Highlights of the year 2018: 2nd place Utö swimrun, 1st place overall at Järvestä Järveen (Lake to Lake), 3rd place at the ÖtilllÖ Swimrun Worldchampionships. In resume, Utö felt like: “we’re back in business but some body parts strongly disagreed…”, Lake to Lake felt like: “somebody was non-stop chasing us…”, worldchamps felt like: “kids waiting at the finish line – just get there…”
Anyway “negative thoughts out of the window now” let’s enter the dark season with some snow and creative blog writing. This winter I try to focus on three main subjects:
1. How to improve as a Master Swimrunner bearing in mind that most swimrunners are actually around their forties so it’s a relevant subject if you ask me. Jasmina calls it “preservation papa project”…and it focusses mainly on health, strength, mobility, speed and technique
2. How to keep training fun and effective using alternative training methods such as staircase running, swamp running, treadmill running, aqua jogging with Styrofoam foot pads, indoor track running, dry land rope swimming, cold water therapy, mountain biking, etc
3. How to engage specific drills into your swim and run work-out. Before putting in serious volume this is the time to build strength and focus on technique. Jasmina is my technical drill sergeant and no matter how hard I try she always manages to find those muscle groups that are completely underdeveloped….but are in desperate need of some attention. I will try to include some video links that will show how to do things (i.e. Jasmina) and how not to do things: …”uhh that’s me”. After an intense technique drill session my nervous system is so tired that it feels like I just ran a marathon….it just tells you how little of the essential supporting muscle groups you effectively train in a normal run workout…
If you read between the lines there is one area that has the center of our attention in the build-up to 2019 swimrun season: keeping it fun while staying healthy and injury free. If there is one thing, I have learned this year it’s that my body has started to respond differently to the impact of races and training load. Only 6 years ago I could easily hammer through several consecutive training sessions resulting in a few tight muscles here and there. Doing the same today my left hamstring starts to cramp, scar tissue around my right knee starts to hurt or my lower back simply locks up. Years of reckless abuse have resulted in all sorts of dormant injuries that erupt and spring back to life like a volcano beyond a certain stress level. Jasmina suffers from the same syndrome. Her left foot does not properly respond (due to a past injury) and as a result her left piriformis is inflamed most of the time. So essentially, we are both dealing with old injuries introducing new ones making long distance racing in particular a very painful and grueling affair, as we both experienced in Ötillö this year.
Listening to some interesting pod casts of a 50 year old master runner I concluded that the answer to overcome this downward spiral of “involuntary injury collection” is quite straight forward: “Don’t focus only on treating the injury itself because that is often only the end result or symptom of some wrong repetitive movement and not necessarily the root cause of the problem”.
So, our aim is to focus on making the whole body stronger with special focus on the smaller supporting muscles (i.e. the ones that are so difficult to find and you can’t really train on those big gym machines….). This means free weights, often using your own body weight in the process, lots of reps, perfect technique so you locate and engage the right muscles and make them work.
Luckily, I have my own personal trainer in Jasmina. With over 15 years of dedicated track & field training there is still hope for people like me. My most frustrating work out is called: “push the baby out!...”. It’s designed to activate the lower abdomen…so NOT your six-pack muscles! but the muscles in your lower belly that help to tilt your hips in the right position. Mothers know what I am talking about here because they had to push the baby out with those muscles….most men (like me) can’t even locate those muscles never mind activating them….. Lay flat on your back, put your legs straight up and then only lift only your butt two inches off the floor without curling your back, head or using your arms. My excuse: “darling it’s evolution…I am not supposed to have these muscles anyway…”
The other thing we have picked up with more passion and frequency (especially in my case) is the power of non-impact training such as biking, aqua jogging, Xtrainer Ski-trainer. It does not only slow down arthritis in my joints but it’s also a great way to improve technique and boost your cardio. I re-discovered aqua jogging recently after borrowing a pair of styro foam foot pads. Damn it took me only 2 x 25m before my legs, butt and triceps were screaming for mercy. Also, mountainbiking or bike turbo training is back on the agenda and its now part of our weekly training.
Last but not least we are now active cold-water immersion junkies! It has come to the point that we don’t skip a single day. Once you start it becomes so addictive! Every morning before coffee we jump in a barrel filled with cold water, we sit there for a minute or so before starting the day invigorated. Reason: we were both getting sick every few weeks which has had a major impact on our moral and overall fitness. So far none of us has been sick yet so it seems to be working and we thoroughly believe in it…. even if there is no proof to support it, we don’t care. As you see a lot of the stuff is all about going back to basics and that’s exactly what is needed this time of the year.
Me: Thomas Schreven
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