Friday, September 30, 2011

Running On Empty

Date: Thursday, September 30, 2011
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Short Course Yards
269 days to Olympic Trials

7x150 on 2:40
#1 is six lengths swim, #2 is five lengths swim, one length kick, etc...

Six rounds:
75 kick with fins on 1:00
25 kick fast with fins on 1:00
(Rounds 1 and 2: free, rounds 3 and 4: fly, rounds five and six: back)
(Averaged :53-:55 on 75s, so very little rest before fast 25)

100 easy

10x50 breast kick no board on 1:00
Averaged :45

12x25 swim on :30
Odd: backstroke
Even: head up freestyle

Six rounds:
75 swim on 1:00
25 swim on 1:00
Descend 1-3, 4-6
(#3 backstroke time was :53, #6 freestyle time was :50 from a dive)

200 easy

Total: 3,350 yards

It's been a while since I've done two workouts within 12 hours. I had little to no energy this morning. A small part of it had to do with the fact that I did not go to sleep until 10:00, a full hour later than usual. But the other factor was something that's been an issue for a few weeks: I'm not eating right.

Last night after workout, I went to Subway for dinner. I had a turkey breast and ham sandwich (only $5 in September!) and was fairly full after that. I woke up this morning feeling a little hungry but was reticent to eat anything. As a rule, I rarely eat before workout, to avoid the nauseous feeling I often get while swimming. I ate half a banana, which did nothing to ease the hunger. Usually the hunger pangs are followed by dizziness and feeling light-headed, but that didn't happen. I just didn't have any zip to my swimming.

After morning workout, I head straight to the office, where I eat breakfast (as well as lunch). This morning, my options were limited, and instead of going to the grocery store (or Einstein Bagels) for other options, I ate a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios with vanilla yogurt. Delicious, but not very filling. I was hungry about 90 minutes later. For "second breakfast" I consumed about five handfuls of Honey Nut Cheerios, which wasn't enough, because an hour later I was starving. I know my body needed lots of calories to replenish what I had spent this morning, but I didn't bring enough food to the office to satisfy myself. When I get home at night, a well-balanced dinner is never a problem. There's always protein, carbs and veggies on my plate.

I know many of you will wag your finger at me, with a "tsk, tsk" accompaniment about my breakfast. I should know better. I do know better. I will be better. I want to lose about five pounds in the next six weeks, and I thought eating less would help. But I think the key is just eating smarter. If you have recommendations on what can get me to this goal, please drop your suggestions in the comments. And keep in mind that I don't want to turn on a stove or oven for breakfast at the office. A microwave is fine.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shake it up

Date: Thursday, September 29, 2011
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Short Course Yards
270 days to Olympic Trials

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I plan to do one workout a week with the top group of swimmers at Phoenix Swim Club. This group is made of mostly teenagers who have USA Swimming sectionals or senior national cuts. I think a couple of them have Olympic Trials cuts, but they came from Oregon when Coley Stickels was hired to be the head coach. Among that group is Olympic champion Roland Schoeman, who definitely looks out of place, only because he's Roland (expletive) Schoeman!

At Coley's request, I cannot post the workout here, but it was about 4,000 yards in 90 minutes. That doesn't seem like a lot, and you may be right. Coley doesn't hold to the traditional way of training age groupers, and he never focuses on pounding out the yardage just to build a base. He also seems to be building swimmers who swim perfectly and are mindful of their strokes. When you swim "garbage yardage," you tend to not think about the stroke, only the fact that the workout never seems to reach the end.

Today, all I thought about were the strengths and weaknesses of my breaststroke. And I had plenty of time to think about them. Nearly 90 percent of the 4,000 yards we swam was breaststroke, and of that 90 percent, about 10 percent was done full stroke for at least 25 yards. We did lots of breaststroke drills, breastroke pulls and breaststroke kick. As far as my strengths, I confirmed that I am an upper-body breaststroker, that my momentum, strength and speed come mostly from the first half of the stroke. When it comes to the kick, it's OK, but when I took the time to think about it, I noticed I wasn't maximizing the full potential of my kick. This is something to correct in the next 269 days.

The important thing for me today was to not race the people in the pool. When you're doing breaststroke drill, you need to slow down a little and feel the stroke. I went fast enough to get enough rest each time. Roland "won" a lot of the time, as did Michael Nelson, who has promise as a senior in high school.

The only true difficult parts of the workout were the underwater swimming portions. And there was a lot of underwater swimming. Because I couldn't make a 25-yard breaststroke underwater, I felt like I wasn't in shape cardiovascularly, but I think the truth is I don't do enough underwater work. Breaststroke in a short course pool is about 45 percent underwater, so it is something I should be working to improve. Even though my ultimate goal involves a race in a long course pool, working on lung capacity is key for me.

I liked Coley's workout today, and it was good to shake up my routine a bit. I plan to go back next week! It's time to go to bed now. I have to be back at the pool for Masters workout tomorrow at 5:45 a.m.!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

If you're happy and you know it...

Date: September 28, 2011
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Short Course Yards
271 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

6x75 on 1:20
Odd: fast turns (backstroke)
Even: build (freestyle)
(At least 25 seconds rest on these)

8x25 on :35
Odd: two stroke cycles fast
Even: two breaths, freestyle

5x100 on 2:00, best average (about 200 pace)
Freestyle -- 56.5, 57.0, 57.0, 56.5, 57.0 (may have been a little too slow)

8x25 on :30 recovery

5x (100 fast/100 easy) on 4:30
Backstroke: 58.1, 57.8, 57.6, 58.3, 58.1

12x25 on :30 recovery

Broken 100 breast from a dive, five seconds rest at each 25
Time: 55-plus (according to the coach)

200 easy (with stretching)

I'm beyond proud of myself for today's workout. As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, today's workout would be an indicator of my conditioning before I begin the sprint phase of the season next week. On the best average 100s, my heart rate was getting pretty low at the start of each repeat. I checked it after number four and it was 174 at the finish and 144 40 seconds later. That means I'm in shape (which is very good, since I've been training hard for seven weeks), and ready to do a lot of sprinting!

The fast 100/easy 100 is a staple on sprint day at Phoenix Swim Club, and the set has its advantages and disadvantages. I think the set should end after round three, but doing two more sets was not only a great physical test, but a great mental test. It wasn't easy getting my arms moving on the last two. When this set comes up during my sprint phase, I might do rounds one, three and five fast. That gives my body more time to recover and do actual race pace swimming. My backstroke times were about 1.5 seconds off what I did a couple of weeks ago in Tucson, so I know what's in me.

As for the broken 100 breast, I initially thought I had swum a 56, which was very good for the end of workout. Then, Mark told me he yelled out 1:10 when I touched the wall, but I heard "1:11." (Subtract the 15 seconds rest total in the broken swim to get your actual time.) So, 55 was a nice bonus to the day. I've been feeling crappy in my breaststroke this week, and today wasn't great in the technique department, but at least the speed is there, and I can take the time to find that technique. My breaststroke is the first to fall apart when my body is broken down, and during the sprint phase, there's usually some time I build into workouts for drill work, especially during recovery sets.

A reader asked me if I find it difficult to swim with Phoenix Masters, since I'm the only one going to Trials. The answer is an emphatic no. I might be the only Masters swimmer going to Trials (at the moment), but we all have a goal of being the best athletes we can be, and that makes workout fun, even at 6 a.m. If I'm doing fast breaststroke, I typically find someone a couple of lanes down the pool who is doing freestyle at my speed, and pretend we're racing. It is difficult being the only breaststroker, but that's nothing new to me. Growing up from ages 13 to 17, I was the only breaststroker on my age-group team, so I had to race against the freestylers a lot.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Short Course Yards
272 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

4x(4x25 on :30)
Rounds 1 and 3: fly
Rounds 2 and 4: breast
Within each round: first 25 kick, second 25 drill, third and fourth 25 swim

8x75 on 1:30 descend 1-4
50 back/25 breast (descended to :48)

Four rounds:
1x100 free on 1:30 aerobic (averaged 1:08)
2x25 fly on :30 (I was a wimp and did this drill)
1x50 fast on 1:30 (breast -- 29.8, 30.0, 29.3, 29.4)

500 kick easy

4x(4x50 IM order on :45)
Averaged 31 on fly, 33 on back, 35 on breast, 31 on free

100 easy

Broken 100 IM from a dive (done as 4x25 on :20)
11.4, 13.5, 14.3, 11.4 = 50.6 100 IM

100 easy (with stretching)

Total: 3,800 yards

I was really hoping for a mostly aerobic workout today. My wish did not come true. The two main sets were quite tough, and it had to do with me feeling like I was dragging on the bottom of the pool. On the fast 50s in the first main set, I was happy to go so fast on the last two, but I was having difficulty keeping my hips near the surface of the water, which affected my kick and how I was setting up my pull. Amazingly, my breaststroke felt better on the last set of 50s.

