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Changing Up my Workouts

April 8, 2011

Well, it was just a matter of time before I started writing about working out. Yeah, the reason I moved things over here was because I was in a rut of only writing about working out, but I kind of have good news on the exercise front, and news is always fun to write about.

I’ve joined two gyms in the past two days. The YMCA of Carlisle and Planet Fitness. The Y was an easy choice – I really, really want to complete an Iron Man.

There are a lot of people who want to want to run a marathon, so they’ll train and train and train to run their marathon, and then they’ll never think of running that far again. When I ran my first 26.2 miles? It was simply a note to myself that I could, and should do it again. It was also the one branch of an Iron Man that I wasn’t entirely sure I could complete. I had run 26.2 miles, with bronchitis, and lived to tell the tale. In fact, I was out running again three or four days later. I had the bug, but I also wanted something more.

There is an allure to an Iron Man that I just can’t explain. I mean, take three activities that, by themselves, would give me just cause to not work out for a month. Swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112, Run 26.2. Any of the above, in a day, is insane . . . so let’s do them one right after the next.

I’ve been biking for quite some time, and I’m confident in my biking abilities. In fact, my favorite1 bike ride, for those days that I have nothing to do all evening but drink beer and go to bed early, is a 120 mile loop around the mountains of Carlisle. It makes you tired, but it is a lot of fun. I can do the cycling of an Iron Man. Running a marathon after? Well, that’s what’s training is for, right?

So, I know I can bike over 100 miles in a day, and now I know I can run a marathon (though I’m nervous about my second marathon, which is coming up in 23 days), and I love to swim, so it should be easy. I mean, swimming was my absolute favorite activity as a kid – getting back into the swing of things would be like, to use the cliche, falling off of a bike.

Speaking of childhood enjoyment, at my last job, it really wasn’t uncommon for someone to mention, when they saw me biking into the office, how being on a bike made the person “feel like a kid again.” Of course, they always said this to me as they watched me on the bike – usually, a week or two later, I’d have a fairly grumpy person in my office complaining how they didn’t remember bicycling hurting them before. Funny how the “wind in the hair” feeling gets trumped by sore, out of shape muscles.

So, I joined the Y for the pool. That, and so that my wife might get some sanity during the day (she had been running a day or two during the week, which was fine, except it means that she had to do it when I was still home, and I work, 45 minutes away, at 7AM, meaning she had to be done with her run before 6AM, which meant that she had to start running at 5AM, which only crazy people2 should be doing). The Y has a great child care program, so she can drop them off, workout at a sane hour, and pick them up when done, which makes a lot more sense than working up a sweat, alone, while I spend time sleeping in bed.

I joined on Wednesday night and I had my first workout on Thursday morning. I packed my work clothes, and my bathing suit, and headed out. First, I was dead prepared for cold-ass water . . . my mother in law had talked about joining the Y, but had to quit because the pool was just too damn cold. So, I was ready for cold, but the water in the indoor pool was quite comfortable. It was super-chlorinated, but quite comfortable temperature-wise.

I started swimming – I made it to the end of the pool and back again, and I was done. Completely exhausted. I had just swum 50 yards and I needed a break. Two lengths of the pool . . . exactly 1.9% of an Iron Man swim, and I was done. I stopped, I caught my breath, and I started swimming again. I managed, swimming leisurely, to get up to 6 pool lengths before I had to stop for a little while . . . why did I remember this as a fun, leisurely activity? This was torture.

Since then, I’ve realized several errors on my part. The first was that I was wearing the same bathing suit that I wear to the beach – it’s comfy, it’s baggy, it really doesn’t fit me (I distinctly remember having to reach back in mid-length a couple of times to keep from skinny dipping), and it’s horrible for swimming laps. I’ve ordered a Jammer-style swimsuit to reduce drag. The entire time I was swimming, I was having real difficulty matching my breaths with my strokes – I completely forgot that I need to turn my body to the side, not just my head, to breathe properly, so there was a lot of wasted effort just to keep myself afloat.

I’ll be back at the Y in a day or two, and while I know I’ll be sucking wind, I’ll at least have a plan to be sucking wind less as time passes. I’m really not sure when I’ll actually get to my iron man (it won’t be this year), but I am running in the Boiling Springs Sprint Triathlon this summer, which requires a 900 yard swim. I need to swim that in less than half an hour in order to qualify for the 25k bike ride & 5k run (both of which I’d be able to complete without issue).

Today, the day after my swim, my triceps are absolutely yelling at me, and my chest muscles seem to be asking what’s up – so I’m thinking I’m going to enjoy the physical side effects of swimming, once I get to the point where I’m not embarrassing myself in the water.

However, I said I joined two gyms, and I did. I put up the $10/month for Planet Fitness. My job requires me to sit at a computer all day, every day. I get up and walk around when I can, but, well, I really do spend most all of my time seated, and I know that’s not good. There is a nice little walking trail around here, and I’ll walk over lunch, but that’s no fun when it’s really hot out or when it’s raining. And, while I’d love to bike to work and/or run over lunch (and if you know me, you know that a 30 mile bike ride to work, a 5 mile run over lunch, and then a 30 mile bike ride back home is part of my definition of heaven), that’s a little evil to my coworkers if I don’t have a shower. There is a Planet Fitness in a stone’s throw from my office – I figure $10/month for the ability to un-stink myself is money well spent – as well as removing an excuse for not working out over lunch.

I’ll try to keep some regular updates here – I’m quite excited to add swimming to my workouts.

1 favorite being a relative term – I end up swearing through the switchbacks and wondering why my legs don’t work at the end of it.
2I define myself as a crazy person, as I kind of like being out of the door, running away, at 4:30
  1. I hate swimming. I think it stems from getting thrown in a pool as a teeanger and having my maxi-pad float to the top before I did. Learning to swim laps a few years ago was tough and in the open water was worse. It’s humbling to be passed by little old ladies in flower caps doing the back stroke while I’m huffing and puffing. You’ll get there, it’s just so different than running/biking.

  2. I signed up for a triathlon without owning a bike or knowing how to really swim. I borrowed a bike and hired my son’s swim coach for private lessons. Then I joined (through the Y!) a tri-training group.

    Maybe set your sights on a regular tri first and look for a group to join in training. If not for the group, I would’ve bailed a hundred times. And please believe me when I tell you, if I can do it, anybody can!

  3. I would totally do an ironman except for the biking. And the swimming. (So, no.)

    Still. I, like you, finished my first marathon and thought – Now what? So I did three the first year. Then decided I was going a little crazy and pulled back.

    I’ve considered a 50-miler, but do not have time to train for that while trying to write a novel and blog and raise a family and stay married.

    But I am lucky enough to have a friend who is INSANELY fit – training for St. George Ironman next month – who has done the AI 50-miler four times and completed Western States 100-mile endurance race.

    And she’s 55.

    So. I think my REAL training will kick in next decade when my kids are out of the house and my time will be my own (my husband is a workout nut so he won’t begrudge it).

    Still. No swimming for me. Just running. And running. And running. (I say that now, but…..)

    Either way – Good luck to you and your jammers.
    And your wife? Is my hero. When my kids were that young, I had no energy for a gym. None. I still don’t go. So she rocks.

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