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Why I'm not ready for a coach

Thursday, December 05, 2013

I did a strength training workout last Monday night, using Holistic Strength Training for Triathlon. Had a nice chat with Nick, one of the personal trainers at the club. He'd just earned his USA Cycling coach certification that day - good on ya, Nick! - and was really interested in the book I was using. He mentioned there's a swim coach at the club who's awesome. I told him that at some point, I'll contact him about setting up personal training.

Nick seemed baffled by my insistence upon muddling through my first tri, and then seeking out a coach when I feel like I need to improve. I don't think it was just because he's trying to drum up business. He has a very valid point: if you have good instruction at the outset, you don't have to unlearn bad habits. But that's completely counter to the way I do things.

That kind of set me to thinking: if I understand the value of working with a coach from the beginning, why am I so opposed to doing so (other than just plain stubbornness)? Well, here's the answer:

I don't like being told what to do. And yeah, I know NO ONE likes being told what to do. But in my case, even when I know the person is right, I resist following their advice until I get to the point I realize I need it. As in NEEEEEEED it. Then I'm receptive.

I skied for several years before paying for a private lesson. I was a darned good skier, too. I could ski anything groomed, but I fell apart off the piste. The ski instructor diagnosed what I was doing wrong on the first run. He gave me one piece of advice I could use that completely changed my skiing. A few years before that, I would not have been receptive to what he had to say: I had too much else going on in my head. But I hired him at a point where I knew I needed help to improve, which meant I was going to actually listen.

And so, Nick, that is why I am going to continue walking around in the fitness center with a dog-eared copy of Holistic Strength Training for Triathlon under my arm, flail about in the pool trying to teach myself to swim, and loosely follow my own training program. In a year or so, I will realize that I've learned as much as I can and improved as much as I can on my own: like a drunk hitting rock bottom and being ready to dry out, I will be ready to listen to someone else.

The fitness class tonight is Group Power. It's a good strength training workout, but I think I'm going to skip it and do my own strength training program tonight. Not sure if I'm going to do my standard 10-minute warm up on the rowing machine or if I'm going to try running a few miles on the treadmill. I ran a couple miles on the treadmill a few nights ago. That's miserable. But it's crazy cold here right now, so running outside is out of the question. I'll bring along my mp3 player - maybe that will make it suck less.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BILL60 12/6/2013 8:41AM

    I'm on your side. I just like to do my own thing. I've tried several cycling coaches and it just didn't work out for me.

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HILLSLUG98239 12/6/2013 12:00AM

    One thing I know about me: I am hyper-analytical. And I'm the same way about research. I read read read about things I'm interested in. In fact, I'm walking proof that knowledge does not equal changed behavior.

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EBRAINK 12/5/2013 10:13PM

    Well, some people are just stubborn. (hee hee!)

I think I know what you mean, though I come at it from a slightly different perspective. I like to do research, and puzzle out what it is that I'm doing. Perhaps this is the legacy of having had a ballet teacher "help" me do splits (to the tune of torn muscles), and a running coach who insisted that it was good to hyperextend my terrible knees while stretching (ow). I think I really want to PAY ATTENTION to myself to figure out what feels good and what doesn't, without the distraction of someone trying to fit me and my body and my habits into some ideal athletic mold.

You'll figure it out. And when you're ready, you're smart enough to ask someone for help. Makes perfect sense to me.

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Good run!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

This morning I went for a run. That was my first physical activity in a week. I ran a 3-mile route in the neighborhood. About a mile of the route is a dirt road along the irrigation canal. Switching from running on asphalt to running on dirt always puts a little pep in my step.

We're no longer under an air stagnation warning, but there's still a blanket of fog in the area. It's been like this for days. I don't have any pre-existing conditions that make me sensitive to bad air, so unless there's a bad air warning for the general public, I continue to exercise outdoors. Perhaps it was a combination of the cold (below freezing) and the questionable air quality, but my nose continued run and I kept sneezing until the drugs kicked in.