Remember the term "social facilitation" that I brought up on the last blog entry? I was very much using that today. I was the only person doing all breaststroke on the first main set, so I didn't really have anyone to race, but it came in handy on the second main set.

Speaking of that last set ... I originally thought we were going to do it as 4x50 fly, 4x50 back, etc., instead of the way we did it. I wanted to get all four of the 50s fly out of the way, but I think the way we did it will help my 200 IM. Butterfly hurt so much on the third and fourth rounds ... BUT I DID NOT BREAK STROKE! I was really fighting through the agonizing pain on the last four 50s, but I was able to hold my average.

And that broken 100 IM? It was suggested by our coach just before the warm down, because we had a few minutes left. As I did the warm down, I thought it would be good to see how fast I could go. I thought if I broke 52 on the broken 100, it would be a success. And I thought Alan would do the 100 IM, which would be good for me. (Again, social facilitation.) He didn't do it, so I kinda did it on my own, since the other two who elected to do it weren't keeping up. Needless to say, I was quite shocked when I added up my times to find out I didn't just go under 52, I went under 51! My goal is to go under 51 in the 100-yard IM, but I don't know when I will do that. I don't plan on shaving for the short course yards season in 2012, so I can focus on Trials. Hopefully, this will mean good things for my taper meet in December. I do want to go under 57 in the short course meters 100 IM, which would be a national Masters record that Ron Karnaugh has held since 2003. I almost got it last year, going 57.14.

I didn't post an entry yesterday about my exercises in the weight room. Here they are:

Five minutes shoulder warm up exercises

Sitting bench press (15 @ 110, 12 @ 140, 10 @ 160)

Leg extensions (15 @ 95, 12 @ 125, 10 @ 155)

Bicep curls (15 @ 15, 12 @ 27.5, 10 @ 32.5)

Leg abductors (15 @ 75, 12 @ 100 10 @ 130)

3x25 breaststroke strokes *

Fifteen minutes ab work and stretching

* The breaststroke stroke exercise has been a great addition to my weight program since spring 2010. It's a perfect way to build the muscles used in breaststroke, as well as the tendons linking the shoulder to the lats. Lay on a big therapy ball and plant your feet on the wall. You might have difficulty doing this exercise if your body is perfectly parallel to the floor, so anchor your feet a little bit lower than your hips. I take a five-pound dumbbell in each hand and do 25 breaststroke pulls. The best way to do it is to not grip the dumbbell with each finger, but hold it with your thumb and keep your other fingers open so you can swim accurately. The first round should be done slowly, about 200 breast tempo. For the next two rounds, pick up the tempo and simply do the strokes with very little stopping at the end of each stroke. Keep your head down and make sure to balance the therapy ball on your pelvis.

So, after yesterday's gym workout and this morning's swim, I was in dire need of a massage, which I had an appointment for at 5:45 today with Tod Miller at his revolutionary Bodywalking Institute. Unfortunately, I was told it would have to be rescheduled for next Tuesday. If my muscles could write, they would have typed out a sad face emoticon. I did a good deal of stretching after swimming today, but I don't the 100 warm down was enough. In place of my massage and bodywalking, I sat in the tub at home for 45 minutes. I feel much better now. If you're sitting in the tub without anything to do ... perfect! All I do is sink into the water and listen to the score from the Martin Scorcese movie "Kundun." I'm not thinking of everything waiting for me at the office, the chores I have to do this week or what movies I want to see. I just absorb Philip Glass' music for 45 minutes, and my brain is also relaxed.

Tomorrow is sprint day, and Coach Mark Rankin has already said we're doing a few broken swims. Bring it on! This is the last week before I start my eight-week speed phase, so it'll be a good indicator of where I am in terms of conditioning.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Can't Do It Alone

Date: Sunday, September 25, 2011
Time: 11:25 a.m.
Short Course Meters
274 days to Trials

10x150 on 2:30
Odd: free
Even: 100 back/50 breast
(descended efforts down to 1:50 for free, 2:00 for back/breast)

8x25 on :45, fast to 15 meters

8x25 on :40
Breast kick drill (two kicks, one stroke)

100 breast fast from push (1:08)

6x50 free easy on 1:00

4x100 on 1:40
50 back/50 free descend to aerobic (about 1:18)

100 IM fast from push (1:03)

8x50 choice easy on 1:10

100 back fast from push (1:03)

4x100 easy :20 rest

Total: 3,700 meters

This weekend in Phoenix, two Masters meets are taking place. I couldn't take part in either because I was in Tucson for the weekend. So, my plan was to do some fast swims today. On a scale of 1 to 10, my excitement level for these swims before I dove in was a 6. Just before the 100 breast, it grew to an 8. Physically, my body was still sore from all the hard work I did on Thursday and Friday, both in the pool and at the gym. One day off didn't do much to recover my muscles.

I wanted to do some short course meters sprint work today, since my taper meet for the season is in short course meters. As a reminder, it's the Arizona Masters state short course meters meet the weekend of Dec. 8. As usual, the goal was to be six or seven seconds slower than my shaved time, and I hit that goal for all three of my swims, which were all seven seconds off my shaved-and-tapered goal times for December. I wasn't very agressive on my 100 breast. My stroke rate and stroke count were OK, but I didn't have much snap to my stroke and my legs weren't being very responsive on the second 50.

As I do every Sunday, I swam alone at the University of Arizona's Hillenbrand Aquatic Center. Not to sound like a broken record, but swimming sprint sets on your own is not easy, especially when your excitement level is only an 8.When you're at a meet, whether in-season or at the end of a season, the excitement level should be at or close to 10. In workout, race-pace swimming should not only train your body to swim as fast as you want to race, but train your mind to be excited for the swim. I was fairly happy with the times, and think this is a good launching pad for the sprint phase of the season, which starts one week from today. Essentially, it will entail similar types of sprint swimming, but maybe not three 100-meter/yard swims in one session.

After my workout, I coached the Dolphins of the Desert Swimming Academy's long distance swimming group. After my own workout, it was weird giving them a broken 1650 (3x550), but it's what they signed up to do each Sunday afternoon! I told one of the swimmers in the group, Karin Bivens, about swimming alone today, and how she was lucky to have people to swim with today. She went into a spiel about sports psychology, and threw out the term "social facilitation." According to Wikipedia, it's defined as " the tendency for people to do better on simple tasks when in the presence of other people." I like that term, and it is very true for me, but not exactly for the same reason defined on Wikipedia. I do swim faster when other people are in the pool with me doing the same set at essentially the same speed. If I had a coach watching me from the side of the pool during my workout today, and no one else was in the pool, I doubt I would have swum faster. If I had, say, Steve West swimming next to me on the 100 breast, and my Phoenix Swim Club teammate Alan Carter in the adjacent lane during my 100 IM and 100 back, I might have gone about a second faster.

I last felt the impact of social facilitation two weeks ago, when Alan and I raced a 200 IM in workout. I went 2:05 to his 2:04 (short course yards). I hadn't gone that fast in Masters swimming. Just a few minutes earlier I had gone pretty much the same effort, only to go about 2:09. Anyone who has swum a major race alone will tell you racing the clock is not as effective as racing a human being.

Back with Phoenix Swim Club on Tuesday. I'm sure social facilitation will be running rampant all over the pool Tuesday morning!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Feet don't fail me now!

