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Nancy H.

  1. Swimming: The Cure for Everything?

    Clocked 2200 yds in class tonight. Workout was a good mix of strokes. Got some decent flip turns in there, but laid off them when fatigue started setting in. Coach said my backstroke looks really smooth, and that my breaststroke is "getting there." Woot!

    I've worked my way through the current issue of Swimmer, and the article on swimming's effect on mental health really struck a chord. I'm one of the only people I know (outside my class, naturally) who exercises on a regular basis. And I'm one of the only ones who a) doesn't have serious medical problems, b) isn't on multiple prescription drugs, c) isn't overweight or obese, and d) hasn't had issues with depression or anxiety. Generally speaking, I'm one of the happiest people I know.

    Or, as I like to say, swimming is the cure for everything.
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  2. Swimming Sunday

    Clocked in 2500 yards this afternoon. Workout included 500 yds breast, 500 yds back, 500 yds free, focusing on points from the Go Swim DVDs. Results are not bad. In two-plus years of swimming with a master's class, my stroke technique has gone from "completely horrible" to somewhere between "moderately crummy" and "okay."

    I'm actually semi-amazed at how my breaststroke is progressing. I have the kick down okay, the mini-pull is getting there, I'm holding the glide longer, and the timing is a lot better than it used to be.

    Backstroke is pretty decent. What does it say about me that everything makes so much more sense when I'm going backwards?

    Freestyle is iffy. Got to work more on that body roll.

    Started the flip turns at square one, just somersaulting in the water (eight months ago, I couldn't even manage that much) and worked up until I was flipping comfortably at the wall. It definitely helped that I worked on these first, rather than saving them for later in the workout. My left arm still does that wonky spastic flailing thing, but the turns are definitely there. Didn't try to overdo anything--worked on the turns 'till they felt good, then started working on something else.

    It's FREEZING up here in Cow Hampshire. Brr!

    Happy weekend!
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    Swim Workouts
  3. Fun with Tennis Balls

    Another good class last night. Despite late-week fatigue, I managed to hit 2200, a fun mix of strokes, drills, and kicking. Worked more on freestyle open turns and have managed to eliminate (more or less) the pesky grab/ yank/ pop up habit. The turns already feel more smooth and powerful. Bless those Go Swim videos for the nifty pointers!

    Was very surprised to see the yardage total, because I felt like a slow-moving boxcar last night. I've been having some problems with sore leg muscles lately--it might be my winter shoes, which are getting very worn out. I've been doing a lot of stretching, but I can still barely kick. This, coupled with general exhaustion (I might be fighting off a virus), is really taking its toll on my swimming. At these times, just getting in the water is a triumph.

    We also did a fun breaststroke drill with a tennis ball tucked beneath the chin to keep the head position steady and the eyes focused down. I could only manage a couple of strokes before the ball went flying, but it was still a very instructive drill. Of course, I like to joke it's because of my tiny chin, not my bad form, that I couldn't keep the tennis ball in place.

    Coach is running a butterfly clinic in a couple of weeks. Woo-hoo--I'm always on the lookout for another stroke to do badly.

    Happy weekend!
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    Swim Workouts
  4. Getting the Most out of Lunch Break

    Went swimming on my lunch break today; did 800 yards in 45 minutes.

    Spent most of this workout focusing on freestyle open turns, using the Go Swim videos on You Tube. This is a great series of steps building toward a faster, more efficient open turn. Since time is so limited on my lunch break workouts, it seems to make more sense to focus on a particular skill, rather than just trying to slog through more yards.
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    Swim Workouts
  5. Bobble-head, that's me

    Lots of kicking in class tonight. Ugh. Feel like I'm getting sick, which doesn't help. Still, I was amazed the yardage added up to 2400. It seemed like it should have been closer to 2000. I'm still doing that weird bobbing thing with my head. Anyone know any good drills for keeping the head steady during freestyle? In backstroke it's no problem: you can just do ducky drills (and I seem to have a knack for going backwards anyway, which surprises nobody who knows me well). But you can't do ducky drills in freestyle, unless you have a snorkel, which I don't.
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  6. The Sunny Side of 150

    What joy: I'd noticed my clothes were beginning to feel a bit loose, and so weighed myself this weekend: 148 on the nose--a loss of 2.5 pounds since January 8.

    I never had problems with my weight until I moved out to New Hampshire and had to start commuting 4 hours a day (don't ask) to work. Instead of exercising an hour a day six or seven days a week, as had been my habit, I was suddenly exercising maybe one hour a week. Needless to say, my weight ballooned up from a lean 135-140 to nearly 165, more than I'd ever weighed in my life. I found this incredibly depressing and also incredibly frustrating, because I felt like there was nothing I could do about it.

    In the fall of 2006, I started losing some of that weight, mostly by accident--a few inadvertent small changes to diet and a bit more consistent exercise--and when I realized losing weight was much easier than I'd initially believed, I was motivated to shed the rest of those pounds. By the summer of 2007, I was back to 140, and feeling much more like my old self. That fall, I started taking master's swimming classes, challenging myself more physically. I also re-configured my commute, so that it takes much less time, giving me back a precious hour each day.

    This past summer and fall, some of that weight crept back on (it's amazing how quickly this happens with just the smallest changes to diet and exercise), and before I knew it, I was up to almost 155.

