Sunday, March 4, 2018

Training without Music

I tend towards the nerdy side of music love. I love to listen to music, I love to read about music, I love to talk about music, so unsurprisingly I also love to train while listening to music.

In most cases, this is completely feasible -- I have a great set of bluetooth earbuds for running, and when I ride my bike trainer indoors I can pump up the tunes on a speaker. But, with warmer weather approaching, and me trying to get some more time in the water, this presents some new problems.

Earbuds need to be out for safety when I'm riding my bike outdoors, and I haven't found a reasonable (and cheap) way to listen to music while swimming. This... has been less than optimal for me.

Like a lot of people, I like to talk. If there's no one else home I talk to my dog (yes, he participates in these conversations).* So for the first few swim workouts I did, I could keep the conversation going in my own head:

Me: "This is great! I feel great! Wow this water is cold!"
Also Me: "This is terrible. I feel terrible. I can't breathe."
Me: "Let's go grocery shopping after! We need milk! And bread! And fruit!"
Also Me: "Let's get chicken nuggets on the way home instead."
Me: "That is a terrible idea!"
Also Me: "..."
Me: "CHICKEN NUGGETS!"

But as it turns out I am A TERRIBLE INFLUENCE on myself.

So to keep my mind in the game and work on tempo and pace, I just started counting my strokes and trying not to let my mind wander. That, unsurprisingly, didn't work well either.

Me: "One, two, three, breathe! One, two, three, breathe!"
Also Me: "..."
Me: "One, two, three, breathe! Turn! What lap was that?"
Also Me: "Eighty-five."
Me: "..."
Also Me: "I'm bored, I want cheese fries."
Me: "I think that was lap three."

I've finally found a formula that works -- I keep my swim intervals short and relatively high intensity. I allow my mind to wander (but I don't give in to the food suggestions**) during my longer stretches for cool-down. Here's a sample workout I used on my last swim session:

Warm up: 100 free / 50 breast / 50 back / 100 kick
Set 1: 5x150 pull with paddles (no kick)
Break: 100 free
Set 2: 4x100 pull with paddles (no kick)
Cool down: 200 free

This is for a 25-yard pool and covers a total of 1750 yards (approximately one mile) and could be adjusted (or not) for a 25-meter pool. At the end of this session, I was almost too tired to pull myself out of the pool and get back to class. Working that hard and for such manageable intervals also meant I stayed interested and engaged in my workout, and I found I didn't miss my music too much. Now I just need to figure out how to make that work for my long outdoor bike rides!

*Mostly he just gets REALLY excited whenever I ask a question... unless the question is whether or not he would like a bath
**Most times I don't.

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