Date: Friday, September 23, 2011
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Short Course Yards
276 days to Trials

12x50 on 1:00
odd: swim/kick
even: kick swim
(averaged :45 each 50)

20x25 on :20
(This set was supposed to be kick with fins, but since I did not bring my fins, and because I couldn't make the interval with the fins I wear (or any fins, for that matter), I decided to swim freestyle. I held 15s on each one.) 

8x50 on 1:00
odd: kick with arms in front
even: kick with arms at side

100 easy

9x100 on 1:45 -- 75 swim/25 kick descend 1-3, 4-6, 7-9
(Descended from 1:15 to 1:02 freestyle. With my horrible kick, breaking 1:00 would have a minor miracle.)

Five minutes vertical kick, done as 30 seconds arm scull only, 30 seconds vertical kick (rounds three through five done while holding 10-pound medicine ball)

200 easy

6x50 on :50 non-free
Did 25 back/25 breast, held :32

Two minute break, then 75 fast from a dive
44.6 breaststroke

225 easy

Total: 3,300, not including vertical kicking set

As I mentioned in my previous post, I worried about doing tough leg exercises at the gym the night before a kicking-oriented workout. My fears were realized this morning immediately. Every time I pushed off the wall, I could feel the soreness in my hamstrings. Those "basketball jumps" that I did yesterday were the culprit!

By the end of workout, my legs were fried, but I did everything I could to swim that fast 75 under 44. I was doing well for 40 yards, then my legs stopped pushing water. I was taking eight strokes on the second and third lengths, which is one stroke more than usual. My arms felt fine, but I knew my distance per stroke was severely affected by lack of leg strength. This will all pay off in 10 weeks when I step up for my taper meet!

Yesterday after work, I stopped by the pool to say hi to the new head coach, Coley Stickels. He told my coach that he hoped I could find time to join him for the occasional workout. Since Coley is known for a different mindset toward training, I knew it was an experience I wanted to have on this journey. I picked a good day to visit him. Thursdays have a heavy breaststroke focus, and the people in the water (which included Roland Schoeman) were doing some interesting drills. So, I'll start working with Coley next Thursday, and continuing it every week for the foreseeable future.

I am very much looking forward to a day off tomorrow! I might be getting into the pool, though. I have to teach some swimming lessons in Tucson, and one of them is fairly new to the sport, and I'll have to get in the water as I show him how to push off the wall and stay balanced on backstroke.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I feel good!

Date: Thursday, September 22, 2011
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Short Course Yards
277 days to Trials

1300 warmup

For today's main set, the whiteboard listed "4x800," but the swimmers got to choose how they wanted to do it! Yes, the swimmers got to choose! How often does that happen? We could do all four 800s, or we could break up each 800 into a set of 50, 100s, 200s, 400s ... or even 25s! I don't think anyone opted to do a straight 3,200.

Here's how I did it:
#1: 800 free (9:20) I am going to admit that I took a bathroom break at the start of this, and rejoined the group at the 250. I dove in at the 3:00 mark, which would have been holding about 1:12 per 100. I built the 800, and averaged 1:10, which is my aerobic pace. Felt good through the whole thing, and I didn't lose count (major victory!).

#2: 16x50 back on :45 (averaged :33 per 50) I was going to do them on :40, but I figured it might get real tough to do for 16 of them.

#3: 8x100 free on 1:20 (averaged 1:05) Bonus points for doing it alone! Another lane did them on 1:15. I probably would have done that, but might not have held such a fast average pace.

#4: 2x400 IM with :30 rest, 50 drill/50 swim ... and yes, I swam a 50 fly.

To make up for missing the first 200 of that 800, I did a 200 fairly easy after the 400s.

Today was one the best workouts I've had in a while. From beginning to end, my body and mind were one. Rarely do I feel this good in workout. Either I have to convince my brain to wake up and concentrate on the workout, or I have to convince my muscles to work harder than they want to on that day. Today, I was one with the water. I know it won't last!

At the gym:

Five minutes shoulder warmup exercises

Sitting bench press (15 @ 115, 12 @ 135, 10 @ 155)

Standing cable pull (bent at 90 degrees, simulating breatstroke pullout/butterfly pull) (15 @ 20 lbs. per arm, 12 @ 25, 10 @ 30)

Sitting leg press (15 @ 150, 12 @ 180, 10 @ 210)

Tricep press (15 @ 70, 12 @ 80, 10 @ 90)

This next exercise is a little difficult to describe. I'll call it "Basketball Jumps." Starting at a squat position holding a 12-pound ball, lift the ball above your head and jump, as if you were shooting a basketball at a basket directly above you. I did three rounds of this. On the first round, I did not jump. The ending position was on my toes.

Fifteen minutes abdominals and stretching
Tomorrow is kicking day. Was I wrong to focus on leg exercises tonight? We'll find out ...

On a somewhat unrelated note: While I was swimming this morning, George Bradbury was celebrating his swim across the Strait of Gibraltar, which took him three hours and 57 minutes. His coach was my partner, Geoff Glaser, who had coached another swimmer across the Strait in 2009. George went through a lot to make that swim happen. During some of my workouts in Tucson on Sundays this summer, I would see George do three-hour swims in the pool, stopping only to ingest a little gel pack or checking his pager (he's an orthopedic surgeon). As much as I loathed swimming alone, I couldn't imagine what George was thinking during those three-hour swims. I knew I would be done in a little more than an hour. George had to get through three hours! So, join me in congratulating George and Geoff on this amazing achievement!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Take it to the limit

Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Time: 5:40 a.m.
Short Course Yards
278 days to Trials

300 warmup

12x50 on 1:00
1-4 kick/swim
5-8 drill/swim
9-12 swim descend to 90 percent (freestyle descended to :28)

12x25 kick on :35 -- 2 fast 1 easy
(Put on fins and kicked either flutter or dolphin....didn't get times on this, but probably was :15 on the fast ones)

100 easy

10x25 on :35
Odd: three to four stroke cycles fast
Even: one breath per 25

Four rounds:
25 fast/75 easy on 2:15
50 fast/50 easy on 2:15
100 fast on 2:15
100 easy on 2:15
(25 fast was breast from a dive: 12.6, 12.7, 12.4, 12.1)
(50 fast was freestyle from a push: 25.4, 25.1, 24.9, 24.7)
(100 fast was breast kick with a board: 1:25, 1:24, 1:24, 1:23)

100 easy

Total: 3,300 yards

I felt much better in the water today, as you can see from the times on the main set. No more pizza the night before swimming! Well, at least not a full pie.

When "16x100" appeared on the board, I feared it would be the typical "every other one fast" type of set. I don't recall doing a set like this before, especially at Phoenix Swim Club, but I could be wrong. When I woke up this morning, I wanted to do a good deal of kicking today, only because it will become a major focus during the sprint phase of this season. Today's main set afforded me the opportunity to do so, and because we had a lot of empty lanes in the other half of the pool, I took one of them and got to swim straight, which I always like to do on fast swims. You don't swim circle in a race, so every chance you get to do race-pace training without circle swimming, take that opportunity!

I haven't been faster than 1:30 on my kicks in a very, very long time. It's mostly because I never put a lot of focus on my breaststroke kick. But after participating in the seminar with Tennessee coach Matt Kredich two weeks ago, I've been thinking a lot about my kick and how I can make it more efficient (as efficient as I can make it with my horrible ankle flexibility). To go those times in the fast 100 was awesome, especially since I did some tough leg exercises at the gym last night.

