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Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton

Pain, Ruminations Thereon

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.


To my fellow stalkers of CreamPuff, the following will come as no surprise from the forum threads:

Posted by CreamPuff: So the 1000 was passable with a 10:32. Negative splitted with a 5:17 and 5:15 the 2nd 500. Swam my usual with zero kick of any kind. Had a lovely race with the boys and came in 2nd overall (I think I was around 3rd for most of the race). Lost 1st by 0.5 seconds. Was told I looked very smooth.

500 was the 2nd day with with el boys. Contrary to Glider's nice comment, the 500 was dreadful. Since seeing my 200 FR at 1:57 with zero kick two weeks ago, I've since been working on swimming with a 6 beat kick @ practices; however, it's only been 2 weeks. Coach and I agreed to not try kicking on the 1000 (too difficult at this point), but we agreed that I'd SDK and kick off every turn for the 500. Although I did make that goal, I was too tired to do the actual swim part and I added 3 seconds to my time of 5:11 - LOL! So, I'm going to stick with my kick and see if it can improve in a season or two or three or four. . . I think I got 5th overall on the 500 although it felt like last place after the 1000.


Not sure whether the adjective "passable" was false modesty or if CP, AKA, Kristina Ulveling can actually be blase about such times. I made inquiries:

From Jim Thornton: 1 Ulveling, Kristina 36 Swim Atlanta-GA 5:12.00 5:14.48

1 Ulveling, Kristina 36 Swim Atlanta-GA 10:34.00 10:32.73

If you doubled you 500, you would have swim 10:28.86.

Just amazing swims.

It seems to me that the SDKs on the 500 probably hurt you more than helped you.

Possibly, with practice, this will switch around, but I gotta say that SDKs really use up a lot of oxygen and energy and keep you under water a lot longer than you would otherwise stay.

For a distance swim, I don't know if the extra speed is worth it.

Anyhow, extremely impressive swims, despite the self-described "passable" rating.

My question for you is simple: how much does it hurt? When you are swimming the 1000, are you in pain? Do you find yourself saying, "When will this end?"

Or does it feel relatively good and smooth throughout?

I tend to suffer during distance events, and I don't know if this is the right approach...


The truth is, I am almost always in a great deal of discomfort when I swim distance events in such a way as to get a decent time. I wish it weren't so, but it seems to be unavoidable: unless there is pain, I rarely get a very good time.

from CreamPuff: Jim, the 1000 and 1650 are of minimal discomfort for me. I've been told I have too much left at the end at these races. In retrospect, I did not work that 1000 enough. But there's always next time!!! I am CreamPuff, remember? If I were truly tough I'd be called HammerTime. But be consoled in that the 200 and 500 do burn - and now I cry if I actually add in kick. Great points on the walls and SDK Jim - I agree with you and I think it will take some time to find out what works for me. I only took 1 good SDK and then went into flutter kick past the flags for each turn. Rather painful 20x particularly when you usually do it 0 times in a race.

In speaking with one of the top 14&Us in the nation this weekend (she goes 10:00 in the 1000), she was saying that it really hurts and is "pretty much an all out sprint." I'm definitely chewing on that thought. . . I may have to try A LOT harder next time. So good news - you are right on par with the 14&U girls!!! I wish I was. Sheesh.


Whether or not trying A LOT harder next time will help Kristina's time remains to be seen. I don't mean this in a snide way. I just don't know when gluttony for too much pain becomes self-defeating and ends up hurting performance.

Have you ever noticed how the truly great swimmers of the world, Phelps, Coughlan, Janet Evans, etc. etc. ad nauseam, never look particularly tired after setting their latest world record? It's like they can bound out of the water like newly hatched grasshoppers testing out their elastic legs.

I mean, it's a cliche, I know, but the best swimmers do look effortless. And I know that it probably doesn't feel effortless on their part. But when was the last time that we saw an Olympic great, or a CreamPuff, for that matter, be so spent at the end of a race that they have trouble beaching themselves on the pool deck, and once having done so (perhaps with the assistance of a ladder, or in a worse case, a couple life guards, or in the worst case, a hoist and coroner) proceded to lose their stomach contents.

