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Of Swimming Bondage

bondage:

  • dictionary.com: the state of being bound by or subjected to some external power or control

Though I swore at 22 I would hang my suit up forever, I am compelled to swim, to relish in the pain/pleasure continuum across workouts and meets, to be forever & happily enslaved by this odd sport.

In my 50s now, I've created this blog to keep me motivated, chart my progress and, possibly, offer some insight to others.

  1. Loafing in the great white north

    by , December 30th, 2008 at 01:54 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    I made it up in time this morning to hit the LCM hours at the pool. A fair amount of snow had fallen during the night, so I had to scrape the windows and hit some massive defrost on the way over. The landscape was beautiful and it looked almost inviting once the sun came up and revealed a nearly cloudless day, but I honestly don't understand why people live so far north. Granted, southern Alberta in the summertime is about the most exquisite place on earth (next to northwestern Montana), but I just don't think I could live up north again (I did spend 5 years between Wisconsin and Chicago).

    On account of my back, I took it very easy today:

    • 4 sets of 600:
      • #1: 200 free / 400 IM k/drill
      • #2: 1 x 400 free on 6:00 followed by 4 x 50 fly kick on my back on 1:00
      • #3: 2 x 200 free on 2:45 followed by 4 x 50 back swim on 1:00
      • #4: 4 x 100 back descend on 1:45 followed by 4 x 50 breast swim on 1:00

    • 1 x 100 easy

    TOTAL: 2500 LCM

    Thoughts:

    • I am likely to take it pretty easy the rest of the week and might even stay off lifting until Jan 5th. Sun Devil Masters do their annual 100 x 100 this Saturday, Jan 3rd, and I was really hoping to do that (I've not gone more than 5500 yards in a masters workout EVER). I'll have to wait and see how my back feels.
    • Fly home tomorrow on a godawful early flight and then my older two kids are insisting on "ringing in the New Year" at midnight Arizona time. They're unfortunately too old now to fall for watching the ball drop in NYC and calling it a night.
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  2. Tobogganing is NOT good cross-training

    by , December 29th, 2008 at 04:57 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    I took my three girls tobogganing/sledding yesterday at Lethbridge's famed "sugarbowl" yesterday. (OK, so I'm sure none of you have ever heard of it). I learned very quickly, after bottoming out on an exceptionally hard patch of ice, that this is not good cross-training. Whatever repair my body had been doing on my lower back was set back completely and then some. I was sprawled out on the snow in some pretty decent pain when my five year old came over to laugh at me. Gotta love those kids.

    Stayed out way too late last night with my wife and friends and so slept through the LCM hours at the local university today. I did make it over for a SCM swim, borrowing the guts of the following workout from Paul Wolf:


    • 700 warmup: 300 free, 400 IM kick/drill by 25s


    • 4x150 Free pace on 2:15 (held around 1:50 to 1:55)
    • 2 x 50 free descend on :45
    • 1x100 Free build on 2:00
    • 3x150 Back on 2:30 (went 2:05, 2:00, 1:56)
    • 2x50 Kick on 1:00
    • 2x100 Back descend on 1:45 (went 1:24, 1:11)
    • 2x150 Breast on 1:45
    • 2x50 Kick on 1:00
    • 1 x 100 free (build)
    • 1 x 50 easy

    TOTAL 2800 SCM

    Thoughts:

    • My back is in real pain now and the only stroke I could swim without noticing it was backstroke. Surprisingly, my backstroke felt great.
    • Tomorrow's going to be a heavy kick and backstroke workout.
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  3. So far, so good

    by , December 28th, 2008 at 12:56 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    As a masters' swimmers trying to balance all the other pulls on our time, I figure you take your "little victories" where you can get them. So far, two weeks into the training program I had laid out for this SCY season, I have hit the training goals I had set out. I know, two weeks is hardly much, but I'll take it. The snow is falling gently here in Lethbridge, Alberta and, aside from some light yoga and stretching this morning, I'm taking another day off, but will be back in the pool the next two days swimming in a lovely LCM pool here at the local university.

    Looking ahead to the month of January, I feel pretty confident that I'll be able to stick with my training plan. I'm making a slight modification to my weight-lifting plan. According to Jason Lezak's program, I should spend my first month focusing on endurance, steadily increasing my reps by week from 3 @ 12 in week 1 up to 3 @25 by the fourth week. I've decided to extend this to a six week program and so will do this week at 15 reps, followed by two weeks at 20 reps and two more weeks at 25 reps. That will then leave me to start February on the next two months of "strength building."

