Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Monday, February 22, 2010

Olympic Inspiration

It feels like the Summer Olympics JUST happened! Not that I'm complaining. I love everything about the Olympics, except for the increased amount of time I spend watching TV as well as totally non-athletic sports such as Air-pistol and Equestrian among many others.

In fact, how DOES the Olympic committee decide on a sport? I mean, if Air Pistol can be a sport, why not bowling, billiards, and snowshoeing? How about Golf? That's a truly international sport that, while being generally non-athletic unless your name is Tiger Woods, should be considered based on the other events they allow in.

Do they accept international "games of skill?" If so, then I'm a legitimate contender to represent the U.S. in Checkers for the 2012 Games. Athleticism is certainly not required, otherwise they'd get rid of anything involving target shooting.

Also, what's with the Biathlon? It just seems like a weird combination of two "sports" - Shooting and Skiing. As long as we're doing combinations, why not have Michael Phelps hop out of the pool after a lap, run across a balance beam and dismount with a triple axel?

But speaking of the Olympics, I actually have a friend competing in the Winter Games. She was in the Torino games four years ago, and is back for more this year in Vancouver. Her name is Kikkan Randall and she's competing in the Cross-Country Skiing Sprint and Team Event. Kikkan and I went to middle school and high school together and she's actually the first U.S. Women EVER to win the Cross Country World Cup Skiing!

Make no mistake, I take every opportunity to boost my social status by actively informing people that I'm friends with an Olympic athlete. "I am friends with Olympic Athlete Kikkan Randall...revel in my awesomeness!"

For extra motivation, I've informed her that medaling this year will boost me a couple of rungs up the social ladder...just in case she needs extra reason to medal. I HAVE used my love for Olympics for things beyond social status though.

I've been battling a nagging hamstring injury for the last couple of months. I've tried training around it, but it just won't go away, so I decided to make a drastic change in my workouts until it completely heals. Instead of running, stairmaster, sports, and spin class, I'm doing yoga and swimming.

Now the yoga part is fine because I do that anyways and am starting to get better. Swimming on the other hand is not exactly my forte. I had no choice though because that's the only cardio I can do that puts no strain on my hamstring.

So Saturday, I drove to the gym first thing in the morning to get some laps in. My plan was to do 30 laps in multiple sets. My previous record of "laps in a row without a break" was 10.

When I arrived to the pool, it was cloudy, windy and bitterly cold (55F - the gym is on a roof in downtown San Diego, so the wind chill was exacerbated). I looked at the water with bitter contempt and reluctantly jumped in. I waited for the "pool shock" to settle in, strapped my $5 goggles on, and got going.

2 laps in, I was ready to quit. I've never really had swim lessons so my form needs work, and I probably work twice as hard to move the same distance as an experienced swimmer in double the time.

This was ridiculous. 30 laps will take ages if I have to stop and rest every two laps. I cursed myself in my head and told myself to "STEP IT UP!!!"

I started again, and made it 10 laps. I rested for two minutes, then did a set of 20! RECORD DEMOLISHED! Then, I went at it again and did 30!

By the end of my session, I had completed 74 laps (70 real laps and 4 with me messing around seeing how far I can get holding my breath, trying the butterfly stroke, underwater crawling etc).

With a great workout under my belt, I returned Sunday and planned to do 80 laps in sets of 20. What followed though, was and effort I never, NEVER thought I could do. I started swimming, and after the first 10 laps or so, I was feeling pretty good.

I hit 20 and decided to go ahead and do 30 before resting.

When I hit 30, I figured I might as well do 40 and complete 2 sets in one go.

At 40 I thought "Wouldn't it be cool to say I did 50 laps in a row!?"

At 50 I was thinking that getting to 60 I could rest and finish the last 20 in one go.

At 60 I started getting an idea.

At 70 it started raining and I was developing a side cramp, but there was no turning back and I was going to complete my mission.

100 laps without resting. ONE HUNDRED LAPS BABY!

Keeping in mind my previous record was TEN LAPS, I was and am ecstatic. I love pushing myself, and this was Damn difficult. Honestly, I'm going to swim next weekend, but I'm not sure if I can do this again. Considering how hard I try and how slowly I actually move, 100 laps took quite a while.

We'll see, but this is definitely one that I'm proud of, and makes me think I should do a triathlon after my hammy heals up.

And speaking of my Hammy, I have an acupuncture appointment this week. I've never done acupuncture before, so this should be another interesting experience which could possible make for a good story.

You'll have to wait and see ;)


Bill Riddell said...

Awesome Arun.
The basics for lap training as far as stroke goes - keep it smooth. You see the racers thrashing like mad in the sprint distances at the Olympics, but it isn't the way to go if your swimming further than 400meters. Heres the best advice I picked up from being coached by an olympic gold medalist for years when I was a kid:
Your hand should enter the water just in front your head at an angel with a flat palm to slice through the water with minimal disruption and then stretch out your arm straight before cupping your hand and pulling though the water - keeping your arm close to your body.
Kick is really more important... its the beat and tempo that keep the music going, otherwise its turns to chaos. You dont want to be making to much splash with the kick, your feet should barelly break out of the water - it dosent give any propulsion. Practice your kicking while holding onto the wall or using a kickboard and fine tune it until you have a nice steady beat with minimal splash and a good feel that your really propelling yoruself forward.
To really push your self try breathing every 3 strokes then pushing it to 4 (3 feels very odd - if you cant just push straight to 4 so your breathing on the same side every time).
And if your still looking for a challenge and to impress your friends, learn to tumble turn like the pros - it isn't easy but its a great feeling to be able to swim flatout at a wall spin around under the water and explode off the wall head off the other direction. Plus you dont get the sissy extra breath while grabbing the wall and turning. It's hard to explain - checkout youtube and make sure your practice the flip/tumble out in openwater before trying on the wall
And then theres mixing up the strokes, back stroke and breast stroke are cool but for a really good workout butterfly is where its really at. Really takes a powerful dolphin kick and tests your shoulders to get it right. If you can swim 400 meters of that with good form then your getting an awesome workout.
Hope that help Arun, swimming was a major passion of mine for many years.

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