    So I started the whole process again, and this past weekend, I hopped on the scale and saw the "sunny side of 150" for the first time since last summer. What a relief.

    I try not to obsess about weight too much, because I think it's just psychologically unhealthy. However, when I lost all that weight in 2007, I had to replace my entire wardrobe--literally from underwear to coats--a not-insignificant investment of money, and if I gain too much weight back, I would have to spend that money all over again. So I have financial incentives to keep the weight off. After all, I need that money to purchase more swimming gear and paraphernalia.
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  7. 18.76 Miles!

    Swam a nice 2600 on my own today, bringing my January total to 18.76 miles. Wow! It's amazing the perspective you get when you keep track of everything with a FLOG.

    Even the flip turns worked better today. I also worked on some open turns, did a lot of kicking, and worked on the timing of my breaststroke. It's not too bad, considering I have twenty years' worth of bad habits to correct.

    Total workout came to about two hours, though 15-20 minutes of that was flip turn drills. The freestyle turn is pretty good... the backstroke turn, not so much. I did realize that if I want to work on any specific skill, I need to make that a priority at the start of the workout and not wait until my legs are dead from kicking. LOL!
    Categories
    Swim Workouts
  8. There's more to life than flip turns (now categorized!)

    Class last night went well. Two lanes were tied up with people doing the hour swim, so I was in a shallow lane with two other women. Not a huge problem, but under the circumstances, flip turns were just not possible. One, I hate flipping in shallow water (it seriously feels like the shallow side of our pool is up to my knees); two, I hate flipping when I'm worrying about colliding with other swimmers.

    So I focused more on stroke technique: wide arms, smooth hand entry, "catching" the water, pulling with high elbows to utilize a bigger surface area (elbow, forearm, hand). Feels a bit wonky, but definitely contributes to a more powerful stroke. I also tried to utilize body roll more, so that I'm not over-taxing the smaller muscles of my arms and shoulders. Started out okay, but this grew harder as the workout wore on. Still, I'm getting there, and I can feel the difference it makes when I get a good body roll going.

    Not as much time for backstroke, so I focused on a good, tight streamline and DKs off each wall, as well as clean hand exit/ entry on the strokes. Also trying to really "reach/ stretch" into each stroke. Again, this is easier at the start of the workout than at the end when muscle fatigue has set in. Still, not bad, considering Sunday's yardage monster, followed by six hours' sleep. GAAAH! I really need to get to bed earlier! Night Owl, that's me.

    Also, I made it a point to stretch really thoroughly right before bed, and I woke up with far fewer aches and pains this morning. Who'dve thunk?

    I try to tell myself to stop fretting over flip turns. With enough time and practice, I'm sure they'll improve and hopefully become second nature. I have to remind myself continually that less than six months ago, I couldn't even somersault in the water, so for me to have a semi-consistent flip turn is pretty darned good. I should also focus on other areas of swimming, as I did last night.

    One thing I'd like to do is make my freestyle open turns smoother. I was watching a classmate last night, who has very smooth, efficient open turns. I think mastering this skill would make me feel like I'm at least turning efficiently when (for whatever reason) the flips just aren't happening. Besides, it's nice to have several skills in the old repertoire.
    Dang, I really need to remember to check off a category when I post!
    Categories
    Swim Workouts
  9. More Flip Turns

    Did a two-hour workout today (3100 yds), including about half an hour of flip turn drills. Definitely feel like I have the freestyle turn down. The backstroke turn is slower coming along. I'm also starting to leave aside the nose clip and exhale hard through my nose when I turn. I've never been really comfortable with the nose clip, because I like to breathe through my nose, and having the clip on also makes swallowing hard, which can get uncomfortable. So, hopefully the nose clip will soon become a thing of the past. But I never would have even learned flip turns without that nifty little thing, so all hail the nose clip!



    Goodnight, everyone!
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    Swim Workouts
  10. Flip Turn Woes, Reposted

    Worked on my flip turns in class last night, which are rusty after using open turns for the hour swim.

    Learned a new trick for backstroke flip turns: judging distance to the wall when my feet, rather than my head, pass under the flags. At that point, I only need one backstroke pull before turning over and doing one freestyle pull right down into the somersault. This seems a more effective technique for getting myself into the right spot to initiate the turn.

    Also discussed with coach the wide-feet trick Tracy Grilli uses on backstroke turns. Since KP-N also uses this in freestyle, it seems a neat trick for getting more oomph off a flip turn. My problem seems to be not going into the wall with enough power, not tucking tightly enough in the somersault, and an awkward foot plant. All these things are combining to give me the worlds most soggy flip turns; at this point, they're slow as a horse & buggy, but at least I have a sense of what I need to work on. Got to get back into the water and do some basic drills.

    [Please God, I am NOT getting sick. I have a party tomorrow and I want to swim on Sunday, so please tell me the weird thing my stomach is currently doing is not a developing case of gastric nasties. Amen.]

    OTOH, I tried the tip from the AP backstroke DVD of "sliding" the hips and lo! It really does work. I felt like a rocket going through the water. It looks a little funny when you watch the video, but it definitely adds some momentum to the stroke.

    ETA: Reposted to include a category.
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    Swim Workouts
  11. Hour Swim

    Finished my hour swim on January 11 with a total of 3220 yards!

    I've also changed my settings so responses can be posted.

    Cheers,
    Nancy
  12. Happy New Year

    My first blog... it had to happen, eventually!

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