Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Swim Swim Swim

It's been a while since I've posted an update.  In my last blog post, I decided to shut down my running and biking to help my right shin splint heal.  My goal was to take 6 weeks off from running and 4 weeks from cycling, replacing it entirely with swimming. 

Taking time off from exercising is MUCH, MUCH harder for me than exercising.  I need to exercise at least 5 days a week to feel healthy and happy.  I've been exercising 4-5 days a week regularly for 20+ years.  My ultimate goal is the Ironman in 2011, so now is the time to take it easy. 

So, I only exercised 3 times over the the first 2 weeks of my running and biking hiatus, and by the end of that second week, all of the bad symptoms that I experienced before I became a runner came back.  I felt tired and fatigued.  My body felt inflammatory.  My right side felt week, my right eye twitching came back, and I felt "off my game". My weight went up to 201 pounds from my marathon training weight of 193-195. I lost a belt buckle loop.  Say goodbye to my marathon fitness level. I'll have to get over the hump again.


I knew I couldn't run or bike yet, so I decided to turn up my swimming, working out in the pool 6 of the next 8 days, swimming at least 45 minutes and sometimes as long as 64 minutes (1.5 miles in this case).  I have NEVER been a swimmer.  I wasn't on any swim team growing up (although I was a lifeguard, as I could pass the sprint swim tests).  Prior to becoming an triathlete in July 2010, I never even worked out in a pool (and despite being in marathon shape I could only swim 8 lengths because my form was so inefficient).  My technique is sub-par, and that's putting it mildly.  I went swimming with my friend MH, a great athlete, a triathlete, and high school swimmer, and he had me do a kick board drill, extending my arms out holding onto the kick board while kicking my legs.  I'm not joking when I say that I was barely moving forward at all.  In fact, for 30 seconds I don't think I moved forward at all.  No kidding.  He was on the side of the pool and I must say that I was embarrassed.  No question that I have a weakness in my kick.  Well, enough about my horrible swimming skills and form.  Swimming 6 of 8 days was a serious accomplishment for me, as my motivation to go swimming is very low because I'm not a good swimmer (although I do listen to music when I swim which definitely helps and is relaxing).  Over these 6 workouts, I improved my mile time in the swim to a best of 38 minutes and felt like I was becoming a little faster (typically it takes me 42-44 minutes to swim a mile in a pool and my half mile swim splits for the 2 triathlons that I did last year were both 22 minutes (on pace for a 44 minute mile).  I'm slow, although I know that I could swim faster than a 38 minute mile, but then I would be totally dead and wouldn't have any energy left for the bike or the run!  For the first time in my life, I did a swim speed workout, consisting of 12x100 yards, with a 20 second break in between each 100 yard workout. I definitely was faster than normal in each 100 and am feeling myself becoming a stronger swimmer.  For me, 60 minutes seems to be the right amount of time for me to feel like I got a good workout in.

Checking myself

So how long did I take off from running and biking.  How did I do against my goals?

Running - Took 5 weeks off (first run was on 11/26/10).  No pain in the shin whatsoever during the run, but still some twinging in the shin when not running.  Since then, I've only been running 2 days a week, as my shin continues to twinge a little bit after my runs (but never during). 

Biking - took about 4 weeks off. 

Also did acupuncture twice, which definitely helped heal my shin quicker.  Plus, given my Crohn's, I get abnormal swelling around the shin splint area.  I find that ice helps to reduce that swelling greatly, so I have been heavily icing my leg (Anastasia, my acupuncturist, wouldn't be happy with my icing!)

Ironman Training

I'm not training for anything right now, just trying to stay fit and healthy.  I have decided to start my Ironman Training on 2/1/11, following at 30 week training program in Don Fink's book called "Be Iron Fit" (I'll follow his intermediate program).  I'd like to go into my Ironman training with a solid base of fitness.  I plan on following a strict heart rate zone Ironman training plan and will base my workouts on the duration of my workouts, not on distance.  I plan on doing a weekly writeup of my Ironman training during my training.  I also signed up for the Rev 3 Half Ironman on 6/5/11, which I am excited about.  This was the site of my first triathlon, a sprint, and is one of the hilliest tris in the world (which I need because Ironman Canada is extremely hilly).  Ironman Canada is on 8/28/11.

Here is a summary of my workouts since the Chicago Marathon:

10/17/10 - 2 workouts (2 runs - 4.4 and 5 miles)

10/24/10 - 1 workout (1 run, 5 miles) - right shin sore

10/31/10 - 4 workouts (4 rides on my trainer) - right shin sore after my rides, never during

11/7/10  - 1 workout (swim, 36 minutes) - very careful not to push off the wall hard to keep shin healthy

11/14/10 - 2 workouts (2 swims, 41 and 49 minutes).  Weight 201.  Lost a belt buckle loop.

11/21/10 -  5 workouts (5 swims)

11/28/10 - 7 workouts (3 runs, 2 rides on my trainer, 2 swims) - first run and first ride in weeks

12/5/10 - 5 workouts (2 runs, 2 swims, 1 spin class)

12/12/10 -  5 workouts (2 runs, 2 spins, 1 swim)

12/19/10 -  5 workouts (2 runs, 3 rides (2 on trainer, one on spin bike at the gym).  Weight 198-199.  I've gained my belt buckle loop back!

All of my runs above were done on the bridal path, not pavement

I took a few pictures while running in Central Park after my 5 weeks off.  It was a bummer to miss the fall season and to not be able to run in the Park before the NYC marathon, which is always fun.

From December 14, 2010

November 28, 2010

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