Friday, September 27, 2013

On Swimming Faster: It Never Gets Any Easier

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:

200 SKIPS*
5 x 100 tempo (open water race pace) @ 1:25
100 easy
10 x 50 alternating fly (hard) / free (easy) @ :55
200 kick
400 pull
100 easy
4 x 50 fly @ 1:00
100 warm-down
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.

No comments:

Post a Comment