Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Can Rest Make You Faster?

Can rest make you faster? When I take a long time off from swimming - say, over three days - I am definitely feeling the need to work hard just to do a comfortable speed. If I take a weekend off, I feel great on Monday and can usually go full bore. If I take no time off (go weeks without a break), I can get sore and take almost my whole workout just to get loose. So given all this, I see there is a fine line between taking too much time off and too little. Finding that perfect mix of "efforting" and rest is a delicate balance. I've found five days of swimming and two days of back-to-back rest is about perfect for me. I usually do some sort of physical activity on the two days off, but its usually not swimming (laps). I've heard that this recovery time is good for muscles to allow them to grow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Milestone #4 Completed - Swam Lake Michigan (Length)

I've completed my fourth milestone in my swim the Atlantic challenge begun 1/2/2007. Today I finished the equivalent distance of the length of Lake Michigan (from Gary, Indiana to Manistique, Minnisota - 320 miles). To date I've done the English Channel, Lake Michigan's width, Cuba to Miami, and this Lake Michigan length swim (all from the comfort of a chlorinated pool). Next goal is Bermuda from New York City. Don't see that happening until end of next year at the earliest. Must find something I can achieve between now and then to keep these dominoes falling and my enthusiasm going. Any ideas?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fight Your Instinct toTwist

This morning I was reading the newspaper and a photo of a swimmer caught my eye. The caption said the person pictured was in a Masters swim program. Figuring the swimmer would have good form I studied the picture and was surprised to see she had her head turned to catch a breath of air, but her upper torso (waist up) was twisted so she could pick her head up (to breathe). Picking her head up???!!! A Masters swimmer should know better! She must be new to the program or doesn't listen well (we all know some of those). Well versed swimmers know to roll their bodies when they do freestyle and to allow their head to turn along with their bodies - as one (like you might turn a pencil when holding the eraser). For the less experienced, it's perfectly natural to attempt to roll and end up with an awful twist like the photo I described. It's got to hurt your back and cause undue strain and unnecessary "efforting". Follow my advice and use the straight pencil analogy. This will take some practice, particularly with keeping your head down while you breathe. You only want your mouth to come out of the water. Surprisingly, there is a small pocket of air that forms right below your forehead where you need to breathe (thank fluid dynamics for that or we'd all be twisting). Keep one eye under the water and the top of your head pointed at the wall ahead of you - and open your mouth in that pocket. This will eliminate the twist and I promise, your whole body will be happier for it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

#1 Tip on Getting the Killer Swimmers Body

If you are reading this post in anticipation of a get slim fast tip is, think again. Such ideas are the stuff of legend. The only way you can get a killer, swimmers body is to stick with the program. I'm not there yet (probably never will be at my age), but I've noted after many years of swimming a distinct change in my body mass and physique. The first change I noticed was muscle tone. That happened fairly quick. Just using my muscles made them less flabby. I also noted my upper torso got larger but fell back to my love handles whenever I took a week off. The real changed have happened over the course of several years as I made swimming part of who I am - not when I was just swimming casually. After I started to take the sport seriously, I noticed body changes that I never even expected. My shoulders are larger, my thighs and lower legs much thinner, and my face skinnier. None of this happened overnight. I'm guessing this is true of most exercise programs for most sports. The sports gods we all see on TV and on the sports pages didn't just get that way from a few weeks of working out. They did it by making their sport part of what they are. By doing so, they become part of it. So if you are exercising to get toned, that's cool ... it won't take long. If you want that killer swimmers body, it takes a lifetime.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

How to Adapt to Your Environment

Many times in life we face an environment can seem so intimidating you just say "screw it" and quit. Such times are quite frequent when you are starting an exercise program. The new environment that you are introducing yourself to can seem almost alien, uncomfortable, perhaps even painful. Yet, if you look out there you'll see plenty of people who have managed to taken on that exact "alien" environment and overcome it and thrived. Swimming can be like that. Go to any lap pool and you will see some folks floundering and a few streaming through the water like dolphins. Are they any different than the flounder? No, they've just figured it out. If you desire to swim well, I encourage you to take the time to learn the basics. Read on the subject - this blog (and many other places on the internet) is a great place to start (see archives). Be sure to get your doctor's ok, if you are not used to exercise - you don't want to go in too fast, adaptation takes time. Once approved to proceed, when it gets tough, you can still say "screw it" but instead of quitting, face up to the effort you are going to need to expend. If you go home sore, say "screw it" again and put it out of your mind. Go back for another workout. Believe it or not, if you maintain a routine, you will adapt to the change in your environment. Realize that change takes time, but change will happen. Soon you will be swimming with the fishes - in a good way.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Update on SF Bay Oil Spill

Here's a link to a SF paper with a lot of photos and video of the oil spill. Doesn't look good folks.

