Tag: Training

Did I speak too soon?

Today I upgraded to the lap pool from the kiddie pool.  I made a rough measurement, and I think that the multi-purpose pool (a.k.a. kiddie pool) at the YMCA is about 15 yards long.  The lap pool is 25 yards long.  The lap pool is also 9′ deep on one end.  Standing on one end of the lap pool after being in the other pool reminded me of that scene from Poltergeist where the Mom (actress JoBeth William) is running down the hall and it gets progressively longer the more she tries to run.  I’ve seen shorter runways at airports.  I’m not sure if it was the length of the pool, or the fact that sections were so deep that my safety net was missing, but I lost my form.  I struggled a little with breathing compared to yesterday.

I did manage to pull it together and get full lengths out of my swim.  That is more than I could do last time I was in the lap pool.  Hopefully things will get easier as I get my brain over the fact that I am in a deep pool and can die any minute!  I think building endurance is going to be huge too.  It will be much easier for me when I’m not panting after going 25 yards.  Tomorrow is my swim clinic, I sure hope that I don’t make a fool of myself.

A swimming breakthrough?

Or perhaps a Festivus miracle.  I don’t know which, but I swam today with very few breathing issues.  A couple of nights ago I watched this video on youtube from Marc Evans.  Please ignore the disembodied head, Coach Evans, if you’re reading this don’t wear a shirt that matches the blue screen next time!

I also read through the comments to the video which were really good.  Coach Evans does a great job of answering all of the commentators’ questions.  The thing he said that struck me most was when he said you should breathe in swimming like you breathe on land.  Same in and out easy breathing.  At first I thought, yeah right, but later I kind of translated that to “stop thinking too much when you breathe.”  I took it easy, focused on my stroke, and let the breathing take care of itself.  It worked out really well!  I was even able to breath bilaterally (from either side every three strokes).  It felt amazing!

In my opinion, the key to breathing is rotating and positioning correctly.  I have heard two methods of positioning your head.  The first is to put your ear against the extended arm when you rotate, the other is to put your chin against the shoulder of your recovery arm (the one that is about to enter the water).  I use the chin on the shoulder technique.  Either way, the whole purpose seems to be to ground your head to something so that you aren’t so panicky.  It’s kind of like standing on a really high building.  You get less freaked out if you are holding the railing.  If you anchor your head to one of those spots, and you get the proper rotation, your mouth will come to the air on its own.

Another key is to not pull back your extended arm too early, and to not begin your recovery until the breath is done.  What I mean is, freeze your recovery arm on your hip and don’t move either arm until you have taken that breath.  Then you can rotate your head back and start your recovery.  It helps keep things smooth.  Once the pace picks up, it won’t look or feel like such a big pause, it will just flow.

So don’t freak out, think things through, have patient arms and mouth, get proper rotation, and anchor your head.  Seems like a lot, but take it one step at a time.

Heart Rate Monitor Research

I need to buy a new heart rate monitor.  My current one works well but it is dead basic.  It doesn’t track average heart rate or really do anything other than just tell you your current heart rate.  Here is the criteria I’m looking for (I’ll build the list as I go on):

  • Stop watch with laps
  • Track heart rate and average heart rate at each lap and overall
  • a programmable timer that I can set to beep and remind me when I should do something, like eat during a long run/ride
  • I’d like to be able to extract the data easily to a computer
  • I don’t want to spend a ton of money on it
  • Needs to work for swimming


  • Warning beep if my heart rate moves above a set threshold

I’ll update this as my research progresses.

UPDATE (1/13/2010): I chose the Timex T5J031 it seems to have all the features I was looking for at the right price point.  It does need an additional component to record data, but I’ll wait to get that at a later date.  I’ll post a review once I get a chance to use it a little.

Gimme Data

I have been reading Triathlon Training Blog and various other sites and see how much these athletes depend on data in order to improve performance.  I feel like I am way  too early for most of the data to be useful.  I am still at a point where I have little technique, and even less endurance.  However, I think that it will be fun later to be able to look at early data.  That way when I get down about how little progress I’m making I can look back and see how far I’ve come.  And they say I’m not proactive!

Now I need to figure out what data is the most important so that I can make sure to track that.  What?  I’m a computer programming geek, what do you expect?

Oh, and my Pose Running book should be arriving today!  Yay!