Also, my freestyle is showing a lot of improvement in the past month. Is it because Alan Carter is training with us, forcing me to work more on my freestyle just to keep from getting lapped by him on a 200? Probably. To be less than a second slower than my final 50 in the 100 free shaved and tapered gives me a lot of confidence, especially for the end of my 100 and 200 IMs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Food, glorious food

Date: September 20, 2011
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Short Course Yards
279 days to Trials

1300 warmup

Main set:
Three rounds, descending effort by round:
4x25 fly on :25
1x100 back on 1:40
2x50 breast on 1:00
1x100 free on 1:40
(Descended to :15 for fly, 1:05 for back, :34 for breast, 1:00 for free)

100 IM fast for time (:59)

200 scull/swim

4x(3x100 on 1:40)
#1 backstroke (averaged 1:06)
#2 IM (averaged 1:06)
#3 free (averaged 1:01)

200 warm down

Total: 4,200 yards

At the gym (6:15 p.m.):

Five minutes shoulder warm up exercises

Sitting bench press (15 @ 115, 12 @ 135, 10 @ 155)

Sitting row (15 @ 80, 12 @ 110, 10 @ 120)

Sitting leg press (15 @ 140, 12 @ 170, 10 @ 200)

Dumbbell curls (15 @ 15 lbs each arm, 12 @ 22.5, 15 @ 27.5)

Hamstring curls (15 @ 70, 12 @ 100, 10 @ 110)

Standing lat pulldown (15 @ 50, 12 @ 60, 10 @ 75)

15 minutes abdominal exercises and stretching

A common story about swimmers is that we can eat whatever we want. Because we train so hard, we need lots of calories to replace the ones we burned. That's true for those in their teens and 20s who swim 10,000 yards each day. It's not true for this 37-year-old Masters swimmer who averages 3,500 per day. I wish I had thought of that after eating an entire Digiorno pepperoni pizza last night. I was extremely hungry after a long day at work and a tough day in piano class, and it was the only thing that would be ready in 30 minutes (except for pasta, which I had for dinner on Sunday). The pizza was still digesting in my body this morning, I believe, because I felt like a ton of bricks through the entire workout. I didn't feel bloated, just unable to make my muscles move through the water as fast as I expected. Plus, all the sodium in the pizza made me very thirsty, and I almost drank the entire contents of my water bottle in 70 minutes, which I rarely do. To make the morning more bizarre, one of my lanemates said he thought I had lost weight!

(I was much smarter with dinner tonight when I got home from the gym: Two chicken breasts, some broccoli and a protein shake.)

If it weren't for Alan Carter pushing the pace in the lane next to me, and if I had done today's workout alone, I would have quit after the first round of the main set. Today was tough to get through, but I'm glad I did. The times on both of the sets you see above were above aerobic pace, and my heart rate got pretty high. I checked at the end of both of the big sets and my heart rate was at 174 (29 beats for a 10-second count).

I know that every swimmer experiences a bad workout or two occasionally. After more than 30 years in the pool, I know that all too well. But I always get excited for Tuesday workouts because they are stroke-oriented, and I'm swimming with a group of talented people after my lonely Sunday workout. I was a little mad at myself for not being able to swim better today. And when your stomach isn't feeling its best, working on utilizing your core on your strokes is a little bit of a challenge. I think tomorrow's sprint workout will be better. No, I know it will be better!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

All by myself

Date: Sunday, September 18, 2011
Time: 11:15 a.m.
Short Course Yards
281 days to Trials

Three rounds:
150 free on 2:15
100 IM on 1:30
50 breast on 1:00

8x25 on :45 (15m fast)

3x100 back descend to 90 percent on 1:40
(1:18, 1:08, 1:05)

One minute rest, then 100 back fast (:56)

8x25 on :30 recovery

4x50 breast kick drill (one pull, two kicks) on 1:00

One minute rest, then 100 breast fast (1:03)

8x25 on :30 recovery

Power Tower (bucket 3/4 full)
4x15 on 1:00 (2 back, 2 breast)
One minute break
4x25 on 1:30 (2 back, 2 breast)

6x100 on 1:40 easy, 50 back/50 breast

Total: 3200 yards

I suppose I only had one fast 100 in me today. I wish it had been breaststroke. I was very happy with the backstroke swim. I haven't been :56 in a long time, stuck at :57 for about a year. What does this mean about my backstroke? I don't know. I've been stuck at the mid-51 range in my tapered 100-yard backstroke for eight years, and haven't gone under 1:00 in long course meters since 2008. It would be great to go under those barriers again, but obviously, the focus is on breaststroke until June 25 (which is not to say I'm not keeping up on my other strokes).

Going 1:03 in the fast 100 breast wasn't horrible, given that I only had 10 minutes to recover after that tough 100 back. My legs were still tired, and pushing off the walls was difficult. The upper body felt strong, though. I'm usually 1:02-low on my fast 100 breast swims, but I dont' do them as often as I should.

To add to the difficulty of the workout, I did it alone. No one else was in the pool at the University of Arizona's Hillenbrand Aquatic Center. Doing aerobic sets alone is tough, but doing all-out sprints with no one to push you is a Herculean feat. Racing the clock is nothing new to me, but when your muscles are flooded with lactic acid, your first instinct is to back off when you have no one to keep you moving forward. I'll be doing more sprint workouts on Sunday, especially since the sprint phase of the season is just a couple of weeks away. I'll have to work on the mental aspect of swimming alone if I want to reach my goals this season and next.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Roll with it

Date: Saturday, September 17, 2011
Time: 12:45 p.m.
Short Course Yards
282 days to Trials

300 warmup*

6x150 swim on 2:15
1-3 free (holding 1:55)
4-6 back/breast/free (holding 2:00)

8x50 on 1:00
25 kick to 10 meters/25 breathing twice

6x100 -- 25 back/25 breast/50 free
1-4 on 1:30 (averaged 1:15)
5-6 on 1:20 (averaged 1:10)

9x100 breast kick on 2:00
odd easy (averaging 1:45), even fast (descended to 1:30)

8x25 easy with :15 rest

Two rounds:
100 free on 1:30
4x25 breaststroke with double pullouts, :15 rest

100 easy

Total distance: 3500 yards

* This afternoon I taught a lesson at the Oro Valley Municipal Pool, which is just north of Tucson. I needed to be in the water for this lesson, as the student was very new to learning backstroke. Because I got in the water with him and swam beside him up and down the pool for 15 minutes of the 30-minute lesson, I count the 300 yards I did as warmup!

Today's workout was first tested out by the Masters team we own through Dolphins of the Desert Swimming Academy. I amended the workout through after the 8x50s, as I discovered after starting the set of 150s that the pool had only one pace clock, and it was constantly being blocked by parents cheering for their kids at the other end of the pool, where a USA Swimming meet was being conducted. I was able to crane my neck and see the clock for the first two sets, but it was very important that I see the clock right away on the next set, because the rest interval was to be very short.  Initially, I planned to do 12x75, with the last eight of those on 1:00, but I couldn't see the clock at all at the turn end of the pool, so I just rolled with the punches and did an extra 25 freestyle.

After the sixth 100, I gave up on the set because it was near impossible to see the clock. The set was designed to give me about 10 seconds rest if I held 1:10 on the 100s, and I was missing the interval on five and six because I couldn't see the clock. I gave up on the set altogether and decided to start the kick set earlier.

I was also doing this workout alone, and the difficulty of seeing the pace clock made it mentally tougher for me to get through it. By cutting the IM set short, as well as the last recovery set, I didn't do the 4,400 yards I originally planned to do. I don't feel bad about it, though.

Tomorrow is another solo workout, but I'll be doing this one at the University of Arizona's Hillenbrand Aquatic Center, so I know there will be pace clocks everywhere!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Go the distance

Date: Thursday, September 15, 2011
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Short Course Yards
284 days to Trials

Main set:
3x100 on 1:20
200 on 2:40
300 on 4:00
400 on 5:20
500 on 6:40
One minute break
500 on 6:40
400 on 5:20
300 on 4:00
200 on 2:40
3x100 on 1:20

Total workout distance: 4500 yards

As usual, its a crapshoot on Thursdays. You never know what kind of workout you're going to get. Coach Mark Rankin says it's "recovery day," but I never truly feel like the sets give the right opportunities for recovery. Today, I did my best to hold at my aerobic threshold and not push too hard.

On the way up the ladder of the main set (starting at the 100s all the way to the 500), I used a FINIS snorkel. This is a great way for me to work on my freestyle stroke, because I can watch my arms during the pull. I was trying to work on Matt Kredich's suggestion that the forearm powers the pull. For most of the set, I could do it, but as I was getting tired, I found myself un-flexing my wrist, which disengaged my forearm. I held about 1:12 on the way up the ladder. I don't go very fast with the snorkel on. I can never do good turns with it, and I'm too busy concentrating on my stroke. I went first in my lane, and my lanemates didn't seem to care about our pace.