Though my best times have almost always involved a great deal of pain, so, alas, have many of my worst times--where I have died so prematurely that finishing, say, the 1650 becomes highly problematic by the 250 yard mark. Or when my arms turned to tungsten on the last 50 of a 200 and I feared sinking to the bottom where a not up-to-code suction drain would make fast work of the gelatin leaking out of my every exhausted orifice.

It's one thing to suffer for glory's rewards. It's another to suffer only to get a horrible, horrible time because you suffered too much and couldn't finish strong, or, perhaps, at all.

The one final muddle factor here: once in a blue moon, I will get very near to a personal best and it all just feels wonderful, almost like CreamPuff's description of
minimal discomfort. What the hell is going on with this? And why isn't it the norm, not some weirdly bizarre exception that sometimes in retrospect I begin to doubt even happened at all?

Okay. So here is my question, one that I think hits any swimmer hoping to swim his or her best at a given event, particularly if such even is 200 or longer:
pain, how much (if any) should you tolerate, and at what point in the race can you afford to allow it to overtake you?

I mean, I know it's a mistake to do a drop dead, all out sprint on the first 100 of an hour swim.

And it's also a mistake to lallygag in luxurious stretching ease till 59 minutes and 45 seconds of said hour swim have expired, then really pick it up.

But somewhere between these extremes, there has got to be a rule of reasonable thumb.

I need this rule by tomorrow.

I am swimming this weekend, beginning with a 1000 first thing Saturday morning, and I don't feel like I am in any kind of distance shape at all.

I would like to do "passable" times in the true (as opposed to CreamPuffic) sense of the word. I would like to avoid the experience embodied by the picture gallery below.

If you have any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate them before I leave tomorrow for my rendezvous with pain--the old familiar aquatic equivalents of the saw, inquistion chair, and Spanish donkey, respectively.






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Comments

  1. RustyScupperton's Avatar
    Must say Vlog the Inhaler's roots in medieval unpleasantness is coming out a bit. GRUESOME images. Of course one wouldn't want any analgesics. As Jack Nicholson would say, "It dulls the sensation!"
  2. jim thornton's Avatar
    Wasn't that, "No Novacaine, please! It dulls the senses." ? Swimmers, I think, will particularly enjoy the Spanish donkey's ability to increase ankle flexibility via the ever escalating series of leg weight attachments.

    The Spanish donkey also seems even more capable than soy protein of letting me swim in the intermediate gender division.
  3. Bobinator's Avatar
    Hi Jimby!

    I am not a good enough swimmer to comment on swimming and pain, however I will say when I was able to run PR's in the marathon and 1/2 marathon I experienced minimal pain till the end. The way I did it was by mentally visualizing myself feeling strong, and just trying to RELAX AND BE PATIENT. In the marathon I always had a sense of panic the last mile and a half or so. It was all about: "I've come this far and done so well! Don't blow it now!" (cramps/bonk/etc)
    The thing i'm not sure about is.....does this all change when you are older? At 53 I do not have the same physical capabilities as before; oxygen is an extreme issue with me is swimming. (if I need air, I really need it asap!)
    I do try to emmulate the mindset I used as a runner......but I think my brain is a little wacked now too.
    Good luck this week-end! You are an amazing swimmer so just tell yourself--"the water is the same for everyone", effort=forward movement for everyone, and the only non-equal thing might come from tech suits. (I didn't like mine too well!)
    bob
  4. jim thornton's Avatar
    Bob--

    Excellent advice. For whatever reason, I have not had the greatest distancy season this year, and I think I will do what you suggest. Chant to myself: Long, smooth, strong, relax, patience!

    I will have the old school body suit at this meet; then, in about two weeks, Bill Sumerfield is sending me his B70 to try out at Colony Zones. I will be swimming many of the same events at both meets, so it should an interesting comparison.

    Forgive me if the pix in the blog were a bit on the gruesome side. The saw, in particular, makes me cringe...

