The Continued Adventures of Spongebob Fatpants

Posted: April 24, 2011 in Swim, Training
Tags: ,
  • Swim (click to see stats)
  • 2.5k (1:03:56)
  • Avg. Heart Rate = 127 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate = 148 bpm
  • Calories = 653

It’s not often I talk about my swim workouts.  Unlike running or cycling, I don’t particularly have any deep thoughts in the pool apart from, maybe, “breathe…1 2 3…breathe…” so, really, swimming laps is pretty freaking boring mentally.  So, really, what’s there really to talk about?  But, as has become the holiday tradition, I spent the morning engaged in a particularly tedious and exhausting workout; Good Friday it was a half marathon; yesterday was the 80k bike ride; today was a 2.5k speed swim workout.  At least, now, I feel like I’ve earned myself a piece of that chocolate bunny.

Even though I don’t have any groovy pictures for you, nor do I have any philosophical evolutional theories of ‘Man as Persistence Swimmer’ to share with you, I did want to take the opportunity to put my swim progress so far under the microscope (or swim goggle) in a bit closer detail; a little mini Did Well’ assessment if you will.

The Swim Bible

All my swim workouts are taken from my ‘swim bible’: Swim Workouts in a Binder: Swim Workouts for Triathletes, by Gale Bernhardt and Nick Hansen.  Apart from the beauty of being 100% waterproof so that you can bring it in the pool with you, this “binder” of workouts will offer you specific drills and routines to develop anything and everything in the pool from speed to form to endurance and all stops in between.  I can’t even imagine heading into the pool without first having this little baby nestled under my arm.  You may as well ask me to workout without the benefit of my swim goggles.  Having a plan keep you focused on improvement instead of merely putting in the ‘junk miles’ for the sake of getting them in.

Here was today’s particular workout:

Muscular Endurance (Distance) 2

  • W/U:  200m free, 4 x 50m sculling, 4 x 75m paddles
  • Main Set: 4 x 200m (race pace), 4 x 100m (race pace) – 15 second rest in between
  • C/D: 600m (100m free, 100m kick)
  • Total: 2500m

Here is an example of what I would have preferred instead:

The Cupcake Workout

  • W/U:  Cannonball into the deep end (rest 2 minutes), eat one cupcake
  • Main Set: 3 x 15 sec of blowing bubbles and making motorboat noises (rest 2 minutes), 5 x underwater handstands in the shallow end (rest 2 minutes w/ cupcake), 4 x 25m doggy paddle (rest 5 minutes)
  • C/D: Float with foam noodle thingy for 15 minutes

But, alas, it’s never to be.

‘Black Line Fever’ * aside, I haven’t been ‘feeling it’ in the pool as I hoped I might be now, as I have with my running.  On the positive side, I am beginning to kick a little more steadily while swimming, albeit not as effectively as I might given time but, hey, at least I’m beginning to show some progress.  Unfortunately, though, my kicking drills in themselves seem to be absolutely pointless as I still can’t seem to kick very efficiently and often just end up nearly motionless in the water – not good.  I mean, great I’m kicking but what good is it if it’s not doing anything?  There are old ladies who will lap me in the pool; all the while kicking effortlessly.  And you haven’t been humbled properly until you’ve been lapped by a blue hair in a 1930’s style swim cap.  What’s wrong with me?

On the positive side I am beginning to get the hang of doing flip-turns.  I have been working on my flip-turn clinic when I have the opportunity and I have even completed a few 200m and 400m sets managing only flip-turns.  I have learned that this reluctance to flip-turn on my part is 80% mental over my just not being able to physically do them.  In fact, I can do them – it’s just that I can’t do them consecutively or comfortably yet…but I’m getting there.  I particularly struggle in the shallow end for some reason.  I’m not sure why.

So what’s next?  More kicking…more drills…more flip-turns…more pruny skin I guess.  I am hoping, however, that swimming becomes more agreeable with me in the near future as I used to look forward to my swims in that they provided a much-needed rest for my weary legs.  I am also going to begin focusing my yoga sessions more on developing upper body strength and relaxation in order to alleviate the tightness I am beginning to feel in my shoulders and upper back lately (good mental note come massage time).

* A term I’ve coined to reference my having to stare at the black line along the bottom of the pool in each lane for hours on end.  Talk about torture…

  1. Jeff C says:

    I know exactly what you mean about the flip-turns. The worst thing is, when I was a kid I could flip turn half a dozen ways. By that i mean I could decide in advance what angle and direction I would come out at so if I wanted to shoot down and to the right, or left and up to the surface so I could grab my sisters foot and pull her under, it was a piece of cake. Fast forward 20 years and life without a pool in the backyard anymore and now you’d think I’d never done a flip ever. I think it’s that first head-butt that makes you think your skull is broken that really screws you up so that you can’t approach them anymore with the same joy and abandonment like you approached things as a kid…that’s my theory anyway…good luck though…I’m sure your persistence will pay off…a helmet might help too

  2. Aquaman says:

    Sounds like we’re very similar in the pool… I can’t stand kicking, and flip turns in the shallow end freak me out because I’m pretty sure I’ll hit my head on the bottom of the pool.

  3. Mimi says:

    I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty good at the cupcake workout.

  4. mom says:

    Or the real ultimate workout of helping Mom in her garden. Digging, raking, weeding, sweating!

  5. Jeff – Done the headbutt – head up ass was worse.
    Aquaman – it’s so on! If you learn, I’ll learn…shallow end be damned!
    Mimi – Feel the burn.
    Mom – Nice try.

    • Robin says:


      Great site– really impressed by the format and your writing style (as always!).

      There is no bad day, no heartbreak, no misery or bitterness that a good set of laps can’t solve for me. Swimming provides all the sensory deprivation, repetitive movement, mental focus, and reliable mantra (“1, 2, 3, breathe”) I need to reach salvation. Also, for someone who is always chronically short on time, there is a mysterious glory in how restorative 15 seconds at the wall can feel… people scoff at the 10 minute power nap, but all I need to go from 100% effort to 100% effort is my nose pressed against cool tile, the ‘Arm and Hammer’ taste of chlorine and bicarb in my mouth, and the hypnotic glide of the second hand on that pace clock.

      Keep up the great work on the blog… I’ll be looking here for inspiration to get my arse off the couch and into gear when I get lazy during residency! 🙂

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