On the way down the ladder, I swam normal. After the 500, I got a little bit of a second wind, but told myself to stay relaxed and aerobic, which was about 1:08 or 1:09 per 100. For me, aerobic means a heart rate of about 162-168, determined by the number of beats in a 10-second count. Alan Carter took off on the entire set, and I didn't care in the least that he lapped me on the 400s and 500s. Two lanes over, a semi-regular swimmer named Claire, who swims with us when she's not studying for a graduate degree at Stanford, was holding the same pace as I was. She helped keep me from slowing down when I felt like doing so (which was often), and got me concentrating on my turns in order to gain a little advantage on each length.

I was glad I did that set. Are you surprised that I would say that? I need to work on my freestyle for IM purposes, and sets like this help my endurance. On the upside I had a couple of nice songs from the Stephen Sondheim musical "Company" playing in my head during the whole set ("Side by Side by Side" and "Company") and I was only distracted from keeping count once!

At the gym:
Five minutes shoulder warmup exercises

Sitting bench press (15@110, 12@135, 10@155)

Sitting row (15@105, 12@135, 10@165)

Leg adductors (15@140, 12@160, 10@180)

Cable pull (bent at 90 degree angle, replicating breaststroke pullout) (15@15 per arm, 12@20 per arm, 10@ 30 per arm)

Four rounds of 20 box jumps

15 minutes abdominal exercises and stretching

Since I will not be swimming tomorrow, I decided to step up the weight workout a notch. The sitting row was tough, but everything else felt good. In two weeks I'll be starting my eight-week phase of power/speed lifting, which has been a very good addition to my overall program. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dream a little dream

Date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Short Course Yards
285 days to Trials

4x150 choice on 2:30

4x(4x25 on :30)
#1 three stroke cycles fast
#2 build
#3 90 percent effort
#4 easy

6x50 on 1:00
descend 1-3 to 90 %
(free on 1-3 descended to :28, back/breast on 4-6 descended to :31)

6x25 easy :15 rest

6x50 on 1:00 best average
Breast: 30.6, 31.7, 31.8, 31.6, 31.5, 30.0 (#6 from a dive)

6x25 easy :15 rest

6x (50 fast, 50 easy) on 2:30
1-3 breast (27.8 (from dive), 29.5, 29.6)
4-6 free (23.4 (from dive), 24.5, 25.1)

6x25 easy :15 rest

8x25 kick fast on :40
(1-3 breast no board, 4-6 free no board)

150 easy

Total: 3,000 yards

Maybe I took too much ibuprofen last night. This morning, I couldn't feel my muscles at all! It always takes me a while to get ready to sprint (about 1500 yards/meters), but I felt like I was forcing my muscles into action for the entire workout!

My breaststroke didn't feel very good, but I was proud of myself for choosing to do it on the best average 50s. I was working on connecting my pull and kick, but it didn't feel smooth today. Everything felt choppy. Imagine my surprise when I went 29 on two of the fast 50s! That's my usual pace for an all-out 50 breast from a push, so to do that when my stroke felt horrible was a big confidence boost. I can't wait to see what I'll do on a day when the stroke feels better.

I have to tell you about a dream I had last night. It took place at next year's Olympic Trials in Omaha. I paraded out to my block (lane 1) for the 100 breast and did all my pre-race prep (rubbing block surface with palms, mini-jumps) while the newly-retired Scott Spann was finishing his swim in the heat before me. His time on the scoreboard read "1:15.99." I knew that was a horrible time, and I saw it on Scott's face. I tried to focus on my own race ahead. I dove in and swam to the turn end, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the swimmer in the lane next to me far ahead. I began to freak out and sped up my tempo to try and catch him. I started to pay dearly for it at the 75-meter mark. The lactate hit so hard that I stopped moving forward. I was still doing the stroke (legally), but I was making no progress. The pain was so excruciating that I decided to stop swimming, sank down to the bottom of the pool and pushed off the bottom. Yes, that is illegal.

I got a little bit of a second wind and managed to finish the race. "7:18.99" on the scoreboard. Then I woke up.

Weird, huh?

One final note. My coach has asked me to not post full workouts on the blog every time. You will get to see full workouts most days, but some days you will only see main sets and the total distance swum. For the workouts I do alone (usually only on Sundays), you'll see the full workout, because those are created by me.

It's early afternoon now in Phoenix as I write this, and the urge to nap is strong. The long list of things to do at work is keeping me awake, as is the excitement of having dinner with a high school teammate tonight!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hurts so good

Date: September 13, 2011
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Short Course Yards
286 days to Trials

24x25 on :30
1-4: 1 of each stroke
5-12: 2 of each stroke
13-24: 3 of each stroke
(averaged :19 on each)

8x200 IM on 3:20, 3 and 6 fast
(2:10 on #3, 2:05 on #6, did IM on 1 & 2 and averaged 2:25, did back on 4, 5, 7 and 8 and averaged 2:28)

3x(3x25) breast on :35
#1: double pullouts (took one regular stroke to the wall)
#2: breast pull with flutter kick
#3: breast pull with dolphin kick
(averaged :20 on each, as this was a welcome recovery set)

3x(3x25) fly on :35
#1: dolphin kick halfway underwater
#2: 1 up, 1 down on breathing
#3: three left arm, three right arm, three full stroke (I only had room for one full stroke each 25)
(averaged :18 on each)

8x100 IM on 1:40, 3 and 6 fast
(57.6 on #3, 57.5 on #6...decided to do #8 fast and went 59.5)

200 easy (with stretching)

Total: 3650 yards

What a workout!

We haven't done IM training in a long time. Usually on Tuesday, we focus on the individual strokes. That's always good, but I forget how much you need to do IM training in workout, so you can work on transitions and other things specific to the IM (such as holding your stroke on freestyle).

I must comment on the set of 200 IMs. This morning, Walter Ross, an age-group swimmer who trains with the top group at Phoenix Swim Club, swam with us because he had a swim meet this afternoon during normal workout. I let him lead the lane because he's young and has a bundle of energy. I might have overestimated him a little bit, seeing as he is not really an IMer. On the first fast 200 IM, I went 10 seconds behind him and caught him at breaststroke. I had to slow down a little bit when I caught him, then was able to speed up on freestyle. Given that, I was very surprised to go 2:10, which is about a second slower than my best 200 IM from a push -- at least in the past few years. I can't remember how fast I used to do that in college. On the second fast 200 IM, I was excited for the opportunity to race the super speedy Alan Carter in the lane next to me. We haven't done any racing in IM since he came to Phoenix Swim Club, so I didn't know how I would do against him. All I knew is that he wasn't as good in breaststroke, and that he has a stellar freestyle. We were fairly even after butterfly, then he took off on backstroke. He was almost a body length ahead after breaststroke, and I managed to catch him after 25 yards of that stroke. I got a body length lead on him going into freestyle, but it wasn't enough. He went a 2:04 to my 2:05.

Wow! I had never gone 2:05 from a push in a 200 IM in Masters before! The gauge on how fast I'm going is to take my best time shaved and tapered (from my times in Masters) and add six to seven seconds for a 100 and 15 for a 200. That would put me at 2:07 for my 200 IM (based on the 1:52.6 I did nine years ago). I think it was having Alan to race that helped me go so fast in that set. Usually when I do a 200 IM alone, either in a race or in workout, I tend to mentally hold back on the first half of each stroke. I didn't do that today. My upper body did not want to swim that fast, but my competitive instinct took over. The 2:05 really hurt at the end, but I was really focused on working each turn and not saving any energy through each stroke.

The set of 100 IMs was exhausting, but I was happy to go 57. That's right on my target time for that event. I was a little too confident on the extra fast 100 I did. The butterfly felt awesome (a rarity for me), but it was a struggle to hold my strokes after that. At least I broke the one-minute barrier!

