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Strength Training and Dryland Workouts

  1. Diving workout

    I really enjoyed last night’s diving practice. It was a good night for our whole group—everyone seemed to be feeling brave and willing to go after difficult and scary things. I got to cheer on two of our more experienced divers as they did 2.5s from the 3m (forward and reverse). Meanwhile, I worked on dives that require a backwards takeoff—back dive, inward dive, and (briefly, just to make sure I could) back flip. I was really pleased to land my inwards last night head-first. It was only the second time I’ve worked on this skill, and the first was nearly two months ago, and involved hitting the water face-first far too often. I was worried I would regress back to that, but my body seemed to remember the skill. I did these off the 3m as well as the 1m, which was a first. Back flips off the 1m were a new skill as well, and were pretty easy to land. Now that I’m gaining some confidence that I can actually do these things, I’ll be able to focus more on making my form better. Right now my biggest problem is still with the take-off—I tend to be falling backwards as I jump off the board, which has me landing far far away—not a good thing.

    I have been feeling so much better the last couple of days. Tuesday’s visit to my doc resulted in a second round of antibiotics to treat what seems to be a sinus infection (which explains why the diving felt so bad last week). The coughing and asthma is now not a problem except when I exercise hard aerobically, so I’m still holding off that for the time being. I’m eager to get back to my regular activity—I’m well into week 4 of this asthma/illness deal—but I’m also ready to be cautious about pushing too hard, and finally put this whole episode behind me.

    My next event is the 2 Bridges 5K swim in the Hudson on June 1. I visited the wonderful Hudson River Museum today with a couple of friends, and seeing the exhibits there and being near the river for much of the day made me more excited about being part of that event. I’m not stressed—yet—about feeling underprepared for it. I figure I’ll bring whatever level of fitness I have by then to the swim, and whatever that turns out to be, I’ll end up having fun, seeing friends, and spending a beautiful day on the water. Right now I feel very glad not to have any longer events on the horizon.
  2. Refreshing morning swim

    Last night I went to my first (indoor) rowing class since summer. I had been wanting to resume these workouts ever since I returned to the city in early March, but I had to wait a bit while a foot injury healed sufficiently that the pushoff from the pedals wasn’t aggravating it. (It’s an old injury, to the joint connecting my big toe to my foot, and I had hurt it again at a trampoline session in late January.) My goal last night was simply to reacquaint myself with rowing form and make it through 45 minutes of class, and I did that. After some warm-up and half- and quarter-rows for form work, we did some power tens (series of 10 strokes fast—my fastest got down to 1:55), then the following set:

    5 x (2 minutes fast, 1 minute easy) [descended these from 2:27 to 2:11)

    2 minute rest / stretch
    At this point I thought the workout was about done. We had 6 minutes left, and we usually spend the last few minutes of class warming down and stretching. But, nope, the instructor decided he wanted to do the above set again. Since we had time for only 2 rounds, we did 3:

    3 x (2 minutes fast, 1 minute easy) [descended from 2:28 to 2:11)

    It was nice to be back rowing—I’m hoping to add this to my weekly schedule on a regular basis.

    This morning I swam at the Y with a friend. The pool was crowded when I got there, and we had to get the duo swimming in the fast lane to agree to circle with us. (Who takes “Would you mind circling?” as an actual question, anyway?) They left after a few laps, though, and we had the lane to ourselves for most of the workout. Here’s what I did:

    750 warmup (400s, 200k, 200 pull)

    4 x 75 FR k/d/s @ 1:30
    4 x 150 FR/BK/FR desc. @ 2:30 [2:15 > 1:58]

    5 x 500s with traveling backstroke
    1st 500 = FR except 1st and 10th 50s are back
    2nd 500 = FR except 2nd and 9th 50s are back
    3rd 500 = FR except 3rd and 8th 50s are back
    etc.

    250 warmdown + play

    The pool was a good temp this morning—I even got a bit chilled when I was swimming at warmdown pace. Luckily there’s a sauna and steam room at this pool, and I made good use of them post-swim today. Weights this afternoon and ballet class tonight made for a full day of exercise. I'm definitely looking forward to a massage tomorrow!
  3. In my Easter bonnet

    This morning I enjoyed a short solo swim at the Y. The pool seemed to have more than its share of grumpy clueless lap swimmers today—there were several mild arguments, and once I looked over to see some woman wagging her finger at the lifeguard, who was trying to restore order to the slow lane. But happily the fast lane was a model of friendly cooperation for the duration of my swim, with the two guys I shared with (one during warmup, the other during warmdown) being competent and willing circlers. Here’s what I did:

    1000 warmup (400s, 200 rev. IM kick, 200 pull, 200 IM drill/swim by 25)

    8 x 75 (25 kick, 25 build, 25 AFAP) @ :45 RI, 2 of each stroke

    400 warmdown + play

    Sprints felt good.