My new Garmin is a disappointment. I like the graphic readout of my heart rate. But, as is typical for Garmin, the user guide is not included with the product: you have to go online to get it. And I finally got my interval training plan loaded on the device (5 minute warm-up, 2 min run followed by 1 minute of walking), but it's worthless. It doesn't beep to alert me when it's time to move to another intensity; the readout flashes. I have to press several buttons to get it to start in on the next intensity. And it thinks I want to warm up for five minutes before every interval.

Since it doesn't do any of the things I thought it would, I'm better off just letting it keep track of time. At least that way it beeps when my heart rate gets too low or too high (it doesn't do that during intervals). The problem is, I usually run in the dark. I was hoping for an audible signal so that I don't have to keep pushing the "light" button and staring at the watch.

On the plus side, since it doesn't alert me when it's time to slow down, most of my 2-minute runs were longer than two minutes. I ran for 2:30 a few times, and 3:00 once. Clearly, it's time to up the length of time I run. emoticon

Which puts me back to using Endomondo on my phone. I have it set to talk to me every minute. But because it's freezing out, I keep the phone in my pocket. I need to buy a set of headphones for it, so I can hear it when it talks to me. (The jack on the headphones for my MP3 player is ever-so-slightly too big. I've jammed it into the phone once; I had to grasp the thing with my teeth to pull it back out. Figgers: it's a Blackberry. No reason to think I can use my $3 headphones. I'm sure Blackberry makes a proprietary headphone for its phones that are overpriced. Oh, the price I pay for my refusal own an Apple product or turn my life over to Google!)

I'm hopeful I will make it to the gym today for strength training. But we have tons of chores to do, and only so much time to do them. The Seahawks are on Monday Night Football this week, so there's no game tomorrow. On the plus side, that gives me a wide-open afternoon on Sunday to do with as I please. (Which means chores and gym, although I'd love to get in some quality time with Call of Duty.) The down side is that means if I go to the gym for a fitness class Monday night - which doesn't cut into the time I can spend with the Hubs, since he doesn't get home from work until 7:30-8-ish - I won't be watching the Seahawks. Which matters little, because the outcome of the game is not dependent upon my observing the game itself. (Televised sporting events are not subject to the Heisenberg Principle. Nor are they subject to the Velveteen Rabbit effect: no matter how hard I try, I cannot wish it and have it be so.) And, as a life-long fan of Seattle's professional sports teams, they have broken my heart more times than I can recall. When your coaches/managers say things like "We played great for five innings" or "If the game was only three quarters long, our season would look much different," you know your team has embraced mediocrity. (Heck, at least they're consistent!)

Despite eating a hearty breakfast a few hours ago, I'm hungry again. emoticon I think there's a hole in my belly only pumpkin pie with whipped cream will fill. (I made the pie with real pumpkin (the "pumpkin pie filling" in the cans in the grocery store is NOT pumpkin - it's squash - sorry if I just ruined Thanksgiving for you) and a whole-wheat crust. And I make the whipped cream. So it's all pretty healthy (at least it's all "real" food). And I didn't over-eat on Thanksgiving, although I have eaten an inordinate amount of cheese over the past few days. (The Hubs loves to put out cheese & cracker trays. And I love cheese. We're a dangerous combination.) So slice of pie sounds just about perfect!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HILLSLUG98239 12/3/2013 12:05AM

    I've been using MapMyFitness for a couple of years, but it's not available for the Blackberry Z10. Enodmondo is. I wasn't crazy about it, but after using it for a few months I forked over the $20 for an annual premium membership. I really like the premium membership. I'd already paid for a premium membership on MapMyFitness, but I'll likely let it expire and keep Endomondo going.

It is a battery hog, though. I wouldn't rely on it on a long bike ride. I do have a Garmin 510, so when I'm riding I can use my phone as a phone.

