Different ways to get fit in the swimming pool

I have been enthusiastic about becoming a better swimmer for 3-4 years now and I’m gonna let you in a bit on what I’ve done since going from a person who could not swim even 25m of the free stroke to someone who can swim that style for an hour without breaks. I’ve partnered up with the swimming brand Speedo, therefor all the items visible in this post are from their newest collection.

Swimming is an awesome way to get fit and my favorite factor about it is that it really is for everyone. Every condition, every size, every “limitation” – the pool is for everyone. The buoyancy of the water (what a beautiful word) is really easy on the joints and therefor it’s a great way to work up the cardio with a very small risk of straining anything.

Personally, I like to be in water once a week. I have often different purposes for my sessions. They differ from hard conditioning workouts to recovery-focused sessions. It’s fun to do a CrossFit workout where you do for example 5 rounds of 50m swimming, 15 push-ups and 20 air squats. I’m definitely gonna do these on my upcoming vacations this year. I’ll post them on instagram for sure.

Below are some ways how you can benefit from your nearest swimming hall.

Different ways of getting fit in the swimming pool

Hard sessions – Free stroke practice, using different equipments. I suggest hiring a swimming coach for at least a few sessions if you need help with your technique. That’s what I did and it helped a lot. I could barely swim 25m of the free stroke when I first started and about a year later I swam with that technique for an hour straight. I started with small goals by aiming to lengthen the distance by 25-100m every time. The main thing for me was to stay very relaxed and kick a bit less with my feet. The breathing part is often the hardest thing to get right, that’s why it’s important to not rush anything.

Medium sessions – It’s fun to mix up different techniques. It’s important to remember to do low intensity workouts, especially if you do a lot of hardcore sessions. I like to do a mix of the breast stroke and the free stroke for an easier session. A heart rate monitor helps me check that I don’t spike my heart rate up too much.

Easy sessions – Water running is great form of relaxed cardio and it’s perfect if you want to take it easy and just chat away with your friend.

Recovery – In almost every swimming hall you can find an ice-cold pool and a sauna. It’s a great way to level up your recovery game by alternating between the ice-cold pool and warm/hot water or a sauna. I like to do this on my rest days and I usually spend 2 minutes in the ice bath and about 5 minutes in the sauna, for 3 rounds in total. I’m lucky to have this opportunity at my gym as well.

I have some thoughts about attending a mini triathlon in summer 2019, so swimming practice will continue on my part. I’ll keep you posted about how I train for it if that’s of interest! Good luck with your swimming sessions!

x Steffi

 

The post was made in collaboration with Speedo.

My recovery methods after a phase of overtraining

It’s hard to say when exactly training became more tearing than constructive since I was physically doing progress until the very last moment until I “crashed”. A lot of success was made during the few years of hard training but it wasn’t something for the long run, since the whole balance was quite off. As things are starting to get better now though, I feel more gratitude towards this phase than regret. It was the best way I knew at that time. And I learned a lot! I have been working on getting back from a phase of overtraining for a year now. For 8-9 months was I unable to do any training harder than basic conditioning and even that felt often too hard. I have now, for about 3 months, been able to add volume again.

The turning point happened thanks to my current coach that I knew from years back. I contacted him with the idea to ask him help me develop the right training program for me and to get some support. In a few weeks he could see that I was seriously overtrained. Constant fatigue, poor appetite and stomach issues were only a few things that were causing problems. My coach was not the one to tell me what I should exactly do to fix this overtraining, he was the one to tell me to figure it out on my own. I believe a professional understands that he/she can not teach you anything, they can only teach you to go within. And that’s what I did.

Now I’m very happy to be on a good road to recovery after these important lessons. It has been one tiny step at the time and finding out what makes me feel better. It has been a bumpy road, but once I got the taste of what a great, fresh and recovered body and mind felt like, it became a bit easier to keep chasing it. The moments of despair happened when it felt like nothing was helping. I think I became a bit more spiritual than before during those times.

The idea of this post is to let you in on some of the methods that helped me deal with my overtraining. Everyone’s story is different but I hope you get an idea of how you could recover better if you’re going through a similar situation!

