Pool Toys, Tempo Running, and Big Bricks

Pull buoy, Aqua Sphere Alpha Fins, and ankle band made from an old bicycle tube.

It has been a great training week, with progress made in the pool and on the road!

Swim Coaching

This week Christine and I met with Mark Kendall of SpeedSHOT Racing for some individualized assessment and coaching. I was actually kind of nervous about this because Mark was going to be videotaping our swimming to evaluate our technique and I’ve never seen myself swim before…was worried I was going to look ridiculous (isn’t that just silly?)!! But, like all the other sports assessments and training sessions I’ve had over the past six months, it was a great experience and there really was nothing to be nervous about at all!…and I didn’t look ridiculous!

I was hoping to have copy of the video to include in this blog, but I haven’t got it yet, so I’ll probably post that later because it helps illustrate some great points on technique, body position, and timing. Mark first asked us what our concerns were with our swimming, which included timing, efficiency, and endurance for me. He watched us swim during our warm-up and then videoed underwater as we swam toward, away, and alongside for two lengths of the pool. Mark then showed us the video on his laptop, poolside, and we discussed what we were seeing—VERY INFORMATIVE! As I thought, my timing was off which created power loss and drag, reducing my efficiency; in fact, I was “windmilling” which is where your arms are continuously 180-degrees from each other, resulting in big power loss. My stroke was otherwise good, just not efficient. We also discussed body position and rotation. Poor body position and rotation actually interferes with your ability to breathe effectively, increasing drag and decreasing efficiency.

After watching the video, Mark ran us through some drills using some training aids. We used a kick board to target our core and body position; a pull buoy to isolate our arms to work on stroke; a band around our ankles (made from an old bike tire inner tube) to immobilize our legs to work on body rotation; and a Finis Tempo Trainer, a waterproof metronome slipped under our swim cap, to purposely slow our arm stroke pace for consistency and endurance. We started with the kick board, switched to the pull buoy and catch-up drill, added the tempo trainer, and finally added the ankle band. We also worked on engaging our shoulder blades for optimum stroke and rotation.

The results were fantastic! We used the catch-up drill (see You Tube video here) to work on my timing, working into a 3/4 catch-up swim for optimal timing. This stroke was so efficient and powerful without exhausting me and I wasn’t even using my legs (still had the pull buoy in place)! What a difference good timing makes! The ironic thing is, that before my mock tri I told Christine, “if I get tired during the swim portion of the Mock Tri I’m just going to do the catch-up drill,” but of course, I forgot to do that!

We didn’t use the Alpha fins during the session, but talked about using them to enhance body rotation. We will work on all of these drills and tools over the next few weeks and meet again with Mark for another session after the Blue Lake Triathlon June 11.

Big Brick and 10 mile Run

We did a big bike-to-run brick  (Bike + Run = ICK) this week. The bike portion was 17.5 miles, which was unremarkable other than a problem with my front derailleur again. I couldn’t move onto the large front ring until it spontaneously jumped onto it at mile 14.25. I will work on it before my next ride and if I can’t remedy it, will take my bike back in to my mechanic. The 3 mile run, however, was AMAZING! I did some treadmill work after the Good Form Running clinic, focusing on increasing my tempo to 180 beats per minute, posture, and midfoot striking, and my pace seemed to increase, but it was hard to tell on a treadmill. I didn’t have a tempo cadence with me on this run, but did run without my iPod (sans Gladiator Soundtrack) and ended up with Katy Perry’s Extra Terrestrial song running through my mind as I ran…and I ran a 9:06 minute mile my first mile and 9:45 minute mile pace overall–immediately after my 17.5 mile bike ride! That was my fastest mile pace ever! I was just amazed!

Two days after the big brick was my scheduled long run, which was 10 miles this week. I decided to do a tempo run with my iPod and found Podrunner on iTunes and downloaded his 178 bpm set. My pace was again faster, my run easier, and I completed my run in 1:36:52, a 9:41 mile pace overall, which beat my Shamrock Run 15K (9.3 mile) by 9 minutes! I am soooo excited!

Coming Up

So everything’s on track for my next sprint tri June 11 at Blue Lake in Fairview, Oregon, right down the street from my fire station! I’m attending an Open Water Swim Clinic being put on by Athlete’s Lounge June 4 at Blue Lake. And, I signed up for the inaugural Vancouver (WA) Half-Marathon June 19, which fit perfectly in my Hal Higdon Marathon Training Program.

Coaching and clinics are sure making a difference!

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