    My first meet of the SCY season will be the Polar Bear meet down at the U of A in Tucson on Jan 25th (http://homepage.mac.com/jimstites/Fo...et%20flyer.pdf). One of my silly goals for this SCY season is to swim every event at least once in a meet. I haven't entered yet, but will likely swim:

    • 1650 (get this one out of the way early!)
    • 50 fly
    • 100 breast
    • 50 back
    • 50 breast or 100 back

    My main goal will be to do a decent mile. I haven't swum that, I think, since my first Masters' Nationals back in 2001, when I went 17:18. I think I'll wear the B70 for the mile, but then just switch into a pair of jammers for the remainder of the events. Still thinking about it, though.
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  4. Calgary Rocks!

    by , December 27th, 2008 at 11:40 AM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    Many a time when I have travelled, I have had to do with sub-par pools, inconvenient times, crowded lanes or just no options to get in a good swim. This morning in Calgary, however, was a treat while swimming at the wonderful Talisman Centre (http://www.talismancentre.com/), a multi-sport, public facility that has two 50 metre pools plus a separate diving tank that is another 25 metre pool. I was only slightly bummed that both of the LCM pools were chopped into 25 SCM courses, but quickly got over that when I realized that I actually had one of the 8 lane courses in the competition pool entirely to myself.



    I ripped off the core of my workout from some components of one of the workouts Chris Stevenson recently posted on his blog:
    • 1 x 600: 200 free, 400 IM k/dr by 25s (you'll find I love this combo for warmup)
    • 400 - 300 - 200 - 100:
      • free on 1:30 base per 100 aiming to descend pace
      • Went 5:08 / 4:41 / 2:18 / 1:06
    • 100 - 200 - 300 - 400:
      • IM on 1:45 base per 100 aiming to descend pace
      • Went 1:36 / 2:48 / 4:10 / 5:30
    • 100 easy
    • 10 x 50: on 1:00, 25 hypoxic SDK underwater as far as I could / 25 easy
    • 100 easy
    • 3 rounds of
      • 3 x 50 fast/200 IM pace
      • 1 x 50 free/easy
      • Round 1 free on 0:45 (held 0:30 to 0:32)
      • Round 2 back on 0:50 (held 0:35)
      • Round 3 breast on 1:00 (held 0:43/0:44)
    TOTAL: 3900 SCM



    Thoughts:
    • I actually felt fairly good, despite a fair bit of revelry with the family last night (bro-in-law has some good scotch and a great, new pool table), but the twinge in my back is still noticeable.
    • I made a comment in a previous blog about not being as great a workout swimmer as I used to be. My 400 IM today was a good example of this. I went as fast as I could a mere three weeks after swimming a 4:39 in the Colonies Zone meet and was 5:30 today. I know I took a week off and have some pain, but, in the "good old days," my practice times would be more like ~20 seconds at most slower than my meet times.
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  5. Boxing Day -- OFF!!

    by , December 26th, 2008 at 11:47 AM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    Looks like today will be a day of enforced rest. There is a great pool (Talisman Centre) nearby my brother-in-law's house in Calgary where I'll be able to swim long course tomorrow, but it is closed for Boxing Day. Given that it's -22 degrees Celsius outside, I'm not leaving the house unless:
    • I have to, or
    • There's a pool open somewhere, or
    • I can no longer control my need for Tim Horton's donuts.
    My wife, crazy Canuck that she is, went out for a run just now -- long johns under her running tights, four layers on her top. I'm in awe as she's lived in (& fully acclimated to) Arizona over the last decade.
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  6. Lifting for Santa

    by , December 25th, 2008 at 09:36 AM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    Aside from a paycheck, I think the only good things that come from the volume of business travel I do are:

    1. Frequent flyer miles,
    2. I can expertly rate the quality of espresso at many major airports around the world

    Okay, the second one is a sad reminder of the addictive power of caffeine. The first one enabled me to put my wife in a first class seat to Calgary this morning sans kids, while I'll schlepp the three girls, luggage and gifts up later today. That also allowed me to squeeze in a quick weight session this AM (as we are splitting the "opening ceremonies" between Xmas Eve here and Xmas Night with the rest of the extended family in Calgary).

