Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On the right track

Date: Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Short Course Meters
299 days to Trials

300 warmup

4x(4x50 on 1:00)
#1 25 fast/25 easy
#2 25 easy/25 fast
#3 50 at 90% effort
#4 50 easy

4x(4x25 kick on :35) -- same as above, divided in half

Two rounds:
100 at 80% on 2:00
2x50 at 90% on 1:00
4x25 at 100% on :30
4x25 at 80% on :30
2x50 at 90% on 1:00
100 at 100% on 2:00
25s fast -- breaststroke held :16, backstroke held :15 with flip turn
100s fast -- freestyle, 1:02, 1:00

12x25, :15 rest choice strokes with low stroke count

Total distance: 3000 meters

Not much in the way of yardage, but the main set was OK. On the repeats that were at 80 or 90 percent, I swam a lot slower, to recover from the previous fast swim and to prepare for the next fast swim. The water was feeling a little tepid this morning, which could explain my slight sluggishness, but the times were pretty good. I was happy that my 25s breaststroke were in the 16-second range. It felt like my arm speed wasn't as fast as it could be, but I didn't want to force things. The technique falls apart when you force your body to do things it doesn't want to do. So, the goal of the main set was to swim fast with good technique.

One thing I'm trying to do is kick more on backstroke and freestyle, so that was a focus today. I was a little peeved I didn't break a minute today in the 100 free. It appears that will be my goal for the season. This will be the last week of short course meters at Phoenix Swim Club, because a temporary bulkhead will be installed this weekend to turn the SCM side into SCY through the high school season, which ends around Thanksgiving. I will probably do a few short course meters workouts when I am at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center in Tucson, but that is essentially the diving well, and the water might turn very warm soon.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Not taking the easy way

Date: Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Short Course Meters
300 days to Trials!

300 warmup

400 IM on 8:00 -- 25 kick/25 drill

20x25 swim on :30, starting from the middle of the pool (no freestyle)

20x25 kick on :30 (no freestyle)

8x50 on 1:30 best average (breaststroke -- 37.1, 35.6, 35.9, 35.4, 35.6, 35.7, 36.1, 35.4)

200 easy

8x25 on :45 best average (backstroke -- held between 14 and 15 seconds each 25)

500 easy working on technique

Total: 3000 meters

Tuesdays are usually not very high on the amount swum, mostly because intervals are slower, but I was surprised there were two best average sets today. Usually, those are reserved for Wednesdays and Fridays. I wasn't prepared for the set of 50s, and as such the first one wasn't very good. I was trying to hold what I think would be a good pace for a 200 breast. Since I haven't done a 200 breast since 1998, and don't know when I last did a short course meters 200 breast, I figured I should hold three seconds off my last 50 in a 100 breast. If I had tried to go all out on the 50s, I would have done maybe a couple of them in the 32-high to 33-mid range, then fallen off considerably.

Before the set of 50s started, I thought about doing backstroke. I could have held a stronger pace, but it would not have done much for me in terms of trying to get into good breaststroke swimming shape. I am obviously focused on Olympic Trials, but along the way I'm trying to not lose what I have in my backstroke. I do have goals for my 100 back in the next few months, and I still need to work on that, but breaststroke will always take priority, no matter how much I don't feel like doing it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Decisions, decisions

I took a half day at work today, and when I woke up this morning, I decided to go to the gym after work for one my two weight workouts this week. About 15 minutes before I was to leave work, I figured I would be much happier if I went straight home and took a lengthy nap before my piano class (more on that later).

I forced myself to take a left turn instead of a right turn when I drove away from the office, and I found myself at the gym. The good thing was that at 12:45, the gym was half the capacity of the crowd at 5 p.m. I was able to breeze through my workout with more ease today than normal, which allowed me to finish everything in 45 minutes.

Five minutes shoulders warm up (with 5 lb. weights)

Sitting bench press: 15@110, 12@135, 10@155

Horizonatal legg press: 15@150, 12@170, 10@210

Sitting row: 15@90, 12@120, 10@150

Adductors: 15@140, 12@160, 10@180

Chest press: 15@80, 12@95, 10@110

Ten minutes abdominals and stretching

I'm glad I went to the gym. I felt very good, and not as lethargic as I felt yesterday in the pool. I was considering doing 10 reps on the bench press at 160 lbs., but I decided to stay at 155 at the last minute.

As I write this I am rewarding myself with a strawberry protein smoothie and a tuna salad sandwich. No time for a nap. Next up: a shower and a viewing of last night's episode of "Breaking Bad" before heading to piano class.

