Friday, March 13, 2009


Good news! I'm happy that I kept to a schedule (without actually creating one) for two weeks in a row! The workout times that Cha originally drew up for herself, worked for me too and I've been able to workout regularly this week. It's been fun training with Cha, and having a buddy to train with keeps me in check, especially on days when I'm tempted to slack off (or when it's freezing cold and rainy AND too darn early to get up in the morning!!)

The swim workout today was awesome. Bright (I should say dark, really, since we've switched our clocks over to Daylight Savings) and early, I showed up at 5.40am to get ready for our planned swim workout with (Coach) Amit. A seasoned triathlete who's currently training for a half-iron distance, Coach had offered to help us correct our free-style technique by closely observing our free-style. I was so grateful for his help, because I definitely needed the expert eye to correct my technique. Although I could swim decently and had the endurance for long-distance swimming, my technique was not efficient and it took that much more effort and time to get through the distance.

Coach gave us excellent and insightful feedback. One key point that Coach brought to my attention was keeping my body in balance to help me glide through the water. He demonstrated some drills for us to do to help keep our bodies in balance. (Will refrain from explaining the method in excruciating detail, but if you're interested, drop me a note) The mantra for the drill was "where's my hand, where's my head" - both had to be pointing downward.

After doing several repeats of the drills, Coach asked us to do a few laps to incorporate balance into our technique. Instead of swimming normally, I unconsciously started doing the drill! When I became aware of this, I tried to use both hands as I normally do, but slipped back into the drill. Coach was amused that both Cha & I had been so "drilled" that we forgot to swim!

After that though, when I eased up and started my free-style, I suddenly felt faster! Maybe it was psychological, but I felt myself glide more effortlessly through the water. I swear, I had propelled myself so much more that I nearly crashed into the wall of the lane at the end of my lap. I definitely felt a difference. So, the plan for the next swim workout on Monday is to swim more mindfully, keeping my balance.

As I reflected on "where's my hand, where's my head", it occurred to me what a profound application it had with regards to life. (Amit, maybe we should change your nick from Coach to Guru??) Are your hand and head aligned in every moment? How many times do we let our minds wander when we're doing an activity (or at work), instead of being mindful and focused on the activity (ie where the hands are). It's a great mantra to use in daily life to keep yourself in check, and to ensure that you're fully present in whatever you're doing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Testing, testing...1, 2, 3...

Last week, I marked a month and a half since I had exercised. I was eager to get back to working out and training, but was under strict orders (doctor & family) to back off. It was awful, knowing that I could not exercise even if I wanted to. Since I have friends who lead an active lifestyle, I listened intently to their plans and activities. I felt like a kid who was told to stay home, and had to watch her friends play outside. While I was sad that I couldn't join them, it also motivated me to get better, sooner.

I sought advice from Steph about what she did to get back on her feet after an illness, and one of the things that she said really resonated with me. "I was sick of being sick". That's exactly how I felt after a month of bedrest and monotonous routine (wake up - work - home - eat - sleep. I reached a point where I was ready to get going with life again. Although, logically speaking, I think the rest was definitely important in helping with the healing process.

Finally, two weeks ago, the doc gave me the green light to exercise "in moderation", and warned me against strenuous exercise. Under the eagle-eye of my hubby, last week, I started doing short workouts - 25min stationary bike, 300m swim twice a week and 2mile run/walk just to see how my body responded.

One of my tri-buddies, Cha, had sketched out her OD plan and so I tagged along for a couple of workouts. Another buddy of mine, Dads, who wants to do her first tri ever this season signed up at my gym and we did a workout together. It definitely helps to have your buddies' support. That was a test-case week. I did not draw up a schedule for myself because I did not want to create something that I would find difficult to keep up (and result in further disappointment). The idea was to test the waters and see what I could handle. Fortunately, things went well. I backed off whenever I felt any strain, and went easy on myself. Swimming free-style was probably the hardest because the arm rotation caused discomfort.

What I also realized was that I was getting tired easily not only because of lack of exercise but also poor nutrition - junk food, desserts et al. Exercise and nutrition are intertwined, and so when you stop exercising, you may become less careful about about what you eat, because you know that you can sleep in late the night after a heavy meal (instead of having to workout).

The challenge for me is to find a balance between staying motivated and exercising in moderation. When I cannot do much, I find it hard to stay motivated, and when I am motivated, I tend to push myself. So, the theme for the upcoming season is probably going to be finding my inner balance (arguably a life-long effort) so that in the long-term my body is ready to handle some of the goals that I set to develop my full potential.