Sleep – If there’s something I have big respect for, it’s sleep. If the sleep is shallow or if there’s not enough of it you can definitely feel it the next day. I have noticed though, that a lot of people get used to living a sleep deprived life. I went to a well known sports doctor called Pippa Laukka and she helped me with this. With the help of a sleep monitor called Beddit I became an expert in tracking my sleep quality, length, movement, snoring, time when I fell asleep and more.

Sports massage – I partnered up with Helsingin Urheiluhieronta to get body work done almost on a weekly basis. The feeling afterwards is always rewarding. It feels great when your stiff muscles have been massaged open, often with some intense pressure. I feel like the blood flow is on another level and I feel often lighter and recovered. At Helsingin Urheiluhieronta I have been introduced to all kinds of new modern methods, such as scraping tools and percussive therapy. This place has the easiest booking system online and usually available times even on the same day. I highly suggest booking an appointment from here. They have seven different offices in Helsinki.

Yoga – Yoga has been something I’ve enjoyed my whole adult life. It has worked as a balance to the intensive and heavy exercising I like to do. My friend and yoga teacher Elisa Kuuttila has a yoga studio in Kallio called Pranama and asked me to come and try out her new found practice, Katonah Yoga, that she’d been studying for some time. We did a private class and it was much more than I expected. It wasn’t like a normal yoga session. I was ready to open up and trust her methods and they have worked wonders. Katonah yoga is a mix of yoga, chinese medicine, Taoism, body alignment and psychology, to name a few. I think it’s really well described to say that the aim is to shift out of “autopilot” and to become more like yourself. The idea is not necessarily to talk at all. Elisa uses body movements to straigthen the person she works on, which has a direct effect on the mental balance. I have scoliosis, which means that my back is a bit crooked. It results in having my left side of my lower back blow up from certain movements which has (at least not yet) become painful but is of course quite uncomfortable. You can check out a speeded video of our practice here.

Low impact movement – Something I have done pretty much every day for a year. The most common low impact movement is walking and preferably close to nature. I listen to music, podcasts, e-books or just the sound of nature, whatever feels good for the moment. Such a simple thing to do, yet very calming. I also enjoy stopping and sitting down whenever I feel like it, kind of like letting things have their own flow and not planning anything ahead. Learning to stop for a moment. During summer I also spent quite a lot of time in the ocean.

Mental work – The things I’ve already mentioned above are already very important for the mind but I have other “tools” too. I started going to therapy once a week since my mother passed away over a year ago. It has been important for me to face sadness, fears, anxiety and all other difficult emotions. The perfect time is now, since I want to live a life that is authentic to myself and simply enjoyable. These things are not scary when you start seeing how good you feel after you take courage to work on them. I would like to continue working with my therapist on a weekly basis, but she has lately been trying to tell me that I don’t need to book an appointment every week. A good sign, I guess, haha!  A wrote an instagram post about this, you can check it out here. My therapist has also became a bit of my “mental coach” when it comes to competing and we do visualization and similar practices.

Life outside the gym – Giving a bigger meaning to stuff that is not related to sports has become important. For a few years I imagined that being in sports mode 24/7 equaled being dedicated, passionate, focused and a hard worker. I guess that’s the ideology I was drawn to because it felt like the best way at that time. It did work for me in certain ways, for a couple of years, until it didn’t anymore. Now that I understand better who I am – a social, happy and determined person, I understand that that is how my training and competing also should look like. I definitely tried to be something different than who I was by taking things too seriously and letting my performance get mixed up with my identity. The Unbroken8000 -competition proved me that I am on the right road to fulfill my potential in this sport in my own personal way.

Books and e-books – Joe Kabat-Zinn – Olet jo perillä (Wherever you go, there you are), Anders Ericsson&Robert Pool – Peak, Eckhart Tolle – The power of now, Anthony de Mello – Awakening, Byron Katie – A thousand names for joy (and her youtube videos), Anthony Meindl – At left brain turn right, Gay Hendricks – The big leap, Joe Dispenza – Breaking the habit of being yourself. I read every day and it’s a huge part of my mental well-being.

