Archive for January, 2010

Tiger Balmy…

Written by mitch. Posted in Uncategorized

Well, if you’ve been following this series of posts you know I’ve been struggling with my swimming and a reinforced, reinvigorated commitment to ‘wellness’… not necessarily in that order. Despite the desire to do more or better, I’ve been dealing with a body that seems more interested in going home or to bed than in going to the next level.

I haven’t let that or the aches and pains slow me down or stop me… At least, not yet. Instead, I dragged myself out of bed in what felt like the middle of the night to be in the water and ready to swim at 6:00 A.M. If the number of headlights and tail lights on the road at that hour are any indication of the number of people up and about, I can tell you with absolute certainty there aren’t many people up and about at that hour!

Nevertheless, I was… And, I was in the water warming up before Jessica – the Master Class coach – arrived on the scene.

Again, that sounds easier than it was. As certain as I am that there were few others up and about, at or before 6:00 A.M., who were not coming home or heading to a workplace somewhere: I am equally as certain, the one place in the world your body does NOT want to be is submerged! I am also pretty sure the reason fish don’t hate swimming as much as I do is because they don’t have shoulders or elbows, hips or knees! Shoulders, hips, knees and elbows can and often do get sore…

Does anyone out there actually know if fish can get sore? It would be reassuring as hell to know!

I did six or eight laps of various different strokes before Jessica realized there was someone in the water she didn’t know and a lot more after she did. I learned a lot for a first class. I learned that I have a ‘natural’ breast stroke (It was news to me too…). I learned that you can – with an emphasis on ‘you’ so far – swim while practicing “bi-lateral” breathing: you can alternate breathes from one side of your body to the other, which actually seemed to work better for me than breathing only on one side. I also learned you don’t have to breathe once every three or four strokes: but, that you still have to breathe! I learned that I have no endurance, at least not yet. Which was disappointing. And, that I still get winded much too easily… Even more disappointing.

Did mention that I’ve only been in the water eight or ten times and that I’m terribly impatient; or, have you already figured that out.

The good news was finishing more laps and more different strokes than I have ever – emphasis on: ever – completed in my life and I didn’t drown, as evidenced by my typing this message some twelve hours later!

I should be back in the water Wednesday morning… Maybe, even tomorrow morning depending upon when I get done tonight and how my right elbow and shoulder are feeling. If I don’t go to the “Y” to swim tomorrow morning I’ll probably return to Krav (Krav Maga) tomorrow night. My thinking is, as long as my shoulder and elbow hurt anyway; why not.

Oh… And, if you read the last post: applying Tiger Balm before you get into bed at night is something you really shouldn’t do unless you’re sleeping alone. If you aren’t sleeping alone, it isn’t something you ought to do without first asking your significant other if that would be OK. If you don’t heed my advice, it is almost certain you will be back in the water again, a lot sooner than you thought you would… Not at the “Y” and in the pool, but back in your bathroom and in the shower!

If you’re lucky, any remnant of the “Eau de Tiger Balm” will find its way down the drain. And, you may find your way off the couch!

Everyone Back In The Pool

Written by mitch. Posted in Uncategorized

I went back to the pool again late Saturday afternoon. It was wonderful!

Well, almost wonderful… I went to swim, and the pool was wonderful. In fact, with the exception of a few little ones and their respective parents, I had an Olympic-size pool just about all to myself.

The part that wasn’t so wonderful was the ‘getting older’ part of working out. It’s that; “Eighteen-Year-Old Brain: Sixty-Three Year-Old Body” stuff again.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven’t been to the gym in a while and when I was going I wasn’t swimming.

How long is “a while?” Let’s just leave it at “a while,” and move on. You can fill in the blank if necessary. However long it’s been, it’s been too long and now I’m doing something I’ve never done before and my body is crying, “Foul!” as a result.

So, tomorrow morning I’ll be at the “Y” before it opens to take a class. What kind of a class? A swimming class so I can move from something that must look almost like drowning, to something that looks almost like swimming. I’ve decided I have to become more comfortable in the water… which is hard to do when the water is one of those places you are the most uncomfortable. I’m going because Saturday’s sojourn at the pool was a definite improvement over my previous attempts at drowning. And, it was an improvement because I stopped trying to muscle my way through the swimming and slowed everything down to a “crawl,” if you’ll pardon the pun.

I focused on the obvious skills: floating, breathing, relaxing in a foreign environment and just moving through the water. Instead of trying to cover as much distance as quickly as I could, I keep things under control and focused on ‘smooth’ instead: no thrashing, no splashing, no gasping and no trying to breathe water! And, to tell you the truth, it actually worked… a little. I didn’t run out of air as often. I didn’t get as tired. My heart didn’t try to explode out of my chest, and as a result I felt a hell of a lot better when it was time to get out of the pool.

Why swimming, if it’s so uncomfortable; so unnatural?


Because it is uncomfortable and unnatural; at least it is to me. I’m doing it because I don’t want to do it. And, because I know the results will be more than worth the effort if I prevail. If I can manage to stay with it, my endurance and stamina will increase as well as my overall fitness. I know this to be true because I can see the difference it’s made in my son’s Tri training and the training he is doing for the Iron Man he’s enrolled to participate in.

All I have to do is work my way through the injuries, the pain and the discomfort. That takes a lot of positive self-talk and the encouragement of friends and family: and, a healthy sense of humor. I’m working on the self-talk and my son is both a great example and a wonderful cheerleader. The sense of humor part seems to be taking care of itself and we’ll have to wait and see how or if the rest of the family signs on.

In the meantime, I’ve got to get ready for tomorrow morning and that means a hot shower, ice on my elbow and shoulder, followed by a little Tiger Balm on both.

I’m not exactly sure how the Tiger Balm rub down is going to go, however. It may turn out to be part of the sense of humor and the being able to laugh at yourself you really need to get through something like this, especially after a long absence.

I was applying some Tiger Balm in the locker room after my shower and before I got dressed on Saturday when one of those ‘little ones’ I referred to a minute ago, turned in my direction and said, “Yuch! What is that, and why does it smell so bad? That stuff is really strong! “

I told him it was Tiger Balm… And, that I was using it because I was sore.

Do you know what happened next? He looked at his Dad, and then at me, and said, “Mister, I been to the Zoo and I seen the Tigers… And, know what! None of ’em smelled anything like that!”

I’m going to shut down, take a shower and apply some Tiger Balm to my elbow and shoulder before I go to bed… and, and wait to hear what my wife has to say about the stuff. I’m not sure, but I’ll bet it won’t be as funny!