If anyone is wondering why I keep posting this stuff its because of a fascination I developed when I stumbled across the SF Bay Dophin Club one day when I was visiting the Bay area. I was amazed at the swimmers who braved the cold waters. I also thought the clubhouse was "way cool."

Milestone Reached

Sometime last year when I was doing some laps and trying to make my fuzzy brain (it gets that way when I work out) do a simple distance swam calculation, I figured out that I could achieve a respectable distance goal and complete a half-million meters in a year, if I just followed my regular routine. Well today's the day, campers - I hit the mark and then some - it isn't even the middle of November yet. As of this AM, I'm at 501,555 meters since Jan 1, 2007. That's over 10,000 circular laps or over 20,000 lengths of a 25 meter pool. These numbers amaze me. Hope I can keep it up. These milestones help for sure.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Flash: Tsumani Reported Heading toward English Coast

Just found this flash on Drudge. A tidal wave has been reported heading toward the English coast. Daily Mail is reporting "Extreme Danger to Life"! Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex coastlines are at risk. OK, Channel swimmers, iSplashDog says get the hell out of there. You've got some time, but don't waste it. Surfing crowd, don't be too cool for the rule. Good luck mates.

Update on SF Oil Spill - Bad News

The Coast Guard reported last evening that 58,000 gallons had spilled as a result of yesterday's cargo ship mishap in the SF Bay. The slick has spread and is as far as Alcatraz (we were worried about that - see yesterday's post). Here's a link with more details. It ain't pretty folks. Let's hope they can clean it up fast.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Another Flash: Oil leaking in SF Bay ... Swimmers and Birds Beware?

Mercury News is reporting that a cargo ship has hit a bumper (is that a pylon or something like that?) in San Francisco Bay and may be leaking oil. How much? Dunno. Hope it doesn't impact my peeps who swim from Alcatraz. Yes, some of them do oil up first - ironic, isn't it? Here's a web cam, courtesy of CBS, shows a ship (Is that the ship? CBS isn't saying, I just did a search and found what looks like something that appears to be a ship under a bridge in the bay - I'm a great researcher, huh? LOL). Kind of small so it's hard to see. The ship is reported to be near Treasure Island.

News Flash: Ian Thorpe Gets to Keep Bling

Ian Thorpe, five time Olympic gold medalist, has been cleared on doping charges! This BBC news item presents the facts and some good back links.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

How to Fight Lap Swimming Boredom

When I tell people what I do for exercise, I often get replies such as, "I would swim, but its so dull going back and forth ad nauseum." Well, I don't claim to have the secret to fighting lap swimming boredom, but I've done it long enough to agree it can get dull. Here are some of the things I do to keep up my enthusiasm.
1. Set goals (both mini and macro) - achievement makes it all worthwhile and pulls you back time and again
2. Use other swimmers like racing dogs to the rabbit at a dog track. Try to catch and pass them. Then do it again, and again. If they are too fast, just track your progress relative to them with markers in the bottom of the pool like the drain or lights. Note where you are when you pass the other swimmer even if they are going the other way, then when you get to the same spot the next lap, see if you have increased any distance between you and that swimmer (or have they gone faster than you?).
3. Watch other swimmers' swim style (under water). If they are better than you, try to determine what it is that makes them better then try it yourself.
4. Watch what is going on around you. Things are always changing and just noticing little things can get your mind off the repetition you are doing.
5. Wear a digital watch. During your turns, note your time. I often like to do mental math to calculate simple things like speed and laps to go in how long, etc.
6. Change up your stroke. I do freestyle primarily, so one might think I'm stuck, but I'm not - I change the sides I'm breathing on. I work one side for 400, the other side for 400, then change the breathing rhythm e.g., 5,3,change sides 5,3 ... 5, change sides 5, etc.
7. If none of this works ... Some people listen to tunes or even audio books using a sealed MP3 player with special ear buds that keep the water out.