Category Archives: Swimming

Swimming & Soya Bean Curd

Yesterday was a swim day for me.  [Look, I know you’re a runner, and you might even think swimming is phooey, but don’t click away just yet!  Stick around, and maybe I can change your mind?  Or at least make you laugh?  And besides, there will be *plenty* of running talk here.]

My running mileage is still greatly reduced (although it’s moving in the right direction), so swimming is a great way for me to stay in shape and burn some of my extra exercise-energy.  Why do I swim?

1. I love to swim. I was a swimmer long before I was a runner.  In fact, according to legend in my house, I was a swimmer before I was a walker.  This shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s seen me navigate a doorway. Man, if I could swim through that sucker, I’d be golden.

2. I can do it outdoors, in Singapore, without losing gallons of sweat.  Maybe a few quarts, but certainly not gallons.  In fact, the rooftop pool at our gym is the one place in Singapore where I can get goosebumps.  Plus, rooftop pool?  Heck yes!

The awesome goggle lines are just a bonus!

The awesome goggle lines are just a bonus!

3. Swimming exhausts every muscle in my body.  I certainly experience “hard workout hurt” during some fast intervals, but when I’m done,  I don’t feel achy, old, or creaky – I just feel tired.  And since swimming works both my upper- and lower-body, I feel tired everywhere.  After a hard swim, I can be sitting (or lying) perfectly still, and my muscles feel heavy, spent, and just totally drained.  I’ve never achieved such a perfect “nothing hurts but every single muscle is just utterly exhausted” feeling doing any other activity.

4. Swimming reminds me that breathing while running should be no big deal.

5. Swimming makes me very, very hungry.  At the end of a long run, particularly in the heat, my conversation with KMN goes something like this:

KMN (chomping down on a big ‘ole burger and french fries): “Oh, man.  This is SO GOOD.  What could possibly taste better than this after a long, hard run??”
Me (stepping back from burger-smell): “Erm…Two sips of chocolate milk and 300 slices of cold watermelon?  ‘Cause that’s all that sounds good right about now.”

But I can eat pretty much anything the minute I get out of the water, even after the hardest of swims.  In fact, this was yesterday’s workout:

500 warm-up
500 freestyle drill
1000 swim
1000 mixed IMs (4×100, 3×200)
500 easy

A decent workout for me, these days, but not show-stoppingly difficult.  Still, after a quick shower (Another bonus! Who needs a long shower when you spent over an hour steeping in chlorinated water?), I decided that I needed a snack to fortify myself for the trip home.  Hey, 25 minutes is a long way!!!!

Mr. Bean sign and bean curd

Folks, this is soya bean curd. Bean curd is like pudding made from soybeans, served in a light, slightly sweet syrup. I love the stuff. Mr. Bean is one of several chains that sells soybean products (bean curd, soymilk, etc).  I’m a bit of a bean curd connoisseur, and as far as chains go, Mr. Bean wins.

Bonus points for this particular Mr. Bean, because it’s located between my gym and the MRT station.  I swear to you, it calls my name after every workout.  Plus, their soya beans are getting ready for Chinese New Year:

Soybean cut-outs in little red outfits at Mr. Bean

“Ah! So cute one!” <—Some Singlish for your Thursday

And with that, I felt sufficiently fueled to head back home, where I proceeded to devour a whole bunch of leftovers.  Chomp!

What workout makes you super hungry?

Ever seen a soybean dressed up for Chinese New Year before?

Lessons Learned at the Gym

I wasn’t much of a gym-goer until we moved to Singapore.  Now, I’m a card carrying Fitness First member who, as KMN says, “is really getting our money’s worth” out of our membership.

Over my first two months of membership, one of the things I’ve noticed is that the gym can be an amazingly educational place.  It’s crazy what you can learn while building your aerobic capacity and/or toning your abs!  This appeals to the stingy side of me, because I feel like I’m squeezing just a little extra out of my membership fee.

Delicious Pre-Workout Fuel

Pre-Workout Fuel

Let’s take yesterday, for example.  I didn’t get out for my run during the cool of the morning, so I decided to hit up the gym in the evening.  I grabbed some pre-workout fuel – a thick slice of homemade cinnamon raisin bread topped with peanut butter & jelly – and ate it on my way to the MRT (subway) station.  I think I got a few funny looks, chowing down on an enormous piece of bread as I hurried down the sidewalk.  I don’t care.  My name is Holly, sometimes I eat on the go, and this little snack was completely delicious.


