Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Swimming With Tunes

I began my swim training last week for Hawaii. At the beginning of every season, I tell myself that this is going to be the season I actually swim consistently. Then I get caught up in my busy life and each day have to prioritize and swimming seems to be the low man on the totem pole. I’m not saying that the swim is unimportant. I just have to weigh the benefits of my devoted time. This year, I finally accepted that this is the way it’s going to be with my schedule. I’d like to swim three times or more per week in addition to my other training. I’d also like to get in some 24+ hour weeks in when prepping for an IM, but the reality is that it ain’t gonna happen.

So with three weeks to go, I headed to the pool, dreading that first session where your arms feel like anchors and you wonder why there’s no cross-over effect from all the cycling and run training. This time, I went armed with a Finnis Swim mp3 set of goggles.

I have used music more and more in training. I know some frown upon this – especially the hard core running community. They feel that running with music is soft, for the weak, and a distraction. I bought into this – almost – this summer one day when I forgot my nano while prepping to do a long ride. I panicked at first, thinking, “man, this is going to suck!”, and then quickly thought; “wow, am I getting soft! Get out there for a week and train without music in anything.”, only to realize that I don’t need music to train but I do enjoy it and I actually think it helps me more than hinders me. It came to me that it’s stupid to think that running with music softens you and is a negative distraction. I have been training for many, many years, and 99% of this time it’s been solo, so music has become a very nice training ally.

Back to swimming;

I sat on the side of the pool deck for about 15 minutes, rotating my arms and shoulders around like pinwheels, making it seem as though I’m loosening up, when all’s I’m really doing is procrastinating. I then put on the goggles and turn on the music and feel as though my ears are going to start bleeding. The noise coming from the unit is loud and screechy. Strange though, as soon as I put my head in the water, the music becomes very clear and sounds the way it should. In fact, for underwater, these things work great. Sound travels 4 times as fast underwater and that is why sounds usually come across very distorted, but this unit works great. I set off with the goal of swimming a 1500 continuous. My goal is to get in 3000 total yards for todays first session. I start out easy and don’t feel too bad. I end up swimming 2200 continuous. Then I put on paddles and head out to do a 500, and end up doing 1000. I then use a pull buoy, aiming for a 500 again and put in 1000. My first session swimming in awhile and I bang out 4200 yds! This is a good start.

I head back to the pool the next day, planning to swim 4200 again, and do 5000. Then, two days later, I swim 5000 again. All of this is mostly continuous swimming. I realized that if I start swimming so close to a race and add in interval sessions quickly, my arms feel heavy on race day and I loose my feel for the water.

The mp3 goggles are not what caused me to feel somewhat decent in the water last week. But they did provide the diversion I needed. Instead of focusing so much on how dead my arms felt or how bored I was going back and forth, back and forth, I listened to the music and just kept going, doing 18,000 yds last week instead of the planned 12,000!

I am not endorsed by Finnis, so I’m not plugging these for any reason, other than that if you’ve been swimming alone instead of with a masters group, and have been doing this for years, they can be a nice change and distraction from the monotony of indoor pool sessions.

I’m headed back to the pool today and was just thinking that I’d better check to make sure I packed my mp3 goggles. Otherwise, how will I swim?! Kidding!

1 comment:

alan said...

The idea of running with tunes is one that, if you go to a runner's message board, you'll see argued passionately.

There's a lot of things about runners I don't understand, and I was one once....