I know I shouldn't complain about getting older. In the first place, because I have friends and classmates who aren't getting older because they're no longer with us. Secondly, because it's true--up to a point--that you're only as old as you feel. Thirdly, because I'm not old. I'm forty, which is maybe not twenty-two, but it's also not particularly close to retirement, either. And finally, because most of the time I feel pretty good. I stay active, and I still have an active, fulfilling athletic career, and most of the time, the highs are a lot higher than the lows. That's more that a lot of folks can say.
But. A week or so ago, I wrote about trying to swim faster and get back into a little stroke work, and at the time I wrote that, I figured it was gonna be an uplifting experience. I figured, hey, I'm in decent shape, and this is gonna be a fun. Get back into the glory days a little bit, no problem. It'll be AWESOME!
Hard truth: this swimming faster thing doesn't feel like it's going well at all. My butterfly feels like shit, and every time I try to do even as much--or as little--as a 50 fly, by the end of it, it's like a piano has fallen on top of me. I'm good for one fifty from a push that nets me something like :32 and feels more-or-less like it's supposed to, and with that in mind, I'd been telling myself that maybe I could go about 1:00 in a 100 fly from a dive. After today, however, I've realized I have to let that whole theory go and reconsider my expectations.
Today's workout was:
5 x 100 tempo (open water race pace) @ 1:25
10 x 50 alternating fly (hard) / free (easy) @ :55
4 x 50 fly @ 1:00
Total: 3100 yards in about an hour and ten minutes.
This didn't seem like a particularly daunting workout when I wrote it up. And at least initially, it wasn't. I felt okay during the 200 SKIPS and then hit my stride on the next set, holding right at 1:12/100 for the 5 x 100 at open water pace. But what was even better was the fact that I did it while keeping my heart rate right at 155 bpm--or almost exactly 80% of my heart rate maximum. I usually define my race pace in terms of my heart rate max, with 80% being a typical goal for an endurance race, meaning that, bottom line, I was exactly where I wanted to be. And holding 1:12/100 while doing it. That was good.
Unfortunatley, 5 x 100 is not a praticularly long way to swim, and indeed, that first working set wasn't even why I went to the pool today. And as I mentioned above, as soon as I started doing stroke work things got completely out of hand.
What I realized today is that there's no such thing as doing an aerobic set butterfly. I may be able to hold 1:12/100 at a steady working tempo with freestyle, but as soon as I switched strokes, my heart rate spiked to about 170 bpm--or more! I guess that I used to be able to manage that kind of thing? Frankly, I don't know. Maybe it was just easier way back when. What I do know is that today's little butterfly sets were difficult in the extreme, and all the little tricks I used to use to manage them back in the day failed me. I hit muscular exhaustion at the end of every damned 50, and it was just not fun.
So. Can I get stronger, or is this just the way it is now? Bottom line, this swimming fast project feels like it is kicking my ass.
*SKIPS: 200 Swim, 200 Kick, 200 IM, 200 Pull, 200 Swim; total: 1000 yards.