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Active Expert: Gale Bernhardt

5 Posts tagged with the swimming tag

A few weeks back when I knew I needed my appendix removed, I asked the surgeon what to expect after the surgery and how long it would be before I could get back to doing normal workouts. In this blog, I outlined what might be expected for me.

Before Igive you details of what I did, I want you to understand this is no recommendation for anyone else. It is just the details of my recovery. I know there are plenty of people that take longer and probably some that take less time as well.

That written, all workouts below were aerobic. The early workouts were what I would call uncomfortable, nothing was painful. I expected some discomfort early in the game.

Surgery Day –The surgery went well and I was home a little over 3 hours after heading out to the hospital. I took ½ of a narcotic pain medication to bridge a gap until I could take ibuprofen. Obviously no workouts today.

Day 1 – Ibuprofen only, no narcotic meds. No workouts.

Day 2 –Ibuprofen, 30-minute walk.

Day 3 – Reduced levels of ibuprofen, 30-minute indoor trainer ride. (This felt fantastic and seemed to help removed some of the CO2 bubble below my diaphragm.)

Day 4 – No more ibuprofen from this day forward. Did a 40-minute indoor ride followed by 10 minutes on an elliptical trainer. The elliptical experience was enough to know I don’t want to run yet. (After this workout the CO2 bubble was gone. Hooray for getting the blood moving.)

Day 5 – Didn’t feel like an aerobic workout so did a 20-minute walk.

Day 6 – 45 minutes of indoor cycling followed by 3 sets of walking lunges and 3 set of squats (body weight only).

Day 7 – Very easy 90 minutes on the road bike. (Outside, yeah!)

Day 8 – 38 minutes of a run/walk combination. I felt better at the end of the session than at the beginning. It seemed that my abs needed to be stretched out a bit and get some blood moving into them  – which didn’t seem to be happening on the bike.

Day 9 – 75 minutes road bike.

Day 10 – 60-minute swim and 30-minute run later in the day.

Day 12 – Road bike to Estes Park, one way, for a total ride time of 2:40. (This is half the distance and a bit over half the time of what was “normal” for me on a weekly basis prior to the surgery. No, I don't ride to Estes each week, but similar distances and times.) I capped intensity at the top of Zone 2 on this ride and felt great the entire time. I had no issues whatsoever.

Day 13 – Had the post-surgery exam and everything looks great.

Additional items I did that may or may not have helped: I wore travel compression stockings through Day 3 since I wasn’t doing much moving. I consumed fresh pineapple (for the anti-inflammatory properties) through Day 10. I supplemented with Branch Chain Amino Acids and L-Glutamine through Day 10 (and four days preceding the surgery). Though no fun, I iced my belly Day 1. They did recommend ice on the day of surgery “if I feel like it” – I didn’t. I suspect this would have helped with healing the stretched out abdominal muscles even more, but…

I was sleeping around 10 hours per night the first five days and taking a nap each day. Sleep is critical to recovery. I will say I didn’t sleep “well” until Day 8. 

I’ll stay away from lifting any weights until after Day 14. When starting back to weights, I’ll keep it light. (The concern is getting a hernia.) There are no restrictions now on mountain biking, skiing, running or riding.

If you have to do some type of non-emergency abdominal surgery, consider going into the surgery not exhausted from training. Don’t view your last few workouts as an opportunity to binge on volume or intensity because you’ll be off workouts for awhile.Instead, go into surgery well rested so you can get back to workouts more quickly. When you visit the surgeon, let him or her know what is normal for youbefore the procedure and what you might expect afterwards.

If you’re reading this prior to heading for a procedure, all the best to you ~



Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlon plans found here.


Comments can be added on Facebook.


Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

1,681 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, cycling, swimming, workouts, recovery, appendectomy

In yesterday’s blog I covered the wide variation in recovery time and costs for an appendectomy. I told you I’d let you know what the surgeon told me to expect.


Most likely if you’re reading this blog, you understand that once you’ve reached a certain level of fitness it is easy to maintain that level and most importantly – you feel good. You also understand that doing nothing for several days or weeks means a loss of fitness, endorphins and you just don’t feel good.


When I went to visit the surgeon to find out details about an upcoming appendectomy, I wanted to know how much downtime to expect. Doing some research prior to my visit to his office, I expected to have him tell me it would be two weeks before I could do much of anything.


I was pleasantly surprised by his answer.


Before asking him what I could do post-procedure, I told him my current routine that I’ve carried for more years than I can remember. That is strength train once or twice per week, swim two to three times, run two or three days and ride two or three days. Weekly hours are between eight and 10 this time of year, more in the summer.


Given my current fitness and history, here are my guidelines

  • I will likely be on pain meds of some kind for three to five days. As soon as I’m off pain meds, I can run and ride.
  • The incisions close in two or three days, but don’t start back to swimming for a week to be safe.
  • Avoid weights for two weeks.

