Mile Markers: Growth Mindset

Mile Markers: Growth Mindset

When I was a freshman in high school, I skipped a year in math. I was the only freshman in the sophomore level honors geometry. On one of the first tests, I got a D. I was upset and a bit discouraged, but I refused to accept that I couldn’t improve my grades and have a better grasp on the subject. I did extra credit, studied harder, and completed the course with an A. 

This week I started swimming as cross-training. At this point in stress fracture recovery, I can do a small amount of deep water pool running, but swimming is better because my upper body does more work. I am not a very skilled swimmer; the last time I actually swam for fitness was in 2001, and those swim lessons were interrupted halfway through when I chip-fractured my thumb at a concurrent volleyball camp. 

(Let’s take a moment to appreciate the irony that a bone injury took me out of the pool 17 years ago and now a bone injury has put me back in the pool.)

My form is poor and inefficient. I managed 20 minutes of swimming for my first session, gasping between laps. I could have dismissed swimming, decided I was inept at it, and given up. But I perceive this as an opportunity for growth. I might not be a decent swimmer now, but I can work to improve over these next few weeks. 

A growth mindset believes that change is possible with hard work and the right attitude, while a fixed mindset accepts things as they are. 

Mile Markers: Growth Mindset

Monday: Rest day

I started last week feeling refreshed. I honestly didn’t even miss running over the week, as we had a guest in town and were busy spending time with college friends. I took Monday as a rest day to have one full week of rest from when I went in the boot. 

Tuesday: 35 minutes swimming/pool running

I hobbled into the pool and attempted to swim. I lasted about 20 minutes of inefficient freestyle swimming with the pull buoy and then switched to about 15 minutes of pool running on the deep end. I used the pull buoy for too long, put on the aqua jogger belt backwards, and committed all sorts of novice errors, but I was proud of myself for getting in the pool. 

Wednesday: 25 min swim

I spent Tuesday evening researching swimming more and returned to the pool with a plan. I found some beginner workouts on Triathlete and attempted one. This workout revealed to me that I need to work on my pacing in the pool. Much like a novice runner, I am pushing the pace too hard and burning out sooner than I should. 

The workout:

2 min breathing drills
4 x 25 swim
2 x 25 pull
4 x 50 swim (modified from 2 x 100 due to poor pacing)
2 x 25 pull
4 x 25 swim

I cooled down with a few minutes of deep water pool running. 

Mile Markers: Growth Mindset

Thursday: 30 minutes Pilates

A few weeks had passed since I had strength trained in any capacity. I did a basic 30-minute Pilates workout to ease back into things. I do appreciate how I can do most Pilates exercises with my stress fracture; I only had to modify the push-ups and a couple other exercises.

Friday: Rest day

This is the first day where the stress fracture actively frustrated me. I walked the dogs twice and went grocery shopping before noon, and all those trips up and down two flights of stairs left my foot hurting more than it had in several days. I felt discouraged and worried about how long I’d have to wear the boot. 

My foot needed more rest, so I opted not to go for a swim and just rest it all day. 

Saturday: Rest day

Sunday: 800 y swim

Did you watch the New York City Marathon? Shalane and Molly were amazing! Mary Keitany’s surge was almost unbelievable when she ran multiple sub-5:00 miles in the middle of the race. New York is one of my favorite races to watch each year.

After watching the coverage, Ryan and I went to the YCMA. I did not track exactly how long my swim took. I swam 8 x 100 yards, alternating laps at freestyle and backstroke. This swim was easily the best of the week; alternating strokes helped me swim for longer. I placed less focus on my breathing technique and more on just getting in a good workout – and I definitely did by the end of this one! I also did a bit of core work at home. 

[Tweet “When you can’t run, swim! A week of navigating workouts in the pool via @thisrunrecipes “]

Linking up with Weekly Wrap

Do you have any advice on swimming?
How was your week in running?


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22 Responses

  1. Hello! I also had to turn to the pool yesterday as I’m laid up for the first time with a running injury (and I’ve been running over 30 years). I felt SO awkward and was also trying to swim too fast. A friend of mine showed up early Sunday morning at the pool to swim with me and give me a few pointers. Here’s what she offered: slow down, just barely lift your head to breathe and return your head to the neutral position and work on reach. She said once I get my breathing down it will become easier.

    I also just bought a full suspension mountain bike and am learning that after being a roadie for years. Whether it’s time in the pool or time in the saddle I’ll get better. Practice makes perfect, but only perfect practice. So with that, I’m trying to learn a few fundamentals, practice those skills and then move on so I don’t practice poor technique. If we are going to learn something new, might as well learn the correct way, right!? Good luck with your cross training. I enjoy reading your blog each day and great tip on the beginner tri workouts! I’m going to look that up right now.

  2. Great job with the pool running and swimming! I can totally relate to feeling inefficient in the pool. I just tried to remind myself that I was still getting in a workout one way or another. Hopefully it starts to feel more natural the more you keep up with it!

  3. I’m right there with you! Even though I’ve spent time in the pool during an injury, I never fell in love with the pool. It’s definitely not as easy as heading out your front door for a run but it’s great for when it’s your best option. I love your attitude.

  4. I don’t like to swim but I love everything else about the water! I didn’t mind doing deep water pool running when I was training for Big Sur (I had ridiculous PF). It’s so great now that there are classes and workouts. Back then, I had to just wing it and go!

  5. You have no idea how happy it made me to see you in a swim cap and goggles! I absolutely love your attitude and how you can appreciate how HARD swimming is. Keep getting back in the water and, just like your last workout of the week, you will continue to see improvements!! So happy and excited for you. If you continue to swim, it will most definitely improve your running, recovery and strength – YAY!

  6. No swimming advice here- although I have had random strangers at the pool give me tips over the years which helped improve my form! Keep my head up a bit and eyes forward in the water, not straight down has helped a little. It’s a great workout, isn’t it?

  7. Good for you for embracing swimming! I focused on spinning when I fractured my foot but I had to be careful about how I rode and had to stay seated. It’s so hard not to overdo it, but try to take care!

  8. I have almost the exact same math story – but my freshman year of college in differential equations.

    I have just gotten to the point in my injury recovery where I can take pool running classes at the gym. The classes incorporate a few different strokes in addition to “running”. I realized when I went looking for more information on the other strokes that the coach whose classes I’ve been taking literally wrote the book on pool running (it’s called Deep End of the Pool Workouts). I also found an article she wrote for Women’s Running that describes some of the strokes, if you want more variety once you can pool run more!

    1. I never took diff eq (my advisor told me not to with humanities, I wish I had!) but I heard that was a hard class. I will have to look for her articles, thank you! I hope your recovery is going well.

  9. The swimming will get easier. Like running, you can make a huge amount of progress in the beginning, which is really satisfying. The YMCA probably has someone who could give you a lesson or two if you want to work on form. I started swimming for workouts as injury recovery but the last two training cycles, I’ve gone to the pool the day after my long run for a recovery workout. It’s like magic! I wish I could give every runner the gift of learning how to swim for training purposes. Have patience – you’ll get better so fast! And then just as you start to figure out swimming, you’ll be able to run again.

    1. Thank you! I am hoping to include it as cross-training even after the injury, especially in the non-winter months when snow sports aren’t an XT option. It’s a lot more fun that the elliptical or bike!

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