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

How to know if you're trying enough

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
Chris, I think most people need a schedule for periodization to work well for them, because their inner "I'm broken down" threshold is set too low. A schedule also gives them an end in sight, which can be a powerful motivational factor.

Fort, June 14 is soon! The end is in sight!

--
Mr. Qbrain in a comment on a recent Chris Stevenson blog
On this, my 22nd consecutive day of daily hard exercise, I think I have begun to get some clues that might help my fellow swimmers decide if you are trying enough in practice--and not succumbing to that inner babyish voice that cries out, "Ease off! Pamper yourself! You have crossed the threshhold into the realm of being overly broken down!"

At tonight's practice, I underwent not one, not two, but three separate specific and measurable characteristics that suggest I was trying enough.

These are:


  1. Severe nausea of the sort where the stomach contents are storming the esophageal sphincter if not yet breaching same
  2. Cramps in the thighs and calves that made just finishing a final "sprint" 50 an epic adventure of the sort that Homer might have written a trilogy about
  3. And finally, the quote delivered to me, directly and with a look of "oh my god, I wish I'd paid more attention in that CPR class" anxiety, from a sophomore college swimming woman, "Are you okay?"

I am not maintaining these three above characteristics, even in combination, are sufficient to prove beyond all doubt that I was trying in practice.

I will, however, suggest they represent a sort of sine qua non triad the absence of which probably indicates you are not trying hard enough.

Near vomiting, cramps throughout the entire span of the legs, and the concern of a coed who really thinks she is about to see her first corpse: these are necessary, if not absolutely sufficient, conditions for trying.

I am not sure exactly could push one over the edge into absolute, definitive proof. After motorscootering home post-practice, I lay down on the couch to watch a few minutes of Countdown with Keith Oberman before lighting the grill and putting on my dinner of four Costco lamb chops.




When I stood up from the couch, I suffered a blood rush from the head that all but blackened out my visual field entirely, if only momentarily, forcing me to remain standing based on no more than a lifetime of experience in what this requires.

I could have fallen.


I could have also actually vomited during practice, seized up with such cramps as to not be able to finish my sprint 50 at all, no matter how slow, and finally I could have expired right after answering the coed's concerned inquiry with a simple--heroic even--"No."

Maybe this is what is sufficient to prove I tried hard enough in practice. I don't know. I guess when I get to that point where the question becomes moot, this vlog will have run its course.

So, here are my last three practices, each one, in its way, emblematic of the new Costillian maxim I am trying to put into practice: i.e., intensity trumps volume. (Note: I do have a bit of volume here, too, usually at the beginning, but these lengthy warm ups tend to be done at a very leisurely and relaxing pace, which I find is increasingly necessary to cajole the creekiness out of my joints and alleged muscles...)

Friday, May 24th, at Trees Pool (U. Pittsburgh)

Pre warm up: 1,500

Warm up 4 x 200 on 3:30 (2:30; 2:25: 2:25: 2:18)

10 x 100 on 2:00 (ez, med, fast, repeat--from pushoffs)
[fast ones for me were :59 1:01 :57]

kick 200 rest; regroup

Swim 8 x 50 on 1:15 (ez, fast, repeat-from pushoffs)
[fast ones were :28, :28; :28’ :27]

kick 200 rest; regroup

12 x 50 karmic meditative --no breaths down, breathe ad libertam back, chant “peace” and “calm” throughout



Total 4500; total arm-deadeningly hard yards for me: 500 yards

------------------------------------------------------
Saturday, May 23rd at Sewickley YMCA

lifted 53,000 lb.--see earlier vlog
------------------------------------------------------
Sunday, May 24th at Sewickley YMCA

3 hours, 15 minutes of doubles tennis; won 3 sets to one with hobbled partner Bill (suffering from gastrocnemius, also documented in previous vlog); a little water volleyball later
------------------------------------------------------
Monday, Memorial Day, May 24th at Sewickley YMCA

Bill White: present
Jim Thornton: present
Everybody else on our team: not present

