I need to start stretching again.
Like many things physical over the past few years, I'd let that one slide. After an especially rough session lifting yesterday coming dangerously close to breaking Rule One* in terms of how much I increased the weight, I am noticing a reduction in fluid range of motion. Yes, I'm sore, but this is more than just delayed-oneset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is a tightness in my joints that means something else.
It wasn't too bad in the pool, but when I tried to hook my bra on after my shower, reaching behind myself was difficult. I also had a problem with my calf cramping a little during my workout. This is unusual for me for anything but a very long (for me) swim. I also find that the more I swim, the more heel pain I experience on the mornings after. Yes, you'd think that swimming doesn't exacerbate plantar fascitis. I can only guess tight calves and pushing off a wall and going into a full toe-pointed extension isn't helping. Ballet again. When I point my toe, I do it hard. The pointed toe, floppy feet thing is actually kind of hard for me to do. Amazing what happens when you train to a movement young and do it for several years.
That's a clear indicator stretching is called for. Besides, I know perfectly well that stretching helps reduce repetitive motion injuries on complex joints. You know, like... shoulders?
I don't stretch nearly as much as I used to. I come from a ballet and martial arts background -- both activities where you stretch a LOT. The only activity I can think of offhand where you do more is yoga.
I'm actually used to being reasonably if not astoundingly flexible. I'm totally not right now. That's not something difficult to deal with, though. Put on a little Marvin Gaye in the evenings and stretch out... this is the opposite of a bad time. I used to have a dance instructor who was inordinately fond of Marvin Gaye for the warmups. It's a nice way to chill out of an evening, and I'll be able to put my forehead on my shin in no time.
I know this is a swim blog, so talking about the other physical things I do might seem a little off-topic. But swimming is well known as a whole-body activity, and integration of strength, endurance and flexibility are all important to swimming well.
The swimming itself is going well. I've limited my breast stroke sets to less than a fifth of the workout. Since it used to be more like a third, I'm totally okay with this. I'll probably wind up dropping breast stroke sets alltogether at some point, though I freely admit that I'm not too thrilled at the idea of my entire swimming working being the crawl. It's not really my favorite stroke.
I also really need to be more strict with myself about flip turns. I really don't like them much, but I know that for distance, it's better to do them than an open turn. So, yeah... I need to suck that up, too. It seems that a lot of this process is sucking up the parts I don't like. :)
I'm pushing to increase distance pretty hard, but trying not to be crazy about it. An injury that keeps me out of the water is really worse than not training at all, so I'm keeping an eye on Rule One and also keeping an eye on that gummi bear jar.
Ah yes, the jar. It's filling up nicely, isn't it? It's an interesting motivator to show up regularly. And it takes away from the all or nothing approach to which I am often prone. For me, I want things to be perfect or I don't want to do them. For this workout tracking method, even if I don't get in my yardage or my time is off or whatever, it doesn't really matter all that much. The most brilliant training session where I'm on, slicing through the water like an orca, getting personal bests on speed and feeling like Neptune Himself still count the same as the ones where I feel tired, slow, and clumsy, inhale water and have to stop halfway through to cough that out of my lungs, have my goggles and cap fall off and keep getting distracted by the guys I'm sharing a lane with who REALLY needs to cut his toenails.
Both of 'em are still one gummi bear in that jar.