Knee injury

This Sunday I planned to do a mini-mini-triathlon to prepare for my upcoming mini-triathlon.  I think that’s right, you know what I mean.  Anyway, the plan was to do my normal spin routine, get off and run 2 miles on the treadmill, and then do some swimming.  No real target on the swimming, I just wanted to have my sister-in-law watch my form to make sure I was keeping it correctly while I was breathing.  I just figured out how to breath while swimming, and I wanted to make sure I was as close as I could be to the correct form.

Well, 3/4 of the way through the spin session my knee started to hurt.  I’m not sure why, I think maybe I wasn’t tight enough into the pedals, or maybe my seat was in the wrong place.  Anyway, the pain wasn’t too bad so I kept going.  I got off and did my run, did the swim, and by the time I got home my knee was in pretty bad shape.  The pain is in the back of my knee, so I’m not too worried that it is serious, but I’ll have to give it some time to heal before killing it again.

In terms of the workout, however, I think I did fairly well.  I did about 17 miles during a particularly brutal spinning session.  Did the 2 miles at 5.5 MPH with just one break in the middle, and did about 380 yards of swimming.   Turns out my swimming form wasn’t too bad as I took each breath, now I need to work on bilateral breathing.

I was proud of my performance today.  Considering how new I am to this.  If my knee hadn’t of gotten injured, it would have been just about perfect.

My goal for next time is to do the full two mile run without stopping, and to build my swim endurance.  I am still mostly doing one length at a time.

Easy Freestyle is here!

My Easy Freestyle DVD arrived today. The drills seem more focused, I’m really excited to get out to the pool and put these drills to the test.

Easy Freestyle Swimming

I found a series of videos of a conference speech by Terry Laughlin the developer of Total Immersion.  The video was great, and I’ve decided to buy the “Easy Freestyle Swimming” DVD which has newer techniques and hopefully will be easier to follow.

Here is the clip on YouTube, you can watch the rest of them by following the links that come up once this one ends.  There are 9 videos total.

Still sick…

I have been sick all day today, I looked up some sites on motion sickness while swimming.  One post mentioned physical therapy helped with motion sickness.  I didn’t even know they could do that.  I’ll have to look into it one day.  I hate motion sickness, and I really want to enjoy swimming.   I hear ginger helps with nausea, I’ll look for some ginger chews or maybe I’ll buy some fresh ginger to eat when I get home.  Ugh.

Swim practice makes me sick…


I had a practice session today.  I tried doing some of the drills from the Swimming Made Easy Total Immersion book.  Things went ok, I guess.  I really don’t feel like I am making much progress because the drills seem to be baby steps.  They are also designed for a shallow pool.  As a result, I found myself struggling to breath at times when the water was too deep to stand in.  I did learn to roll on my back whenever things got too intense and I needed a breather.   I just roll over and float there.  I can even get some forward progress by doing a backstroke.  I’m thinking that this will be useful in a triathlon if I get into trouble.  I read recently in the USA Triathlon’s rules that you can rest while swimming (Rule 4.1) , however if you use anything like a boat or another person to give you forward momentum you will be disqualified(Rules 4.2 and 4.3).  What?  I’m a lawyer, let me geek out.

Now, about the sickness.  I am really, really, sensitive to motion sickness.  In fact, I am so sensitive, that I have periodically gotten motion sickness while driving my own car.  Today I got nauseous while swimming.   It really upset me.  I don’t want to have to take Dramamine every time I want to swim.  I felt terrible too, I barely made it home without throwing up.  In fact, I had to drive with the window down in freezing cold weather just to keep from losing it.  I am still feeling sick as I write this in fact.  Hopefully it was a one time thing. Ugh!

First Swim Clinic

OK, I’m not sure the swim instructor got the memo that I DON”T KNOW HOW TO SWIM!!!

We started in the deep lap pool, it goes down to 9′ at the deep end.  We were supposed to do some warmup laps.  I did my best, and I didn’t drown, but I was really uncomfortable.  I struggled just to get to the other end of the pool.

We did a few drills during the session.  She had us use a kickboard to practice kicking.  I felt like I was kicking like a maniac but wasn’t getting anywhere.  My wife and sister-in-law were nearly up and back before I got to the other side of the pool.  My legs were burning and I was really really tired.

Next we did drills with a pull buoy just to work on the arms.  I felt completely lost.  I wasn’t discouraged though.  It was my first time in water over my head, and I didn’t drown.  Maybe next time will be better.

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