Cut pork into medallions and sauté in olive oil on high until flesh is just brown. Add leeks and garlic and sauté until garlic becomes aromatic Add apples and sauté until tender, then add wine and lower heat. Cook for about five minutes and serve with another vegetable.
This article is part of a project to write 750 words a day for 100 days without breaking the chain. Today is my 100th day.
So, I can achieve goals. This is a happy thing, and it’s not what I want to talk about.
I want to talk about the difference between concern and concern trolling.
I have, a couple of times after a workout, been asked if I was okay. To put this in perspective. I am short. I am fat. I wear about a size 22 (US) in clothes. I am fair-skinned, which means that if I am working out hard my face gets red, yes, even in a pool. That’s never going to change no matter how much weight I lose or how athletic I become. It’s the way I am built. But, it becomes a big deal when someone assumes that the fat lady working out is a walking heart attack. As an aside, I just took my pulse. 66bpm. Lowish end of normal. Haven’t taken my blood pressure recently, but it was never high. I’m a swimmer, for pity’s sake. We tend to have lower blood pressure when we’re not trying to kill ourselves in endurance events.
A few weeks ago, I had someone (who I don’t know and haven’t seen in the gym since) say after my workout while I was drying my hair, “Are you okay? You know, maybe you’re pushing yourself too much. You ought to be careful about that.”
It got under my fingernails, and I can only say if you don’t believe fat people have self-control, keep in mind that I did simply say that I was fine and even smiled while I did it.
The reason it got under my fingernails is contrasted strongly by someone asking if I was okay after my workout today.
As some background, I hit the gym quite under slept. For whatever reason, I could NOT fall asleep early enough to get in my usual sleep ration and woke early even in spite of that. But I was feeling more zombie than chipper and I did kind of plod into the pool to get in my swim.
Normally when I swim, my pace is very steady throughout a set. My sets have specific patterns, and I work hard on good stroke technique throughout them.
Today wasn’t like that. I kept forgetting where I was in the middle of sets, my stroke form was off, I even inhaled some water and had to cough it out. Instead of jumping out of the pool and getting on with my day after my swim, I lingered in the water for a bit, rubbing my sleepy eyes and wishing I could just float for a while.
More background. This particular lifeguard is incredibly observant. She knows workout patterns, stroke styles, lane preferences, and even typical workout lengths for all of the swimming regulars. (This is way above and beyond what’s needed for a lifeguard, by the way. It’s more like what you’d look for in a coach). She *knew* what my normal workout looked like, and knew that today was a struggle.
When she asked me if I was okay, that wasn’t concern trolling. She knew what my swims looked like and could see that I was off today.
This is NOTHING like some stranger coming up to the fattest woman in the locker room who happens to still be a bit red in the face to give her advice on a workout she hasn’t seen.
Prickly as I am, I actually do appreciate concern. I really do. It felt nice to know that the lifeguard knew my workout patterns and was concerned enough to comment on a variation.
But the difference between concern and concern trolling in my mind has a lot to do with whether or not the person is qualified through expertise and observation to make that judgment. Even if that person in the locker room were a cardiologist (and don’t think she is, as I work at the hospital and know most of them on sight), she would not have had sufficient data on my workout patterns, heart rate, blood pressure or other factors to be able to make any sort of decent judgment about that. She saw a fat chick who was red in the face (I was no longer breathing hard, having showered and dressed) and decided to put in her two cents.
Concern is great, but for concern trolling, I wish those people would keep their yaps shut.
I’ve got a goal this year of reducing my swimming time from around a mile in 56 minutes to a mile in 40 minutes. I’m doing it because you should be able to do that comfortably in a pool before you start doing open water swims.
Swim workouts, like any workout with athletic improvement in mind, need to have some changing up component to it to keep the body challenged. If you do the same thing every time, it becomes a lot easier. Easy is often a legitimate goal, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not my particular goal.
So, I do some things to ensure changing up. Swimming sees its best improvement when you swim intervals. This means you’ll swim a distance as hard as you can, then another distance at an easier pace, switching things up throughout the workout. Yes, even marathon swimmers do this to train, even if steady is the goal when they get out on the open water.
For the past couple of weeks, my workout was either 1,000 yards or 1,200 yards swum in units of 100 yards with a length of breaststroke up, then swimming crawl back, then breaststroke up, then backstroke back. I’d sprint for the crawl because it’s a fast stroke.
As an aside, no the stroke is not actually freestyle, even if people often call it that now. Freestyle is an event in a swim meet, not a stroke. It is called freestyle because you are free to swim any stroke you wish. Most people choose the front crawl because it is the fastest stroke.
This was brought home to me when I was about six or seven at a swim meet. The event was the 16-18 year old men’s freestyle. We were swimming against a team that wasn’t quite as competitive as we were, and the Romagnoli boy swam the event *gasp* butterfly! The younger kids, including me, were freaking out, thinking that he’d be DQ’ed (disqualified) for swimming the wrong stroke even if he DID come in first, when the coach laughed and pointed out that freestyle means you can swim any stroke you want. Butterfly was a bit of a risk for the event, but he was very strong fly swimmer. Why not go for a challenge?
