Archive for February, 2010

The hits just keep on coming

I have a long way to go when it comes to swimming.  I am the first to admit that my form is sloppy, and I still struggle a little to time my breathing right.  But, I am making tremendous progress.  Today I did three consecutive laps.

The most important thing that I have learned in all of my training is that the mental aspect of the sport is key.   Tonight, for example, I decided that I would run two lap intervals again.  Each time I tried to do two laps, I would get to the end of the first lap and just be too tired to continue.  I would push off and then just not feel like I could finish the second lap.  This happened repeatedly.

I kept trying to justify my reasons for not doing two laps.  Oh I swallowed water I need to recover.  Oh the last time was a fluke, I just can’t do more than one lap.  Oh I’m moving too fast I need to be realistic.

But I didn’t want to leave without doing the two consecutive laps.  I just needed to do it.  I thought back on my first few times of spin class.  I was tired, panting and thought I couldn’t go on, but I did.  I told myself that this is no different.  I started my swim and took slow controlled strokes.  I made it one length without any trouble at all.  I took the turn and finished the lap, paused for a second or two to take a few breaths and then continued with lap two.  I made it all the way through the second lap!  I did that once more.  Each time I focused on my slow controlled stroke.  I focused on rotation and being streamlined, and just let my body glide forward with each stroke before taking the next one.

After the second two lap run, I decided to go for three.  I did the same thing as before.  Nice and easy strokes.  I focused on my breathing (more on breathing in a future post) as well and learned a little something in the process.  For the entire set I could feel my shoulders burning.  I could feel how hard it was to just lift my arm for the recovery stroke.  As I finished my third lap I stood up and felt this amazing surge of pride.  I realized that I really could do it!  Once again, I’m so proud of myself.  I’m not breaking any records for sure, but I am learning a ton about how to swim, how important the it is to be mentally strong, and I am hopefully getting ever closer to perfecting my form.

The good news about your brain is that the power it has over you to stop your progress is equal to the power it has to make you succeed.  If you can train yourself to only listen to the positive and motivational thoughts, you can and will do anything.  This is beyond the sport, this is how to approach life.  A positive mind will exude confidence, and that will change your life.  I have always felt that anyone can do anything.  These triathlon experiences are only proving me right!

Body Weight v. Sports Performance

I just read this interesting article about the effects of weight on performance in sports like running and biking:

The problem is that everyone has a point at which further weight loss actually makes their performance worse, said Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a muscle metabolism researcher and physiologist at McMaster University in Ontario. Dr. Tarnopolsky, who is a nationally ranked athlete in winter triathlons, adventure racing and ski orienteering, said that people vary so much that there is no formula to figure out the perfect weight…“Your body will tell you” your perfect weight, he said, and when you are there, “you will feel fast, race fast.”

Interesting.  It seems that thinner is better to a point, but if you get too thin things start breaking down.   I think I have a long time before I have to worry about getting too thin.

Link to Source (NY Times)

The Power of Two

I am so proud of myself today!  I did two consecutive laps in the lap pool without taking a break!  What?  That’s not a big deal?  Well it is to me.

Less than a month ago I couldn’t finish a single lap. Three weeks ago I celebrated my very first length.  Lastly, this past Sunday was the first time that I was able to complete an entire lap without a break.  So, what did I do differently?  Well, a number of things actually.

The first thing I did was to work on my turns.  Up until yesterday I would stand up at the end of a length and then just bound back into the water.  I focused on an open turn as opposed to flip turns.  I feel like I still need the extra air that an open turn provides me, so I don’t think I will get the full benefit of a flip turn until my endurance and breathing get better.  Without the benefit, I figure why do the extra work involved in flip turns?  The real help I get in doing the proper turns is that I get a free 7 yards out of it.  When I do the turns and push off the wall, I glide nearly a third of the way across the pool before coming up for air.  That is a long way to go without stroking, so it helps me go farther on the same amount of energy.

The other thing that I changed was to slow down my strokes.  I slowed them down in two ways.  Fewer strokes, and slower, more controlled recovery.  The fewer the strokes the less tired I get.  As I slowed down the stroke rate, it allowed me to slow down my recovery.  That allowed me to make sure that I get my recovery hand (this is the hand that is coming back over my body and is about to reenter the water) in front of my face before I start my pull stroke.  This gives me two important advantages.  The first is that I can create a clean entry and a more streamlined body position as I pull which  allows me to go farther with the same effort, and it allows me to engage my core and multiply the force of rotation which in turn gets my body fully rotated in the water.  So changing two little things gives me more energy at each stroke, and puts my body in a more streamlined position to take full advantage of my stroke.

Now, I didn’t break any records (well my own I suppose) but I managed to get two laps done in 2 minutes.  If I can keep that pace up for all 9 laps, I will achieve my goal of halving my first triathlon swim time!  I’m so excited about that!  I’ll have to enjoy this week though, because starting next week I am going into full training mode.

  • The Narcissist Section (a.k.a. Me Me Me)

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