When I get home tonight, I'm going to take as much ibuprofen as the FDA will allow. I'll need to recover quickly for tomorrow's sprint workout. Or will it be best known as a "sprint" workout? Coach Mark Rankin sent a team e-mail out today extolling the achievements of some of my teammates, all of whom just completed Ironman triathlons or major open-water swims.

"I knew we were a Distance Team and not a Sprint Team." That's what he wrote in the e-mail. I have a bad feeling about this...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back in the saddle

Date: Sunday, September 11, 2011
Time: 9:15 a.m.
Short Course Yards
288 days to Trials

At the gym
Five minutes shoulder warmups

Sitting bench press (15@110, 12@130, 10@150)

Sitting leg press (15@150, 12@180, 10@200)

Standing lat pull (15@50, 12@60, 10@75)

Hamstring curls (15@70, 12@90, 10@110)

Fifteen minutes abdominal work and stretching

(Gym workout time: 50 minutes)

At the pool (10:30 start)

20x50 on :50
1-4 kick/swim, 5-8 drill/swim, 9-12 stroke/free, 13-16 free, 17-20 IM order
(Averaged :35 each 50)

4x300 free
#1 on 4:00 (3:30)
#2 on 3:45 (3:24)
#3 on 3:30 (3:15)
#4 faster than #3 (3:16)
(Note: I did not wear paddles. If a set allows for paddles -- or even a pull buoy -- I do not use them. I prefer to swim under my own power.)

50 easy

10x25 on :35 with pull buoy around ankles or kickboard between thighs
Averaged :18 seconds per repeat, just swimming easy. Did free for 1-4, back on 5-7 and breast on 8-10. Good set for core engagement, especially on breaststroke!

7x (3x100 on 1:30), with third 100 in each round fast
Round 1 backstroke: 1:02 (slowed down last 25 when I felt a cramp coming on in my leg)
Round 2 freestyle: :57
Round 3 backstroke: 1:00
Round 4 freestyle: :56

Round 5 backstroke: 59.3
Round 6 freestyle: 56.5
Round 7 backstroke: 59.1

200 breast kick easy

 4800 yards

Today's workout exemplifies why I rarely attend the Sunday workouts at Phoenix Swim Club! (That and the fact that I'm in Tucson most weekends.) The main sets didn't offer much time to rest, which is great for building endurance, but the sprinter in me would have loved to fully recover more on the last set, to try and do some race pace swims for the first time this season. As it was, I was two seconds off my fastest 100 free and back from a push on the set, which isn't too bad. Had I really put forth the effort and gone all out, I might have crashed hard halfway through the set. I was glad I made it to the end! I did promise my coach, Mark Rankin, that I would attend Sunday workout once a month, so I've fulfilled my promise for September!

Since I did not swim on Friday or Saturday, I needed more than 1000 yards to get back into the rhythm. That set of 300s was brutal. My lanemates made me go first despite my objections. Alan Carter seems to be back in the groove. He swam a 2:50 on his final 300 (with paddles).

I will claim a small victory over Alan today. He did backstroke on the fifth round, and I got my hand on the wall about a second before him. Again, it's a small victory. He'll probably pummel me when he shaves and tapers.

I decided to go to the gym before workout because I hadn't lifted weights in more than a week. I figured a fairly good weight session would even give my muscles a little boost in the pool. Everything (including my lats) felt great until the end of the set of 300s.

I want to tell you about some things I learned on Saturday at the ASCA clinic in San Diego. SwimmingWorld.TV was filming a talk Matt Kredich was giving on some of the exercises his team does on the Vasa Trainer, and when the scheduled demonstrator did not show up, Matt enlisted my help. I do Vasa Trainer work often, but nto as much as  I probably should. I was very much into Vasa Trainer work in 2009, but haven't done regular sessions in the past two years. After today, I will be stepping up the routine.

Matt, the head coach at the University of Tennessee, showed how the device helps his swimmers recognize the arm angles needed for pulling in freestyle, backstroke and butterfly (as well as the breaststroke pullout). I wasn't aware that the true strength of the pull comes from the forearm in free, back and fly. It gave me something to work on today in the pool, and I agree that the pull is stronger! I noticed that the hitch I had in my freestyle virtually disappeared, and I had a better grip on the water in backstroke. As for the breaststroke kick, you can use a pulley system attached to your ankles to work on strengthening your hamstrings, which is important for a quick leg recovery on breast kick. He also pointed out that too many swimmers drop their knees on the breast kick, which is obviously counterproductive. I always thought it was necessary in order to set up for a powerful kick. This might be a tough one to change. My kick isn't great as it is, but when you put the focus on the hamstrings, it gets worse. I felt a difference in the easy kick I did at the end of workout, but I am not sure if it would be faster. We'll see on Friday during kicking day, and I'll think about it while swimming breast throughout the week.

I'm glad to be back in Phoenix! I should be very consistent with training for the remainder of the season, since I don't have any travel plans for work or personal reasons. In a couple of weeks, the endurance training phase ends, and the sprint training kicks into full gear for my taper meet in December.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The night the lights went out in San Diego

Date: Friday, September 9, 2011
290 days to Trials

As you may know, the power went out in San Diego on Thursday afternoon. I was working at the Swimming World booth at the ASCA clinic there when it happened. We thought at first it was just the exhibit hall, then we found out the entire convention center was dark, and finally discovered all of San Diego was affected. The city was without power for 12 hours. It was weird walking around the hotel and having only the light from the moon guiding me after sunset. Most of us were betting that we wouldn't have electricity until 3 p.m. this afternoon, so imagine my surprise when the power was restored at 2:55 a.m.!

Because I figured the power would not turn on by morning, I decided to not try to get up early for swimming. I probably should have swum today. Because my work schedule will keep me from doing a morning swim tomorrow, I will be out of the pool for two days. I try not to do that, because the next pool workout is often spent getting back into the swimming groove. I will swim on Sunday morning in Phoenix. The Sunday workouts at Phoenix Swim Club are brutal. They run for 90 minutes instead of the usual 75, and they usually involve lots of repeats with very little rest.

Since I did not swim today, I did some abdominal exercises in my hotel room tonight. I didn't do the typical stuff. I laid on my bed with my legs suspended off the edge. I held my legs straight out for 60 seconds, and did that five times. It's a good exercise to do while watching television or talking on the phone.

Before I go, I want to share with you two great experiences I had today. First, I got to meet the great John Moffet. I will not go into much detail about what makes him legendary in my eyes, because you can do a Google search and find out how awesome he was. Though he said he doesn't swim, he does stay active through track cycling. That was very interesting to me. I was so in awe of meeting him that I could think of nothing else for about 20 minutes. Thanks to 1980 Olympian Craig Beardsley for introducing us!

The second thing that happened was getting the opportunity to interview Michael Phelps. As a journalist, I was honored to do an in-depth interview with him about his swim school and training for the Olympics. As a fellow swimmer and major fan of the sport, I was having a few out-of-body experiences. I have interviewed him before after some of his races, but today was better because he didn't have to warm down or talk to other media waiting in a long line. I will say that even away from the pool, he still has that Michael Phelps aura. And Bob Bowman is never more than four feet from him.

And now to sleep! The beds in the Town and Country Resort are firmer than I like. Can't wait to return to my own bed tomorrow. I'm even looking forward to feeling the sting of the Phoenix heat.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Start me up!

Date: Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011
Time: 6:30 a.m.
Short Course Yards
291 days to Trials

400 warmup

2x75, five seconds rest
25 left arm/25 right arm/25 swim

2x200 free on 2:45 (held 2:25)

Four rounds:
8x25 on :30
4x50 on :50
2x100 on 1:20
Round 1 free (built the effort through the round, and swam :58 on the 100s)
Round 2 IM order (built the effort through the round, and swam 1:04 100 IMs)
Round 3 free (same as Round 1)
Round 4 kick (Legs very sore, so I didn't kick too hard on this round. Went about 1:40 for 100 breast kick)

150 easy

Total: 3500 yards

As a reminder, I am at the American Swimming Coaches Association's clinic in San Diego this week, and I was ecstatic that San Diego Masters conducts their workouts at the Mission Valley pool, which is less than five minutes (driving) away from the convention! I swam in the fastest lane, and apparently there was a rule that the new guy leads the lane. So, I went first and pushed my swims a little faster than I really wanted., but I felt good for having swum so fast today. Well, my 100 IMs were not very fast, but the interval didn't allow for much rest, so I was happy that held the same time on the second repeat.

