Friday, September 21, 2012

Lungfuls of Air

Wednesday morning, after our 90 minute workout in the pool, the four of us left feeling like we hadn't really pushed our bodies very hard.

But we all also agreed that it was a pretty tough workout.

Wednesday was less about working our muscles and more about working our lungs.

We started off with our regular warmup which is always a combination of swimming, pulling, kicking and dragging. At the end of the warmup we had covered 1000m and were ready for the workout.

Let me backtrack for a moment. A few weeks ago, Christine was able to convince the pool folks to buy us a white board. So now, instead of trying to memorize our workouts, she writes them on the white board for us.

By the time we finished our warmup, the workout was written and ready for us.

It read as follows


100m    3-5-5-3
200m    3-5-5-3
300m    3-5-5-3
400m    3-5-5-3
500m    5-7-7-5
600m    5-7-7-5
700m    5-7-7-5
800m    5-7-7-5
900m    7-7-7-7
1000m  7-7-7-7


Four confused swimmers staring with goggle-clad eyes at the instructor must have looked rather amusing.

The translation of that was the following:

Every hundred metres is broken down into 4 25m sections. The 3, 5, 7 numbers indicate how many strokes you take between breaths. For the first 100m, you breathe every 3rd stroke in the first 25m, every 5th in the second and third 25m and every 3rd in the fourth 25m. Repeat this four times. Then for the next four hundred metres you breathe every 5-7-7-5 strokes. Finally, in the last 200m, you breathe every 7th stroke for all 200m.

Got it?

Breathing every five strokes is hard when you're used to breathing every third. After a few trips across the pool though, it starts to feel ok. Then you switch to every 7th and that's pretty hard. Every 7th never feels easy per se but it does feel easier after a while. I've gone up to every 11th before but that's really hard and I can't sustain it for long.

The trick, I've learned, is not to swim too fast. I used to think that I should swim as fast as possible so that the opportunities to breathe came at a faster rate. But I found that really difficult because my muscles were struggling for oxygen as I worked them really hard. So I slowed down. I now take deep breaths and I exhale slooooowly as I swim. As long as there is air in my lungs to exhale, I'm ok. As soon as I run out, I need to breathe. Therefore, the more strokes per breath, the more slowly I exhale.

So I swam a rather leisurely 1000m and worked on my breathing.

When we finished that, we were told we had to swim 6x25m. Each 25m we had to explode off the side of the pool and get as many strokes in as we could without breathing. We would then get 40 seconds rest before the next one.

Normally, I breathe more frequently when I'm working hard. But, after having finished that breathing exercise, I was surprised to find that I was breathing every 12-13 strokes during the 25m set. I would explode off the wall and just swim. Head down, legs kicking, arms flying - I would breathe once, maybe twice, the entire length of the pool. AND, I did 25m in about 18 seconds.

Holy bananas!

So, by the end, we did not have a very hard workout. But our lungs were put to the test. I don't know about the rest of my swimming buddies but I was pretty surprised at the result.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I had never thought about the need to train lungs - but it does make sense!