When A Tool Becomes A Crutch And Overcoming Pull Boy Addiction In The Pool


Photo of shop window in Ashville

I took this photo of a display in a shop window in Asheville, NC, USA, the bloggers paradise.

Hi folks,

It is clear that ideal posture is one of the key aspects of dance. It frees you up to move as you wish, with grace and ease. I’m taking lessons from a skilled dance and Continuum teacher, Rebecca, and I am making progress, though when it comes to grace and ease I have a way to go. It turns out that the development of a healthy posture is quite a challenge, and one aspect of this involves engaging your core, which seems to start with a slight medial (towards the midline) tension between your legs. This is achieved by holding a small ball or block of rubber between your knees as you go through posture exercises, some of which are carried out whilst balancing on a roller.

FitOldDog swimming with a pull boy

Here I am using my drug of choice in the water, a pull boy. Time to break the habit. Click to see blog post with video clips of FitOldDog swimming with and without pull boy.

I was in the pool the other day, wondering why I was so addicted to the pull boy, and suddenly I put two and two together. It wasn’t the buoyancy of the pull boy that was improving my time, it was the tension needed to hold it there – the pull boy was improving my posture in the water. One look at the videos of my swimming with and without the pull boy demonstrated this clearly. So I set out to test this idea. I did repeat sets of 100 yards, with a decent rest interval, alternating pull boy with no pull boy. But when I wasn’t using the pull boy I worked hard to imagine I was using the pull boy – just read Jack Heggie’s great little book on ‘Running With The Whole Body‘ if you want to understand why I did this (power of the mind). I knew that I needed to wean myself off of the pull boy whilst still holding my ‘pull boy pace.’ Here are my times for three key sets during the one-hour exercise of pull boy versus imagined pull boy.

First set of 100 yards: Pull boy 1:30, imagined pull boy 1:41 (bad!!!).

Fourth set of 100 yards: Pull boy 1:31, imagined pull boy 135 (better).

Final set of 100 yards: Pull boy 1:30, imagined pull boy 1:27 (YES!!!!)

Running with the Whole Body book by Jack Heggie

A great little Feldenkrais-based book on running by Jack Heggie, which shows the power of the mind over body function.

Now I know that it really is time to wean myself off of the thing. A training tool became a crutch, but it felt so GOOD! Similar logic can be applied to running shoes and orthotics, headphones, power meters, and so forth. Those are the breaks as you work to develop a program of safe exercise for better health and qualify for the Hawaii Ironman. Why is that important you may ask? Well, if my qualifying race is wet suit legal, pull boy training is great. If it is not wet suit legal, I had better be able to make my best time without the buoyancy of a suit, which feels like swimming with a pull boy. It really comes down to maintaining a perfect position in the water – basically, it is all about posture and balance.

There is not end to new tricks one can learn as an old dog in training.

-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.