Saturday, October 20, 2012

This is How I Roll

Foam roll, that is.

But let's back up.  I have been talking about this torture post for a while now, being all secretive about what I would uncover.  Don't get me wrong, I can torture myself like a champion, and in many different ways.  For instance:


Cowl necks make no sense to me.



Maybe not.

But today, I'm talking about something very specific to the exercise realm of my life.

If you have ever been to the gym and seen the mutant pool noodles stacked up in the corner of the stretching area, you may have wondered what they're for.  By the way, it's best to steer clear because they are likely ridden with sweaty, nasty germs.

If you're a runner, you may be familiar with them and likely have one or two of your own.  They are:

Foam rollers are commonly used to relieve IT band issues, which is why runners tend to use them.  But, let's start off by getting something straight.  If anyone tells you that using a foam roller is like getting a massage, then that person is a DIRTY, ROTTEN LIAR.  Pay attention to me.

The first time you use your foam roller you will be VERY EXCITED.  You will imagine your IT band (or whatever other) pain will disappear within seconds.

You will be wrong.

You may want to wait to foam roll until the house is empty of small children and/or the faint of heart.  You should probably close your windows too, especially if you have a Home Owners' Association.  As you start to roll, you will hear the most colourful language emanate from the depths of your soul.

It. Hurts.

However, it works.  If you continue to subject yourself to this pain daily, you will find it gets better.  People frequently tweet about foam rolling, often adding the hash tag #hurtssogood.  And it's true; it can be very satisfying.  You might even start thinking about new sore spots to roll out.

Like, your calves.

Your quads.

Your hammies.

Your armpit.

Oh yes.

But if you're anything like me, you'll leave the foam roller in a corner for awhile, and find that you have to start over from scratch.  Eventually you will pull it out again though and start the process all over again.

Just make sure you have a fresh bar of soap on hand for when you're done.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Masters of the Swim Universe

Back in August, while I was visiting my family, GymSis suggested I drop in on SwimmerBro's and SwimmerNephew's Masters Swim group.  She emailed the head coach and he graciously said TriGuy and I could give it a whirl.

While driving to practice, SwimmerNephew asked if I knew what IM was.  I sure did!

Oh no, that's not what he was talking about.

I may not have known what the letters stood for (still don't), but I did know what the terminology meant. It meant you had to do all 4 strokes.  Hey, I watched the Olympics!  He then asked me what order you do the strokes in.  Hmm, I might have fallen asleep during the Olympics IM races.

Once we got to the pool, I pulled TriGuy aside and conveyed to him my true feelings about this swim practice.

To start with, I did not understand what was written on the board.

I skipped anything that started in 'butter' and ended in 'fly'. (Just kidding. All the people in the know just say "fly".)

I immediately hopped into the super-slow lane while the coach went over the warm-up board. It consisted of roughly 1000 laps.  I was 1000% certain I would not be doing the 'main' drill work.

As she quickly reviewed the warm-up, here is what I heard:

I waited for her to come over and explain to me at a 4-year-old level in layman's terms what we were doing.  It was 100 metres breast stroke (which I prayed no one was watching me do), followed by 5x50 metres of 'free'...apparently not 'free choice' (floating, anyone?) but freestyle.

It was followed by 5x50 'fly'.

I just went ahead and skipped that one altogether.

Then we did arms only with a buoy between our legs.  This was a first for TriGuy, who was swimming in the lane next to me.  He took to it like a...well, like a fish to water.

And thus ended the WARM-UP.

The main workout started with butterfly kick on our backs for 25 metres, followed by vertical butterfly kicks, followed by 75 metres of long free stroke.  Repeat x4.

I patiently waited for my modifications.

The coach (bless her heart) did some quick calculations and devised my own personal workout: freestyle kick on my back for 25 metres, followed by 5 bobs, followed by 75 metres of freestyle.  Repeat x4.

We were swimming in an outdoor pool, so knowing how well I do with swimming in a straight line, I tried to lift my head--otter-like--while I swam on my back, to make sure I wasn't too off-track.

It didn't help much.  This may seem familiar to you.

I dutifully bobbed at the end of the pool, and somehow came up with a noseful of water, which then dripped into my throat and led to a coughing fit.

I totally fit right in.

It was shortly after this that TriGuy, SwimmerBro, and SwimmerNephew looked over from their Speedy McSpeedster lane and shouted:

I gave them a big ol' thumbs up.

After 3 (not 4) reps, the coach came back and offered more modifications, telling me to skip the reverse IM 200 altogether.  No problemo, I hadn't noticed it anyway.  Then she asked:

...of fury? No?  Then no.

She explained it and said it would give me a good sense of where I was in the water.

Apparently "all over the place" is where I am.

Then she had me do a one-arm-at-a-time-stroke-with-the-flutter-kick-board.

Nailed it!

The coach did suggest remembering to use my core to keep my feet from dragging, because I was basically swimming uphill and that created a lot more work.  And I was supposed to swim downhill this year. 

At the end of all this, I had a warm down of 50 free (50 metres of front crawl) at any pace I wanted.  The coach gave me some parting encouragement:

Bless her kind, teenage heart.

I have to say that despite my difficulties, I really did like the idea of this group.  I usually take a lot of breaks during my swim because I'm doing the same thing over and over.  Not only did I swim the furthest I ever have in the shortest amount of time, it showed me some different things to do that I am sure will only help build my triathlon swimming skills (once my PT helps me fix my shoulder).

Now, I just have to find out if my local group will be as understanding as the guys' group when I explain my situation.


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