My IT band was feeling a bit tight, so I started off by spending a little quality time with the foam roller:

Holly on the foam roller

Keeping that right IT band happy…

That thing is absolutely amazing. It’s my new BFF, which is convenient, since I’m still a bit low in the local friends department at the moment.  We’ve been spending plenty of quality time together lately (perhaps explaining my lack of other friends?).  But my IT band feels brand new when we’re done hanging out, which makes the whole thing worthwhile.

Serious, brow-furrowed face

Repeat after me: I love this, I love this, I love this…

Pained smiling face

Smile, dangit! You love this!

So after some rolling, I hopped onto the treadmill for a short (~30 min run).  And the learning commenced:

Lesson #1:  Apparently, I was giving off bad vibes last night.  I ran for ~30 minutes, and during that time, no fewer than three people (3!) took up residence on the treadmill next to me, ran a (tiny) bit, stopped, and left.  I swear that my shirt was clean, I wasn’t wearing perfume, my breathing was under control, I didn’t have gas… (in short, I was obeying SUAR’s 6 Treadmill Rules).  Still, no one stuck around.  But hey, if any locals are looking for a treadmill running buddy, the space next to me is usually open!

Lesson #2: The TV show “The Million Pound Drop” has nothing to do with a weight-loss competition.  When the title and intro popped up on one of the TVs at the gym, I silently complimented the channel-chooser for selecting a motivational fitness show (my brain hadn’t yet touched on the thought that a million pounds is a LOT of weight to lose).  Then, I realized the show was British, and the word pound took on an entirely different meaning.

In case you’re wondering, MPD is actually a gameshow where trivia and gambling collide.  Contestants start with $1,000,000 pounds (literally, in bound notes), then are asked a multiple choice question.  They have one minute to physically divide the money onto spaces representing each of the choices, depending on how sure they are of the correct answer.  They get to keep whatever money they “bet” on the correct answer, and move on to the next round.  There are 8 rounds, and I suppose they keep whatever is left at the end, but I’m not sure – I didn’t watch that far. The show much be a minefield for social psychologists.

Lesson #3: Don’t bother taking photos to document your workout while you are actually running on the treadmill.  It’s a waste of time, you look like a weirdo, and the photos look like this:

Very blurry picture of Holly

Best picture you’ve seen so far, right? Are you feeling a bit motion sick yet??

After my run, I plunked down for a quick stretch.

Lesson #4:  You can learn about basic surgical procedures.  The gentleman beside me was chatting on his cell phone, rather loudly.  “Do you know what a episiotomy is?  Well, it’s when….”  I quickly decided that I’d stretched quite enough, and I booked it out of there.  Because honestly?  I’m not queasy about most of biology – but there are some things that hurt just to hear.  [So I guess I didn’t learn anything, exactly.  But if I didn’t know what an episiotomy was, I would have learned.]

I finished off my gym session with 1,000 meters in the pool – an easy, stretching swim.

Lesson #5: I found the one outside place where I can get goosebumps in Singapore!  I was still sweating from my run when I changed into my swimsuit and climbed the stairs to the rooftop pool.  I try to obey the “shower before swim” request, especially when I’m already sweaty from a workout.  And after a quick rinse in the outdoor shower, standing on the breezy swim deck at sunset, I broke out in goosebumps (!!!).  That alone is almost reason enough for gym membership.  I found outdoor goosebumps in Singapore.

My swim was glorious: smooth, easy, relaxed – just me (and a few fellow swimmers), buoyed by the water, flowing through a few slow, steady, stretching laps under the darkening sky.  I left the gym feeling quiet and peaceful.  I always feel good after a workout, but usually in a pumped-up and excited sort of way.  But the dark and quiet swim left me feeling contemplative and calm.

Since everyone else was out for the evening (KMN at work, our guests enjoying shrimp noodles and the sunset by the water), I nurtured my feeling of quiet contentment with a go-to comfort meal:

I love 'two bowl meals', and this is one of my favorites: Salad & Pastina!

I love ‘two bowl meals’, and this is one of my favorites: Salad & Pastina!

Our friends came back, and we talked about their day’s adventures, while munching on some local fruits (yum!). What a delightful end to the day!!

Learned anything interesting at the gym lately?

Anyone else loving on two-bowl-dinners?