Oh, and I went to the gym for a strength training workout. Most of the TVs in the fitness center were tuned to Monday Night Football. I got to see the first three touchdowns. I left the gym at half time, and only missed a few minutes of the second half. I was confident the Seahawks would win, but I really expected it to be more competitive than it was.

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MISSG180 12/2/2013 1:33PM

    I am debating using Endomondo. It eats so much phone battery that I took it off my phone almost immediately, the last time I loaded it. I'm using the Spark Tracker now, and like the amount of motivation it gives me, but it's not really a training tool for trying to do C25K or anything like that.

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APONI_KB 12/1/2013 9:02AM

    I know what you mean about sports. Every year I swear I won't get sucked in, then I get sucked in. sigh

I have a garmin but I just use it to see how fast I didn't run when I get home.

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  That sounds frustrating with the Garmin. Great job getting out there, though!

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I am weak (parts of me, anyway)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I swam on Friday. I had another breakthrough. I realized I am dipping my head too low into the water when I'm swimming. Because it's so low in the water, it has to travel farther to break the surface of the water. That means I'm expending more energy than necessary to rotate my torso to place my mouth above the water.

Yay! I figgered it out! But Boo! this isn't an easy fix. As a long-term cyclist, I am very aware of how weak my upper back is. Years of trying to hold a helmet-clad noggin up have demonstrated how weak I am.

I did my first strength training workout the night before (Thursday). I'm using Holistic Strength Training for Triathlon. I cannot recommend this book enough. Reading it finally got me to be more consistent about stretching after a ride. As with Total Immersion Swimming, the workouts are not long; they are very focused. I think the author assumes his readers will be more fit than I am: there are some exercises I cannot do. One of them, it was all I could to to hold my position on the physio ball, let alone roll it out in front of me. And I can't do a regular pushup, let alone one on a med ball. But they give me a place to start. And it pleases my geeky side to be wandering through the fitness center carrying a book and a chart. It's like science!

I went to the Group Cycle class Saturday. Different instructor. I liked his workout better. He had us do one-legged drills. That's something I remind myself to do while riding, but I usually only manage about a minute per leg before I quit because, well, it sucks. And this time, I let my heart rate stay higher, although it appears my average and maximum heart rates were the same as they were last time. My legs aren't sore today, but that may also be because I did my own post-ride stretching routine.

Back to the swim: in an effort to regulate my breathing, I didn't breathe in and out at will while backstroking. I may continue to do this during my swim workouts while I work on strengthening my trapezius muscles. I'm hoping it will convince my brain that I will not die if I can't breathe every single second.

I'm kind of anxious to get back to open swims, though. I'm doing a good job of not taking off my goggles throughout the workout, but I'm stopping at each end of the pool. I can't do a kick turn, so I have to stop and turn around. And trying to take off without pushing off results in my heart rate going up because I'm treading water. I suppose that'll take care of itself in time, though.

I did manage one length of the pool only drawing in one breath each time my head was above the water. That was progress. And given my current cold, I think may have been pushing my luck by swimming, anyway.

The cold has probably derailed me for the week. I woke this morning with a bad sore throat. As in it felt like a swollen tonsil. emoticon (I'm one of the minority of my generation that survived childhood with my tonsils intact. That's even more surprising, because in my late teens, I was getting tonsillitis every six months. I never got strep throat at the same time, so the tonsils got to stay. But it left me with a keen impression of what tonsillitis feels like.) So I'm spending today on the futon, watching football, drinking tea. I feel better than I did a few hours ago, but I'm not giving in to the fleeting temptation to go for a run or go to the gym.

And here's my contribution to everyone else's self-esteem: yesterday, I was stretching out my back using a foam roller. I ran over my ponytail. *sigh*

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CLEARNIGHTSKY 11/27/2013 4:08PM

    I agree with CALGIRL80--I support you continuing to let yourself rest! (Not that you asked. )


I totally understand the temptation to keep working out. I hear often about people who work out all the time and who give themselves time off, that they often come back stronger than before since they gave themselves all that recovery time.