    Working on 3 x 15 reps of each:

    • Superset #1
      • Dumbbell Incline Bench: 25lbs / 25lbs (only 11 reps) / 20lbs
      • Barbell twists (core)

    • Superset #2
      • Curls: 15lbs each set / each arm
      • Calf Raises: body weight for two seats, two 10 lb dumbbells on the last round

    • Superset #3
      • Single arm rows: 20-20-25 lbs by set
      • Lying leg curls: 40-40-50lbs by set

    • Superset #4
      • Barbell raise
      • Squats @ body weight


    Thoughts:

    • The lower back twinge is back; trying to cram in a week's worth of workouts in 4 days on my second week back was probably not wise, but I'll get "forced rest" over the next two days.
    • With that said, my hope is to get in two more workouts this week, ideally one swim and one lifting, but we'll see how that goes.
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  7. Yoga & swim

    by , December 24th, 2008 at 02:02 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    Took the whole day off work today and was able to make it over to LTF to try out one of their yoga classes. Awhile back, I was a pretty regular yoga-goer at a great studio in town (www.atoneyoga.com)**, but I haven't done a structured yoga class since early March. I figured trying "club yoga" would be a mellow re-introduction and it was. The pace was slow so I could really focus on my breath and balance. It was a great way to start the day for me. Interestingly, though, my wife (a runner) came with me and hated it. We're both fairly hyper-active, Type A individuals and she just couldn't stand the gentle pace. The only 5 minutes of shavasana/corpse pose at the end about killed her. I've been trying to get her to try yoga for years; I think this class sealed the door shut on that idea.

    I went down to the SCM pool afterwards to get in one more swim before the holidays start. My goal was mainly to focus on technique while trying to keep the pace on the slightly higher end of aerobic:

    • 1 x 600: 200 free, 400 IM kick/drill
    • 4 rounds of:
      • 200 IM on 3:15 (drill fly, swim the rest, really concentrating on stroke & turns) and aiming for 3:00 pace
      • 200 free on 3:00 with major focus on turns (plant feet shoulder width apart, 4 SDK off walls) while aiming for 2:30 pace
      • 100 IM kick on 2:00 FAST doing all strokes except free on my back

    • 8 x 25 on 0:45 going 2 each stroke, 1 easy, 1 ALL OUT
    • 1 x 50 easy

    TOTAL 2850 SCM

    Thoughts:

    • I forgot how much I really like yoga. My legs are weak and my hips are tight, so it's a good additive exercise for me. I'm 180 degrees from my wife on shavasana -- it's about the only time aside from sleeping where my mind & body are not ON!
    • Swimming felt strong and controlled.


    ** If you're ever in the Valley of the Sun and are looking for a studio, try to do a drop-in class with either Johanna (http://www.atoneyoga.com/teachers/by...etails/?tid=13) or Alex (http://www.atoneyoga.com/teachers/by...etails/?tid=66). They are both fabulous, each with a slightly different style.
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  8. PM: Ooooh & aaaaah

    by , December 23rd, 2008 at 04:50 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    One of the many fabulous things about living in a resort town that doubles as an outdoor activity town is that we have access to some really great masseuses and masseurs. There are also a lot of low rent, crummy ones, but, trial & error quickly shows you the path to oooh and aaaah. As my back was hurting, my hams were tight and I was generally discombobulated (what with getting beaten up by a girl in the pool two days in a row), this was just what I needed.

    Afterwards, I felt so much better that I ventured up to the free weight section at Lifetime Fitness (LTF). I totally understand, now, people who are average to below average swimmers feeling anxious about coming to their first masters' workout. I walk into a gym and feel like a weak twelve year old girl next to the "real" weightlifters. I persist, but I still feel like an impostor.


    Workout: this week up the reps to 3x 15
    • Flys: 15lbs each
    • Leg Extensions: 50 lbs
    • Lat pull downs: 50-50-70 lbs by set
    • Straight-leg Deadlifts: 15lbs (going light today on account of the tight hams)
    • Tris: 20-22.5-25 lbs by set
    • Squats: @ body weight
    • Hammer curls: 15-15-17.5lbs by set
    • One legges calf lifts: @ body weight
    • Lateral arm raises: 10-12.5-12.5lbs by round (only managed 10 reps on last round)
    • Twists: some core work with about a ~15lb bar
    Thoughts:
    • My supersets didn't always work as well as they do at home as the gym was very crowded. I was told once by a senior sales guy that the Scottsdale location of LTF has the highest utilization of classes and activities across all of their locations. Scottsdale: home of the beautiful, fit people ... and me.
    • While I don't like the crowds, I do like the access to the lat machine (haven't bought one yet) and the wider variety of free weights. I still think I'll do most of my sessions in my gazebo gym.
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  9. 12-23 AM: A little less smoky

    by , December 23rd, 2008 at 10:00 AM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    This AM was supposed to be "yoga swimming" with more long & easy stuff. I figured that would be good when balanced out with a weight session later today. It turns out, though, that it was someone's 38th birthday, so we ended up doing a main set of 38 x 50. Not quite the long aerobic stuff I was looking for, but also not too hard. I also did a slightly better job of keeping up with the youngin's today, likely on account of my major focus on 4 to 5 very strong SDK off the walls.

