Friday, July 28, 2006

Autopilot - The Zombie Zone

Over the past two days, I’ve swum pretty hard during my workouts.  Not wanting to set any precedents, I broke the pattern today and took it fairly easy.  Still I think I got a pretty good workout, all things considered.  So if I took it easy, what good did it do?  Well I kept my long muscles primed and I found a zone.  Not the peak zone, but what one might call the zombie zone - the place where you can be working out and find peace.  It was great!  Like meditation.  Typically when I’m really pushing myself, I am focused on the task at hand.  In the “zombie zone,” all focus is elsewhere.  The lap count is forgotten, the task is forgotten, you go into autopilot, yet you are still accomplishing a necessary body exercise and resting your mind.  Like I said before - it’s great!  

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Your Swimming Transmission

This past summer, I’ve had the chance to spend a lot of time swimming longer distances between turns.  I’ve learned to appreciate a dynamic I haven’t thought much about.  Today I was marveling at the amount of work it was taking to get moving out of a flip turn, but once moving, how little effort it took to keep it going once accelerated.  I decided there must be a transmission quality to swimming.  I came to this conclusion after thinking about a radio program on NPR I heard on my drive home, about, of all things, hybrid vehicles.  These vehicles use most of their energy starting.  Once moving they use little.  Swimming is like that.  Drawing on my favorite analogy - the torpedo - once you apply the energy to get started, the momentum keeps you moving forward.  You just have to make sure as little as possible gets in the way of slowing you down once accelerated.  So do this next time you swim laps.  Kick off the wall, put a strong effort into coming up to speed - remember to keep your body torpedo shaped - and then relax and let your pulls and kick keep you at speed.   You can actually relax at this point.  

Monday, July 17, 2006

Open Water vs. Pool Swimming

I've just returned from an annual sojurn to the north country where a favorite past time is - you guessed it sports fans - lake swimming. No change in the hours - wouldn't want to break the routine - so it was up at 6am and hitting the clear waters of a steaming, glassy lake. It's far different than the pool. Positives: Gone were the 85 plus degree morning swims. Hello 75 - 80, perfect; unlimited distance swimming with no walls to break the rhythm - making for excellent opportunity to work on stroke timing; ability to creep up on nature - I enjoyed getting twenty feet from a large blue heron and her now-crow sized hatchlings. Negatives: a little seaweed between my fingers a time or two; opening my eyes under water and seeing large fish pass beneath me; no straight line in the bottom to follow - I lined up the rising sun in my goggles and kept it in the same 1:00 spot (this really works).