is to just keep moving.
Today, we’re going to tell you about one of the best ways to integrate fitness into your daily life:
There’s so many benefits that we know you’ve already heard about. We almost feel we don’t need to tell you all of them again.
But we will anyway:
- Get your sweat on. It makes you a multitasking genius, getting to work and getting in your workout at the same time. Gmap’s handy homepage calculator can tell you how many calories you’ve burned on your ride.
- Save money. Less cash spent on gas and car maintenance.
- Save the environment. Bikes are pollution-free.
- Coolness factor: Car drivers envy you as you zip by them. You carry your bike up steps.
We have a few bike commuters in the Gmap Pedometer family. And it hasn’t all been roses cycling through the wilds of Maine, New York and Bangkok.
We’ve learned the hard way (by falling) about crossing railroad tracks perpendicularly and (also by falling) about how many bags of groceries we can carry at once. (None is your hands is a good idea).
During his daily 8KM commute through Bangkok’s streets, Leon has to keep an eye on pushcarts, motorbikes and tuk-tuks in addition to the cars. His serpentine route to work clocks in at about 35 minutes, faster than almost any other method for getting to the office.
Here are a few tips we’ve learned:
- Pick routes where the cars go slowly. Heavy traffic can be your friend.
- Be ever mindful. Of said cars.
- Minimize turns against traffic.
- Be visible. Phrases like “Christmas tree” or “alien spaceship landing” should come to mind when people see you blinking and flashing along. In the daytime, wear a neon safety vest for visibility.
And for tips on staying cool in hot weather, check out this previous post.
Safe riding!Read more
Staying Fit North of 40
Let Michelle Obama show you how it’s done at 51.
I called them the Grannies in Keds.
They were the women who would power past me up the trail in Flagstaff, Arizona, where I used to live. I’d be puffing along and they’d stride right by, heads up, arms pumping, white hair and sneakers gleaming.
“Great day, isn’t it?” they’d chirp, as I tried to grunt a reply without passing out. (It took me a long time to get used to living at 6,000 feet.)
Whatever sense of victory they felt passing an unacclimated twentysomething on the trail, they earned it.
More likely, though, they weren’t concerned about lapping me. They were doing something that made them happy… and that, it turns out, is one of the keys to fitness as we age.
Many of us are lifelong exercise buffs, runners or bicyclists who wouldn’t dream of letting more than a day or two go by without getting our cardio on. We love that feeling of the burn and we like the results when we compete or look in the mirror.
But as we get older, our paces may slack off. Injuries may pile up. It doesn’t feel as good to get out there.
Our workouts become just one more thing on the to-do list, and because it’s for us rather than our families or jobs, we let it slide.
Word of advice: Stay selfish.
“Masters athletes are proving that as much as 50 percent of age-related decline, maybe even 70 percent, is due not to aging but to deconditioning – losing physical fitness by doing very little,” Margaret Webb wrote in “Older Faster Stronger: What Women Runners Can Teach Us All About Living Younger, Longer.”
That means that age-related decline may be a myth. Yes, there are some bodily changes with which we must cope. Our cardiac output, lung capacity, dexterity and flexibility all drop off as we age.
But if we stay active, we can still stay in shape.
What to Do
- Strength training. Bicycling magazine says it can conserve lean muscle mass and reduce the effects of aging on VO2 max — the maximum volume of oxygen an athlete can use. Try this workout from Prevention magazine.
- Allow extra recovery time after a workout.
- Stay happy. If your usual workout feels more like work and less like fun, think about retooling it. Webb’s book recommends a regimen of mostly long, slow training runs, for example.
“I ride to live and I live to ride, as the motorcycle people say,” says 77-year-old bicycling fanatic Terry Taylor. “I find that if I go for a 100-mile bike ride, I can solve all the world’s problems, after mine.”
Taylor has kept going even after a crash broke his hip and collarbone and bruised his brain. Check out this video created by his nephew.
“I’ve had some problems, but I’ve always gotten back on … I listen to my heart.”
Be like Taylor. Don’t give up.Read more