Ever since I had a ruptured disc in my neck repaired a few years ago, I have intermittent aching in the arm that had it’s nerve squished where it was exiting at that point in the neck. This sometimes makes it difficult to tell if I have strained a muscle or I have swimming form issues or I just need something realigned. It is my right arm, and I am right handed, so it would be very inconvenient to just not use it. In the process of attempting to do what I can, I have discovered that staying active helps, including swimming.
I was having some sort of aching in my arm recently. I wanted to continue with my triathlon training, specifically the swimming. The arm wasn’t bothering me on the bike or running, but some of my swimming strokes felt risky. I decided that for my next couple of swims I would turn the current speed down and try to relax more during the swim. That is how I “developed” my gradual speed increase interval swim workout with my Fastlane current generator!
My Fastlane doesn’t have an easy way for me to track the water speed, other than eye-balling it or trying to swim in it. Since more than one person uses the pool, I can’t count on it being left at the same level I had it on for my previous swim session. However, I AM getting to be good at judging the water speed based on what the water movement looks like.
On my first swim with this particular ache, the current generator was on a relatively low speed from someone else’s swim workout. I evaluated the ripples in the surface and got to swimming at that rate. I surprised myself by being able to stay swimming for 20 minutes without stopping. The slower speed really made a difference, since the longest interval I had manage prior to this was 6 minutes. Sure, it was not super vigorous swimming, but it still required the rhythmic breathing and constant stroking. I hadn’t been able to swim that comfortably even when I was swimming in the lap pool and could vary my speed at will. I felt very in control the whole time. I swam another 10 minutes after a short break, then tucked the information away for thinking about my next swim.
Three days later, my arm was still aching enough to bother me, but I didn’t want to go too slowly the whole time. I decided to start off, as best I could eye-ball it, at the same slow speed and see if it felt the same. I was able to swim 5 minutes without any problem. Okay. So, I increased the speed one click and tried again.
I did this for 5 levels and what surprised me was that each level ended up feeling about the same effort as the first one. I swam for 5 minutes (made possible to track in a relaxed way with my underwater timer), then would rest for a minute or less. I was actually resting for shorter periods as I went along, partly because I didn’t have to think about what I was going to do next. I was also comfortable enough that I was only checking the timer while I was swimming every couple of minutes. Note, that even though I had done the occasional 4-5 minute interval as part of my pyramid swim workouts, I had only made it up to 6 minutes once. I had, up until now, never done so many longer intervals in a row and never with that ease.
There was something about warming up incrementally that was good for my form and my breathing. I was just getting a bit tired toward the end of the 5th speed interval, but not like I had been when trying the same speed when I just began at that faster speed! The effect on my form and alignment in the current was such that I didn’t feel I was straining my arm. It didn’t ache for the entire swim and it was not exacerbated by it afterward.
I will be interested to see if, after a while, I can start this speed interval workout at slightly higher levels and work up to the same advantage. To do that with best effect, I might have to wait for my engineer to come up with a way to stabilize the current generator on the side of the pool. It seems like the Fastlane does not fit perfectly against the slanted side of the Tuff Pool, so that at the higher speeds it tends to rock back and forth some (although less after he propped it up some with some stiff foam behind it). I observed that when I increased the speeds gradually in this workout, the Fastlane didn’t seem to wiggle quite as much.
Whatever works out, I am feeling good about my triathlon in August simply because of the 20 minute swim (the triathlon swim only took me about 12 minutes last year, and that with coming up to look around a couple of times)and the higher degree of comfort in the water swimming for longer periods without stopping. If I can increase the speeds, even if it is just on my longer, swim-only workout day, it will be a bonus. Now, maybe I can work on sighting some, which is something I haven’t done much in the Fastlane. I do look up a bit to see the timer, so I hope that will help me some with the practice of looking around while I swim. And, maybe, some day, my engineer will come up with a way to monitor and adjust the current speed more accurately.