It has been months since I have had a planned a swim workout. For anyone who used feel strong at something a while ago, I know you can relate. There’s a level of fear that comes with jumping back into a sport.
Especially when you feel out of shape.
Swim workouts mean you have to find a pool first.
This has been an interested year. Anyone who has had unexpected job changes can attest to the additional stress that comes with it. I managed to change gyms a whole month before my job changed. Again.
I haven’t been in a pool for a workout in over 8 months..
You may remember my post about the awesome Zumba class that Cath got me addicted to. It’s at the local YMCA which is a very well equipped gym with good hours in their pool for lap swimming. After only a few Zumba classes, I knew it was a good fit and joined the Y myself.
When you start any new sport or fitness plan, there’s usually a few tools you might need. Everything I needed was sitting in my closet just waiting for me. All you need for a good swim workout is a suit, googles and if you have longer hair, I really recommend a swim cap.
The first time I tried swimming laps without a cap, my hair almost strangled me every time I switched direction. Plus googles love to yank your hair out.
I packed everything up in my swim bag. The one thing I had been dreading was trying on my swimsuit.
Suits are bad enough to try on when you are just planning on lounging at the beach. Believe it or not, they are not as tight as the performance swim suits I had on hand. Even 20+ pounds ago those suckers were a task to get on.
I took a deep breath and attempted to pull the suit over my butt. At one point I lost my grip and smacked myself in the chin. So happy this was out of sight of my husband.
I managed to wrangle to damn suit on and just to finalize the personal torture, took a look in the mirror. Nope. Just like the reality check of having to buy a pair of larger jeans, I knew that I needed a suit that would fit before I would feel comfortable in the pool.
Screw what the size on the label says. Get something that fits.
The next morning I hopped on Amazon and searched for suits in what I thought would be my size. I wasn’t bothering with a fancy performance style, I knew my speed wouldn’t be up to par anyway. I found several in the “lap swim” category and discovered that most offered conservative cuts. The sizing was in between my measurements so I went for the larger one.
Just a few days later, the suit arrived and I learned another few lessons. The next size up added some room in the bust. Trust me when I tell you that for lap swimming, this is not a benefit. Would I recommend a conservative cut? Let’s just say that now I know what my butt will look like at age 80.
I reminded myself this is temporary. Weight gain is part of my journey, not the end of my story.
I was out of practice getting up so early for a swim workout.
Going to the gym to workout, shower and get ready takes a certain amount of time out of your day. Somehow a swim workout adds a bit more time. Maybe it just dealing with having to wash your hair every time. This can be a pain with longer hair that takes ages to dry.
My first day swimming at the Y I got a later start than planned but I made it out the door a little after 6. There were a few lanes open and I asked the front desk if this was typical. She said Monday was always busy but certain days were more packed than others. This is pretty normal for lap swimming. With a new pool you have to figure that out by showing up different days to test it out.
I always have my suit on under my clothes so I’m ready to go when I get there, but you still have to drop stuff off in a locker. Apparently my new fangled lock is a little too big for these lockers. It took some inventive angles to get the sucker in place.
Walking out to the pool, I noticed it was a pretty toasty temperature which is a nice change from most pools. I do prefer outdoor pools the best. Indoor pools can get stale and stuffy air really fast. I dropped my stuff, picked an open lane and got my cap and goggles in place.
Let’s do this.
I got in the habit of jumping in the lane rather than taking the stairs. The water was warm and the center lane had good markings on the lane dividers and on the ceiling. It took me forever to know how to use those cues but now they make swimming so much easier.
Deep breath in and down the lane. Immediately I felt the familiar stroke take over my body. Twisting, reaching, relaxing into the water. At the end I turned using the edge and headed back. Half way back my heart rate spiked and I needed to breathe more often. At the end of the lane I stopped and realized just how much speed and conditioning I’d lost.
Sometimes you just have to get over it, remind yourself it’s the best you can do today, and just keep swimming.
Back down the lane, trying to relax into the freestyle stroke. I tried a few laps of backstroke to figure out my timing on just where the end of the lane would be. Everyone at some point swimming laps will smack their hand into the end of the lane with the backstroke.
I pop up at the end of the lane for a breather and adjusted my goggles… POP! I’d forgotten this was the pair that was missing a section on one side and the strap popped out. Re-threading these things is a massive pain. I got the strap through and did the only thing I could think of. I tied a knot in it and just kept swimming.
I tested how a few different speeds felt and reminded myself to take it easy. Have you ever had this moment? This is what I always have to keep in mind. Just because I used to be able to swim a 50 second 50 meter, doesn’t mean I can do it today.
But I will do it again.
Swim workouts challenge: Work at your own pace.
The guy next to you going up and down his lane like a fish is working at his own pace. Every sport, every new workout, even those you used to do, there will be an adjustment period.
Give yourself a break and try it again. What will you try this week?
Go get your fit on
Give us your thoughts!
Heather Montgomery is a fitness writer, triathlete, and blogger who is devoted to sharing what she has learned about becoming a triathlete after age 40. She uses her Metabolic Training Certification to help other women struggling to get fit in mid-life. She lives and trains in Santa Rosa, California, the new home of the Ironman triathlon. You can find her biking the Sonoma County wine trails.