My Mr. Burns-esque Triceps

My Mr. Burns-esque Triceps

One of my greatest triathlon weaknesses (aside from running and biking, of course) is swimming. I don’t like swimming. I feel like my stamina in the water sucks, I drag my arm too much, my turnover is too slow, I’m either too hot or too cold, my wet suit is ghetto and ill-fitting, and I find swim training boring and craptacular. My disdain for swimming has reflected in my swim times: every race except for one has resulted in disappointment.

I want to improve a lot in 2009, and I figured that a huge area of opportunity would be improving my swim. I think I can shave anywhere from 5-15 minutes off my worst half Ironman swim time, depending on how much I train. So I cued up the training montage music and signed up for a dry land swim conditioning class that would help strengthen my body and improve my swim stroke, technique, and stamina.

Teresa teaches the swim conditioning class, and for good reason. She swam for the University of Nevada-Reno and is one fast mofo. My triathlon trainer is often the first female out of the water during races, and she was the fastest female swimmer in her age division at the Kona World Championships. She is pretty much twice as fast as me in the water. It’s depressing. I remember that for my first open water swim she gave me like a 5 minute head start before swimming after me, and she and I got to the buoy at the same time. Sigh.

Anyway, I signed up for an hour of interval bike training and then did the swim conditioning class immediately afterwards. I’m not that hungry in the mornings so all I had to eat before working out was 3/4 of a Kashi Go Lean bar and some water. By the end of my dual workout I was ready to devour a mid-size farm animal.

Betsy was my swim conditioning buddy that morning. We started by squatting down and chucking a huge weighted ball back and forth to each other, then we did about 40 triceps dips. After more ball passes and a second set of dips I was already feeling the dreaded jell-o arm effect…and we were only about 10 minutes into the workout. Oh God, I was in trouble.

Let me pause and show you roughly what my triceps look like:


I have the arm strength of a feeble cartoon octogenarian, and every exercise during this class was exploiting them with sadistic, unrelenting glee.

Teresa made me get on the Vasa trainer, where I repeatedly failed to properly pull my arms back in the “catch” position. My wimpy arms were quivering under the teeny amount of weight Teresa had given me. After I half-assed about 20 reps, I switched with Betsy and dejectedly watched her adjust the tension and hammer out a ton of swim strokes with perfect form. I wish I had Betsy’s triceps. But I don’t. I have Mr. Burns-esque triceps.

After 45 minutes of non-stop triceps abuse, I headed home to shower and get ready for work. I knew I’d be in trouble when I could already feel the soreness of my arms a couple hours after the class ended. Sure enough, the next day I felt like Ralphie’s brother from A Christmas Story, only instead of not being able to put my arms down, I couldn’t raise them more than halfway. I was rockin’ John McCain arms the entire weekend. Showering was hell, pulling my hair back was hell, rolling on deodorant was hell, changing shirts was hell. Jason quickly got tired of hearing my agonized shrieks whenever he’d try to hug, squeeze, or otherwise vaguely touch my arms and lats:

[Jason and I are laying on the couch watching TV. He adjusts his weight and brushes up against my arm.]

Me: “Aghhhhhhh, don’t do that!”
Jason: “What?”
Me: “You hit me!”
Jason: “I barely touched you!”
Me: “Well it hurt! Don’t do that!”
Jason: “You’ve got to be kidding me…”
Me: “Seriously, I am so sore…so, you’re coming to the class with me next week, right?”

You know how some people are like “I love feeling sore after a workout! It’s so satisfying!”? Well, I’m all for post-workout soreness but this was just obscene. Seriously. Friends don’t let friends get that sore. (I’m looking in your direction, Teresa.) Anyway, even though I got my ass kicked and my wimpy arms got bitch-slapped left and right, I’m determined to take the class every week to strengthen up and hopefully shave some minutes off my swim time. If nothing else then at least maybe I’ll be able to do a frickin’ pull up by the end of the season (wanna help me with that, T?).

4 Responses to “ “My Mr. Burns-esque Triceps”

  1. Teresa says:

    This was a great post. I could feel you pain, as I experienced it the first time I ever did this type of work. Pull ups, push ups, faster swims, you can do anything!!! Keep up the great work!

  2. i always use Swimming as may daily exercise, it is much better than jogging and running;.~

  3. Rebecca says:

    Still not a fan of swimming, Sam. I’d take a run or a bike ride over it any day.

  4. Eli Ally says:

    swimming is my favorite way of burning of those extra fats and calories,*.

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