My plan:

  • Initial workouts should all be less than an hour and all aerobic. I’ll be on an indoor bike and treadmill to be sure all is well before heading outside.
  • The primary goal of workouts is to speed recovery.
  • A secondary goal is to minimize loss of aerobic fitness.



Getting back to light workouts in some three days or so is a target for me. We’ll see how it all pans out.





   Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlon plans found here.


   Comments can be added on Facebook.


   Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.



1,247 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, cycling, swimming, athlete, strength, time, recovery, weights, appendectomy

Great question from a reader:


Q:  In my training I usually keep a weight training routine (usually following what's in your training plans).  One of my friends said that her trainer recommended that she not do any weights.  For me it's beneficial because it maintains a base strength.  I just change it to match my goals.  Any thoughts?


A:   For strength training, I too use the routine from my books and it seems to be affective for me and many of the athletes I coach. I keep one day of weights in my routine throughout the summer, changing the sets and reps and noted in the training plans. I’ve tried seasons without weights at all and I thought I lost power and speed because of it.


The summer routine, as you know, lightens the weights some, changes set numbers and repetitions to keep from having the gym affect your endurance work.


All that written, I do have some athletes that stop weights in the summer. They run and/or ride enough hills that it doesn’t seem to make a difference – best we can tell.


I think keeping strength training in a summer routine, or not, boils down to:

Training time available

Sport goals

Individual response to strength training


It seems you respond well to strength training and you have the time to do it. If it helps you and doesn’t negatively affect your swimming, cycling or running; it appears to be a good investment of your time.

861 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, strength_training, endurance_sports

I have so much stuff to write about, I couldn’t decide where to start. So, I’ll start with the project that has come to life after many months of work – the second edition of the first Workouts in a Binder® product. Yahoo!


Thanks to reader feedback, here are the improvements we’ve made:

  • BIGGER PRINT and improved color schemes that are easier to read in the pool.
  • Just over 20 new workouts including 30-minute sessions for the time-pinched athlete and workouts specific to open water.
  • We’ve improved many of the old workouts by modifying sets and distances to more accurately accomplish what we wanted from that particular workout. 
  • We’ve added illustrations for drills.
  • There are now three swim training plans for triathlon, with specific card numbers (not just categories) in the plans.





To celebrate the release, we’ll send a book (anywhere in the world) to the first person to answer three trivia questions. We’ll have three sets of trivia questions so if you don’t get the first one, don’t despair. We’ll take the first correct set of answers logged here on this blog. (Don’t use Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, etc.)


Round 1 Trivia Questions:

1.      1. Nick Hansen was head swimming coach at which University?

2.      2. The first president of the International Triathlon Union, Les McDonald, was born in what city and what year? (Hint: found in a history column that I wrote.)

3.      3. Name the year of the first Olympic Triathlon and members representing the USA Team.


Good luck!

871 Views 7 Comments Permalink Tags: swimming, triathlon, swim_workouts, workouts_in_a_binder

In the last month I received three requests for a listing of the columns I've written, by category. I figured three requests was some sort of signal that people needed information in a way that I wasn't providing, so I went to work. Below, you'll find a listing of most of the columns I've written for the Active Network organized by category and title to make it easier for you to find the information you need. Every few months I'll update this blog with new links. I believe if you are a column subscriber you should get notice when the blog is updated.


Athletes ~ Thanks for reading and thanks for asking ~




Set a Benchmark with a Time Trial

Swim Lessons from the World's Best Swimmers - Part I

Swim Lessons from the World's Best Swimmers - Part II

Swim Workouts for Triathletes




8 Ways to Get a Jump Start on Next Season

9 Reasons You Should Try Cyclocross

10 Easy Ways to Ruin Your Race

10 Riding Tips for Organized Tours

10 Tips for Your Fall Century Ride

10 Tips From Hard-Core Bike Commuters

Basic Skills for Group Riding

Cold Weather Riding

Customize Your Fork and Shocks for Optimal Performance

Do Indoor Spin Classes Help or Hurt Fitness?

Don’t Leave Safety to Event Organizers

Group Rides All Year?

Indoor Trainer Workouts

Miracle Intervals to Boost Fitness

Packing Tips for Traveling With a Bike

Return to Racing, a Post-Crash Training Plan – Part I

Return to Racing, a Post-Crash Training Plan – Part II

Strategy and Gear List for Cold Weather Riding

The Dangers of Bee Stings While Cycling

Two Bikes to Improve Performance

Transitioning from Pavement to Dirt

Training for a Time Trial, Riding the Race of Truth

Want to Be Competitive? Tips.
Warm up or Die

When Flesh Meets Earth – Wound Care



Mountain Bike

10 Easy Ways to Ruin Your Race

Acclimating to Altitude Before a Race Part I

Acclimating to Altitude Before a Race Part II

Customize Your Fork and Shocks for Optimal Performance

How to Win the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race, An Interview with Dave Wiens Part I

How to Win the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race, An Interview with Dave Wiens Part II

Get Involved in Building and Maintaining Mountain Bike Trails

Q&A: Training Challenge, Off-Road Tris and a 100-Mile Mountain Bike Race

Race Across the Sky: The Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race – Part I

Race Across the Sky: The Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race – Part II

Return to Racing, a Post-Crash Training Plan


Transitioning from Pavement to Dirt

Want to Be Competitive? Tips.