    Alas, what we humans are capable of doing to one another.

    Lordy.

    Oh, I have had some great interviews with various exercise physiologists who have studied masters swimming. Should have some interesting items to report in the near future.
  5. Iwannafly's Avatar
    Thanks for the color commentary Senor Jimby. My wife and I are headed over to Erlangen on April 16 for a house hunting trip. I hope to get to the pool while there and I should try to send an email to Bodo. Thank you again for the e-introduction.

    Of the three, I would most certainly choose the chair! Both the donkey and the saw look too...uncomfortable...to contemplate! I personally enjoy a certain level of pain in the 500 and the 1000. Not that I'm exceedingly fast at either, but I do sort of enjoy the burn! Perhaps that's why I tend to be a good climber on the mountain bike!
  6. 's Avatar
    Jim, how did it go? Just came across this. . .


    The one final muddle factor here: once in a blue moon, I will get very near to a personal best and it all just feels wonderful, almost like CreamPuff's description of minimal discomfort. What the hell is going on with this? And why isn't it the norm, not some weirdly bizarre exception that sometimes in retrospect I begin to doubt even happened at all?

    For me, I feel that the pain is blocked out by a rush of major endorphins or adrenaline - typically when I'm racing someone and I know I either have them or it will be close. That *rush* is not always the norm. It appears on its own.

    Okay. So here is my question, one that I think hits any swimmer hoping to swim his or her best at a given event, particularly if such even is 200 or longer: pain, how much (if any) should you tolerate, and at what point in the race can you afford to allow it to overtake you?

    You can't be afraid of the pain and it's best not to think about it. I try and step up on the block with one goal in mind (whether to win the heat or something else) and I tell myself that I will do whatever it takes to reach that goal. So I find that not being afraid of the pain and not focusing on it (while focusing on the race strategy and technique) really work for me. Doesn't work all the time as I'm not equally focused as I go into every race. But if I'm focused, ready, and excited (and of course well trained), I can often have a good swim that feels great. But for goodness sake, don't think about the pain. Our coaches always tell us not to fear the pain and we work on that concept in practice. And you need to be well trained to be able to race distance.
    Updated April 9th, 2009 at 10:38 AM by CreamPuff
  7. 's Avatar
    You mentioned this point -

    "Whether or not trying A LOT harder next time will help Kristina's time remains to be seen. I don't mean this in a snide way. I just don't know when gluttony for too much pain becomes self-defeating and ends up hurting performance."

    I totally agree with this. What I was referring to was that I still made some errors during that swim. I swam it in a "comfortable fashion" meaning that I went out pretty slow and picked it up around the half way point. In comparison, Haley (the 14&U who swims 10:00 that I mentioned), will hit a FAST pace right off the bat and try and hold. I feel I was more conservative and I opted for a SLOWER pace at the beginning. Now, which option is better for me is uncertain.

    My other error or (really my being lazy in my opinion), was that I should have gone into a higher gear around the 800 or 850 mark and I was lazy and opted to stay at my current pace. I should have "tried harder" at the tail end of the race and I think I could have done so by throwing in a kick at the 850 or even 900 mark to catch the swimmer in front of me.
  8. jim thornton's Avatar
    CreamPuff, excellent philosophising on swimming. On this, you leave Michael Phelps in the dust I interviewed him once, and I suppose it's unfair to judge him on this one talk, but he seemed to genuinely not reflect on swimming at all. It was almost like an idiot savant who can play the piano like a master but is incapable of understanding what he does so well.

    I posted a bit on the Y meet in my Welfare Queen vlog. I did try to try on the 500, and I did not try to try in the 1000. Maybe part of me knew I just am not in the shape necessary to succeed in the latter right now; my 500 time, though mediocre, was at least not TERRIBLE, which the 1000 time was.

    Just going through many mental perturbations lately. I am hoping when the worst uncertainties are resolved, even if for the worst, I will adjust to the new reality once more and be able to swim better as a consequence.

    Anyhow, thanks for your comments. They are well put.