Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cross Training in the Pool plus a waterproof MP3 player

Over the last few weeks, I have been cross training a lot.  I've been riding a spinning bike at the gym daily and started swimming this week.  The last time I went swimming was in high school when I had to swim 500 yard warm ups for a life guarding class.  Then, I hated swimming distance, just like I hated distance running.

So, for the first time since high school, on Thursday night, I went to the gym with the goal of getting a good swim workout in.  If I'm going to do a triathlon someday, I have to start swimming.  Plus, everybody tells me that it is a great, zero impact workout that will allow me to get a good workout in while allowing my knees to heal.  I had already worked out in the morning, spinning for 40 minutes and running for 20 (with no pain!).  It was 9:30 P.M. when I got to the pool.  Luckily, it wasn't crowded.  I put on my swim cap (I couldn't find my black one so I had to wear my daughter's pink one) and some blue Speedo goggles that I bought 10 years ago but never wore (they had been getting banged around my bag for years, so they were in bad shape and leaked into my eyes when I swam).  I also put on my Polar Heart rate monitor strap and my Polar S610 watch (which I've had for around 8 years and love).

I started to swim and felt pretty good.  It was hard, but my friend PN, a very talented triathlete, told me to focus on my stroke and efficiency (and also that most of one's swimming power comes from the arms), so I focused on being efficient.  Aerobically, I felt great.  I could barely get my heart rate above 135.  However, after 18 minutes of swimming my feet and calves started cramping big time, so I called it a night at 19 minutes, average heart rate 135.  The pool is 25 yards, so I calculated that I made it 650 yards.  While I stopped many times, often for a few minutes at a time, I felt pretty good after the workout.  I swam farther than the 500 yard workouts that I hated in high school and wasn't winded at all (when I did them in high school I was dead tired after doing them).  Without question, I'm still in pretty good shape after running a marathon a month ago.  I was surprised to get the cramping but assumed that it happened because I haven't built up my "swimming muscles" yet.

So, I decided to try it again last night.  My knee doctor is also a triathlete and former marathon runner that transitioned to tris to reduce the pounding on his body.  When I told him that I wanted to make the same transition, he said "Bro, do yourself a favor and get yourself an mp3 player that you can use in the water and some audio bone headphones".  I listen to music when I run, so it made sense to me to listen to music while swimming too (at least when you run outside you can look at stuff).  I looked into it, spoke to a few friends (PN and AL), and purchased the Finis Swimp3 Waterproof MP3 player.  This MP3 player has 1 GB of hard drive space and headphones that you put up against your cheek bones (not in your ears).  When you are underwater, you hear the music through your bones (which is what my doctor was referring to as "Audio Bone").  Heaven.  The boredom of swimming immediately was replaced by being able to listen to music while swimming, which was awesome (I listened to the new Slash album during my swim, it rocks).  It really made swimming enjoyable.

Finis Swimp3 You Tube Video - Check out this video to learn more about the MP3 player.

I got to the pool at 10 PM and felt good.  I also picked up some new Aquasphere goggles which made a huge difference during my swim.  With the music, the new goggles, and 1 day of experience, I ended up swimming for 34 minutes and 54 lengths (or 1350 yards), average heart rate 145.  I more than doubled the distance I swam what the night before and was faster doing it.  When I finished, I felt tired, almost like I was drugged.  It was a good tired, with no pain anywhere in my body (unlike when I often finish running, where my body feels sore from the pounding). 

As I write this tonight, my shoulders are sore from the arm strokes, but other than that, I feel great.  I look forward to swimming more in the future.

I am encouraged by my first 2 nights of swimming, as I went into it wondering if I would be able to swim well enough to do a triathlon.  Now I feel confident that I can do it (although not that fast).  I am in it to enjoy myself and stay fit.  Cross training on the spinning bike and in the pool has really opened up my eyes to the benefits of cross training.
I've also been looking into buying a road bike over the last week and I am getting close.  I will write a separate blog post on this topic.

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