So, the stroke that you think of as freestyle is really the front crawl, ‘kay? And it’s a LOT faster than other strokes.
Those sets I was swimming, breast, free,* breast, back?
Today I decided to switch it up and swam free, breast, free, back. Instead of half my distance being breast stroke, half my distance became the front crawl. That 56:30 mile I’ve been side-eyeing? Today it was a 52:11 minute mile. (That was my pace, mind. I didn’t swim a whole mile).
So, why not just switch entirely to freestyle, right?
I could, but it wouldn’t be a great idea. That’s asking for a shoulder injury, and I’m not just doing this to get faster. The real reason my butt is in the pool is to get an efficient workout (swimming is good for cardio and full-body strength), and switching up the strokes means I work different muscle groups.
The other reason? That’s a little more embarrassing. I can do about 100 yards of the crawl before I get tired. The plan is to start working up to longer and longer distances of a single stroke as I get in better shape. My sets will stop being essentially a length of a particular stroke as I work up.
But there’s a lot to be said for essentially sprinting a length, then swimming another a slower stroke and alternating. That’s good, solid interval training, after all.
I also reached a goal today. I’d decided to try to swim ten miles in thirty days, and reached it about seven days early. I think my next goal needs to be a tad more ambitious. Since I swim a bit over half a mile a day, I think I’m going to make it a goal to swim 15 miles in the next thirty days. That’s more or less presuming I stick to my usual schedule, and a little bit over, so that I am going to have an impetus to bump up my yardage per workout in the next week or so.
Anyone else have any goals — fitness or not? I’m curious what people are challenging themselves with!
* Yes, see, I think of it that way, too!
This is slightly disheartening. I need to be swimming 1800 yards in that amount of time by around August 2016. And in the short term, I’m really not getting any faster. In fact, I seem to be getting slower rather than faster.
I keep pointing out to myself that the reality is that I need to be in the pool moving for half an hour five days a week. That’s the baseline and what I need for my health. Any sort of open water swim or anything like that is only useful if it’s going to keep me motivated and interested. If it gets me not working out, or burning me out, it’s not useful. It’s actually detrimental.
That said, I do want to do the Alcatraz swim. It sounds cool. I’ve been reading some open water swimmer accounts — things like accounts of swimming the English Channel. They’re pretty cool, but I am wondering how much good reading these accounts is really doing me. A Channel swimmer is the elite of the elite, my friends. It’s like the Everest of swimming. In point of fact, considerably more people have successfully reached the summit of Everest than have successfully crossed the Channel swimming. (I think it’s like a factor of five to one)
So, comparing myself to these people and their training could be inspiring, but it could also be unrealistically discouraging.
I’m a solid, strong swimmer. No doubt about that. Compared to the general population, I’m pretty damn good. But to do the Alcatraz swim, I can’t be comparing myself to the general population. I need to be reasonably good even by competitive swimmer standards.
I’m slow as hell. That’s a problem when you’re dealing with tides, currents and other things that you cope with in open water swimming. I don’t mean like, a problem where the pace boat and crew are going to get bored type of problem. I mean like an “It can kill you” problem.
So yeah, looking at my increasingly slower times over the past couple of weeks does have me wondering if I can even DO this. Should I be dropping back to just swimming for half an hour every weekday morning and leaving it alone?
I could. I really could. There would be nothing wrong with that. I’d be getting the exercise my body needs, which is the whole point of me getting up at five in the morning to head to the pool.
I don’t want to do that. I totally don’t. A mile and a damn half, even if it is in cold, open water with strong currents seems too damn doable for me to be able to let go of that. I doubt like hell I’d ever make a Channel swimmer, and that’s okay. It’s just that this seems too logically reasonable to let go of.
Then I look at my swimming pace times and wince and wince and wince.
It’s so early in the training, though. I mean, I just decided I wanted to do this a month ago, and I gave myself two blasted years to train for it. Maybe next year, if I haven’t improved enough to be reasonable, I could consider giving up, but it’d be silly to do so now.
What I’m really hoping is sometime in October 2015, I’m going to look at this entry and laugh my head off at how silly I was to be discouraged in a small backwards blip in the data. But the only way I can get there is to keep going.
That doesn’t entirely stop me from growling at my watch right now, or pushing to keep up with the lean, surfboard of a guy wearing flippers in the lane next to me, or wondering if I should be pumping iron to get my strength up, or feeling jealous of the dolphinlike grace of the kids doing their swim team workout in the lane on my other side.
I’m not even thinking about the cold showers and baths I’m going to have to start taking to get acclimated to cold water. I blot out the thought of marine life and possibly being attacked by a shark or seal.
I’m not even at a point where I need to even think about such things. I need to keep my eyes on 1800 yards in 40:00 minutes.
And in the words of Li Sheng, “We’ve got a long way to go.”