Oh, yeah. About that piano class. I'm taking a class at South Mountain Community College to learn how to read music and play piano. Mostly, I want to learn to read music, and being proficient at the piano will be a nice bonus. The class meets twice a week for 75 minutes, and I'm the oldest in the class by at least a decade. Maybe 15 years. I think the other nine students are full-time students. I felt out of place in the first class, but I got over that quickly. Right now, we've just learned about whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, etc., and I imagine today we're going to learn how to play those types of notes on the piano. I'm excited to learn!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday, Boring Sunday

Date: Sunday, August 28, 2011
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Short Course Yards
302 days to Trials

2000 swim freestyle (time: 22:55, averaged 1:10 per 100, with :30 second break at 1000)

16x50 on 1:00, 4 of each stroke: 2 drill/2 swim

8x25 on :45 -- 15 meters fast

100 IM fast (:58)

200 easy

100 IM fast (:57)

300 easy

I'm going to make a very long story short. On weekends, I am usually in Tucson. I don't usually swim on Saturdays. I swim on Sunday, and almost all the time I am swimming alone at the University of Arizona's Hillenbrand Aquatic Center. We teach swimming lessons at Hillenbrand on Sundays, so I wanted to come in early for a workout before the lesson.

It's always a mental chore for me to stay focused through the entire workout I have pre-planned, and most of the time I can make it through an entire workout without talking myself out of a particualr set, or most of the workout.

Today, I wanted to see how far I could swim before my mind went completely insane from boredom. I made a goal of 2000 yards before I dove in. I had to stop at 1000 to let out a gas bubble in my stomach that was making me nauseous. (I usually get these gas bubbles during distance freestyle sets.) Since I wasn't bored by the swim at that point, I decided to keep going. I was pretty happy with the pace I managed to hold. A pace of 1:10 is just a couple of seconds slower than my aerobic pace for freestyle, and given that I never looked at the clock, except during my halfway break and  at the end, I was glad that I stayed on a good pace. It felt like I was slipping in my stroke in the last 500, because I was a little excited that the end was near. I was feeling pretty good at 2000, and I briefly considered swimming a little longer, but I decided against it.

I took three heart rates at the end of the swim (28, 24, 22 for a 10-second count, with 30 seconds in between each). My heart was beating fine, but I was suddenly overcome with a feeling that I wanted to go home. I didn't want to do the 50s, mostly because I didn't want to do butterfly. I mentioned earlier that I usually do not change the workout, but today I changed the 50s. All 16 of them were supposed to be swim, but I did not feel like starting the set with butterfly swim after that long set.

I changed the rest of the workout because my body was feeling a little lethargic. Instead of 8x100 IMs on 1:40, with Nos. 4 and 8 fast, I did two fast IMs with some easy swimming in between. Though my times on the IMs were good, I still don't feel like I'm ready for sprinting. The 15-meter sprints felt like an effort, and I didn't feel like my strokes had any snap on the IMs. I'm in no hurry; the sprinting will come. It's good to be working on my aerobic conditioning/endurance for a while.

I'm looking forward to my day off from the pool tomorrow, then kicking into gear again on Tuesday. See you then!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The one-minute barrier is a beast

Date: Friday, August 26, 2011
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Short Course Meters
304 days to Trials

I stayed in bed for six extra minutes this morning, which meant I didn't have enough time to do my customary 300 warmup.

3x(3x100 on 1:50) -- #1: 75 swim/25 kick, #2: 50 swim/50 kick, #3: 25 swim/75 kick
Round 1: Freestyle, round 2: Backstroke, round 3: Breaststroke

4 rounds:
100 kick fast on 2:00 (descended breaststroke kick: 1:45, 1:42, 1:40, 1:38)
50 scull on 1:30
100 swim fast on 2:30 (descended freestyle: 1:04, 1:02, 1:01, 1:00)

8x50 free on 1:00, four breaths per 50

6x150 on 2:50: 100 back/50 breast (descended 1-3, 4-6: 2:05, 2:01, 1:57, 2:08, 2:00, 1:55)
Note: The top distance for this set was 200s, but I didn't feel like pushing myself on another freestyle set.