    Workout:

    • 1 x 600: 2 x 100 free, 200 k/dr stroke by 50s
    • 38 x 50 on various intervals and various combinations of stroke, drill, swim, hard/fast ... to be honest, I've forgotten them all!
    • 100 easy
    • 5 x 100: ascend on 1:45

    TOTAL: 3100 LCM

    Thoughts:

    • My left upper back/lower shoulder is still in pain ... but only when I use my left arm or breathe to my right. Not so painful that I can't move, but certainly not great. Going to get a massage today
    • Still debating whether or not to lift weights today. The sane side of me says I should rest/recover my back; but the hyper-competitive side of me keeps whispering, "No pain, no gain."
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  10. Smoked by a girl

    by , December 22nd, 2008 at 09:32 AM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    The club team that swims at our pool has a mini-break the next four days, so that meant two things:

    1. Our Masters' team had eight 50 meter lanes all to ourselves, and
    2. The college kids who are back in town swam with us

    I wasn't quite aware of #2 when I jumped into my normal lane, but felt conspicuously old and abandoned by my fellow masters' swimmers when the main set (& intervals) came along. I quickly had to modify my old motto of, "Don't get smoked by a girl"** with a corollary, "Unless she's swimming at Stanford and went to Trials last summer." I could keep up for about 25 meters and then there was no hope for me. Ahhh, more motivation and inspiration to keep me going.

    Workout (LCM):

    • 1 x 600: two times 200 free, 100 kick
    • 4 x 50: build on 1:00
    • Main set was 3 sets of:
      • 4 x 100 on 1:25, 1:20, 1:15 by rounds
      • 1 x 200 on 2:30, 2:40, 2:50 by rounds
      • 2 x 50 easy on 1:00

    • 5 x 100 on 1:30 descending
    • 6 x 50: on 0:55 going IM switch by 25s two times through
    • 1 x 100: easy

    TOTAL: 3800 LCM

    Thoughts:

    • I surprised myself by making almost all of the main set. On the last round, I made the 1st two 100s, then went 1:17 on the third and then fell to pieces on the fourth. The college girls looked like they could stop for manicures in between each 100.
    • I find that I am a much worse workout swimmer as a Masters swimmer and a much better meet swimmer than I used to be. In my "real" days of swimming, I was an awesome workout swimmer, but my meet performances didn't always live up to my expectations. I think I like it better being surprised with how well I do in meets relative to my workout performance.

    Going to hit another 30 minute core class over lunch today.

    ** I recognize there are very many women and girls who smoke my best times day-in, day-out.

    Updated December 22nd, 2008 at 10:49 AM by pwb

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  11. Slumdog & Core

    by , December 21st, 2008 at 02:31 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    I know this is supposed to be a workout/swimming blog, but my wife and I saw the movie Slumdog Millionaire last night. This is a GREAT flick, a neat cross-cultural mix between modern/growing rich India and the poverty that still exists with a love story and "buddy" adventure tale thrown in. Very well made and very well told.

    Today, Sunday, was basically a rest day for me as I only planned and only did a 30 minute core class at LTF. I contemplated getting a jump start on next week's 3 weight-lifting sessions since I'm not sure what access to gyms/pools I'll have after Xmas. We're heading up to the cold of Calgary on Xmas day and shuttling around Alberta visiting my wife's family. I'll get some good pool time in once I get down to my parents-in-law in Lethbridge as the University there has a beautiful indoor 50 metre pool (see http://flickr.com/photos/petermq/2782416984/). I'm just not sure how family obligations and facility hours will work over the first weekend in Calgary. In the end, I decided to try to get my three swims, one core and two of my weightlifting sessions for next in before I leave for Canada. That way, anything up there next week is gravy ... and will help work off the gravy, trifle, Tim Hortons, beer, etc.
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  12. 12-20-08: No Heroes

    by , December 20th, 2008 at 11:11 AM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    My first LCM workout of the year (I didn't swim all summer) and my motto going in was, "Don't be a hero." That is, just get through this puppy. Air temp read 37 Fahrenheit and there was so much fog coming off the pool that we could barely see the pace clocks. Laura W was on deck and we had a decent turnout for a cold day with the holidays approaching.


