Tag Archives: Cross-Training

What I Learned During Private Swim Lessons

Four summers ago I had just finished the my second half marathon, Seattle RnR. I was on a high and looking for my next challenge so I signed up for adult beginners swim lessons. Learning proper swim technique was something that I had always wanted to do and decided that it was time to do it. I completed two 2-week sessions and learned the basics of freestyle.

This summer, inspired by my incredibly inspiring triathlete friends I signed up another 2-week session, but this time for private swim lessons. I had two very specific objectives that I wanted to address and felt that private lessons would be more suitable than a group class.

Objective 1: Learn how to kick again

Since initially learning how to swim I’ve swam casually, mostly as recovery workouts after long runs. Because of this I became very dependent on a pull buoy and essentially forgot how to kick. Whenever I tried not to use the pull buoy I would panic and either sink or not move at all. It became my crutch and I wanted to get rid of it.

Objective 2: Learn how to breath on both sides

Last summer I attended an open water swim clinic hosted by the Mermaids. I found that swimming in the San Francisco bay was pretty gross, but I kinda loved it. I guess the advantage to growing up in Hawai’i is that I’m used to being in the open water and it didn’t scare me. However what did scare me was being told that in order to complete a triathlon I needed to be able to breathe on both sides. It would be a matter of survival. I was registered for their Sprint Tri but after hearing this and being terrified of my road bike I dropped the race. Since then I unsuccessfully tried to teach myself how to breathe on my left side. It was time for more swim lessons.

Swim Lessons 2.0

Joinville Pool

I signed up for private lessons at the county parks and recreation pool. Each session would be 30-minutes long and held from Mondays – Thursdays for two weeks.

My first session started on Mon, 7/29. We started off in the kiddie pool which I was more than fine with – feeling comfortable in the pool was half the battle.

Well Objective #1 was completed in about 10 minutes. My kick came back to me in no time. It just took a couple of pointers from the instructor to make adjustments to my form and technique.

Objective #2 would take a bit longer. I got the gist of it during the first lesson but it would take practice. Eventually I got comfortable enough with it and graduated to the big pool (25 meters or Jr Olympic size). So for the past two weeks I’ve practiced and practiced and ingested enough chlorine to bleach my insides.

To my surprise and delight my instructor also had me learn other things that I never expected to learn like:

* Directional swimming
* Backstroke – which is so much fun except I can’t swim straight for the life of me
* Dolphin kicks – so you know if i ever decide to learn Butterfly
* Breast stroke – still a lot of work to learn this one

And last but not least flip turns! Well sort of.

Let me preface this by saying I have never done a cartwheel in my life. I avoid inversions during yoga classes like the plague. And I have never done a somersault in or out of the water. So when my instructor said we would work on flip turns sheer panic set in. I explained to him that I don’t do flips or tumbles or anything remotely close to it. But he pushed and pushed until I relented and consented to give it a try.

The first attempt was a complete disaster. Water up the nose and no flip to show for it. So he gave me a few other pointers like – tuck your chin and your knees, then paddle your arms in the opposite direction of the flip.

I gave it a try and then just like that I did my first somersault ever! The flip happened naturally, just like he said it would so then he made me practice it a few more times. I can’t say its my favorite thing to do but I felt a real sense of accomplishment by facing a fear and doing it anyway.

I’ve found that swimming with my entire body, not just my upper body, uses so much more muscles than I imagined. Although its a non-impact sport, the amount of effort required from my legs is tremendous. Its a perfect compliment to running in so many ways and truly is a total body workout.

One of my first motivators to start running was from an article that I read in a fitness magazine that said “running will change your body.” Well after swimming for four days a week for two straight weeks I can honestly say that swimming will too. I can feel changes in my body – it feels stronger and leaner in different ways that my regular workouts make me feel.

I’ve always enjoyed swimming and now I’m looking forward to doing it on a more regular basis and practicing what I’ve learned.

I was so sad to learn that the pool isn’t open year round. In fact, it closes in just a few weeks. Swimming outdoors is so much more fun than indoors. I compare it to outdoor running vs. on a treadmill. Luckily I still have the pools at my gyms to swim at, but I am already planning to take private lessons again next summer!

Hiking Pinnacle Peak Park

In all the years I’ve been going to Arizona, I never once went hiking. Our trips were always all about baseball. Oh and that one year we went to the dog races. But that story is for another day.