Total distance: 3200 meters

At the gym, 4:45 p.m.:
Five minutes shoulders warm up
Leg extensions: 15@95, 12@125, 10@150
Sitting bench press: 15@110, 12@135, 10@155
Standing cable pulls (standing bent at 90-degree angle, pulling two cables as if pulling butterfly): 15@15 (each arm), 12@25, 10@30
Hip abduction: 15@95, 12@115, 10@135
Hamstring curls: 15@80, 12@100, 10@120
Ten minutes abdominal work and stretching

I didn't feel much like a sprinter today. The water wasn't conducive for all-out sprinting (temp was about 81 degrees with air temp in the low- to mid-90s), and I didn't get much sleep last night. I had a weird dream about hiking through the woods with Mick Jagger (!!) and his singing was scaring all the wildlife.

We had a guest swimmer and guest coach today. The swimmer was Charlie Lydecker, who lives in Florida and has visited us a couple of times. Some of you may know him as the guy who challenged Ryan Lochte to a race in the 200-yard IM a couple of years ago for charity. Charlie got a 15-second head start, I believe, and yet Ryan caught him in the final strokes. He's about to turn 50, and you wouldn't know it. The guy cranked out some amazing 100 freestyles on the main set. I heard he held about 1:00 on all four of them. It was all I could do to make the final 100 on 1:00. I had hoped to go :59, just to break through that barrier and say I accomplished something today. I have no idea if I could have done it today, given that my legs were screaming at me on the fourth round.

Our guest coach was Derek Spires, who swims with us and coaches the evening workout. Mark had to take care of his kids this morning since his wife is in Portland, Ore., for a charity swim down the Columbia River. Derek likes to put the entire workout on the board, which Mark never does for the morning group. I suppose it was good and bad that we knew what was coming.

Though I blame the water temperature and lack of sleep for my sluggishness, I don't feel bad that I wasn't able to keep up with the top swimmers in the group today (Alan had no problem going under 1:00 on all four of his 100 freestyles). I made up for it with a great gym workout today. I felt pretty strong on each exercise. I like doing the cable pulls because it is the exercise in the gym that most simulates swimming. It's great work for every stroke, like the breaststroke pulldown, the butterfly and freestyle pull, and even that one stroke you take on your stomach on the backstroke turn.

Tomorrow is a rest day. I was thinking of doing 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer at the country club where I teach swimming lessons on the weekend, but I've done a lot of leg work this week. My legs will thank me if I just relax. I will probably get in the water for a little bit tomorrow, because I'll be teaching a high school student about breaststroke technique, and he learns best when he sees me demonstrating.

See you on Sunday!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Breaststrokers shouldn't run

Date: Thursday, August 25, 2011
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Short Course Meters/Short Course Yards
305 days to Trials

300 warm up (150 free/50 back/50 breast/50 free)
100 kick with board

12x50 on 1:00 (odd: 25 kick/25 swim, even: 25 drill/25 swim)

12x25 on :40 breaststroke with double pullouts

Moved to short course yards part of pool for next set to avoid getting in the way of my lane mates
3x(300 free on 4:30, 250 kick breaststroke on 5:30) -- completely aerobic set, though because the water was a little warm today (almost 82 degrees) my heart rate got up to 168. Held 3:30 on 300s and 4:45 on kick

25 fly from dive
10 vertical dolphin kicks
25 swim choice
25 underwater swim from dive
3 wall push-ups (or "wallys" as we call them)
Light jog to starting end of pool
Repeat for 12 minutes. Made 6.5 rounds.

Total distance (not counting last set): 3100 meters/yards
Total swimming distance (including last set and not counting effort expended on vertical kicks, wallys or jog): 3600 meters/yards

Thursdays are the only day at Phoenix Masters when you don't know what the workout will be. Some days we pretty much swimming aerobically, as a recovery day from the sprint workout on Wednesday. Some days are pretty tough. Today we got a bait-and-switch with the short distances in the first two sets followed by a long distance set. I didn't mind it. In fact, I expected repeats longer than 200 today.

To explain the move from short course meters to short course yards: The pool has nine short course yards lanes and nine short course meters lanes when swimming width-wise. In a few weeks a portable bulkhead will be installed, turning the SCM lanes into SCY lanes. In the first half of the workout, I was in an end lane for short course meters, so all I had to do was go to the next lane over to be in the yards lane. I would have had no issue with the intervals, but everyone else in my lane was going to swim the second part of the set, so I didn't want to get in their way. Mary Jo Pursley (wife of British Swimming national team coach Denny Pursley) kicked with fins, so she was essentially keeping up with the swimmers.

I'm glad I did a fairly aerobic kick set. Everyone who swims with me knows how horrible my kicking prowess is. I have very inflexible ankles and as such, kicking isn't my strongest suit. In college, my ankles got a nickname: The Aquabrakes.