When you visit a new team for the first time, do you ever feel like you have to show off in front of everyone? I usually do, but because my body was a little tired from driving five hours yesterday, followed by about six hours of work at the convention, I was desirous for an easy workout. Maybe tomorrow... 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

If I could turn back time...

Date: Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
Time: 5:40 p.m.
Short Course Yards
292 days to Trials

500 warmup

8x100 on 1:45
odd: swim/kick/drill/swim (averaged 1:25)
even: swim choice (backstroke, averaged 1:15)

8x25 on :35 kick fast

8x100 on 1:45 descend 1-4 to 90 percent effort
1:09, 1:07, 1:03, :58, 1:10, 1:08, 1:03, :58

8x25 on :35 easy

100 IM fast (:57)

100 easy

Distance: 2700 yards

Because I was planning to drive to San Diego at 7:30 a.m., I couldn't stay for the entire workout. I had planned to get out at 6:45, but at 6:35 I realized I had left my phone at home, which freaked me out. My house is 20 minutes from the pool (and the office, which is right around the corner from the pool), and I knew that no matter how fast I drove, we wouldn't be leaving at 7:30. I drove home and grabbed my phone (and a swig of orange juice). On the way back, I hit a bird! It flew directly into my car, and it was traumatic to see feathers and a dead bird hit my windshield. I had never hit a living animal with my car before. I was not in a good state for about 10 minutes. I would have given anything to be able to go back to 5 a.m., when I would have remembered my phone the first time, I would have been able to finish the workout at 6:45, and that bird would still be alive.

Anyway, we left for San Diego at 7:45. We had planned to arrive in San Diego at 1 p.m. We got there at 1:04, with no stops! Tiffany Elias, my passenger, and I planned our fluid intake well, and we didn't have the urge to pee until the final 20 minutes. And my Prius got pretty good gas mileage (41.0 mpg), so no need to stop to fill up!

Today's workout, as you will notice, has a pattern. Mark Rankin likes patterns, and that's fine with me. It's not boring, as long as the sets within the pattern have some diversity. The last set, in which I only did a 100 IM fast, was 8x100 on 1:45, going fast on the odd repeats. I don't think there would have been much more after that.

OK, time to work. The long week is about to begin here at the Town and Country Convention Center!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming

Date: Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Short Course Yards
293 days to Trials

400 warmup

6x150 on 2:30
odd: kick/drill/swim (averaged 2:10)
even: back/breast/free swim (averaged 1:55)

8x100 on 1:40 roving IM (averaged 1:10-1:12)
Roving IM means you start with a different stroke on each repeat. The first one is regular IM order, the second 100 is back/breast/free/fly, the third is breast/free/fly/back and the fourth is free/fly/back/breast. Repeat.

8x25 on :35
odd: fly pull with underwater recovery
even: fly swim with four kicks per stroke cycle
(I didn't look at the clock quickly at the end of these repeats, but I was getting about 15 seconds rest)

6x100 on 2:00 descend 1-3
(Swam 50 back/50 breast: 1:17, 1:10, 1:05, 1:16, 1:11, 1:03)

100 easy

6x50 on 1:00 descend 1-3
(Swam backstroke: 38, 33, 28.0, 38, 34, 28.0)

100 easy

6x25 on :30 descend 1-3
(Swam butterfly: 18, 15, 12.8, 18, 15, 12.8)

100 easy (with stretching)

Thanks to yesterday's very long walk, my gluteals and hip flexors are extremely sore. I almost collapsed from the pain of it when I got out of bed this morning. I'm sure the walk was good for me, but maybe I shouldn't have walked so long! No matter how much I stretched today, the soreness would not go away. It made breaststroke difficult to do well, since the kick is very dependent on the hip flexors. Every time I lifted my legs for the kick, I could feel the flexors.

As such, the set of 100s descend wasn't as fast as I had hoped. I was certain I could go 1:00 or :59, but when your kick is compromised, it affects everything else.

Tomorrow morning I am headed to the American Swimming Coaches Association's annual clinic with part of the Swimming World crew. This year it's in San Diego, which means we're driving. I will be packing my Prius with heavy boxes, which will affect the gas mileage severely. On last weekend's trip, I managed to make it on one tank of gas each way, which was expected. I got about 43.5 miles per gallon, which is below normal for highway driving, but about right when you factor in that I went through several mountain passes. With the extra equipment in my car, I hope the gas mileage can stay in the 43-mile range.Coming back there should be less stuff in my car (provided we sell a lot of product!), so my car will like me then.

Anyway, I expect to swim every day I am there, so I will continue to post during the trip.

If you're going to be in San Diego, stop by the Swimming World booth and say hello!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fame! I'm gonna walk forever

Date: Sunday, September 5, 2011
295 days to Trials

After eating a large serving of lobster truffle macaroni and cheese, two slices of mud pie and strawberry cake last night, I figured I needed to do some exercise today before getting into the car and driving back to Phoenix. I knew I wasn't going to be able to swim (the public pools were closed), so I went for an hour long walk in San Diego. I think I logged in about four miles. The first 30 minutes were done mostly uphill, which helped me work up a sweat. As I was keeping time to the music of "Fame," "Let's Go Crazy," Madonna's "Music" and more, I thought about my swimming technique. It helped pass the time.

My breaststroke technique is good, but I think I need to work more on using my core to connect my pull and kick. Lately I have felt that I pause a little bit at the breath, and I need to make the stroke a little smoother. I visualized using my core to keep the stroke more fluid, and I'll work more on it tomorrow in the pool.

A 17-year-old swimmer in Tucson is taking lessons from me, and he's progressing well in his breaststroke. He used to swim with the mindset that breaststroke was only arms and legs. Now that he's connecting his core, his stroke is looking much more fluid, which will very much help him in his 200 IM and 400 IM. I've been thinking about this a lot in the past two weeks and on Friday I felt the slight pause in my stroke when I was doing the sprint 50s from the blocks (see workout below).

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Into the great wide open

This weekend, I am in San Diego, getting a nice change of scenery and a much-needed break from the extreme heat of Arizona. This trip was last-minute on my part, as my original Labor Day idea was to spend the weekend in Los Angeles (particularly Six Flags Magic Mountain), but that plan was scrapped.

Geoff Glaser, my husband and co-founder of Dolphins of the Desert Swimming Academy, was going to San Diego to coach a swimmer through a seven-hour swim in San Diego Bay. This was to be a warm-up for a crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar in a couple of weeks. George Bradbury, who is going to attempt this crossing, has done a few Ironman competitions, made the seven-hour swim on Saturday with no problem at all.

I knew we were not going to be able to get to a pool on Saturday, so my only option for swimming yesterday was going to be a swim in the bay. The water was an awesome 70 degrees, and the sun came out at 9:15 a.m., which was 75 minutes into the swim for George. I jumped in and started swimming freestyle with George. My freestyle is faster than George's, so when I got ahead of him, I swam back and circled our escort boat until I found myself behind him. Then, I would do a sprint to catch up to him, swim aerobically for a few minutes and do that again. George took feeding breaks every half hour, and while he got his nutrition from the boat crew (which consisted of Geoff and C.M., George's partner), I took a drink of water from my water bottle to wash out the taste of salt water. While waiting for George to start swimming again, I treaded water, which isn't very difficult in salt water.

I swam for 75 minutes. Estimating that I only stopped swimming for a total of five minutes within those 75 minutes, I figure that I swam about 5,000 meters. What a workout! In the first 15 minutes of my swim, we swam with the tide, which was great for getting acclimated to everything. Then, we reached the end of the recommended space for swimming, and turned around. Swimming against the chop was tough, but the swells weren't very high, so we rarely got those extremely difficult moments. It wasn't conducive to breaststroke swimming, so I only did freestyle.