    Afterwards I went upstairs for weights and stretching. I’m stoked to be seeing some progress in the weight room--here’s where I am on my currently (all the sets of less than 6 were done until failure, except for bench press where I’m aiming for 10/8/6):

    Military press 1 set of 12 @ 15-lbs, 1 set of 6 @ 17.5 pounds
    Butterfly 1 set of 12 @ 12.5, 1 set of 7 @ 15
    Bicep curls, 1 set of 12 @ 15, 1 set of 5 (right) / 6 (left) @ 15
    Single arm rows: 2 sets of 12 @ 17.5
    Forward/sidewards/rear deltoid raises: 2 sets of 12 @ 7.5 lbs
    Lat pull-downs (on machine): 2 sets of 12 @ 65
    Bench press: 12 @ 45 (warmup + form check), 10 @ 55, 8 @ 60, 5 @ 65

    Bench press stabilization: 2 sets of 30 @ 30 lbs
    Lat/scapular stabilization: 2 sets of 40 @ 40 lbs
    Wrist curlicues: with 3-lb weights


    . . . because if not today, when?
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  4. Dive Clinic

    Yesterday I drove up to West Point for a springboard diving clinic. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect—I had learned about the clinic through an email sent out by my TNYA diving coach, but none of my teammates were going (many are attending to our upcoming week-long swim/diving camp in Fort Lauderdale, the lucky ducks). I had explained to the organizers that I was a beginning masters diver, and they had let me know that I would be very welcome. An email to participants on Friday mentioned that there would be a broad mix of abilities and ages. It turned out that I was the only masters, and I was a little self-conscious in the beginning about being both the oldest and the least experienced diver, but that quickly disappeared as we all got to work on improving and learning new skills. I’m kind of glad I didn’t know ahead of time that I would be the only adult, because that might have discouraged me from participating in what turned out to be a great experience.

    Coach Ron and his assistant Melissa first had the 10 of us sit in a circle and introduce ourselves, giving our names and few other tidbits of personal info (it had been a long time since I thought about what my favorite color was—I chose turquoise). Then after a bit of dryland we got to work on jumping technique—first on land, then off of springboards that were placed in front of big soft mats, then on the trampoline, then finally off a 1m platform and 1 and 3m boards into the pool. We then started working lineups into the pool, while Ron worked with individuals at the boards-with-mats setup, this time strapping us into harnesses and working on actual dives. The chance to work on the ropes was one of the things that attracted me to the clinic, as we don’t have that kind of set-up at our regular practice pool.

    When my turn came to work in the harness, I worked on my inward dive some (key: through arms down center of body before tucking, not to sides like I’m doing a butterfly stroke). Then we moved on to forward one-and-a-half’s. This was what I was really looking forward to working on while in the belt, as I’ve never experienced the sensation of doing more than a single flip in the air. Ron corrected some things with my flipping technique, then I did some 1½s, with him signaling me when to kick out of my tuck. After a few, I went directly to the 1m board and did the same thing, not roped in. I was able to complete the required rotations and go in headfirst, but without being in a very good diving position. I was told we’d return to those once I practiced some line-ups.

    So I did some line-ups and easy dives off the 1m, then was told to try my back dive off the 3m. I’d never done this before, but Ron’s philosophy seems to be that once you’ve done something successfully off the 1m, you should immediately go do it off the 3. So I climbed up onto the higher board, did my back-approach-arm-swinging-and oscillation routine, paused, then did the tiniest of hops off the board into a back dive. Luckily I landed it ok. I was sent back up to do it with more conviction, and after a few more tries got comfortable with the notion of doing a back dive from the greater height. Woohoo! That had just doubled the number of dives I can do off the 3m.

    But I wasn’t yet done. I came back down to the 1m to try my forward 1½ again, this time with a two-step approach (I had been just jumping from the end of the board before). With the more height that gave me I could complete the rotation and do a semblance of a dive position into the water. I did several of these until I felt comfortable with them, and was feeling proud that I would have a new dive to show off to my coach and teammates at the next practice.

    I should have seen what was coming next, but somehow I didn’t. When I exited the pool after my fifth attempt, Ron told me to go do it off the 3m. I stood there slack-jawed for a moment, until he told me again. I started climbing up the ladder, not sure if my shaking legs would carry me up. I was still in shock that I was being asked to do this, and reminded myself that I was after all a grown-up, and didn’t really have to do anything that I didn’t want to do. But with that thought came the realization that this was something I wanted to do—maybe not today, but eventually. But opportunities don’t always come about exactly when you want them, and the chance to try this skill was being offered here, now. I stepped up into position, ready to try. Ron told me to dive with conviction, just the way I had done it off the 1m. I took a deep breath, did my approach, and flung myself into the air.

    You know how at swim meets there always seems to be an octogenarian butterflyer who can barely get her arms out the water on each recovery, and who takes many painful minutes to complete a 50? And how by the middle of the second lap the whole pool is mesmerized by the struggle, and bursts into applause once that final stroke is taken? Well, on Saturday, that applause was for me, given by my young clinic-mates when I completed my first 1½ off the high board. And reader, I relished it.

