Monday, February 22, 2016

Very Important Training Partner

Meet my new training partner, Quackers McShadez.  He showed up in the mail today.

Yes, friends, I'm chomping at the bit to get out in the open water.  Yes, I know it's only February.

But I figure that in the interests of not getting my fool self killed come spring, having an idea of the temperatures I'll be swimming in might be a good idea. I'll know how far I should be swimming out into the lake at any given time.

No, that it's a rubber ducky with nifty shades has nothing to do with it.  I stoutly deny it. I need cold, calculating measurements to plan my training. You can believe me because I have my serious face on.

I'm a lot more concerned about cold for this year's swims.  In other chilly water swims I've done. I've been able to wade into the water and get acclimated or (in the case of the one where I just had to jump in) the water was above 65F, so that's not too intimidating.

This August, I'll be jumping off a ferry into the San Francisco bay -- water that is colder than the Official Swims I did last year (though warmer than my early training swims).  I'm too intimately acquainted with the negative effects of the shock of cold water not to take it seriously.*

Sorry, this post was supposed to be all light-hearted and goofy about the rubber ducky thermometer.  But in all honesty, Quackers McShadez might be cute, but he's still kind of a serious training partner.

* Lost a dear family friend several years ago to a kayak accident in early spring.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Is Your Hair Hot?

I'm rather gently and gradually ramping up my distance and pace in preparation for the summer's events.  I figure if I'm a turtle, I might as well go with it and do the slow and steady thing for my training as well.

Right now, I'm improving on a pretty steady curve, so I'm happy about it.

Most of what I do and how I track my improvements are objective.  How many yards did I swim?  How fast did I swim that last 100, or that last 1000?  Am I in the pool at least five days a week?  Either I made it or I didn't.  I have specific measurements I aim for and a specific rate at which I am planning to improve.

For the most part this is as it should be.  But I have a subjective measurement that's my real touchstone for how well my workouts went.

Is my hair hot?

I have long, thick hair that just about reaches my butt.  This gets wetted down and piled on top of my head into a cap pre-swim.  After my swim, I take off the cap, and the hair falls SPLAT! onto my back.

If it's not hot, my times don't matter. It wasn't a good workout because I wasn't working hard enough,  It is an excellent way to tell me I need to set a new pace target.  If I'm meeting a speed target and my hair isn't hot, that pace target is too easy.  This also applies to temperature preference in the shower.  If anything more than a lukewarm shower is uncomfortably hot (and I generally like a hot shower), I'm probably not pushing hard enough, either.

It's subjective, it's fuzzy and my times seem to reflect that it works.