As for that set at the end, it was fun, but I was worried about running on a concrete deck with no shoes. So, I kind of did a run/walk hybrid for most of it. I wasn't worried about my knees, but rather the shock of hitting the concrete with no shoes for support.

Tomorrow has a kicking emphasis as well, so my legs will be sore this weekend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trying to sprint, kind of succeeding

Date: Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Short Course Meters
306 days to Trials

300 warm up: 150 free/50 back/50 breast/50 free (In case you haven't noticed, this is my typical pre-workout warmup.)

6x100 on 1:45 freestyle with roving 25s of no breath (i.e. #1: 1st 25 no breath, #2: 2nd 25 no breath, #3: 3rd 25 no breath, etc.)

12x25 on :30 descend 1-3 choice stroke

4x75 on 1:30 best average (freestyle, :47)
100 easy
3x75 on 1:45 best average (backstroke, :50)
125 easy
2x75 on 2:00 best average (breaststroke, :54)
100 easy
1x75 fast from dive (freestyle, :42)
100 easy

6x25 easy, :10 rest

6x(50 fast, 50 easy on 2:30)
Breaststroke: 35.3, 35.1, 35.3, 34.6, 35.1, 34.9

100 warm down (with stretching)

Total distance: 3200 meters

At the gym: 5:45 p.m.
Five minutes of shoulder exercises

Seated bench press -- 15 reps @110, 12 reps @ 130, 10 reps @150

Lat pull -- 15 reps @ 100, 12 reps @ 125, 10 reps @ 145

Leg extension -- 15 reps @ 95, 12 reps @ 120, 10 reps @ 145

Dumbbell curls -- 15 reps @ 15 (each arm), 12 reps @ 20 (each arm), 10 reps @ 25 (each arm)

Box steps -- three sets of 20 with increasing weights each set (set 1 12 pounds, set 2 15 pounds, set 3 20 pounds)

Core work for 10 minutes

Five minutes stretching

Wednesdays are always sprint day, though I should call it "sprint day." I think of sprinting as doing race-pace swims with lots of rest. Some of our main sets don't give you the type of rest you need to do race-pace swims, as today's main set exemplifies. Today's set was essentially building the speed from 200 pace to 100 pace. My stroke felt great for freestyle and backstroke, but I fell apart when trying to sprint breaststroke. With only two official weeks of swimming under my belt in this new season, it's going to take another week or so for my breaststroke to fall into place. I need to do more drills to "find the water" again.

Phoenix Masters has three workout groups: morning, noon and evening. Coach Mark Rankin usually tells the noon group about the fastest swims from the morning, as a motivational tool. Usually, I am the one who posts the fastest swim of a particular set each day, and most of the noon swimmers hate me for pushing that bar a little higher than they can reach (with the exception of distance-based sets). This week, I have been dethroned.

Alan Carter recently joined Phoenix Masters after moving to Phoenix from the East Coast. He went to Notre Dame and came here for work as an engineer... and that is pretty much all I know. I have not had the time to do a Google search on him, and of course, it would be much easier just to ask him what he specifically does. I am not usually very conversational during workout, and even more so in the early hours. He has been kicking our butt in the pool every day, which is just fine with me. Alan is 26 years old.

I'm no diva. I don't need to be the best in workout. At a meet, however ...

Alan put up some pretty big times today. On the dive 75, he went 39-plus for freestyle. I was ecstatic that I went 42, because it's on pace for about 56 for 100 meters, which is close to my best time in the 100 free. Admittedly, the 100 free is far from my top event, but after almost getting a Masters national championship in the 100 free at the spring nationals, I have started thinking more about adding it to my championship meet program. I swam it last spring because it fit into the schedule, and I had nothing to lose. I got second by .01 and thought the time (47.29) was pretty good. I think my best short course meters 100 free is 54-low, but that was about seven years ago.

I'm trying to be more focused in the gym this season. I usually go in there, do the sets and leave. I don't stay in there for more than 50 minutes, but I want to try some new exercises, just to shake things up. I didn't do anything new today, because the thought of trying new things came to me in the middle of today's workout.