This was my first trip to Arizona with the Pacific Northwest relatives, who are avid hikers. I am not a hiker but I wanted to try it! So my Aunty Delta and I scoured a list of popular hikes and settled on Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale.

Now one of my biggest fears is being stuck in the middle of nowhere on a ledge with no one else around. But my aunt had hiked this trail before and promised me that it wasn’t a difficult hike, and it was well populated.

We drove to North Scottsdale and could see Pinnacle Peak from the freeway. While my aunt had hiked it before, she didn’t quite remember the exact way to get to the trailhead so we used Google Maps. Sadly Google Maps failed and led us to a gated community at the base of the mountain. We drove around for about 20-min until we found the road that took us to the start of the trail.

{Note: If you’re planning on hiking this trail, from Pima Rd, drive up Dynamite Blvd toward the mountain. You’ll eventually see signs that will direct you to the parking lot where the trail begins.}

Just before the parking lot, a mini “ghost town” of shops and cafes greeted us.

Just before the parking lot, a mini “ghost town” of shops and cafes greeted us.

When we finally arrived, I looked up and felt a little overwhelmed. We were about to climb to the top!

Pinnacle Peak Park

As we started, I noticed how really well cared for the trail was. The dirt was smooth and very runner-friendly. I assumed it was a popular running trail when I saw this sign:

Pinnacle Peak Park

So we ran off and on in the beginning of the hike:

Pinnacle Peak Park

I can't believe I got a photo of BOTH of my aunt's feet OFF the ground!

I can’t believe I got a photo of BOTH of my aunt’s feet OFF the ground!

As we climbed, we were treated to stunning views of the valley…

View from Pinnacle Peak

View from Pinnacle Peak

…and the trail became less runnable (for me) …

Pinnacle Peak Park

…although there was one girl who passed us THREE times running at full speed. She was my hero that day.

Once we reached the summit…

Pinnacle Peak

…we headed back down on the other side of the mountain. It was longer and more challenging with more steps and turns.

We reached the end of the trail in a little under an hour. Not bad considering we took our time and stopped for water/shade breaks and photo ops along the way.

The end of Pinnacle Peak trail

Now that I knew what the entire trail was like, I wasn’t looking forward to heading back and doing it all over again. But the views and foliage were stunning and worth it!

A cactus garden!

A cactus garden!

By now it was later in the day and the sun was out in full force. I could feel the rays beating down on me. We took a lot more water breaks and this time, celebrated when we reached the summit again!

We finished the 3.57-mile hike in 1 hr and 49 min. I wore my Garmin so I could see what the elevation was like and to get a snapshot of the trail

Garmin map of Pinnacle Peak Park hike

Garmin map of Pinnacle Peak Park hike

Garmin data of Pinnacle Peak Park elevation

Garmin data of Pinnacle Peak Park elevation

I was so glad we picked this hike. It is a very doable hike for just about anyone. The trail is well cared for, and populated enough where I never felt isolated. There is also an office at the start of the trailhead with restrooms and water fountains. I plan on hiking this again on future visits!

So now that I’m into hiking (it’s such a great cross-training activity!), any favorite hikes to recommend?

20-min At-Home TRX Workout

Trainer Dave is out of town this week so I’ve had to find alternatives for my strength training workouts. I could have signed up for another TRX Boot camp class, but I only have 5 classes left from my Groupon and I want to stretch them out as much as possible (one per week).

So I decided to be a little brave and put together my own workout that I could do at home on my lunch break:

20-min TRX At-Home Workout

20-min TRX At-Home Workout

* Denotes that the TRX was mid-length; at full extension for all other TRX exercises.

Including the 1-min rest break it’s exactly 20-minutes long. With additional time to move between each exercise it took a total of 50-minutes.

Here’s a quick rundown of the exercises that may need further explanation:

+ TRX I-Lunges: Lunge with arms overhead
+ TRX T-Lunges: Lunge with arms extended in T-formation
+ TRX Single Arm Swings: Like a golf swing but one arm at a time
+ TRX Opposite Arm Lunges: Lunge with opposite arm of lunged leg extended
+ Rocking Chair: Lying on your back, extend legs at 45-degree angle with toes pointed, extend arms keeping them behind ears, then rock back/ forth
+ Walkouts: from standing position, walk out to push-up position, do a push-up then push back to standing position


I went through all three sections and was dripping in sweat by the end. I was already tired too but pushed myself to finish a second round. I am definitely going to be feeling this one tomorrow.

Any other at-home strength training workouts to share that I can add to my collection?