Nutrition – When it comes to nutrition I aim to become intuitive as much as possible. I contacted a professional about this and got what some would call a “kick-start” to become better at it by counting calories and drinking more water. Poor appetite has been an issue but it’s getting better all the time. When my appetite is poor and I don’t get to eat close to the 3000cal that I’m supposed to, I accept the fact that I can’t train with that deficit so I train less. Between the before/after pics is 3,5 months and during that time I started being able to train again with a body that is healthy and works.

I still want to say and hope that everyone understands that the phases you’ve put yourself through has for one reason or another been the best way for you at that moment so any kind of beating yourself up for past mistakes makes absolutely no sense, so don’t waste time on that road!

Have a great week!

x Steffi

 

Post partly in collaboration with Helsingin Urheiluhieronta

Tired all the time? What consumes you?

It’s really difficult to make a change in your life when you’re tired. if you’re tired, I suggest you stop beating yourself up for being “lazy” or having “no discipline” from this moment on. Take a new approach instead.

I work as an online coach for clients in the Herotreeni team. A while ago I saw a post in our private FB-group of a client talking about having motivation struggles to eat the right kinds of foods and to get herself to the gym. I think we can all relate to having those feelings during certain times. In addition to this she opened up why it’s been hard and her reason was very simple – she was tired. She didn’t say why she was tired but it was very obvious that because of the constant fatigue, she didn’t find the energy to change her habits into healthier ones.

This is a very interesting subject for me, so I decided to make a blog post about it.

Pic: Jere Hietala

Unfortunately, many people are tired often. Maybe they haven’t slept enough, something is consuming them or they are just overwhelmed by many things.

Many people realize they’re tired only when they take a break from what they’re doing. That might actually be a bit scary. The result might be that they keep filling up their time with events, even unnecessary events, to keep them busy from experiencing exhaustion and facing the facts. Few people actually do something about this constant fatigue as if it would be normal to be tired all the time, but it is not! There are many things you can do to start feeling better.

Being energized is the starting point for making any changes in your life!

I would like to share some of my thoughts of how to understand that your body is trying to communicate with you with the fatigue signs, instead of thinking falsely about why you are “lazy”, of not being “disciplined” enough or some other nonsense like that.

1. Take a day off

You don’t have to clear out your whole schedule (and few of us have to opportunity to do that anyway) but try to arrange at least one full day of doing absolutely nothing for one day. Don’t decide anything in advance for that day, take the day as it comes. When the day is there, first of all, sleep as long as you want to. If it’s the whole day, so be it, then you really needed it. Then continue doing only what you feel like doing, not what you think you should be doing. If you feel like going for a walk, do that. If that’s too much, then don’t. Just do what you want to do – watch TV, read, do some stretching. You don’t have to tell anyone about this, it’s your day.

I listed some examples of what you could do during your day off below, but don’t feel obligated to do one of these, if they don’t meet your way of becoming energized.

  • Meditation, yoga, stretching
  • Reading a book, listening to music
  • Being by yourself in silence
  • Being with somebody you like
  • Being close to nature – walk in the woods, swim in the ocean, lay down on the grass
  • Taking a nap
  • Watching a movie, playing a game

The only “rule” is that it should energize you. If it doesn’t, keep searching for what is your thing. Then, when you have gained some energy, do some thinking work as prescribed below.

2. What consumes you?

It’s important to create some room for the fatigue. Don’t fight against it, try to welcome the feelings with open arms for a brief moment. Then ask yourself – Why am I tired? There is always a reason for that. Let the thoughts come, write them down if you want to. What has made you tired for some time now? Is it something physical? Are you running around from one place to another every day, while possibly being stressed? Is it psychological? Do you have a lot of things on your mind and you feel overwhelmed by all of that? Are you worried, anxious, scared or have other strong emotions that need to be expressed? Be brave to have all the feelings that rise up in your mind. Do you have certain circumstances in your life that consumes you? Are you spending time with people who don’t have your best interest at heart? Usually the things that consumes us are both physical and psychological.

