Categories
Training

Pool Purgatory (Cross-Training)

Laps are mind-numbingly boring and I hate doing them. It’s part of the reason why I call pool workouts “pool purgatory.” The other part is due to my lack of gills. However, pool workouts are undeniably great for cross training, recovery, range of motion, flexibility, and your breathing. Sure, a lot of people wait to incorporate swimming until they are injured, but I think it’s highly beneficial to get in the pool (or lake or ocean) BEFORE you are chronically injured or sentenced there by a Physical Therapist.

From a runner’s standpoint, swimming is great for strengthening hip flexors, promoting ankle flexibility, strengthening the back muscles to help with running posture, and increasing lower abdominal strength. If my legs are too sore and inflamed to go on a recovery run, then I jump in the pool and swim some laps to get the recovery benefits from the circulation.

Lengthy swims are particularly good for endurance athletes. Everyone has their limits to how much they can train before any more is damaging to their muscle endurance. But because swimming is zero impact, it enables athletes to push past those limits and build a stronger, more efficient cardiovascular system.

Swimming is a full body workout and it is tiring. It feels odd for me to be physically tired without feeling skeletal muscle fatigue. But besides getting the running benefits from pool workouts, it’s also a relaxing and peaceful form of exercise – as long as I can remind myself of all the benefits on the days when I really dread the pool.

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San Diego Half Marathon 2017

Going into this race, I was pretty excited. I felt like I had good training gains, despite not quite getting my pace back from before my “end of season” break. This race last year gave me my personal best to date, and I was ready to PR again.

Something else that I was trying to keep in mind was that for the previous year’s race, I hadn’t had the four weeks off running at the same time. My break was earlier in the year, due to a January marathon. So, trying to pay attention to the differences in my body and training paces was important to me. All things considered, I felt like I had a 1:23-1:25 half marathon in me.

The morning of the race I felt tired, not sleepy tired, but my legs felt tired. I had had a long day at work the day before. Figuring that my adrenaline would take care of it once the race started, I wasn’t too concerned. During the first three miles, I avoided looking at my Garmin in order to simply focus on steadying my pace and breathing – finding my “groove.” But after mile 4, I could tell I still started a little too fast. I tried to focus and regain control as best as I could. I steadied out, but couldn’t find the “comfortable” burn I was looking for. The feeling of light and smooth eluded me. There was a big hill at mile 9, and after that it was a smooth downhill finish. However, I still couldn’t get my legs to turn over like they should have. I finished the race realizing I just barely beat my previous time by a mere 36 seconds. This disappointment set in. It wasn’t a good effort, and I knew it. I didn’t feel exerted enough, but my legs were so heavy. You can’t have a good race every race, and I’m not saying it was a bad race. But I think I had more in me at my current level of running fitness.

Regardless of my disappointment, it was still a slight personal best. All I can do is keep learning and reflecting. Real progress is coming in the year ahead – I can feel it in my bones. For now, I’m looking forward to a hopeful redemption race with a 15k in a few weeks.

FINAL STATISTICS

Finish Time – 1:27:51

Overall – 89th of 5044

Female – 14th of 2701

Age Group – 4th of 462