    I did a few more of those dives, gaining confidence with each and getting a better sense of my bearings in the air. And I realized that, much as I hated to admit it, the dive was actually easier from the 3 than from the lower board—I had more time in the air to complete the dive, and enjoy it. It makes me look forward to learning more dives off the 3, and maybe even working up a competition dive list at that height as well.

    In the showers I was literally shaking from the adrenaline rush of the dives, but beaming from all the new skills I’d learned. I had a beautiful drive back to the city, and can’t wait to try some of this stuff again at diving practice on Thursday.

    And, since this is nominally a swimming blog, here’s the short workout I did at the Y today.

    1000 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 IM d/s)

    4x through
    100 FR @ 1:30
    50 K @ 1:00
    100 IM @ 1:45
    50 K @ 1:00
    [Kicks were IM order + reverse IM order. I had planned to do all the 100s on 1:30, but I just didn’t have any fast IMs in me today.]

    300 warmdown + play

    My set today used to be my go-to set years ago whenever I swam alone, and I enjoyed revisiting it today. Unsurprisingly, I was very sore today, and felt tight in the water—my triceps especially are feeling it, I think from too many times of failing to get into a full locked-out dive position before I hit the water yesterday. The swimming felt good though and loosened me up a little, as did the post-swim steam and stretch.
  5. Short solo workout

    This morning I did weights and a short swim at the Y. This is my third week back doing weights; I used the initial 2 weeks as an easy getting-back-into-this period where I started very easy and lifted progressively more weight, doing 2 sets of 15 reps of each exercise. Now I am aiming to do 2 x 12 reps at each new weight for two sessions in a row. Once I am able to do that, I’ll increase the weight on the second round and lift until failure or 12 reps, whichever comes first. Once I can do one round of 12, I try to do two at the next session, and so on and so forth. (There are a few exceptions, like the scapular stabilization stuff, where my goal is to do lots of reps of little weight, and bench press, where I do fewer reps of bigger weights.) My plan right now is to do this for 3 weeks, have a week where I do something lighter or different, then repeat.

    I have a routine that I’m pretty happy with for the arm weights; for legs, I’m still figuring out what I want to do. Diving and ballet already leave me sore for several days each week, and I mostly do just lunges on days when I’m at the gym and don’t have one of those activities scheduled. Today I saw no need to pre-sore my legs before tonight’s diving session, so I just stuck to arms. Here’s what I did—all exercises are with dumbbells unless indicated:

    Military press 2 sets of 12 @ 15-lbs

    Butterfly 2 sets of 12 @ 12.5 (increase weight next session)

    Bicep curls, 1 set of 12 @ 12.5, 1 set of 10 @ 15

    Single arm rows: 2 sets of 12 @ 15 (increase weight next session)

    Forward/sidewards/rear deltoid raises: 2 sets of 12 @ 6 lbs (increase next session)

    Wrist curlicues: with 3-lb weights, rotating wrists (both direction) until current song on sound system stops or I get completely bored

    Lat pull-downs (on Nautilus-era machine): 2 sets of 12 @ 60 (increase next session)

    Lat scapular stabilization (basically the first part of the lat pull-down, keeping arms straight and drawing shoulder blades together—weights move about 3 inches): 2 sets of 40 @ 40 lbs

    Bench press: 12 @ 45 (warmup + form check); 10 @ 50, 8 @ 55, 6 @ 60

    Bench press stabilization (pushing bar up as far as it will go with straight arms, bar moves just a few inches): 2 sets of 20 @ 45 lbs [probably should hunt me up a bar that weighs less for these, or just use individual dummbbells—goal is 2 sets of 40]

    Afterwards I skipped the abs—we’ll do plenty of drylands tonight—and did a quick 10-minute stretch before hopping in the pool for the following:

    1000 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200d/s)

    Pie of IM
    8 x 25 @ :30, 2 of each stroke IM order, odds pretty, evens sprint
    7 x 50 kick IM pieces @ 1:00 (FL, FL/BK, BK, BK/BR, BR, BR/FR)
    6 x 75 IM pieces @ 1:25, done build/fast/easy by 25s (fl/fl/bk, fl/bk/bk, bk/bk/br, bk/br/br, br/br/fr, br/fr/fr)
    5 x 100 IM pieces @ 1:45, steady pace throughout

    200 warmdown + play

    That was it!

    My main key at diving tonight is to keep my eyes open longer and learn to visually spot my entrances. I have long had a fear of opening my eyes underwater—I think as a kid it was drilled into me that if I lost a contact while swimming I would bring financial ruin upon my family, not that I had ever been that keen on putting my face in the water anyway. (There was a reason I stuck to backstroke!) It took me several years of playing polo as an adult to discover that water could get into my eyes with absolutely no ill effects (ok, some blurriness and redness, but the contacts stayed in and my eyeballs didn’t explode). Last week, I realized that despite my coaches’ instructions about what visual cues to use to time particular movements during dives, I was shutting my eyes tight as soon as I went off the board and just relying on hope and my internal gyroscope to make things end up ok. That worked well enough until I tried doing a simple twist—rotating in two directions took away my sense of where I was in the air. So tonight—eyes wide open, until just before I enter the water!