Another fun off season activity---catching up on my CEUs (continuing education) for my USAT coaching certification. I watched a few video presentations and took some tests. One of the presentations was by Bobby McGee who I know I have mentioned before. He is very good speaker and I always enjoy his presentations. He was giving one on running mechanics and ended up going through challenges a new runner may face based on their athletic backgrounds. Swimmers can definitely have some problems based on the fact that we have spent most of our lives in a non-gravity sport so our bone density may be a little low and our tendons, joints, ligaments are not used to the pounding from running. Also, we have a lot of upper body weight (muscle) that is not really needed to create forward propulsion in running. It can slow us down. We also have great plantar flexion but limited dorsiflexion in our ankles. This can create tight calves and soleus muscles which can lead to lots of lower leg problems. Then came the quote "and if you are a swimmer, PLEASE don't have been a breaststroker." Gulp. That's me! Apparently breaststrokers have knee instability and externally rotated hips. Both are bad for running. Shall I add that I had knee surgery too? Another strike. However, as a breaststroker I do have flexible ankles and good dorsiflexion since the breaststroke kick involves flexing the feet.
As swimmers we do have some positives. What are they? Well, we have a great ability to put up with lots of training since most of our lives were spent starring at a black line. Getting to run and ride outside is akin to seeing an action movie. Trees, sky, flowers, buildings, etc? We are going to be on sensory overload. I starred at a black line 4-5 hours a day, 6 days a week. Talk about boring. My conversations with others were limited to the 5-10 seconds I had on the wall between intervals. That is not including my freshman year where I think I swam straight for the first two months of training. I was in way over my head. I still remember the first practice where I made all the intervals like it was yesterday. Our stories about the night before were told over the course of 2-3 hours and we were extremely adept at continuing fragmented conversations between efforts. For me, training alone is not a problem since swimming is basically all by yourself as well. One more warning about swimmers; you have to be careful with their running volume and intensity in the beginning. While they have the cardiovascular ability to run a long time due to swimming 20-30 hours week their bodies cannot handle it. Case in point---me. I started running, did a marathon 6 months later and then ended up with a stress fracture. Lastly, I want to address the breaststroker thing---not true! Hillary and I are doing just fine and I am sure there are plenty of others out there. We all have backgrounds that may limit us in some way but with patience and attention to your weaknesses (make them strengths) we can all be better runners (or bikers or swimmers). I might never look like a Kenyan but I can certainly improve.
One more funny tidbit from my life this week. I got asked to stop splashing during my swim workout yesterday. I looked at the guy (he was doing a water aerobics class) stunned for a second and then said "no, I won't stop splashing, it's a pool." He then proceeded to demonstrate what I was doing by slamming his hands down on the water and asking what that was for? Uh, sir, that is my kick and now that it irritates you I am probably going to do more of it! The instructor tried to diffuse the situation by telling to move away from the lane line and apologizing profusely to me. I appreciated that, at least someone understood.
That is it from the land of grapes. Happy Training!