We'll see how it goes on Friday.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Backstroke is my friend

Date: Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Short Course Meters
307 days to Trials

300 warmup: 150 free/50 back/50 breast/50 free

8x100 IM on 1:45 (odd: regular IM order, even: reverse IM order)

16x25 kick on :30, no freestyle kick and no board (all done breaststroke)

4x(3x75 on 1:20, #1 25 fly/25 back/25 breast, #2 25 back/25 breast/25 free, #3 stroke descend 1-4)
Swam backstroke on the stroke 75s: 1:05, 1:00, :55, :47

300 backstroke drill

16x50 on 1:00, 4 of each stroke descending by rounds (fastest times -- fly: 32.1, back: 31.8, breast: 35.2, free: 29.2)

100 warm down

Total workout distance: 3600 meters

I had planned to do breaststroke on the stroke 75s descend, but I was feeling some tightness in my left hamstring, which was the muscle bothering me yesterday that caused me to skip part of workout to stretch. Not sure why that hamstring is tight, and it's still bothering me, even though I stretched for five minutes after workout.

When I'm getting back into shape, the only stroke that feels good is backstroke. Today it felt good, until I had to do the fastest 75 in the main set. Couldn't get the muscles firing just yet. In about a week, I should be able to do real sprinting!

As for the set of 50s at the end, since I knew I wasn't ready for all-out sprinting, I held pace on the strokes equivalent to my 200 IM pace. I was right on track, if you subtract two seconds from the fly for the start, for a 2:07 short course meters 200 IM. That's my goal for my shave meet this fall. I haven't officially picked that meet, but it's likely to be in mid-December at the pool I train at every day.

Monday, August 22, 2011

More than 4000 meters of staring at a black line

Date: Monday, August 22, 2011
Workout time: 5:45 a.m.
Short Course Meters
308 days to Olympic Trials

400 warm up: 200 free/100 back/50 breast/50 free

32x25 on :25, breathing three times on odd repeats

800 on 12:00 negative split

8x100 on 1:30 (averaged 1:10)

2 minute break

2x400 on 6:30 (#1 was done 200 back/200 free, #2 skipped first 200 for stretching)

16x50 on :45 (averaged :36)

100 warm down

Workout total: 4500 meters

I don't usually swim on Mondays, since the workouts are distance-oriented, but since I had not swum since Friday, I did not want to go three days out of the pool.

This is the first workout of this blog, but not the first workout since I made my Trials cut. I took time off the week of July 12, then went to the gym a couple of times the week of July 19, doing 20-25 minutes on the elliptical trainer to work on my cardiovascular system. The week of July 26, I was covering the world championships for Swimming World, so I was up at 2 a.m. for eight days. I swam a couple of times during that week, but not very fast. The following week, I was in Palo Alto, Calif., covering the USA Swimming nationals. I swam four times that week, no more than 3000 yards/meters per workout.

The week of Aug. 8 was my first official week back in the pool. Workouts were tough, in the sense that I was trying to find my feel for the water again.

Today's workout was the first in which I felt like my normal self. I'm glad things are physically feeling better. Even better, the water was a chilly 79 degrees!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Welcome! Let the journey begin!

I'd like to welcome all of you to my official blog! It's been a long time since I've blogged, but I'm sure it's just like riding a bike.

The goal of this blog is to log all my workouts in and out of the pool as I prepare for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials. As I mention in the subtitle of this blog, I will be 38 years old when I compete at Trials, so the workouts you see in this blog will be very different from what the typical Trials competitor will do. I hope these workouts inspire Masters swimmers and others to get in shape, stay in shape and reach goals you thought were impossible, just like the goal I had of competing in my third Olympic Trials.

A little background is required. I competed at the Olympic Swimming Trials in 1992 and 1996. Both experiences were horrific. In 1992, I was so nervous about competing that my body went into convulsions just before the start of my prelim race of the 100 breaststroke. In 1996, I was not well-prepared for the meet. This time, I'm going to swim for fun and soak in the experience. 

I qualified for next year's Olympic Trials at the Arizona Senior State Championships on July 9 with a 1:04.42 in the 100-meter breaststroke. The qualifying time is 1:04.69. I will be the oldest competitor in the event by about seven years. I have absolutely no designs on making the Olympic team. In order to do so, I will have to swim more than four seconds faster than I swam to qualify for the meet, and about two seconds faster than my all-time personal best, which I did in 1993.

My primary goal is to not get "DFL," or "Dead F------- Last." After a lengthy discussion with my coach, Mark Rankin, we thought it would be a nice goal to also swim under 1:04.

My workouts in the pool will not be too much different from what I have been doing for the past three years, though there will be an added emphasis on increasing leg strength with vertical kicking in the pool and more plyometric work at the gym.

If you have any questions about what you read here, please post a comment or write to me at First workout posted tomorrow!