Even now that I’m back in the routine of swimming regularly, having spent some time getting my head in the right place about tackling the workouts, there’s one excuse I can’t seem to beat: It’s cold, and my usual remedy for cold is not jumping in a lukewarm pool.
My first swim back was especially rough—it took me a full 100 meters to shake the chill, and maybe a 500 before I forgot about being cold altogether.
I realize this is a silly thing to get hung up on. But I’m not the only one. Dara Torres even has a chapter in her book about how, at every level of swimming, you’re likely to find swimmers procrastinating on the pool deck before practice, looking for ways to postpone actually jumping in.
Since it’s not going to warm up anytime soon, and since I’m unlikely to get a good swimming workout without actually jumping in, I figured it was time to find a fix I could control (I’m still working on the weather).
1. Last winter, I always lifted for about 30 minutes before my swim workouts. That ensured I’d be hot, sweaty and in need of a cool-down by the time I had to jump in the pool, no matter how cold it was outside. I’m thinking the extra 30 minutes would be worth the added comfort this winter, too.
2. An even quicker and easier pre-swim warm-up: a cup of tea in a to-go mug for the drive to the pool.
3. I can visualize how good I’ll feel in a hot, post-swim shower. I’ve used this kind of mental imagery during races, imagining how good I’ll feel once I’m relaxing in an ice bath post-run. Consider this a warm, fuzzy twist on the visualization exercise.
4. I can up the ante for my post-swim reward, as I did yesterday: with what was quite possibly the most delicious pot of white chicken chili ever made.
Here’s the recipe, which is based on an old Cooking Light recipe, but has since morphed into my own creation:
- Cut two chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces (the smaller, the better).
- Saute in a large pot with cooking spray and about two cloves of minced garlic.
- Add two (small) cans of diced green chili peppers (I actually use four, but not everyone likes it so hot!); two cans of chicken broth; coriander, onion powder, cumin and oregano to taste; and two cans of cannellini beans.
- For a thicker, heartier broth, puree another half a can of cannellini beans, then mix the pureed beans into the chili. Delicious.
- Simmer for as long as you can stand it. Garnish with cilantro, cheddar cheese, hot sauce and/or sour cream (I like all of the above).
We plan to bring the leftovers with us skiing this weekend. That’s right – I got the OK to ski at physical therapy yesterday! Let it snow, D.C.!