Pre Warm up: 1500 easy

Warm up: swim kick pull on your own from 12:00-12:15

Heart accelerating set: 8 x 100 on 1:30 (just a tad bit faster than you want to go)

Main set (in homage to Jocelyn and with thanks to Jen at Pitt who invented this):

5 sets of 8 x 50 on 1:15, EZ on the odds; fast on the evens; with regrouping between each set

1.the fast ones are your 200 pace +2 seconds (for example: 32s if your 200 time is 2:00)

2.the fast ones are your 200 pace +1 seconds (for example: 31s if your 200 time is 2:00)

3.the fast ones are your 200 pace +0 seconds (for example: 30s if your 200 time is 2:00)

4.the fact ones are your 200 pace -1 seconds (for example: 29s if your 200 time is 2:00)

5.the fast ones are your 200 pace -2 seconds (for example: 28s if your 200 time is 2:00)

recovery set: swim easy for 5 minutes

Total 4600; total arm-deadeningly hard yards for me: 1000 yards

------------------------------------
Tuesday, May 26th at Sewickley YMCA
lifted 66,000 pounds in lieu of tennis singles because of rain
------------------------------------
Wednesday, May 27th at Sewickley YMCA

Pre warm up: 1200 easy

16 x 50 on :55 moderate
4 x 50 on 1:10 moderate
5 x 100 on 1:30 odd ones fast (1;04, 1:04; 1:03)

2:20 rest (swam slow 50 to recover)

5 x 100 on 1:40 odd ones fast (1:02, 1:03; 1:02)

2:40 rest (swam slow 50 to recover)

4 x 100 on 1:50 odd ones fast (1:04, 1:05)

[near vomiting and co-ed asks, “Are you okay?”]

4 x 50 sprint odds

[massive cramping on second sprint, almost unable to finish but force myself to waddle in, kicking with hip muscles alone]

4 x 50 on :40 “cool down”--coach Bill’s idea of whimsy

Total: 4100; total arm-deadeningly hard yards for me: 800 yards

-----------------------------------------------
Tomorrow, if the weather is okay, I will be playing tennis; weight lifting if it rains. Friday out to Pitt again, hopefully for the first long course swim of the season, though that's still up in the air how the pool will be set up.

Today, as suggested earlier, was my 22nd consecutive day of exercise, and I am not sure how long I can keep these up without a break. But it's been kind of rewarding to think that I might be slouching ever so slowly back into okay shape.


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Updated May 28th, 2009 at 01:18 AM by jim thornton

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Comments

  1. tjrpatt's Avatar
    Volume is fine, just as long as it is very intense volume.You seem to do that in your workouts.

    I usually try to catch Olbermann to see who the worst person in the world is. Now, they just need to fire Chris Matthews because he is bloody awful. It sucks that he is from the Philly area because he gives us Philadelphians a bad name.
  2. Bobinator's Avatar
    Good hard working jimby!
    Do you like the weight work? Do you see increased muscle definition?
    I haven't been doing any lifting but I am going to start this summer. People already ask me how much I lift. For some reason I have alot of definition in my arms. (perhaps I swim with my arms too much and should try to use the core more?)
    Anyway I like to look fit but I don't want to look like Lou Ferrigneio(sp?) or Arnold S.
  3. jim thornton's Avatar
    Tom, the last few practices have all had sets where I approached what the weight lifters call muscle failure--crossing over the lactate threshhold to the point where It's really hard to continue, sort of like that last length in a 100 race. I am thinking that doing some of this at most practices will eventually tap muscle fibers that don't usually get worked out much outside of the meet environment. (In the winters here, where we have meets every other weekend, I actually do get some practice racing.)

    One thing I am telling myself is that the times on the pace clock matter less than the perceived effort. Yesterday, for instance, I tried to descend the fast 100s in each of those three sets. But by the 3rd set, my times actually go slower--even though the vomiting urge, cramps, and "are you okay" looks of concern all got more intense. Anyhow, a new way to measure, I suppose.

