Injured runner: I’m having a hard time swimming

Things OK to do while on the mend:

  • Walking
  • Elliptical-ing
  • Biking/spinning
  • Core and strength training
  • Swimming

Things not OK to do well on the mend:

  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Bearing weight on my knee (so like, table top/cat/cow position in yoga would all be a big fat no!)

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of consistently doing all but the swimming on my first list. I stopped going to yoga altogether after I talked to my doctor about a month ago to get specifics on what I can and cannot do while I let my stress fracture heal. I know I can still go to yoga but that I wouldn’t be able to do all the moves everyone else is. (So far, I haven’t gotten the courage to go back).

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So, why is swimming so hard? I’ve done it before.

But, my doctor had also told me to avoid breast stroke when I swim — too much kicking of the leg/knee out that could cause aggravation to the injury. Um, as a runner where swimming is not my forte, breast stroke was my saving grace! Now that I have to do the crawl the entire time, swimming is way more stressful and tiring and time consuming.

Right now, I only have the lung capacity to do two laps (so out-and-back twice) of the crawl. After two laps I am winded. I am gasping for air and my heart is beating pretty quickly. I hate having to pause/take a break, especially if there are other swimmers in the lane — it just messes up with the whole flow!

So, what do I do? Just keep going to the pool and get better? The last two times I went to the pool, I spent a majority of my time using the kick board. I wouldn’t mind doing backstroke either, but this takes skill if you have to share the lane with others …

It’s also hard to get better at swimming when I only go once a week. But, the lap swim schedule and my work schedule and how crowded the pool gets on Saturdays leaves me with just Sunday swim days.

Maybe I’ll try aqua jogging. That doesn’t take being in the lap lane. I keep running into my old high school cross country coach at the pool and he’s been telling me to aqua jog instead of doing mindless laps back and forth if I hate it so much.

Maybe I don’t need to get any better at swimming. Maybe I’ll just stay in the slow lane and kick board the entire time.

But, it would be nice for my workout to not take an hour plus …

Becoming a swimmer

I don’t think I will ever call myself a swimmer.

But, hey, I can be someone who swims on the regular!

I ramped up swimming this week, which may or may not have been influenced by the fact that the (outdoor) pool I go to is in its last week for the summer season, and it felt great!

Is it possible to get endorphins from a swim? Because, I never feel great like I do on a runner’s-high-type-o-great.

But, each day I have swam this week, I’ve left the pool feeling overall tired and that I got a “decent” workout in.

I swam a little over one mile each time I swam this week — FIVE DAYS IN A ROW.

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With all this swimming, Bryce is trying to convince me to make my comeback next year by doing a half-ironman.

My response was that I want to focus on breaking 4 hours at the marathon first.

“Just think how great of shape you will be in! You’ll crush your marathon coming off of a half-ironman!” was his response to my response.

Point made.

The crazy thing out of this conversation is I didn’t immediately respond with a big fat “no” to his half-ironman suggestion.

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Who am I?

Not running is giving me crazy ideas. I swim five days in a row and suddenly now I think I may be able to swim a mile, bike 56 miles and run a half marathon all in one go?

Maybe I can.

For now, I need to research “affordable” gyms that have a pool so I can continue my swimming regimen. The thought of having to spend my fall and winter in a gym with a bike or elliptical just seems so, depressing …

 

 

 

I’m just here to get back to running one day

I’ve been trying to go to the pool as often as possible before it closes for the season. My family belongs to a local swim club that is only open from May-September and since I cannot run, I have been trying to utilize it as much as I can.

When I went for my first swim in mid-July, I managed to do 25 laps. One lap is 50 yards so this equates to 0.7 miles. Since then, I’ve worked up to doing about 26-28 laps per swim session.

Then I tried pushing myself some more. Because, I never really feel exhausted after I jump out of the pool. I never feel completely spent like I do after a good long run.

I did 30 laps a few weeks ago, on two occasions. And then last night I did 32 laps in the pouring rain!

I just calculated that 32 laps equates to 0.9 miles. I really want to hit a one-mile swim before the pool closes for the summer in a week. I’m pretty sure I can do it. (I don’t swim for speed or anything. I’m just trying to stay fit and get some cardio in while I’m on this break from running).

Every stroke, every lap, every swim, I tell myself I am doing it all so that when I am back to running, I won’t be completely out of shape.