Think about these, but don’t pressure yourself just yet to immediately do any changes. Just let the subjects come to your awareness, to the “surface”. Again, write stuff down if you feel like it or talk them out loud by yourself or to someone you trust. Then understand that this might be a long process and you probably won’t find all the answers in a day. Just open yourself up to this kind of thinking and you will start understanding what changes you should be doing to feel better. After all, things are not really as complicated as we like to make them in our mind.

3. Sleep & Nutrition

These are the two things we can’t live without. Also they are the main sources of our energy. Let’s start with sleeping. During sleep your body restores itself so it can function properly the next day. You should wake up energized and well rested. If you don’t, what about investing in your sleep? Change your sleeping habits to earlier, close electronics before 20.00, don’t drink caffeine before going to bed, make sure your bedroom is pleasant – clean and not too hot or cold. When you wake up without an alarm clock and you feel well rested, you know that the quality of your sleep has been good. If you wake up to an annoying alarm, grumpy and tired, then you probably didn’t get the rest you needed.

We can find a lot of knowledge about nutrition. Still so many people get the basics wrong. Going back to the basics with nutrition can be a big help. Drink some water first thing when you wake up and throughout the day, eat regularly and try to add veggies to every meal. Make time for eating instead of rushing around – your body needs some time to digest the food properly. Have a look that your meals contain carbohydrates, protein and good fats. Ditch the heavily processes stuff and look more into herbs, fruits and spices. Start investing in your nutrition and start studying how you react to certain foods. Make sure you’re not undereating or overeating. Respect yourself by giving your body the best fuel possible. You need to learn what’s best for you and there is no shortcut to that. You are the best person to know what you need so start trusting yourself. Also, understand that some of these changes might happen slowly. Seek out some nutritional guidance if you need it.

Now that you have approached things this honest way instead of beating yourself down, you will at some point naturally feel the desire to start moving around more, you WANT to give your body that big glass of lemon water first thing in the morning because you know it will make you feel better and so on. For some this is fixed in one day, but for most of us it takes longer to get into a better place and gaining more energy. Start giving yourself some time off whenever you can. Time off means different for everyone but it means you are clearing your mind to create space for figuring out how you can actually do something about your well being. How could we change something if we don’t even know why we’re feeling a certain way? Starting to listen to YOUR body is key.

Start with small changes and soon you will be in a very positive spiral. Be brave about trying new things in order to find your way back to energy and NEVER beat yourself up for doing “mistakes”!

 

x Steffi

Training at Santasport – My first VLOG!

Hi there! I’m pretty excited about my first video blog that I’ve created. I spent 4 days in Rovaniemi to focus on training, eating and sleeping. My goal for the trip definitely worked, I got an energy boost and my recovery is on the right path. I could definitely feel these sessions in my body later though, so I took many days off to give myself some rest. Hopefully I can return to a normal training schedule within a month! That would mean that I’d also be able to plan my next competition.

Check the video for more thoughts, for training and some talk with the awesome olympian Anni Vuohijoki.

 

x Steffi

Videohaastattelu @ Alfaland

Moikka! Ajattelin jakaa tännekin videohaastattelun, jonka Arttu teki Alfaland-sivustolle ja Alona julkaisi Poseland -sivulla. Kiitos ensinnäkin mukavasta haastattelusta (ja otsikosta :D)! Video kertoo kaiken, joten suosittelen vaikka hyppäämään sisäpyörän selkään ja polkemaan rauhallisen 70min mittaisen treenin samalla kun kuuntelette tämän. Toivon mukaan saatte vähän suuntaa omiin harjoituksiin ja ehkä uusia ideoita miten tehdä, kun asiat eivät tunnu hyvältä. Vaikeuksista puhuminen on nimittäin melko isossa roolissa!

Haastiksessa puhutaan bloggamisesta, kehonkuvasta, ruoasta, kilpailemisesta, treeneistä, haasteista, virheistä, palautumisesta ja paljon muusta! 🙂

 

x Steffi