    Bob, I don't know about defiinition of muscles per se, but the veins are really starting to pop out to the point where it looks like a convention of night crawlers has checked into the hotels of my right and left arms! I am sure your well-defined arms are extremely attractive.

    As for my heavily vasculated arms, I am not a woman, so I can't speak with absolute authority on this issue. But I would imagine there's not much that your gender finds more attractive than long cylindrical appendages riddled with prominent blue night-crawler-esque veins wriggling furiously thereupon!

    Correct me if I am wrong!
  4. The Fortress's Avatar
    Good job Jimby! You don't need a B70! What you could use, however, is a rest day once a week. Your muscles can't recover and rebuild without it. Much as I dislike it, even I engage in rest days.

    On the weights, if you're hitting failure, use the Q formula. Go back to 80% and rebuild.

    Wish I'd been there for the lamb chops.
  5. qbrain's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress
    On the weights, if you're hitting failure, use the Q formula. Go back to 80% and rebuild.
    I think Jim is doing this on purpose. I think he is following the program outlined in the Colorado Experiment. I have followed a similar program in the past, and the reason I stopped was that it was mentally tough.

    We all know that Jimby's mental fortitude surpasses the likes of me, so he will probably vlogging from Mr. Universe soon.
  6. jim thornton's Avatar
    Q, you do make me laugh:

    RESULTS . .
    First subject (Casey Viator), 28 days
    Increase in bodyweight........45.28 pounds
    Loss of bodyfat..............17.93 pounds
    Muscular gain.................63.21 pounds


    RESULTS . .
    First subject (James Thornton), 22 days
    Increase in bodyweight........negative 2 pounds
    Loss of bodyfat..............negative 17 pounds
    Muscular gain.................negative 19 pounds
  7. qbrain's Avatar
    Mr. Thorton, how closely are you keeping tabs on your progress?

    You are not repeating the Colorado experiment, but lifting to failure always reminds me of the Colorado experiment.

    I am sure you results are a little better than you let on.
  8. jim thornton's Avatar
    Actually, I am not coming close yet to lifting to failure. I am coming very close, however, to swimming to failure.

    In terms of the lifting, I am now doing 3 sets of 12 reps each of about 12-14 different Nautilus exercises. It definitely gets hard by the end of the third set, but so far I haven't had to quit.

    I wanted to ease in to the weights gradually, and not try to lift real heavy without a long preamble. I think I am about to the point where I might make the shift to 1 set of 12 reps for each of the main exercises, adding more weight.

    The weather here today is very pre-tornadic in its terrible humidity. I am supposed to be playing tennis, but if this gets rained out, I will try the new approach.

    I really haven't lost any significant weight, but to my admittedly biased eyes, my arms, shoulders, core, and legs are--at least when I squint the right way--looking ever so slighlty less non-buff than they did before I began this Sisyphusian self-appointed rendezvous with exercise nutdom.

    I will keep you posted!
  9. qbrain's Avatar
    Mr. Thorton, Easing into the weights is the way to go. I don't recommend lifting to failure, but I really did think you were.
  10. The Fortress's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    I wanted to ease in to the weights gradually, and not try to lift real heavy without a long preamble. I think I am about to the point where I might make the shift to 1 set of 12 reps for each of the main exercises, adding more weight.

    I really haven't lost any significant weight, but to my admittedly biased eyes, my arms, shoulders, core, and legs are--at least when I squint the right way--looking ever so slighlty less non-buff than they did before I began this Sisyphusian self-appointed rendezvous with exercise nutdom.

    I will keep you posted!
    Very smart to introduce weights gradually. There's no rush.

    I'm not sure lifting causes one to lose weight. At least not me. Muscle is heavier than fat. You might actually gain weight, but lose inches. Don't worry about the scale.

    And, yes, swimming can take a toll on your swimming and make you feel like utter crap in the water. But then when you taper the weights, you miraculously go faster. Or maybe it's just the suit and all the lifting will be for naught.
  11. jim thornton's Avatar
    Just woke up from nap. Suffering intense sleep inertia. Storm made its way through, for now. Off to exercise more. Yeah. That's right. More.



    More.






    More.