    • Warmup
      • 200 free swim
      • 400 IM kick/drill by 50s
      • 200 reverse IM swim (but did free on the fly)

    • 1 x 800: supposed to be pull and supposed to be breathing pattern 3-5-7-9, but, as I don't pull and am not in great shape yet, I swam and did a 3-5 breathing pattern by 100s
    • 1 x 400: IM drill/swim by 50s
    • 1 x 200: free negative split ... went 2:28 (1:15/1:13)
    • 1 x 100: easy free/back
    • 20 x 50: as 1 on 0:40, 1 on 1:00, 2 on 0:40, 1 on 1:00, and so on up to 5 on 0:40 and 1 on 1:00
    • 4 x 100: kick descend on 2:20
    • 1 x 400: easy swim do a progressive breathing pattern until you almost pass out (e.g., 2 strokes, 3 strokes, 4 strokes, etc. until you approach oxygen deprivation, then start over again)
    • 100 easy
    • 6 x 50: on 1:00 alternating one chasing down the person in front of you and the next the person chasing you down

    TOTAL: 4500 LCM

    Thoughts:

    • I felt much stronger and better than I ever have on a 1st LCM workout. It wasn't a particularly killer workout; a nice re-introduction to the course.
    • I think I've been spending too much time reading Fort's and Jim Thornton's posts because I can feel a little "hypochondriasis" coming on with respect to some pain in my left shoulder/back. Good thing it's the holiday time as I'm giving myself the gift of a sports massage next Tuesday and then a visit to my chiropractor next Wednesday. Those should get me straight before I venture out to a week of holiday celebrations with the extended family.
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  13. 12-19-08: Not so ouch as I had thought

    by , December 19th, 2008 at 07:39 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    I was really expecting to still be very much in pain today, but I was surprised to feel fairly good. Don't get me wrong, I could still feel the previous workouts, but I was nowhere near as pained as I had anticipated.

    Today was a weight workout only, doing the same program as on Monday, though I re-arranged the order to give different muscle groups different priority in the program:

    Today consisted of the 3 x 12 sets:

    • Superset #1
      • Single arm rows at 20lbs per arm
      • Leg Curls: all sets at 40lbs

    • Superset #1
      • Incline bench: all sets at 25lbs per barbell
      • Leg Extensions: all sets at 40lbs

    • Superset #3
      • Curls @ 15 lbs
      • Calf raises at body weight

    • Superset #4
      • Standing Tricep press @ 20lbs
      • "Prisoner" squats with body weight only

    • Superset #5
      • Front barbell raise @ bar weight only (~7lbs)
      • Step-ups @ body weight


    Thoughts from the day:

    • Though I eschew "toys" / training aids in the pool, I don't think I could get through any of my dryland work without my iPod/tunes. During my monster tele/web conference (8 hours!) today, I got bored with people rattling on about their budgets and their problems and proceeded to download a good mix of newish (e.g., Kate Nash, Chairlift) and 80s (e.g., Bronski Beat, The Call) music. 'Twas nice to lift with "new" tunes.
    • I was able to do the step-ups fully onto the weight bench.
    • The workout today was actually pretty easy. I felt like I should've increased the weight on a number of exercises on round 2 or 3. I opted not to, both for fear of more soreness and for fear of a 90 minute LCM workout tomorrow.
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  14. 12-18-08: Sleep or Swim?

    by , December 19th, 2008 at 09:18 AM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    At work this week we are in our "crunch mode" to finalize budgets for 2009. While this should be a straightforward process and should (IMHO) have been easily completed earlier in the month via a well-defined process, I've pulled late nights the last two for the lack of process. I ended up skipping the coached Sun Devil Masters (SDM) practice on Thursday morning as I was going to have had far less than 6 hours of sleep minimum I desire. That's the bad news. The good news is that, after being up again and on the phone until about noon, I was able to break away for an hour to get a swim in on my own at Lifetime Fitness (LTF) in a 25 meter course.

    Today my focal points were few:

    • IM-orientation primarily paying attention to form vs. energy/power
    • Turn focus: LTF has flat walls in their pools, so I'm getting early training for 2010 Swedish Worlds

    I stole the main portion of this workout from my 12 year old daughter's practice the night before. Of course, she had another 2K or 3K of other sets.


    • 1 x 600 warmup - 200 free, 400 IM kick/drill
    • 8 x 25 free drill on 0:45 (4 various forms of scull, 4 single arm with fist closed)
    • 4 x 100 IM on 1:45
    • 2 x 200 IM on 3:20
    • 1 x 400 IM on 6:20
    • 2 x 200 IM on 3:20
    • 4 x 100 IM on 1:45
    • 1 x 50 easy

    TOTAL: 2850 meters

    Thoughts from the workout:

    • Didn't swim any full stroke butterfly, but mixed kick (on back) and single arm. My butterfly is the one stroke that breaks down most quickly. My new philosophy around it is to switch to kick/drills in workout as soon as I feel my stroke starting to crumble. The thought process is to not train my 'muscle memory' into bad habits.
    • I was still very sore today from weights. Not sure how I'm going to manage a third weight session on Friday.
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  15. 12-17-08: Ouch

    by , December 17th, 2008 at 09:02 AM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    My quads were still killing me this morning. I had thought that a day of swimming only, a gentle walk with the dogs and some stretching would've made me feel a little more ready for a second weight session this week, but I was wrong. With that and the fact that I'm not going to be able to get out of the office today for a core class, I modified my "Program B" slightly to remove one quad exercise and add in some core work.

