Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shaking it up: changes to my workouts

My workouts have consisted mostly of swimming and the elliptical these last few weeks.  A couple people have asked me about my running, and with that I've realized that I haven't really talked about this switcherooni, so let me spend some time on that.

First off - I still want to run.  I have not given up on it.  But I was getting frustrated with my progress.  The Couch to 5K program just wasn't doing it for me as I found myself relying too much on the walking parts and progress seemed just soooooooo slllloooooooowwww.

So, I ditched C25K and started running just as far as I could go, but I was still struggling at about the 7 minute mark.

I am pretty sure that most of those struggles are in my head and not my body.  But I felt it necessary to pull back a bit and work on my foundations, to build endurance, to feel as if I can conquer something, and to not let this running thing beat me.

And so, a few weeks ago, I noticed some significant improvement on my ability on the elliptical (from 3 minutes to 12 minutes to 30 minutes...) and decided to milk that improvement for all that it was worth.  I needed to feel good about what I was doing.  I needed to feel as if I was accomplishing something.  I needed to step up the intensity and feel as if I was triumphant.

And it's worked.  

For the second week in a row, I've done two 4.2 mile sessions in 45 minutes on the elliptical.  That's a 10:43 minute/mile pace or 5.6 mph!  Hot damn!  And every time I finish, I think back to how hard 3 minutes were for me when I started and I feel amazing about what I've done.  I can't get over how much I enjoy the 'spawn of Satan' elliptical now.  And I know I enjoy it because I didn't let it beat me.

So, all of that to say, I needed a bit of victory.  And I wanted to build up my legs and endurance more before I pushed myself too hard with running and risked injury.

So my plan is to keep going with the elliptical for another couple weeks, increasing time/distance and, if possible, speed.  Then I want to try running again and see how I do.  I'm hoping that I'll see a marked difference in my ability - but I don't want to wait too long and let running turn into a bugbear so I need to get back to it soon.

me feeling like a bit of a poser with all my gear
As for swimming - dang, it's hard y'all!  But I love it.  I'm completely exhausted after I swim, but it's a good exhausted.  I've been taking a swimming 'improvers' class on Wednesday evenings and I've been really happy with my progress, but it has been hard work.  I now know how to breathe properly and am still trying to improve my form.

For now, I'm swimming the front crawl/freestyle but want to learn or get better with other styles as I get further in (don't ask me why, but I really want to learn how to do the butterfly and to do the backstroke without running into stuff).  But as far as progress goes, when I started I could only do about 18 lengths (450 m/.28 mi).  This week, I did 26 lengths (650 m/.4 mi) and could have done more but just ran out of time.

But you want to know what the hardest part 
of swimming is for me?  

Relaxing and keeping rhythm.  I always want to rush.  I want to swim faster.  I get panicky about my speed or how much I still have to do, get distracted, lose count, don't breathe properly, and then flail.  So swimming has been a good exercise for me in slowing down, being present in the moment, and meditating on the task at hand - to swim smoothly and to breathe well.  I think this discipline will be really helpful outside of the pool as well - with running, with life in general.

So, that's my workouts so far.  I'm happy with what I'm doing and still surprise myself at how much I enjoy going to the gym/pool and getting in a really good sweat.

Or as Kanye West (or whoever his songwriter is) said:

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.


  1. I think the elliptical is great. It works the upper and lower body. Carrying extra weight during a high impact activity like running can be so hard on the joints so please if your lower back or knees begin to hurt STOP. Swimming works every muscle in your body. Keep up the good work.

  2. Love the pic of you in your swimming gear AND to hear about your progress both in motivation and in endurance. Isn't it amazing when you're surprised at how far you can go and how suddenly it all just lines up? It's like one day you're huffing and puffing and the next you're powering through to a place you never thought you'd get to?! Bravo!

  3. Thanks Myra & Shan! Yeah, I've made these changes to avoid injury - haven't had any pain thus far, but also know where my weaknesses are. And Shan, you're right - it is amazing! :o)

  4. Changing up your routine is really important. Physiologically speaking, changing the stimuli is what prompts your body to make changes (lose weight, gain muscle, etc).

    Psychologically though, changing your workout is important too. It prevents boredom and if you are mentally interested in hitting the gym, you probably will!