A Snow Warriors Workout

Last night’s snow storm did not excuse this warrior from a great morning workout, it would take a lot more than a foot of snow to hold me back. Snow storms actually energize me.  Like most people in this part of the country, I woke up today to six or so inches of glistening fluffy white snow, ideal for a couple hours of snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at the golf course across the street from my house, both all-star choices for cardiovascular and core conditioning, burning approx. 600 calories per hour. Instead, I decided to head out to my favorite 25 meter pool to meet my true love affair with fitness, swimming. There I stood at 7:00 am staring down this enormous beautiful body of water, not a soul in sight except our dependable lifeguard. Rarely do I have the luxury or the honor of breaking the stillness of the water alone.  There are no words to describe how I feel when I dive into the pool under these unique circumstances. Perhaps if I were a professional writer I could find them, but I’m not!  It takes me about 5 minutes of easy paced free-style swimming to acclimate to the chilly 83 degree conditions.  I love it!  Immediately I’m energized and ready to swim on with my workout.  The only thing missing today was my inspiration, “the motivator”, in the lane next to me.  Make no mistake, i’m perfectly capable of motivating myself but it is not quite the same as swimming along side Eric. Well, I don’t exactly swim along side of Eric, rather barely in his wake.  I don’t know a lot about him other than, he’s recently married, a triathlete, extremely focused with his workouts, swims like a shark and he’s built like Michaelangelo’s David, yet he’s anything but rigid. While most serious male swimmers are built well- tall, broad across the chest and back, narrow hips, with long lean but muscular legs, Eric is of a different swimming breed.  He’s medium height, stockier and dense with exquisite muscular definition (probably due to his tri-athelete ability), a body that would cause most women to drop to their knees.

Just as I finished my first leisurely half mile I stopped for a quick rest and a swig of coffee followed by a swig of water only to spot Eric standing by the side of the pool, arranging his gear and neatly resting his infamous ziplock baggie which holds his treasured and measured workout for the day. Yay! My motivator has arrived, late, but present.  We exchanged our usual hello’s and got right down to business. I asked Eric what today’s workout will be- 20 one hundreds with a 10 second rest between each hundred. Every other hundred was to be at sprint pace.  ” Oh yeah, sure”, are you f……in kidding me? ” I cried. That’s approximately 2,000 meters on top of the near 1,000 I already swam. I chugged some more coffee and chased it down with water. Eric says, ” it’s not so bad Al, and it goes by fast.”  Ok, sure!  Here is a perfect example as to why a healthy breakfast is always important.  Had I skipped breakfast I wouldn’t stand a chance at this workout. Being well-fueled is being well-prepared!

For the next 75 minutes Eric and I never spoke, we hardly looked at each other. I know better. The challenge in front of me was daunting but doable. I set my mind to the task and was on my way. Fiercely determined to complete the workout I planned my strategy (while I was swimming).  I swam free-style for every sprint set and in between I did breast stroke, back stroke, vertical kicking with fins, bilateral kicking drills, pulling sets (using pool bouys), free-style with fins, no breathers or so I tried and one set of butterfly (not a pretty sight). I was exhausted after 15 sets but I was excited at the same time. Come on , I’m fifty years old and doing the 40 year old adonis workout. I figure I’m entitled to be tired.  Staring down 5 more sets to the finish I thought about my students. Everyday I’m yelling at them, “if you can you must, finish what you start and finish strong,  stop wining, stretch your potential and push it”, and so on”.  I could not and I would not fail them or myself.  Accomplishment was a mere 500 meters away.  I pushed on and I finished. Whew!  What a workout. For Eric it was no big deal, routine.  For me it was huge.

I have written many times about the tremendous benefits of swimming and they are worth repeating!

1.   Outstanding cardiovascular and respiratory conditioning

2.  Develops and strengthens all muscles and connective tissue.

3.  Completely non impact workout, therefore easy on your joints.

4.  Ideal for people with arthritis and back, hip and knee problems.

5.   You can swim forever and its inexpensive

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