Sunny weather is here and people are out in force, which can only mean one thing: it’s time to quit and go freediving! In the (brief) breaks between various attacks of colds, flus and sinus infections, I have been making attempts at getting myself in shape for this over last couple of months. Since I am following advice from my favorite evil doctor, who is definitely up there with evil coach, this has been a predictably painful experience.
Before I made his acquaintance, I used to really enjoy lovely long runs or cycles. This has ALL been cancelled. Of course, a self respecting evil sports doctor would not be worth his money if he did not replace something (nice, preferably) he cancels with something else, which had best be something the athlete is not going to enjoy, meaning that I am allowed ZERO aerobic training. Instead, I have been given the very un-lovely target of doing anaerobic training ONLY henceforth. This means: intervals. And then some intervals, and after that, some sprints. Continue as desired. Add to this a heavy dose of strength work and you have effectively removed all nice things from exercise. Except the results, that is! This has been highly effective for me last year, leaving me stronger and fitter than ever in the water during the world championships.
This year, I have added a thing called crossfit to shake things up. After my first workout lasted six minutes and left me unable to walk for five days, I knew I had hit on something evil doctor was going to approve of! Apart from being fun (in a weird, painful kind of way) it’s is an incredibly varied way to train a high level of anaerobic strength, making it perfect for a freediver who wants to push maximum heart rate as much as possible.
Feeling brave in a flu-free moment (of madness), I announced to evil doctor that I was ready for the horrible fitness test where they put a nasty mask on your face and make you cycle uphill until you’re ready to have a heart attack, while they look calmly on and leave you to wonder whether you might just be the unfittest excuse for an athlete they ever had through the door. Of course, as soon as I made the appointment I succumbed to the next killer virus, an excuse evil doctor did not consider impressive in the slightest. At my offer to think of something more creative, he just raised his eyebrow – clearly, none of it was going to do me any good.
As I was slogging away on the impressively uncomfortable bike (honestly, the seat is so big, you keep banging your thighs into it when you try to pedal hard and if my bottom ever fits onto that thing properly I will go into hiding until I have lost 35kg!), he started making his favorite …“very good”… “excellent”… noises, that I still view with maximum suspicion. After all, he can hardly say: “you’re a bit rubbish today, aren’t you” or: “that’s it???”. One day I will make him do a static and tell him how well he is doing at 34sec. And then I will give him some CO2 tables as homework, and then we will be even!
In any case, sad excuse for an athlete or not, the result turns out to be just what we wanted: a marked improvement in muscle that is working perfectly in anaerobic mode, thus not stealing my oxygen but making me stronger during the dive.
Crossfit, here we go! I am having visions of wall balls and burpees in my future…oh no…