Our new sofa and coffee table (we bought the last one 20 years ago). Now we can watch the Olympics in style.
I am about one-third of my way into my one-year-plus training program for some swim races in summer 2009, and I am glad I have seen at least some small improvements. With the Olympics taking place and being fortunate to be able to see some swimming on TV being broadcast live from Beijing, I have been able to think a little about how I can move forward from here.
In the past whenever I watched the Olympics or even golf, I would get somewhat discouraged as my skills were so inferior to those of the world's best. However, rather than sitting back on our new couch and feeling discouraged, I am recharging myself with new insights and goals. Here are a few things I have learnt these last couple of days.
Observation 1: Those (male) swimmers look so strong (meaning that I look really weak).
Response: To get faster at swimming, I need to be stronger physically. Besides maintaining a consistent swimming distance in my workouts, I need to do more strength-building exercises at home and also eat more and more often.
Results: A day is too quick, but I have been aware of this for at least a couple of months now, and I am about one kilo heavier than I used to be. Besides, I am eating potatoes, bananas, granola and various other foods rich in carbohydrates on a fairly regular basis (at least every day) and I am not wasting much time in preparing them (I peel potatoes pretty fast now).
Observation 2: Those women freestylers are not lifting their elbows really high (like I have been). It is difficult to see clearly when they are gliding through the water so fast. But I watched Stephanie Rice of Australia win an IM400 heat yesterday and her freestyle (as well as that of all the others) looked so much more efficient than mine. Maybe in an effort to rotate my body or avoid waves in choppy oceans or because my arms are too weak, I have been wasting time and effort by raising my arms too high.
Response: I need to focus on technique, one thing being to swim a little flatter with my arms while focusing on rotating my hips as opposed to trying to turn my shoulders 180 degrees every stroke. Of course I also need some professional help, but since this is likely to be occasional, I will endeavor to try to understand things myself, too. I will try to film it one of these days, too.
Results: This morning I first swam 3,650 meters non-stop in about two minutes faster than I think I would have done if I had lifted my arms higher. Then my friend timed me a little later over 200 m, and I went 3m 04s, which was my fastest time so far (by one second), and while it is hard to say if I went faster because of technique or just because I felt less tired than yesterday, at least it was an encouraging sign.
So the Olympics is giving me new energy and a new determination. And let me not think that I am too old for this. Someone in the 65-69 age group went about 28 minutes in the King's Swim and it wasn't Bob Momsen or someone 7 feet tall. So it can be done, and I'll give it a go.
Recap on the last week: I swam a total of 26,300 meters (4,250 + 4,400 + 4,350 + 4,250 + 4,550 + 4,500). On one or two days I swam a little easier, but I mostly tried to meet certain standards as regards time, etc. On Thursday I went 3m 05s for 200m, on Friday 3m 06s, on Saturday 3m 05s (despite feeling weak and tired), and today (on Sunday) 3m 04s. I was somewhat tired but sensed I had it in me to break my record at this distance, and tried to swim more efficiently in terms of moving my arms.
Tomorrow (on my day off) I'm going to try something different - a run! For me this is like starting out as a complete beginner. I'll try to go easy on myself and I hope that it does not mess up my swimming on Tuesday. I hope to be out running - and perhaps walking! - for about one hour. There will be some hills, but some nice scenery and so I may get a few pics.
All the best for Mark and the other English Channel swimmers. I don't know if the weather is good enough yet for them to make the attempt.