When Flesh Meets Earth – Wound Care




Avoiding Blisters

Cold Weather Running with Your Dog

Faster Run in Triathlon

Hit the Treadmill for a Fast 10K


Running with Your Dog in Summer Heat

Swimming After Running Improves Recovery

Treadmill Workout: Free Speed

Treadmill Threshold Workouts




Avoiding Blisters on the Run

10 Easy Ways to Ruin Your Race

10 Tips for First-Time Triathletes

10 Tips for the New Year

11 Tips for Success From a Navy Seal

Brick Workouts Help You Finish Fast

Don’t Leave Safety to Event Organizers

Don't Let Fear-Based Training Sabotage Your Next Race

Fast Transitions: Socks or No Socks

How has Training Changed in 20 Years?

How to Test Your 5K Running Speed

How to Train for Your First Ironman

Ironman Mentality

One of My Favorite Fast Swim Workouts

Packing Tips for Traveling With a Bike

Q&A: Am I Ready for an Ironman?

Q&A: Can I Keep the Competitive Fires Burning in the Off Season?

Q&A: Can I Eliminate Cramps?

Q&A: Can My Bike Training be Done on an Indoor Trainer?

Q&A: Explain “Intervals”

Q&A: Does Lactate Threshold Change in the Off Season?

Q&A: How do I Select the Right Training Plan?

Q&A: How Can I Adjust My Training Plan to Real Life?

Q&A: What Can I Do For Achilles Tendonitis?

Q&A: Scary Swim Starts

Q&A: Training for Running Races After the Tri Season

Q&A: Training Challenge, Off-Road Tris and a 100-Mile Mountain Bike Race

Q&A: Weight Room or No Weight Room?

Q&A: Winter Training Mix?

Screaming Fast Transitions

Swim Fast to Get Fast, Getting Started

Swim Fast to Get Fast, 50s

Transition from Triathlons to Fall Cycling

Triathlon History Part I

Triathlon History Part II

Triathlon History Part III

Want to Be Competitive? Tips.

What is Your Personal Triathlon History?

What to do When Pre-Race Neurosis Takes Hold

Winter Triathlon 101


Health and First Aid

Examining Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Athletes

Determining Exercise-Induced Asthma Symptoms in Athletes

Exercise and Thyroid Disease: Part One

Exercise and Thyroid Disease: Part Two

Twirlie Hot Dogs to the Refueling Rescue

When Flesh Meets Earth – Wound Care



Endurance Sports General

10 Things That Can Hold You Back

10 Tips for Finding the Right Coach

Athletic Inspiration -- Steve Ackerman

Cerebral Fitness, Mastering the Mental Game

Characteristics of Good, Challenging Goals

Cracking the Code on Hydration

Cracking the Code on Sweat Rate

Drop Weight, Not Performance

Fueling and Hydration Formulas – Your Body Lies

Hair Removal Methods for Athletes

Heart Rate Readings, What do They Mean?

How Much Does a Pint of Sweat Weigh?

How to Keep Great Summer Fitness

How to Maintain Your Lean Mean Racing Machine

How to Unravel Your Goals with Impatience

How to Stay Race Ready When Crossing Time Zones

Keeping Your Great Summer Fitness

Negative-Split Strategies

Negative-Split Strategies: Part II

The Perfect Fat Burning Zone

Race Recovery Time


The Taper Blues

Ten Things to do When You Finish the Last Race of the Season

Tips for Succeeding at Long Distance Travel

Training Journal Lessons -- Your Memory is Not Reliable

Travel and Lower Leg Swelling




2008 An Olympic Year

Designing an Olympic Selection Process

Getting a Spot on the Olympic Start Line

ITU Racing You Don’t Want to Miss

Men’s Olympic Spot at Risk

Space at the Olympics is Limited

Taking a Nation to the Olympic Games

The Road to Beijing Goes Through Iowa



Women’s Corner

Bike Fit for Women

Cycling During Pregnancy, Yes or No?

Find the Perfect Bike Fit and Frame Dimensions

Women-Only Cycling Issues Explained

1,771 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, olympics, swimming, triathlon, mountain_bike, running_with_a_dog, training_columns, training_information, triathlon_information, cycling_information