This coming Saturday is the last day of my Total Immersion class. I started taking TI back in December, with little to no previous swim instruction. My first season of triathlon swimming felt more like what I imagine a hamster would feel like if you threw it in a pool - lots of thrashing around, fear, and not much forward momentum. Certainly the swim leg of my first two sprints was something that I survived, rather than excelled at. I've already written one post mid-class extolling the virtues of TI swimming and how it has changed my experience in the water. Coming to the end of the class I can only repeat the already positive things I've already said. If pictures paint 1000 words, then videos must be even more illustrative. So here you go:
Some of the big differences should be obvious between my swimming at the beginning of class and end. Overall, I'm a lot quieter in the water (less splashing). That's not because I'm moving more slowly. I'm not. My overall stroke count for 25 meters has gone from 30 strokes per length to 19 strokes per length. That's consistent at most paces for me now, even when I'm stroking pretty quickly (which I'm not in these videos bc of my sore shoulder). My head position is much better, even though I have room to improve on that while breathing. My balance in the water is greatly improved. My legs no longer sink if I'm not kicking vigorously. I can, in fact, swim without kicking at all and still maintain my position. These are all huge improvements.
Some differences you cannot see. That I enjoy swimming much much more now. That I find it relaxing instead of stressful. That I look forward to my swimming days instead of dread them. That I'm looking forward to the open water season in a way I never did before.
There is a certain amount of discord regarding the "right way" to swim. Total Immersion vs. conventional practice. I cannot speak with any confidence about right and wrong outside my own experience, which is that TI helped me learn to swim in a way that was right for me. By breaking down every part of your stroke, teaching me how to relax in the water, teaching balance, swimming has become a completely different sport. Completely different experience. I would highly recommend it to anyone who feels like a drowning hamster, is starting their first or second season and is still uncomfortable in the water, or just wants to learn a different way of looking at swimming.
(Side note - do not ever google "drowning hamster" in an attempt to find a funny cartoon for your blog. It's disturbing. People are sick)
Loose Ends - Injury / Diet Update:
I went to physical therapy this afternoon for my shoulder and for a wicked case of TMJ that I seem to have developed. It happens a few times per year when life gets particularly stressful. Which it is for me at the moment. A cocktail of work stress, kid stress, and taper week stress has caused my body to revolt. I've cried about seven times in the last 24 hours, twice actually at work (which is awesome. Highly recommended for your career).
Anyway, the folks at Central Mass Physical Therapy are great. A large proportion of their practitioners are triathletes, including my therapist Laura who also follows my blog. The latter is great because they really take a whole-body, whole life approach to your therapy (including keeping you up and training as much as possible). The latter is great both because she clearly has excellent taste in reading material, and because I never have to fill her in on what I've been up to.
Laura noted (rightly) that I never wrapped up my Clean Eating adventure. I've alluded to it, but yes, I did drop off the clean eating wagon. For a multitude of factors. Cost, my son's utter rejection of all things gluten-free, and general laziness. Once my running mileage starting topping over 15 miles per week, I switched onto the "Eat Everything in the Refrigerator" plan, with blatant disregard to what I was putting in my mouth, and a complete laziness as to meal planning and organization. Which you really need to have. Truthfully, my stomach problems did not seem to improve on the diet. I may have been a little less moody (Jedi says he couldn't tell), but I believe the sugar was the biggest contributing factor. Maybe I wouldn't be the emotional mess I am right now if I'd stayed on plan. Who knows. I'm still trying to reduce the amount of sugar I eat. Despite the presence of these in my house (my Easter favorite):
|Do. Not. Eat. Whole. Bag. Not carbo-loading!|
After having me go through the usual movement evaluation (bend over touch your toes, look down, touch your chin to your collarbone, etc.) Laura also confirmed what I already guessed. That the exterior rotator cuff muscles in my right shoulder are quite weak and painful, and not really doing what they are supposed to. Most likely they haven't been in years, since I first injured that shoulder during martial arts. Also I have an epic amount of tension in my neck and upper shoulders, which is very likely contributing to the jaw pain. Pain that, at the moment, is severe enough that I'm nauseous and almost seeing double. She prescribed some excellent and unbelievably painful tricks with a foam roller and tennis ball, made seven more appointments over the next month, and thinks I'll be fine. Once again leaving me to wish I was a professional athlete who only had to concern themselves with their training, their therapy, and their nutrition, instead of all of the above plus that pesky job/family/bills/life. Ah well.
Since it's taper week, I'll end this post with my biggest athletic project so far. Resting. With my kitty, working on my Boston Strong scarf for the Boston Marathon.