DENVILLE, New Jersey, February 23. IN the fourth submission in her "A Day in the Life" series on SwimmingWorldMagazine.com, New Jersey Masters swimmer Laura Smith writes about a difficult workout session as her shoulder injury flared up again. She also explains the importance of heart health while citing statistics from the American Heart Association.
Thursday, February 22, 2007, Day 4
Well, I have four days to go until my meet, and I'm none too happy. Unlike the outstanding collegians that have been "A Day in the Life" columnists, I am not really worried that negative updates will give anyone a competitive advantage over me or bulletin board material. I swam this morning, as my husband gave up his workout spot because he's fighting a cold, an aching knee, and has been putting in far too many hours at work.
Here was today's very short workout:
200 swim free / 200 kick with fins / 200 IM drill with fins. About :10 rest between each 200
4 x 50 breast – three kicks, 1 pull drill – with fins. :10 between each 50
4 x 50 descend, 25 kick no board, 25 swim free focus on perfect technique, with fins, on :45
200 free, swim moderate, focus on stroke count and technique
4 x 50 descend on 1:00, free
4 x 25 "breakouts" free on :30
200 free, swim moderate, technique
4 x 50 kick w/ fins, descend, on 1:00
4 x 25 "breakouts" stroke on :30
100 cool down
I was very optimistic yesterday about a lot of things – my body position in the water, my legs feeling strong, my rotation in my free. I am by nature a pretty optimistic person (can be crabby at times, but an "optimistic crab"), but today's very short, very easy workout was not a good one. The raging pain in my shoulder is back, and I felt it every stroke, each lap. I know this sounds very silly, but someone out there has to relate: if I didn't have a swim meet coming up, I'd go to the doctor. I never, ever go to the doctor other than my annual physical. I have to be a couple degrees warmer than dead to go to the doctor. (And message to the same people that wrote me about dinner the other night – yes, I am icing it, and yes, I am taking anti-inflammatories).
Speaking of going to the doctor, February is American Heart Month. At least 58 million Americans suffer some form of cardiovascular disease. About 2,500 people in the U.S. die from some sort of cardiovascular disease each day. Did you know that more women die from heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases than men? These diseases kill more women each year than the next five causes of death combined. Cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 12 times as many American females as breast cancer. Stroke kills 2.3 times as many American females as breast cancer. These statistics are from the American Heart Association's web site at www.americanheart.org.
While many of this column's "younger" readers might not worry about these statistics, I do. Today would have been my father's 79th birthday, but he passed away in 1987 from complications from unsuccessful bypass surgery. In a routine physical in college, my doctor discovered that I was the proud owner of a controllable heart condition. I have strokes and high blood pressure all over my family tree. Studies show that being physically fit lowers heart disease risk even in people who have other health problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
If you're reading this column, you're probably fit, but you probably know someone around you that isn't. Stop by the American Heart Association web site and learn about their very cool programs to help those that you love get on track to fitness, and coach them to heart health. I am often asked by age groupers why I still swim so much, and I often mention heart health. Swimming is a true "lifetime activity" – easy on the joints (my current shoulder excluded) and fun to do. While swimming doesn't guarantee perfect health for a lifetime, it is a wonderful component of a heart healthy lifestyle.
I miss my father every day of my life, and I wish that we all could have stopped the silent killer inside of him. Get to know the signs of heart distress (and never, ever ignore them), get annual exams, and keep swimming. It's truly all worth it, even when there are no medals to be won!