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Travails of a Non-Swimmer

Armless Drills & Marionette Arms


In an earlier post I talked about wanting to run longer. I’ve spent a month at the gym and now want to make myself run faster and farther.

But that’s not the only reason.

Joint Pain

I wanted to run more than 3km tonight because during the horrible group swimming class this week, one of the drills made the joint area between my shoulder blades and armpits ache so much I didn’t think I could do any of the resistance training or any swimming that involved arm rotation.

Wednesday is supposed to be my mid-week rest day from the gym, but Tuesday night the above-mentioned joint area hurt too much after the class I had to skip the night session at the gym to give them a rest.

But I really want to train five days a week, so this Wednesday night I decided to go, despite the pain.

What kind of horrible drill did the mean swimming instructor make us do this time? I already mentioned how we spend the better part of the one hour session going back and forth across the 25m pool on a kickboard. After seeing how tired we were from all that kicking, she decided to make us do a non-kickboard drill.

Without explaining (as per usual) what it was for, she made us hold both arms straight up, high above the back of our heads, with the elbows touching each other, put one palm over the other, and rest the back of our heads on our inner upper arms. Try it. See how incredibly uncomfortable it is? The instructor adjusted my arms all the way back until I left like a contortionist. She then made us kick across the pool, face up, for 50m in this position.

What the *%$&&#?

Right after that drill I immediately felt pain in the joint area between the shoulder and upper arms, but thought it would go away soon.


Waste of Money

A day has passed and they still freakin’ hurt. I’ve applied cold compress, hot compress, yet even gentle arm movements are painful.

I mentioned before that I couldn’t wait to quit the abominable class, but since I paid for a 3-month non-refundable course I thought I should get my time at the pool and learn what little they could offer.

But now I’m really at the end of my rope with the outdated, meaningless drills the instructor makes us do.

I still have a month to go, but if this joint area pain won’t stop I will have to throw away money and prematurely quit the class. I hate to throw away money, but I’d rather keep myself intact and be able to do the training and drills that really matter.

Where to Focus

I was so depressed contemplating not being able to do my TI swim repeats. I’ve just taught myself how to cover a 25m non-stop and have since been doing short sets (4 x 25m) each evening for the crawl, and 3 x 50m for backstroke. I felt I was doing well, and then this. Aaaaargh!!!

Discouraged and unhappy, I looked for some words of encouragement and found this old post by Terry Laughlin. To quote:

Stay with one thought and one-length-at-a-time for 7 to 10 minutes. In fact, if you “lose your mojo” before the end of the pool, you don’t have to complete the length. Stop and take your breather anywhere. You’ll learn faster by progressing incrementally from 5 easy strokes to 7, then 9, etc, than doing 5 easy strokes followed by 15 barely-hanging-on strokes. And if you start to feel breathless, rest for more than 5 breaths.

I felt a lot better after reading that!

Doing Without the Arms

To do the crawl reps I focused my One Thought on “Marionette arms“. MarionettesDuring recovery I sometimes overextend my elbows, so tonight I concentrated on marionette arms, relying completely on hip drive for propulsion. I felt okay, but cut the reps in half so that I could do more tomorrow night when the said joint area felt better.

By 22:00 there were fewer people in the practice lanes, so I did the breathing drill of rolling to Sweet Spot without any arm extended. I focused on doing this on my weak right side. I also did the backstroke balance drill that uses body rotation to roll the shoulders while keeping the head still and aligned with the spine.

Thank God Total Immersion Swimming has useful drills that one can do even “without” arms!

A New Drill

My husband wanted to practice his breaststroke as I mentioned in an previous post. I joined him by practicing the isolated kick drill. I liked the drill as I was able to let my arms just float in front. This breaststroke kicking is new to me and felt weird, though. But that is the topic of another post! 🙂

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