Back this January, I injured myself while swimming. Yes, while swimming. The injury put a real cramp on my training; no running, no swimming, no cycling for a few weeks. I didn’t want to stop training altogether and looked for something that wouldn’t aggravate my injury while it healed. I found I use our city’s senior fitness center’s machines and work on strength training.
In my distant past, I had tried weightlifting on a couple of occasions. It seemed boring and I didn’t have a way of measuring the effectiveness. I tried and then quit. I figured I could use strength training as a filler for not getting to swim, bike, or run and then dump it when I could go back to my previous workouts.
I don’t use a complicated workout. Our fitness center has four machines that work on different upper body areas and another four that target legs. I start with one of the machines for upper body and then switch off to one that works legs; back and forth until all are done. I only do 10 reps (repetitions) of three weight levels. The top weight level is just about at exhaustion for that machine. It’s hard to lift all 10 reps of the highest level. I only move up in weight when I can lift 10 reps on the highest weight with facility (not when it’s easy).
I kept that up for a month or so while I healed up. Because my injury was a little complicated, it took a little longer and I’ve had to slowly work back into full workouts. So, I kept doing the strength training twice weekly. Then, I started to notice something.
I noticed that my running paces were starting to get quicker. I noticed that I could run my longer distances a bit easier. I also noticed that my swim speeds were getting better and my strokes were more true to form. My swimming was getting easier. Apart from the fact that I liked the improvement, I wanted to know what was going on.
It was actually my sweetie that noticed the connection. It was the strength training. Because I had kept my strength training up, I had increased my weight levels three times over a few months. As I increased the lifting, my upper body and legs were better able to help me swim, bike, and run.
I have read a good many articles touting the good results of strength training. Guess what? They’re right. It does actually work. With only a half hour of strength training twice weekly, I have improved my running pace by two full minutes per mile on a good day (11 min/mile down from 13′s). My swims are still getting easier to do and more close to form. I am currently working on getting a total of 600 meters with only freestyle. I usually only was able to do that distance with half freestyle and half breaststroke. I am almost there.
Therefore, my injury and the subsequent downtime did me a lot of good in my training. Not that I would wish any injury on anyone. It just took the injury for me to look for something different in my training and to focus on quality instead of just quantity. While I’ve still got a ways to go to get back to my original distances, I know now that when I get there, I’ll be doing them faster and better than before. Don’t leave out the strength training if you can help it. Happy tri-ing.