Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week 9 Summary...thoughts on swimming

Week 9 was my best week of training so far this year. I began the week with my weekly weigh in on Monday morning and I was 156 lbs., the lightest I've weighed in since November of 2002 after just finishing my senior cross country season at Augustana. For the week my total training time was 21.75 hours. I swam 14,000 yards, biked 150 miles, and ran 45 miles in 5 days of running. My achilles has felt better than it has over the past 7 weeks. There is no pain or swelling following my runs. I had an MRI on it Wednesday and look forward to finding the results tomorrow morning. I'm unsure if it is feeling good due to the cortisone shot from a couple weeks ago or if something is healing. Dr. Kaminski from Kaminski Pain and Performance Care has been treating me regularly and that seems to be helping a great deal. If you have any injuries he can be a great help! In addition to the running, biking, and swimming, I also lifted weights three times, did lunges and plyometrics twice each, speed drills and strides three times, and core work five times. What excites me is that the amount of weight I am lifting has increased quite a bit over last year, especially on the leg lifts, so I know I'm stronger as well as weighing less. It can be difficult to reduce body weight while increasing muscle but I am doing just that. This was one of the big goals I set for myself this year that I believe will allow me to race much faster than last year. I had a few great workouts this week...first in the pool on Wednesday when I did a set of 15x 100's on 1:25 with the high school team. Last year I could not have swam a straight 1500 averaging 1:25. I did the set coming in on each 100 in 1:15-1:18. It didn't even feel very difficult. On Friday I ran repeat miles outside. I did 4 of them with 3 minutes rest between each. My times were 5:39, 5:36, 5:30, and 5:13. I was pretty excited with how easy the first 3 felt considering my lack of mileage over the past 6 weeks. I pushed the last one pretty hard. I also got my longest run of the year on Sunday when I went 11.5 miles. It felt pretty easy and I'm hoping I am healed up enough to start getting in my weekly long runs. One of my goals was to build that long run up to 2 hours by May.
I have been swimming faster workout times this year than I ever have before. I will try to break down why that is for anyone who is interested...keep in mind I am not an expert swimmer and despite my improvements it is still the area where I will be gapped by other professionals in the 1/2 Ironman this summer. The gap is just considerably less now than it would have been a year ago. One thing I had read a lot about was the importance of bilateral breathing (breathing to both sides). Until this year I used to always breath to my right. That caused me to have trouble staying on course in open water swims. The reason is pretty simple...the muscles in my back were stronger on one side of my body than on the other. Also I rotated more to the side I breathed to. Now I am equally comfortable breathing to either side. In workouts I tend to do most of my swimming breathing every 3 strokes (alternating sides as opposed to always breathing to the same side). My rotation is much more even than it was before. If I get tired and can't breath every 3 then I spend an equal amount of time breathing to my right and left. Another thing that I've really focused on is getting my elbow high when it comes out of the water. This is something the high school coach pointed out to me and I think about it every time I'm swimming easy. My elbow is much higher out of the water than it was last year. The 3rd thing I've spent time working on is dropping my fingers down when I start my catch at the beginning of my stroke after rotating to my side and extending my arm in the water. The better catch has helped me to swim faster. I've spent a great deal of time analzying swim technique on a website at Check it out and maybe it will help you also. I've downloaded the Mr. Swim Smooth program and watch it regularly. Like my good friend Chris Coon said, I always liked books with pictures growing up because they allowed me to see what was happening in the story. Watching Mr. Swim Smooth has helped me see what good technique looks like. I hope to stay confidence continues to grow. DREAM BIG!

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