Friday, May 6, 2011

11 miles of running, biking, and swimming, plus a softball game and finally some weight-lifting

This entry continues a little series of blog posts describing my struggle to push myself a little further with my cardio and gym workouts. I keep promising that my responsibilities at work are slowing down so I'll have more time for working out, but so far that hasn't happened yet. That really should be true next week, though.

Since my last post, here is what I've done:

Tuesday: Treadmill run for 24 minutes at pace 10:59. Average heart rate = 148bpm and maximum was 178 bpm. No weight-training.

Wednesday: Nothing. A big day at work. Sorry.

Thursday: Swim practice with my coach. He earned his pay by tiring me out. I started with my normal 500-yard freestyle warm up. Then he had me do 6x50s of freestyle drills. For some of these he had me do an 8-kick/3-stroke pattern with finger-tip drag. This was meant to do make me concentrate on my rotations, and the finger-tip drag sets my catch up better so that my hands enter the water in a more natural position. My coach also noticed that when I do the finger-tip drag I am more graceful with the strokes, which probably saves me some energy over the long run. He also directed me to keep my "chest in" when I swim, which I find a little difficult to envision. Nevertheless, his point is that I stretch too far forward as my hands start each stroke, and keeping my chest in will keep my hand entry point in a better position.

When he told me this, I had an eureka moment. I have mentioned previously that I am suffering from a muscle strain in my left shoulder. I go back and forth about what has caused this injury, but it makes perfect sense at this point that stretching my hand too far forward and then initiating the pull stroke could cause injury to the infraspinatus muscle. I know from my physiology textbooks that muscles are most likely to be injured when they are contracting from a stretched position.    

One more observation from my coach regarding my freestyle is that my stroke cycle is completely dependent on my breathing cycle: breathe (right side)--pull (right side)--pull (left side)--repeat. He said that breathing should be disconnected from the arm motions. To break me out of my breathing pattern, he made me breathe on my left side. He actually thought my breaths on that side were shorter and less intrusive to my streamlining than when I breath on the right. OK, so I'll try to do more breathing on the left. Hopefully when I do, I won't swallow as much water as I did on Thursday!

Following the 6x50s of freestyle, my coach had me do a string of timed swims, I did a 100-IM (the Individual Medley consists of butterfly followed by backstroke followed by breaststroke followed by freestyle). Coach G. allowed me 3:30 to do the 100-IM and I was done after 1:30 or so. This gave me two minutes to rest, during which G. raised his eyebrows and congratulated me on swimming the 100-IM faster than the 100-freestyle drills I did last week.

The 100 IM was followed by 2x25s of butterfly (coach: quit doing a flutter kick); followed by another 100-IM; followed by 2x50s of backstroke (coach: make my kicks smaller); followed by another 100-IM; followed by 2x50s breaststroke (coach: tuck knees in more and don't kick so far out to each side. Remember to look at the pool bottom as I kick, and aim my arms for the far side of the pool; this will propel me straight ahead instead of downward). Another 100-IM, and then 2x50s of freestyle. Upon finishing, I was beat and had a headache. I didn't tell Coach G., though.

My day was not finished with the swim. A couple hours later I played a slow-pitch softball game with some other faculty against our graduating senior students. I played left field and caught one fly ball. I also fumbled about three more balls hit my way. At bat, I was 1 for 3 in terms of hits, but I made a good showing. The students would have been impressed with my athleticism if only they were still sober at this point (see beer cans in photo!). Oh, and given that they are 15 years younger than me, they don't realize that the human body doesn't work the same way when you get older.
One of my friends and a bunch of college students look on as the softball game proceeds.

I still did not weight-lifting on Thursday. I ran out of time.

My post is getting long now, so I'll abbreviate my Friday activities. First, I went on a bike ride: 4.8 miles in 20 minutes with an average heart rate of 142 bpm and a maximum of 162bpm. After the bike ride I to lift some weights. I did 2 sets of bench presses @105 pounds for a total of 18 reps. I did rotator cuff exercises. I did 2 sets of pull-ups for a total of 4 reps. I did 6 reps of an upright row using a 80-pound barbell. I did 2 sets of dumbbell shrugs for a total of 40 reps. Lastly, I did two sets of calf raises for a total of 30 reps. Let's go, Scott Cannon. Let's do more!

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