Hang in there. You'll get better soon. (And the ponytail thing was hilarious.)

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DDOORN 11/26/2013 1:57PM

    Have to remind our spin instructor about the one leggers...we've had "temp" instructors do these, but she doesn't...wonder why? Course that doesn't mean I can't do 'em on my own! Great reminder!

I'm still fighting my sneezy/allergy sorta thing...still don't think it's a cold, but I sure know it's a PITA!


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GHK1962 11/24/2013 7:07PM

    And one more thing ... I hope you feel better soon.

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GHK1962 11/24/2013 7:07PM

    I say 'weak' is when you give up and you know you can still do more.

When you stop when you can't go anymore ... or when you keep going even when you don't want to .. .that is sooooo not weak!

Swimming - Wifey is now taking personal training lessons. They have her doing all kinds of weird things to build her legs, to better her stroke form, and to breath better. I love swimming ... I am good at it ... but not like how she is getting. And I think you are going to get there too ... so HIGH-5 for that.

Biking ... or Spin - 1 legged exercises? I have never done that or heard of that. Do you unclip one foot? Is the purpose to isolate and strengthen one side of your leg at a time? Or just the weak leg?

As for the ponytail / foam roller incident ... heh ... not meaning to laugh ... but it sort of reminds me of the first time I sat on the foam roller at the gym ...and I lost my balance and went swooshing backwards. And oh yeah ... it was a Wednesday evening at prime time. Heh.

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  Pretty soon your jock side will catch up to your geeky side! Great job on your workouts. emoticon emoticon

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CALGIRL80 11/24/2013 5:56PM

  Take it easy. Let your body rest. Best of luck in your triathlon and blessings on your journey

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Throwing in The Towel on the Bike Commute

Monday, November 18, 2013

I just looked at the weather forecast for the week. Tomorrow night, the winds are forecast to be 20-30 with gusts around 40. It won't be cold, but it will me dark. I have a hard enough time with the darkness; I don't want to compound my misery with the wind, too. It will start getting cold on Wednesday. The overnight lows for Tuesday night/Wednesday morning will be in the low 20's. www.wsdot.com/traffic/forecast/Defau

I quit. It's time to embrace my wimpiness and take the bike home. I can always work in a ride on the weekends or in the early morning.

And I just found an awesome cycling jacket at Goodwill this past weekend. Pity - it will likely stay in the closet until January or February, when I'll start up cycle commuting again.

On the plus side, this may mean I can go to the gym every night of the week. :roll eyes:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GHK1962 11/19/2013 7:50PM

    Ok ... I don't quite know where to begin here .... so I will start with blathering on about other's comments.

1st up - GIRANIMAL!!!! Hey you. How are you? In my head you are a total biker animal. And shhhhh, I won't give away your car whamming ways. heh.

2nd - errr ... bad form Greg ... using someone else's blog post to say hi to someone else. Bad me. Bad. Bad.

3rdly - Don ... haha ... you and I BOTH got out of the rain and cold about the same time. HillSlug totally smoked us with her outside riding staying power!

As to HillSlug - I hope your cold does not manifest itself ... or at least not too bad. It's been rough for you this past couple of months yes? So I say, call your outdoorsyness to date a total win ... and ... yes on the gym. (rolls your eyes back to you so you can see better in the dark gym spin class....hehe.)

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GIRANIMAL 11/19/2013 1:32PM

    Ugh, I had a ride home here in Chicago one day last week that was SO windy, I finally hopped off about 3.5 miles in to check if my brake pads were dragging! So I feel ya. I usually give in to my winter wuss when we hit a good long stretch of 20s and below. I'm hoping to push a little further this year, but I dunno -- there just aren't gloves warm enough.
emoticon + emoticon = emoticon

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HILLSLUG98239 11/19/2013 12:23PM

    I'm so accustomed to the wind that I feel kind of guilty riding when there's no wind. It's as if I feel I don't deserve such joy. As much as I gripe about the wind, it's a gift in some ways: it makes me a stronger rider, and on those days when it's not windy I feel like I'm flying.

