Mixing it up

We, as runners and as humans, are routine-driven creatures.

I'm running the GW Parkway 10-miler this weekend. My training for it this week included mixing up my workouts in Florida.

I'm running the GW Parkway 10-miler this weekend. My training for it this week included mixing up my workouts in Florida.

When it comes down to it, most of us benefit from a regular schedule, and a regular lineup of habits that help us get through the day. I’m that way with training, and I benefit greatly from Tuesday and Thursday runs with Pacers, and Monday and Wednesday swim dates with Steve.

Still, it’s helpful to mix things up. I learned that this week, when maintaining my running and swimming schedule helped me keep my head on straight while visiting my parents in Florida.

Contributing to the mixing-things-up vibe: My iPod froze in “play” mode on the plane, leaving me tune-less for a 45-minute run through their Gulf coast subdivision.

I was shocked to find that it was, in fact, really peaceful, even though I had to listen to the sound of my own huffing and puffing, and my own thumping footfalls. I actually did find it easier to tune into the crepe myrtles and jasmine in full bloom along the route, and was able to push myself into “go” mode even without my pump-up songs. I’m not about to give up my precious iPod, but on this run through unfamiliar streets, in an unfamiliar climate, the change in my running habits was more than welcome.

Same deal with swimming. My parents live near an outdoor pool, and I headed there to work out yesterday. Swimmers often talk about “fast pools,” those with deep water and seemingly mystical powers to make you slide through the water effortlessly. After a couple of uses, I’m dismayed to report that this was a slow pool — the kind that makes you feel like you’re suspended in molasses rather than water.

But for all its molasses-ness, it’s a gorgeous pool, clean and bright and reminding me with every stroke of the outdoor pools where I swam my first practices on a beach-club swim team when I was 7. So I decided to take my workout back in the day, doing sets I’d done either in high school or as a little dude on my first-ever swim team. It’s unlikely this workout will take you back to your own athletic roots, but perhaps it will inspire you to reach far back when planning your next swim.

1,000 warmup

5X 200 breaststroke (my stroke in high school – I haven’t swam longer than a 100 breast since then)

10 X 100, alternating IMs and free (when did I stop doing 100 IMs in training? This quick-hit set is hard enough to make your triceps and shoulders burn, but a 100 never seems to long to tackle).

Next up: The GW Parkway 10-miler this weekend. I’ve been told this race is almost entirely downhill. I’m hoping this isn’t a big, fat lie. Stay tuned for my race review …

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