    This program (and slight variants of it) is what I hope to alternate with the program from Monday.


    Today consisted of the 3 x 12 sets:

    • Superset #1
      • Dumbbell flys: 15lbs per barbell on all sets
      • Crunches (this should've been quad exercise #1)

    • Superset #2
      • Dumbbell pullovers at 25 lbs (1 dumbbell)
      • Straight leg deadlift at 2 x 25lbs

    • Superset #3
      • Bench dips
      • "Prisoner" squats with body weight only -- I'm not a "grunter" normally in the gym, but I think I woke some neighbors up this AM on this set

    • Superset #4
      • Hammer Curls @ 15 lbs
      • Single leg Calf raises at body weight

    • Superset #5
      • Lateral shoulder raises @ 10lbs per side
      • Step-ups @ body weight
      • Barbell twists


    Some thoughts from today:

    • For you music buffs, the Arctic Monkeys make great motivational tunes. I generally just shuffle the iPod, but needed something with a consistently higher energy level.
    • I definitely need to do some research for some more alternate exercises for some of the leg muscle groups. I hate lunges, but know that I need to do them.
    • I don't know how soon I'm going to be able to increase the weight being lifted, given that the program for this month has steadily increasing reps. We'll see how it goes.
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  16. 12-16-08: Yoga (swimming) in the rain

    by , December 16th, 2008 at 09:29 AM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    First pool workout back after a week off following Colonies Zones. Scottsdale is rainy and cold this week, but, as rain is a welcome change of pace in the southwest, there's something magical about swimming outdoors in the rain in the dark. If you get nothing else out of the experience, the fog rising from the pool obscures the pace clock sufficiently so that you can legitimately blow off an interval because you just can't see.

    Tuesdays with Laura on deck are usually "yoga swimming," meaning that we're focused more on aerobic swimming ideally with a heartrate in the 120 to 140 zone. I felt remarkably good after a week of nothingness. This was a perfect "re-entry" workout.

    Workout focus: I'm trying to enter each workout with one or two key focal points. For the time being, this will be on my turns, particularly freestyle, concentrating on:

    • Not gliding into the wall and flipping quickly
    • Working my way up to 4 to 5 underwater dolphin kicks off the wall. Until this fall, I had done zero, but got to about 1.5 kicks in the fall season. Aimed to get every turn today at 3 kicks.


    SCY workout as follows:

    • 400 warmup (200 free, 200 IM kick-drill)
    • Set #1
      • 4 x 200 free on 2:50 (supposed to be pull, but, as I don't believe in buoys or paddles, I swam)
      • 3 x 150 free swim on 2:10
      • 2 x 100 IM on 1:40
      • 1 x 50 drill

    • Set # 2
      • 1 x 200 free on 2:50 (again, supposed to be pull)
      • 2 x 150 free on 2:10
      • 3 x 100 IM on 1:40
      • 4 x 50 drill on 0:55 (did 1 each stroke)

    • 4 x 300 on ~ 4:30ish (we kept missing intervals for all the kicking and the fog)
      • #1 swim free
      • #2 100 kick (IM) - 200 free swim
      • #3 200 kick (IM) - 100 free swim
      • #4 300 kick (IM)

    • 50 easy

    Total 3950 yards
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  17. 12-15-08: Gazebo gym

    by , December 15th, 2008 at 09:59 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    I don't think that the "gazebo gym" that I've created in my backyard has quite the same gritty, Philly feel as in Rocky III, but it works for me. It's got "basic" and "low cost" going for it:

    • Dumbbells ranging from 5 to 55 lbs (the advantage of being weak: less money spent on weights!),
    • Barbell plus 4 x 25lb and 4 x 10lb weights
    • Adjustable bench for both flat & incline, as well as for leg extensions and leg curls
    • Dip / pull-up bar

    ... but the view of the palm trees, the mountains in the distance and the Arizona sunrise make it a much more inspiring place to workout. After walking my dogs for about a mile pre-dawn, I threw my iPod on shuffle, my hooded sweatshirt and gloves (outside temp was in the 40s) and went to work.