Same goes for the gym. I have been trying to get a bit of cycling in by going to spin class —this has only happened once so far —and using the stationary bike at my nearby gym. I hate being in the indoors and working out because I just get so darn sweaty. But, every time I have gone in, I have told myself that I am doing this all so that I am not completely bent out of shape when I am running once again.

In the back of my mind, I am doing all of this for that eventual sub-4 marathon time.

See, even when I cannot run, I can still aim towards that running goal — even if it means not running right now.

Injured Runner: Embracing the swim

I’ve written about swimming, or rather, my lack of swimming skills before.

And, I’m going to do it again since swimming has apparently become my main source of exercise for the past month.

Every other sport that isn’t cross-country or track consider running as a punishment.

For runners though, the pool feels like punishment. If you are aqua jogging or swimming, it usually means you cannot run. So maybe that’s why I have a negative association of swimming/the pool.

But, I’m getting better.

I try not to race the other swimmers next to me because I know I’ll never win. I don’t have the endurance or lung capacity. Plus, I’m just at the pool for rehab.

The other day I went to the pool and a middle-aged man came to my lane and asked if we could share it. I said yes and he replies, “oh, and I’m not actually a swimmer.”

It was the most comforting thing I’ve heard at the pool this whole summer!

“I’m not a swimmer either. I’m an injured runner,” I exclaimed.

He said he was injured too, but not a runner.

I felt so much better.

I always feel like everyone is judging me when I swim. They probably think I am flailing my arms around too much, that I am not kicking appropriately. The teenaged lifeguards wouldn’t even be able to save me if I actually needed saving since I am twice their size!

While I don’t have a schedule for going to the pool, I try to go “as often as I can” which turns into somewhere between one to three times a week. I’ve gotten a routine down where I swim breaststroke out to one end of the pool and then do the crawl back. I keep doing this until my lungs get too tired and then I take out the kick board and do two to four kick board laps to mix it up.

I’ve also learned to try to be more relaxed and calm when I do the crawl. I don’t know why but I always feel like I have to kick and swing my arms really hard while doing the crawl. This isn’t the case though. This just causes more bubbles and splashes which tend to freak me out. I think that’s why I prefer breaststroke: less bubbles/splashes = less stress under water.

 

These all seem like logical thoughts coming from a runner who is trying to belong as a swimmer.

Now if only someone could teach me a trick to getting my swim cap on in less than five minutes!

Just keep swimming

I’m not as terrified of the pool as I was two years ago when I was beginning to train for a triathlon.

I do get extremely tired after like two consecutive laps. I can’t do a proper crawl. I can’t do that flip-thing against the wall to turn. I just move my body from one end of the pool to the other and then back again. I’m actually a horrible swimmer. I never did swim team. I am just a “good enough” swimmer to save myself if I were on a sinking boat — or so I hope.

The pool was crowded yesterday. I mean, with 80-degree weather in Seattle, I’m sure every outdoor pool was crowded! If two’s a company and three’s a crowd, four’s too many and five is just not gonna’ happen — in one swimming lane! I went to the “fast” lane since it only had two swimmers in it. Plus I was nearly done with my workout. Both the medium and slow lanes had four swimmers each!

There was one younger guy who looked about my age or maybe in college in the fast lane. He looked at me and I asked if I could share the lane with them. He replied “yes” and said that he and the other “fast swimmer” were just doing loops (rather than splitting the lane since now as the third person, I was crashing their party). I never exchanged words or even made eye contact with the woman who was also in the lane since she was in the zone — and fast! — and never took a break.

The guy told me I could start ahead of him but I let him go. I didn’t want him on my tail the whole time! I’m sure he’s faster than I am! The thing is, I’m pretty sure the woman was the fastest of us. Each time I started to swim, I thought she was going to catch me so I proceeded to kick faster and swing my arms harder. I could only do this for four laps. Then I called it quits. I was out of breath and my entire body felt exhausted. (Plus I had already done 16 laps before it got super crowded and 20* was my goal for the day).

I jumped out of the pool and my legs felt like jelly. I hobbled to the showers and rinsed some of the chlorine off. Then, it was off to my car to drive home run home. My legs continued to feel like jelly but I managed to trudge home in the uncanny Seattle heat. Since I just pulled shorts over my swimsuit, it was difficult to tell what was sweat and what was remnant pool-water from my swimsuit.

Summer has (sort of) arrived so I’ll take advantage of outdoor-pool weather while I can.

Plus, my knees will thank this runner later for swimming when I’m older, right?