But sometimes, the gift is just too much and I wish it would go away. emoticon

I fear I'm coming down with another cold, too. All the more reason to not be riding in freezing weather or small-craft warning winds. (My sinuses produce snot rockets when it's 70; below 40, it's continual; below freezing, probably lose more weight in snot than I do in sweat. And yes, you may curse me for that visual. Just be glad there isn't a snot-rocket emoticon.)

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DDOORN 11/19/2013 12:05PM

    Yeah, been there, done that...WAY long time further back than you...lol!

The cold, bundling up...just detracts WAY too much for me to enjoy my ride. Hoping for either some warm spells or LOTSA SNOW so I can shift gears to my cross country skis! :-)


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APONI_KB 11/19/2013 8:50AM

    I do so hate wind. There is just no call for it.

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EBRAINK 11/18/2013 9:53PM

    Whoa. We had 40 mph gusts this weekend. I can't even imagine flirting with considering to contemplate the slim possibility of thinking about cycling in that sort of wind. Yeeeks.

So if you're wimpy, I'm a fragile flower down to the deepest core of my being scaredy cat wuss.

Not to disparage flowers or cats by saying so.

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What I Learn along The Way Makes This An Adventure

Monday, November 18, 2013

My swim Friday evening kind of sucked. I spent about 40 minutes in the pool. On the plus side, I was able to narrow down why it sucked. And if I can fix this, I will be well on my way to being comfortable swimming.

I can go forever backstroking. During my post-workout debrief in the sauna (me and the internal coach), I said, "You can't do the entire swim of a tri in a backstroke." Sure I can. If I have to, I will. Obviously, that's not a goal to shoot for, but if I have to, I will.

My issue is breathing. I need to do it, and I get a little panicky when I can't. What I think I discovered on Friday is that I'm not getting enough air into my lungs on a single inhale. I'm kind of gasping for air like a - irony noted - fish out of water. So when I put my face back in
the water, my brain is already screaming "When do I get to breathe again?!?!?!"

I think part of my not-getting-in-a-full-breath-of-air is associated with my tendency to not full exhale. I can't explain it, but apparently I've done this since I was an infant. My mom says she would watch me breath, because it looked like I would inhale five times before I'd exhale. Even now, I occasionally let out a long, sighing exhale. I'm not sighing; it's my body releasing all that extra air. When I was in the hospital after my operation, it became an issue because I could not exhale enough to keep the CO2 sensor happy. The nurse finally took me off the patient-controlled pain meds drip because the CO2 sensor went off every 3-5 minutes. (They don't want you medicating yourself into a coma, but they do want you to be able to sleep.)

I have a spirometer left over from post-op. I'm going to try using it to help develop my lung function. I think I need to re-train myself to exhale forcefully. If I can make incremental improvements in how much air I get in, I can augment that by concentrating on swimming slowly enough that I don't get into an oxygen debt. (That's another difference between the pool and an open-water swim: the river doesn't have a far edge to swim to and grab hold of.) So again, my workout sucked, but I'm maintaining my optimism.

I took Saturday "off." I was weary from the previous week. I think it paid off, too. I ran three miles on Sunday and it felt pretty good. The Hubs and went for a post-prandial perambulation (as the Hubs like to call our after-dinner walks) about 90 minutes after I go back from the run. I walked about 1 1/4 miles this morning. No soreness or balkiness in my legs.

This morning, as I was about to get into my car to head to work, I realized I did not have my gym bag or any workout clothes with me. I smiled. Screw it. I earned the right to sit on my butt at lunch and update my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EBRAINK 11/19/2013 10:36PM

    Can I vote for the bubble-head charm? :D

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TOWHEE 11/18/2013 9:20PM

    Have your tried doing the breast stroke with your head out of the water? Just a thought. emoticon

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