    • My weight training goal for the next 4.5 months is to adhere as closely as possible to "Jason Lezak's Weight Training for Sprinters" program.
    • Month 1 is endurance focus, ramping up repetitions by week 3 x 12, 3 x 15, 3 x 20, 3 x 25
    • Plan is to superset, alternating muscle groups in pairs
    • I'll build two workouts and then alternate them, do the same set of exercises per muscle group every other workout

    Today consisted of the 3 x 12 sets:

    • Superset #1
      • Incline bench: all sets at 25lbs per barbell (I told you I was weak)
      • Leg Extensions: all sets at 40lbs

    • Superset #2
      • Single arm rows at 20lbs per arm
      • Leg Curls: all sets at 40lbs

    • Superset #3
      • Standing Tricep press @ 20lbs
      • "Prisoner" squats with body weight only

    • Superset #4
      • Curls @ 15 lbs
      • Calf raises (not sure that's technically the right name) at body weight

    • Superset #5
      • Front barbell raise @ bar weight only (~7lbs)
      • Step-ups @ body weight


    Four things about the workout:

    • Warmed up with about 10 minutes of dynamic stretching and finished with about the same of static stretching. All in all, took about one hour.
    • I'm weak, but I was also intentionally very light today as I want to do three sessions this week
    • I did the entire workout with minimal rest with the exception of the last set of step-ups. Intention was to step up onto the bench, but my quads were hurting from the squats, so I did this on a much lower step.
    • Jason recommends three exercises in his program focused on the back/lats. I need to add some more exercises in here and consider buying a lat pull down machine. Heading to a secondhand sports store this weekend to look for one.

    Later in the day, I managed to get out to squeeze in a 30 minute core class at the "real" gym. I like the core classes because there's practically no choreography required ... though, being not a very coordinated "land-animal," I still struggle at times to get my body to do moves that require movement of more than one appendage at the same time.

    Good start to the program.
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  18. Eye of the Tiger (Back to Basics Training)

    by , December 14th, 2008 at 05:22 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    In addition to the three things I listed in my first post, my overriding theme for this SCY season is to be more thoughtful & “planful” (if that’s a word) about my training. There are two hard parts to executing this plan, factors I’m sure everyone faces at some time or the other as we try to balance our own swimming with our families and our careers:

    • First, I’m still not sure if I’ll be pointing to Clovis Nationals for my “fast” meet or not. I’m going to build my plan as if that’s the big meet, but, the other parts of my life might get in the way and I might need to pull up short on the SCY season by wrapping it up with the Arizona State Masters’ meet (late March/early April).
    • Second, on a week to week, day to day basis, the factor that most interrupts my training is my business travel. A typical year has me on the road about 100 days with about 70 nights in hotels. Again, I know I’m not unique here. Three things worked better for me (none of this is rocket science) this past fall that I’ll continue to do:
      • Building cross-training into my plan, regardless of whether I’m on the road or not. Finding pool time when on the road is the confounding factor. Until this fall, though, I mostly swam for my training, aside from the occasional yoga class and intermittent attempts at lifting. What that meant, though, was that I rarely did any exercise when I was travelling if I couldn’t swim. By consciously adding in free weights, core work and hiking/running to my training even when I am home, I have no excuses when the only option available to me on the road is a hotel fitness center.
      • Laying out a weekly training plan each Saturday or Sunday for the upcoming week. It sounds quite simple, but just putting my plan into a spreadsheet (I LOVE spreadsheets) led to a much higher rate of “time on training task” than taking each day as it came.
      • Joining a nationwide health club (Lifetime Fitness) and then taking advantage of it at home and when I travel. I’m sure a YMCA or 24Hour Fitness or other membership would accomplish the same thing, but Lifetime Fitness is a mecca for working out. It’s still not as nationwide as I’d like it to be, but their expansion plan seems to coincide well with my own biz travel. I had not joined a health club until my wife encouraged us to do this. I was big skeptic, but have become a total convert.



    Assuming I’ve got roughly 4.5 months until Clovis, here’s my broad training plan by month. I will tweak this as time goes on, but here it is with a “theme” for each month. I’ll provide more specifics on each week in future posts. I admit that, amongst the really hard core folks out there, this might seem minimal. I find that a great week for me has me doing one workout per day (e.g., either swimming OR weights); trying to do multiple activities on a single day requires a time management skill that I can’t always demonstrate. You will see that ambition-wise, this is a step-up for me as each week is going to require some days of multiple activities.