I'm very happy with my swim in the open water. I never felt fatigued in the swim, and I never got those stomach problems that plague me when I do distance swims in the pool. I think the stomach issues have to do with the flip turns. Although, I did take some Dramamine before the open water swim, mostly to help against motion sickness in the boat.

This is a map of the San Diego Bay. We swam in a channel on the lower right of this map.

When I stopped swimming after 75 minutes, I felt bad knowing George had four and a half hours left. I had thought about swimming for another 30 minutes, but I knew I didn't need to do so. When I got out, I was so hungry that I couldn't stop eating. I ate a turkey and roast beef sandwich, two peaches, three cookies, a tomato, pretzels and more cookies. Yes, I had plenty of water, but I kept peeing clear every 15 minutes or so, so I was aware that I was fully hydrated.

Today Geoff and I planned to find a pool for a workout, but I was tired by noon, after two hours of walking through a farmer's market and a stop at a high-end clothing store. When we got back to the house where we are staying, I desperately needed a nap. A nap meant we might not get a swim in, because the public pool closed at 4. I slept from 2-3 p.m., and felt a little bad that Geoff didn't get to swim. He hadn't had the opportunity to swim, except for the final 30 minutes of George's swim. I don't feel bad about not swimming. Because I swam yesterday in the bay, I was fine with taking a day off. I'm not swimming tomorrow, because I'm driving back to Phoenix. There's no way I'm doing a workout, then driving for almost six hours!

One more thought about the swim on Saturday. I believe that in a former life I was an open water swimmer. I never felt the desire to do flip turns, and only for about two minutes did I worry about the temperature and the creatures living in the water. If I had a different biological make-up, I might actually enjoy doing an open water race or two. But I know I couldn't sustain a racing pace for 10 kilometers!

Have a great Labor Day everyone! I'm back in the pool Tuesday.

Friday, September 2, 2011

At last, my fast-twitch muscles have come along!

Date: Friday, September 2, 2011
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Short Course Meters/Short Course Yards
297 days to Trials

8x50 on :50 swim
8x50 on 1:00, 25 kick/25 swim
8x50 on 1:10 kick

12x100 on 2:00 (Set called for even repeats to be fast, but I was fairly aggressive on all of them. Did the first six breaststroke, holding 1:43. Did the last six flutter kick with fins and no board, holding 1:30)

200 drill

Short course yards (because I wanted my own lane to avoid swimming circle)
12x50 on 1:00, every third fast from a dive
Breaststroke: 29.3, 28.9, 28.7, 27.7

50 easy, then I decided to do another 50 breast for time. Went 27.6

100 warm down (with stretching)

Yay! I finally felt like a sprinter today. It was a little surprising, given how sore I was after yesterday's mile for time. I was glad to do some fast swims from the blocks, just to shock my system. The first one felt crappy, but I was ready to go after that. The last two 50s I did (the ones under 28), were not all-out. They really felt like the first 50 of a 100: aggressive, but not overloading it. I'm not sure if I could have done another 50 each time, though.

Looking back on the week, the thing that sticks out for me is that I did a lot of breaststroke, and most of it by choice. When given the option of strokes, I usually choose backstroke because it's easier to swim than breaststroke in workout. I am pleased that I made the decision to do so much breaststroke. It will pay dividends later ... I hope.

I officially picked my taper meet for short course meters. It will be the Arizona Masters state meet, held at the Phoenix Swim Club pool. It will be the second weekend of December, which is the time when the heaters are on full blast in the pool. I'm in the minority on the team in terms of wanting the pool at a cooler temperature, but hopefully when the meet rolls around the heaters will be turned down considerably. I'll have to remind Mark to keep the pool cool that week. Hard as I try, it will be impossible to swim fast when the water is 83 degrees. I will do my usual events (50 and 100 breast, 100 back, 100 and 200 IM), and maybe the 100 free. I surprised myself at spring nationals with a 47.29, which almost won. I'm looking forward to seeing how fast I swim there. Last fall I swam very well at my taper meet in November, which was the first time I thought about making the Trials cut in the 100 breast. Another great fall meet could verify whether my training is on the right path, or if I need to make adjustments before Omaha approaches.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I've got a rumbly in my tumbly *

Date: Thursday, September 1, 2011
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Short Course Meters
298 days to Trials

4x250 on 4:30 (200 swim choice/50 kick choice)

12x25 free (or fly) on :35, three breaths per 25

1500 for time
19:53 (see below for more information)

200 kick easy

10x50 on 1:00 from dive (just make the interval, and if you want, you can climb out and dive at the 25 as well ... I didn't take that option)

200 warm down

Total: 3700 meters

What a way to start September! Thursdays are always the wild card days, where anything can show up on the workout board. I believe I mentioned that the morning workout group does not get to see the entire workout at t he beginning. Mark Rankin writes the next set on the board during the current set. He had teased about a long swim before the 25s, and just before the set of 25s, he said "Make sure you know how to ocunt to 60." Right away, I knew that meant a mile. I wasn't happy because I would only get less than 10 minutes to wrap my brain around a mile for time. Mark did give us the option of doing 15x100 on an interval of our choosing, but I figured that would take longer.

Remember in my blog from last Sunday when I said I get gas bubbles in my stomach when I do long distance freestyle? Naturally, the stomach troubles hit me around the 600-meter mark. I knew I was going to have to stop to relieve the discomfort, so I chose to take a 30-second break at 750 meters. It was a perfect time to see my halfway split (9:48), burp up the gas, and move on. I thought about just skipping a 50 and continuing on with the others in my group I was trying to keep pace with, but I knew I wouldn't like myself if I did that.

The time of 19:53 equated to 1:20 per 100 meters, approximately. That's a lot slower pace than the 2000 I swam on Sunday.I don't think I would have done better in the swim if I knew about it well ahead of time, but the distressing thing is that even though I am a sprinter, I should have been able to hold faster than a 1:20 average. I felt good for about 400 meters, then things started to fall apart, especially when the stomach troubles hit. And it was a little demoralizing to see Alan Carter lap me for the first time at 500 meters!

It doesn't bode well for my swimming plans for the weekend. More on that on Saturday or Sunday.

At the gym:

20 minutes on the elliptical trainer

Shoulder warm up exercises

Incline bench press: 15@85, 12@110, 10@125

Bicep curls: 15@15 (per arm), 12@20, 10@25

Sitting leg press: 15@150, 12@180, 10@210

Standing lat pull: 15@50, 12@60, 10@75

10 minutes abdominals and stretching

For te past two years I have been using a three-phase system at the gym that I knew wasn't invented by me, but on Tuesday, I found out that an Olympic champion is using it now to stay at the top of his game. Thanks to Leslie Livingston, I discovered that Jason Lezak also uses my weight training system --with some modifications of his own. In my system, I do weight maintenance at the start of the season until about nine weeks before the taper meet. (Obviously, this is the phase I am in now.) Then, it's three cycles of two weeks lifting heavy weights followed by a recovery week. Two weeks before the end of the season, I start to taper down my weight room work, to the point that I am doing no weights 10 days from the taper meet.

If you check out Jason Lezak's Strength Training Program, you'll see how closely his program matches what I do. It's totally awesome that I've been doing so well in my swimming partly from this change in my weight room work, and I think I'll try to fit the speed phase of his weight program into mine.

One thing I was doing off and on was a nice breaststroke weight set. You lie on a medicine ball , holding two dumbbells no more than six pounds. Then, you do three sets of 25 strokes, building the tempo with each set. By the third set, you should be "swimming" at the tempo you use in a race. I take 23 to 24 strokes in a 100 long course breast race on the last 50, so that's why I chose 25 strokes per set. I'll start doing this more regularly starting in early October.

I was going to try some new weight exercises today, and after reading Jason's program, I think I'll start doing the standing lat pull instead of the sitting lat pull. When you stand, you work the swimming muscles a little better, plus it's a great ab exercise!

This doesn't mean I'm having more fun in the pool, but I am definitely not dreading the 50 minutes there as much.

* The title of this blog refers to a saying by Winnie the Pooh when he gets hungry.