Thursday, February 24, 2011

10 Weeks

Now that I have made it through swim lessons, I am on to my next training phase of the year. This past Saturday marked the start of my 10 week training program for the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini-Marathon. This is the 2nd year I will be running the Mini and my third half-marathon. Last year I was disappointed with my time and hoped to have a huge improvement this year. Based on my first 5 mile training run Saturday, I doubt I can improve my time as much as I had wanted. I'm still very slow and that's something I'm trying to learn to live with while just concentrating on the fact that I do actually enjoy running now.

That said, I do have a better running plan this year. Last year, I only did long runs. This year, I'm adding speed work and tempo runs. Monday was my first speed work session and it went great. I met all my targets and actually increased my pace each quarter mile. Today will be my first tempo run. I'm not sure how it will go and I think I might have my goal set too fast, but I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

In addition to running 3 days per week, I'm going to be taking Body Pump once a week, swimming once a week, and taking cycling class or riding my bike twice a week. The cross-training will help prevent injuries and give me better cardiovascular endurance. My goal for this half-marathon is to not hit a wall. I want to be able to complete the race without needing to walk a lot at the end. I know my time will improve by running more of the race, although I'm not sure how much. I guess I'll find out in 64 days.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Swim Lesson #6

Today was my last swim lesson. My first swim lesson actually seems like quite a long time ago, although it's only been 6 weeks. In my lessons, (lesson #2, lesson #3, lessons #4 & #5) I learned freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke. I have a basic understanding of each stroke, but still need a lot of practice to become an good swimmer. Since I wasn't interested in learning butterfly, today I wanted to focus on swimming laps. Mary (my instructor) assigned me different lap exercises and by the end of the class, I was exhausted.

I started with a 200 yard freestyle warm-up. Half-way down the first length of the pool, I choked on some water. Not exactly the stellar performance I was hoping for. I preserved however and made it through the warm-up. After the warm-up Mary suggested a 100 yard modified medley, since I didn't learn butterfly. This consisted of 25 yards of breaststroke, 25 yards of backstroke, and 50 yards of freestyle. I repeated that twice, then she had me do kicking and arm drills. I repeated the 100 yard medley, first while holding a kick-board, then using a pull buoy. You put the pull buoy between  your legs and it keeps them floating so you can practice arm movements. I wasn't really a fan because it made my legs float very high and caused me to arch my back, but I can see the benefits of using it.

After the drills, I swam some more freestyle laps, trying to practice flip turns and going further than 50 yards before resting. I made it to 75 yards (3 lengths of the pool), but felt pretty worn out after that. I did a 150 yard freestyle cool-down with no flip turns and was done. Swim lessons have been a great experience for me. I had to change gyms to get access to a pool, but I believe it was worth it. I plan to incorporate at least one day of swimming into my next training phase to continue on the progress I have made.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Swim Lessons #4 and #5

I took my 5th swim lesson today. I had previously recapped each week individually (lesson #1, lesson #2, lesson #3), but last we started on breaststroke and all I would have been able to say was it's really hard. This week I feel like a have a better handle on it.

Before my first triathlon, my friend Rebecca taught me the basics of the breaststroke and said it was a good recovery stroke. You bring your head out of the water to breathe every stroke which is helpful when you're tired. I thought I understood what she said and could manage a decent breaststroke. In reflection, it was probably more of a breaststroke/doggy paddle hybrid.

Last week, Mary (the instructor) taught me the kick first. She described it as a frog kick. You pull your legs up towards your stomach, kick them up and out to the side, and bring them together with your legs straight. I practiced for most of lesson #4 and still didn't quite get it. I was kicking down and out rather then up and out.

This week, Mary explained and demonstrated the kick again. I practiced on the wall, then practiced with a kick-board. After I felt comfortable and Mary thought my kick looked good, I added arms. The stroke movement starts with your hands together in front of your chest. You push you arms straight out then sweep them to the sides before bringing the hands back together in front of your chest.

Another tricky part of breast stroke is that your arms should go out as your legs come together. The timing is very difficult to get down, but it makes you faster because either your arms or legs take turns moving you forward. I spent the last 15 minutes of class practicing and had it right maybe half of the time. I will continue to practice it, but I don't anticipate using it during a triathlon.