    • December: “Get back into fitness, but enjoy the holidays”
      • I’m not going to worry about much other than showing up and beginning to rebuild a base in the weight room and the pool. Proportionally more thought will go into the weight room than the pool.
      • Week of December 15th
        • 3 days of full-body free weights (M-W-F)
        • 3 swimming workouts with Sun Devil Masters (T-Th-Sa)
        • 2 days of “core” exercise classes at Lifetime Fitness (probably M/F)
        • 1 “flow” yoga class (Sunday)
        • 1 ~4 mile hike with the older daughters (Saturday)

      • Week of December 22nd
        • 2 days of full-body free weights (M-W)
        • 3 swimming workouts with Sun Devil Masters (M-T-W) … these will be LCM
        • 2 days of “core” exercise classes at Lifetime Fitness (M/W)
        • 1 ~4 mile hike with the older daughters (T)

      • I’m considering the week starting December 29th part of January, so will still need to figure that out

    • January & February: “get stronger, stay consistent”
      • January and February are always hard months for me as I have heavier business travel to kickoff internal projects, conduct performance reviews (joy!) and get out to customers to start the year on the right foot (I’m a career consultant). As getting in the pool more than 3 times a week will be challenging, I’ll be very focused on strength training.
      • Weekly goals will be comprised of “must do” and “nice to add”
        • Must do:
          • 3 days of full-body free weights (MAJOR emphasis)
          • 3 swimming workouts (target 10k yards per week, opting for sprint workout whenever offered)
          • 1 core class a week
          • 1 technique swim session every other week (pure drills, one hour per session, one-on-one with an excellent coach/technician)

        • Nice to add (in order of preference)
          • Flow yoga class
          • 1 more swim workout
          • 1 ~4 mile hike
          • Additional core class



    • March & April: “swim longer, harder, faster, smarter”
      • My business travel doesn’t lighten up that much in March or April as we move into “conference season,” but things start to get into a slightly more predictable groove as all of the extra work created by start of year projects either ends or gets more on autopilot. Fortunately, this year, two of the key conferences are in Vegas and San Diego, both of which have great pools and teams. The major change here will be to ramp up the pool time and divert the major emphasis to the pool from the weight room.
      • Weekly goals will be comprised of “must do” and “nice to add”
        • Must do:
          • 3 days of full-body free weights
          • 5 swimming workouts (target 20k yards per week, opting for sprint workout whenever offered, aiming for a lot more quality work)
          • 1 core class a week
          • 1 technique swim session every other week (pure drills, one hour per session, one-on-one with an excellent coach/technician)

        • Nice to add (in order of preference)
          • 1 flow yoga class
          • 1 ~4 mile hike
          • Additional core class



    • May: “taper longer than I ever have”
      • Fort, Chris and Ande have convinced me that I need to experiment with a longer taper. As happy as I was with my swims at the SCM Zone meet, I don’t think I quite hit the taper right. I swam fast, but didn’t feel as “fresh” as I should have. Throughout my competitive career, I never did much more than a 3 to 5 day taper. I’m not going to go with the three week or so plan that others do, but I will “ramp up” my taper to probably 8 or 9 days.



    OK … now that’s it out there in cyberspace, written down never to disappear, I’ve got the hard part of staying accountable to myself.
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  19. Channeling Ande, Jason, Kaizen & more (how do I get faster?)

    by , December 12th, 2008 at 05:44 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    Until recently, my Masters' career since jumping back in the pool in 2000 or so could generally be summed up as a "bare minimum" approach: do enough workouts to swim respectably at the few meets I went to, but never to put so much into it that I raised my own expectations or put too much pressure on myself.

    Two races at Austin Nationals changed that for me:


    • 50 backstroke: Ande Rassmussen smoked his way past not 1, but 3 guys who had been world class backstrokers in their day.


    • 500 free: I managed to swim a Masters' best and got second by 0.09 seconds (!!).

    Inspiration and motivation in about 5 minutes of swimming.

    I've now just concluded a strong SCM season and am getting ready to jump back into an even more focused training approach. As I think back to Ande and reflect on his numerous posts, I come back to the question he continuously asks, "What do you need to do to get faster?"

    For me, here are the answers and what I'll be focusing on as I try to swim faster over the upcoming SCY season:


    • Get stronger: I've always taken almost a perverse pride in being one of the physically weakest guys on the blocks. I doubt I'm physically capable of ever really looking like I am strong, but I need to actually get stronger. I'll be channeling Jason Lezak for this effort (http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jasonlezak1.htm).


    • Swim "better": Technique, technique, technique. I successfully adopted some of Terry Laughlin's Kaizen/Total Immersion approaches in my freestyle this fall and saw great time drops ... but there is so much more to improve on efficiency and effectiveness across all of my strokes.
    • Swim faster more: I know this sounds like the end goal, but what I mean by this is that I need to have a much higher percentage of my workouts both quality and sprint-focused. I've been a distance guy my whole life; conditioning kind of just happens for me as long as I show up ... but speed, raw speed is another story. I've never had it, so I need to build it.

    The journey doesn't start for a couple more days. I'm going to get some more inspiration this weekend watching my younger two daughters swim. I'll lay out a plan and then try to execute it.
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