One Small Step

A little over four weeks have passed since I seriously sprained my left ankle while hiking the Stanford Dish.  Just today, I finally felt healed enough to run again.  I have attempted to jog occasionally over the past week, but aborted each time shortly after noticing residual discomfort. A premature return to running would probably result in yet another injury, thus I have been a model of caution.

Truc and I set out around 6am this morning at a careful 11 min/mile pace.  A half mile in, my left foot felt a little jarred so we switched to walking for a few minutes and then eased back into a comfortable jog to finish out 5 miles. Neither a fast nor a long run, it was more importantly a huge leap in restoring my confidence for this weekend’s triathlon.

This weekend’s triathlon!  So much to recover/learn, so little time!

While unable to run over the past month, I’ve instead focused on improving (ok, learning) my freestyle.  From what I’ve read, triathletes typically choose freestyle/front crawl over backstroke, butterfly, or breaststroke, presumably for greater speed.  Since I started lap swimming a year ago, I’ve relied on backstroke to power myself through workouts, mostly because having my face out of the water dispensed with the need for special breathing coordination.  In theory I knew how to do freestyle, but felt out of breath after swimming just a couple of laps.  This clearly wouldn’t do, even for the tiny triathlon scheduled for this Sunday in which we swim only 8 laps.

In week 1, I swam while breathing after every stroke.  Frequent breaths meant not only that I was never lacking oxygen but also that I was truly crawling along.  Time per lap:  2 minutes.

In week 2, I switched to breathing after every 2 strokes.  My  epiphany for the week:  if I emptied my lungs just before coming up for air to get rid of any CO2 still lurking in the lobes, I could hold more fresh air and last longer under water.  Time per lap:  1 minute 40 seconds.

In week 3, I experimented with strokes between breaths and found that I could swim indefinitely without fatigue or lack of oxygen while employing a 2 stroke/breath/3 stroke/breath pattern.  Time per lap:  1 minute 30 seconds.

In week 4, I added flip turns.  Time per lap:  1 minute 20 seconds.

In week 5, I’ve switched to breathing every 5 strokes but dropped the flip turns.  Time per lap: 1 minute 15 seconds.

I’m still crawling, but crawling a bit faster.

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