By Eney Jones
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, …” Charles Dickens A tale of two cities or today in Quarantine 2020
These are stressful and uncertain times. Races are cancelled, pools are closed and sheltering in place makes you realize the strength you had in your squad. All that you had is gone. How do we stay fit, but more importantly how do we stay sane?
With the online quarantine workouts, we can build muscle strength and with the yearning of not having, we can build a strong internal hunger for when we can race, train and perform again.
People think swimming is arms and legs, but it is core, core connection, all core and most importantly it is internal core (fortitude). Some great core online workouts have surfaced recently. Here is one by Caeleb Dresel’s strength coach Matt Delancy.
This is a time of rebooting, restarting and reassessing. It is a great time for dryland, planning and centering. My favorite core exercises are as follows:
Sit-ups knees bent, hands behind neck, chest open and lifted, look up, lift up.
Leg ups with hands under lower back, lift legs up, if you have a family member there, have them push down on feet after the legs rise, increase speed with reps
(This is core too- don’t forget)
- Chest lift – Lie on stomach hands behind head open chest and lift up
- Leg lifts- Lie on stomach palms face down- face down- lift both legs up together
- Swimming pilates- Lie on stomach – flutter arms and legs- engage back
- Starfish sit ups- lie on your back In Leonardo Da Vinci pose have the right hand touch the left foot and then the left hand touch he right foot
- Cross cables – stand up- cables in both hands – straight arms forward to touch center and then open chest and lift one arm up the other down
- Advanced cables- stand up- place one cable in right hand the other end of the cable around the left foot- stretch forward and back. Reverse footing and repeat.
- Wheelbarrow- Have a friend grab your ankles- bend elbows- turn palms slightly inward- crawl
- If you are crafty and have been in one of the Reese brothers training programs ( Eddie Reese at theUniversity of Texas or Randy Reese at the University of Florida) Take a two by four- use a steel rod- place wheels facing forward at the ends- place under knees- use duct tape or bike gloves- find a hill and crawl. Swimming after this just hurts. Wheels. Ugh.
This is the MOST important. While I am not a fan of Navy Seals swimming techniques for speed, alacrity and body position; what they teach to reduce stress is privital to keep the stressors away and your mental fears at bay. It takes 5 minutes and can be done anywhere at any time. It is all through the breath.
Lie down or sit down. Take your heart rate before you start. Visualize a circle. Close your eyes Follow these 5 steps:
- Inhale for 4 counts watch the circle grow
- Hold in lungs for 4 counts, circle is still big
- Exhale for 4 counts, let the circle gets smaller
- Hold and relax with no air in your lungs- The circle is gone. (This is the hardest for me to do- relax into nothingness and know you are okay with nothing
- Repeat all steps for 5 minutes
Take your heart rate upon completion and notice the change in your brainwaves, thoughts, and demeanor. Are you more focused and relaxed?
Other great breathing advice is given here in a podcast by Brenton Ford.
The last way to increase internal core power is through kindness and compassion. Both can help protect you in adversity. In the following study, researchers found that people who had been through traumatic life situations had a shorter life span EXCEPT a group that engaged in helping others.
Helping someone else actually helps you.
Becoming calm isn’t about avoiding every kind of stressful situation or intense emotion. But there is strength and clarity in composure, especially when training and racing. When we make time to breathe slowly, connect with others, and care for ourselves, negative feelings might arise, but don’t attach any emotion to them, let them float by. Resilience doesn’t mean that we’ll be happy all the time, but it does mean we have the energy, the mindset, and the support from others and ourselves to help us weather the storm. Stay strong. Stay healthy. I hope you find the calm in the midst of the storm.
About Eney Jones
Eney Jones has achieved remarkably diverse success as a leading pool, open water and Ironman triathlon swimmer.
- Masters National Champion 100-200-400-500-1500-1650 5k freestyle 2009
- Open Water 5k Champion Perth Australia, May 2008.
- National Masters Champion 200-400-1500 freestyle Champion, Portland Oregon, August, 2008.
- Overall Champion Aumakua 2.4k Maui Hawaii, September 2008
- Waikiki Rough Water Swim 3rd place 2006, second place Overall 2009, 3rd place 2012
- European Record Holder and Masters Swimming Champion, 2005. Records included 200, 400, 800, 1500 m freestyle
- Over twenty time finalist in U.S. Swimming Nationals, including Olympic Trials 1980
- Gold medal NCAA 800 yd freestyle relay 1979, silver Medalist 200 yd freestyle 1979. United States National Team 1979-1980.
- Professional Triathlete 1983-1991. First woman out of the water in every Hawaiian Ironman participated (6).