Thursday, 11 June 2015

New habits to improve my core

All new habits start with the first time you do something.

Two factors are important if I am to make a new habit stick. The first is - obviously - to repeat the actions in the new habit. How many days an action needs to be repeated is still under heavy debate (check this article), but the habit must become part of a routine. The second factor is that it needs to be only a small deviation from the stuff I normally do. The greater the deviation from my existing habits, the smaller the chances that the new habit will stick. Today, I started forming a new habit.

The reason for my doing this, is that in my preparations for doing a whole marathon in 2016, I need to work on three things. I specified these in an earlier post. These things are Food, Core Strength and Sleep. Food and sleep are subject for a different post.

Improving core strength is a well-documented process on the Internet and many blogposts and Pinterest pins deal with the way to work on a six-pack. All this documentation shows the great number of ways to strengthen a runner's core. The most obvious way would be to use body-weight exercises (such as sit-ups).  Because I am not a very strong swimmer, I decided to spend more time in the swimmingpool and work on my core, while improving my swimming skills.

This started last Wednesday. Instead of doing my long-ish (12K) steady distance run, I ran to the local swimming pool (3,5K) and incorporated a 16 minute swim in my morning-routine. After the swim, I ran another 5,5K on my way back home. I loved the experience and doing a relatively early swim (I was in the water by 8:40) allowed me the space of a near empty pool.

There were just two points of improvement. For one, I did my run to and from the pool with my towel in my hand (yes, I do realize that it is important to at all times know where your towel is, but running while holding it is hardly relaxing). The second point is the fact that I lacked swimming goggles while trying to do freestyle swimming. As the trick of this stroke is to keep the body level with the water, it helps to be able to see under water.

To remedy these two minor points, I visited the local all-sports-shop and invested in two items. A pair of swimming goggles and a running pack to help me carry the stuff I need for the swimmingpool and allow me to do a medium-length run. Though there are many excellent and very expensive options for both products, I decided to go for cheaper versions first to see how well I like them.

Once I was in the pool, I was amazed at how good the swim felt. The first thing I need to work on is my freestyle stroke. The laps I did were in breast-stroke and though this works well, I assume (and need to figure this out) that freestyle swimming has greater corestrength benefits.

Obviously, adding a different leg to my workout regime offers excellent new stats. My Garmin impressed me by automagically determining the laps I did (with an error-margin of two, because I altered my stroke at two moments). After sixteen 25M laps, I left the pool to continue with my run. The fact that my legs were somewhat heavy from the swim and my body was tired added something to the run and I enjoyed it more than I usually enjoy my morning runs.

Coming wednesday, I will be trying out my goggles, to see how hard freestyle stroke swimming is. To be continued.

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