 

*I was really proud of my 20 laps. But, upon looking through my old running logs (where I also kept track of other physical activity), I realized that last year I was doing 30+ laps at a time and the year before that (when I was training for the tri,) I was doing upwards 40!

Just keep swimming?

From pool to lake

I’ve gotten “pretty confident” swimming in the pool. And, by that, I mean that I am no longer gasping for air after one lap. Nor do I feel like I will drown during every stroke.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this runner can actually do 36 laps straight! (Of course, I am not doing those fancy flip turns and I kick off the wall each time, but that is besides the point!) I can swim now! A month ago, it was a different story.

But, let me clarify: I can swim in the pool.

Friends and other people I randomly talk to about training for my tri have advised me to swim in the lake at least once before my race because it is much different from in a pool. I am glad I listened.

When I went out in Lake Washington Sunday morning, I started having that sinking feeling in my stomach (ha ha, yes, pun intended) that I would not be able to do a triathlon. Open water swimming is quite difficult.

1. You can’t see anything — even with goggles. The water is just murky and dark and things like seaweed float around you. The darkness makes it kind of scary.

2. It’s open. You can’t see an end.

3. Because of all the boats out, the water was choppy. The currents forced my head to come up for air way more frequently than I would have liked.

To solve my lack of confidence in lake swimming, I immediately decided I would need a wetsuit for my race. (You’re more buoyant with the suit and therefore if you get tired of swimming you can just kind of float there, plus it will cut a few minutes off your time because you will be faster).

I had a mini-crisis for 24 hours because apparently every woman who is about 5-foot-3 reserved wetsuit rentals for the weekend of my race (July 19) at all Seattle-area stores.

My last hope was trying on a men’s small-sized suit at a store in Kirkland last night. And, thank goodness it fit. It may have taken me about 10 minutes to put the darn thing on — sweat may have been dripping from my forehead in the dressing room — but it fit. And, I coughed up the $80 to rent it for 13 days. Better to pay now than with a medical bill 20 times that amount from drowning in the race …

I’ll head out to the lake tomorrow after work to practice with the wetsuit. Then, if I still have problems swimming in open water, well, I’ll pretty much be a lost cause.

Help! I can’t swim and I’m going to do a tri!

I finally got my act together and went to the pool Friday. I’d like to say that I swam but really it was more of an attempt.

OK, yes, I can swim. But, not very well. And, it has been made clear to me that I have no swimming endurance. Or, because I was born premature, my lungs never fully developed and that is the reason why after nearly every stroke, I felt like I needed to gasp for air. (Oh, good clean, air!)

My family belonged to the neighborhood swim (and tennis) club ever since I was a little kid. That is where I spent most of my summers, just going to the pool. I was jumping off the diving board — may it rest in peace. Apparently diving boards are a safety hazard now. I was just hanging out with my friends. I was playing on the jungle gym. I was going to the ice cream social. I was playing pool basketball. I definitely was not swimming laps.

My family still has membership to the swim club — we are alum status now for being members for 20 plus years or whatever — so I still have access to the pool.

I forced my friend Mo to go with me. She’s a pretty strong swimmer and does laps several mornings a week. I needed her to 1. Re-teach me how to swim efficiently. 2. Teach me lap swim etiquette. (Now I know what “splitting the lane means!) 3. Make sure I didn’t drown? Those lifeguards look like they are 16! I don’t think they would be able to save me should something bad happen …

I was winded after one lap. Yes, after one lap of freestyle, I was tired. Mo asked me what part of my body was the most tired. I responded with “everything.” Besides my legs though, it was my lungs. I need to really work on my swimming. I am doing a sprint triathlon in mid-August. The length of the swim portion is a half mile, which is equivalent to 35 laps at the pool. Thirty-fives laps! I can only do one before I have to touch the wall!

Humans were born to run. That’s why I am a runner. You just put one foot in front of the other, and go. It’s really as simple as that. Swimming is not like that. We were not designed to keep our heads under water for an extended period of time! And, it’s not that my swimming form is that bad, my problem is that I slightly start freaking out in my head when I am under water.

As soon as I started getting “close” to the other side of the pool in my laps, I would think, “Ah, I can’t breathe! All these bubbles! What is happening?” And then that last quarter of the lap seems like forever.

If I knew I would freak out this much while swimming, I don’t think I ever would have signed up for a triathlon. I have nine short weeks to get myself to not freak out in the water and to get my lungs in check.

I’m nervous.