Friday, January 27, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Date: Friday, January 27, 2012
Time: 6 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
150 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

2x100 breast kick no board on 1:30
(1:19, 1:21)

50 easy

8x25 free drill on :30

4x50 back kick with short fins on :45
(averaged :35)

50 easy

8x25 free :10 rest

8x25 breast pull with short fins on :30
(averaged :14)

50 easy

6x25 free kick drill :10 rest

6x100 free on 2:00, descend 1-3, 4-6
(54.2 on #3, 52.8 on #6)

100 easy (with stretching)

Total: 2,300 yards (60 minutes)

At the gym (4:30 p.m.)
Five minutes shoulder warmup

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

Leg press (15 @ 150, 12 @ 170, 10 @ 200)

Lat pull (15 @ 100, 12 @ 130, 10 @ 150)

Box jumps (three sets of 20)

10 minutes abdominals and stretching

I overslept this morning. I saw "5:30" on the clock, and for a brief moment, considered staying in bed. But I didn't know when my next pool workout would be (more on that later), so I rushed through my morning routine and drove like a maniac to the pool. Though I drove about five miles per hour faster on the highway than I usually do, it only saved me about one minute. Lesson: no need to speed!

To add to my lateness, I didn't sleep very well last night. I woke up around 2:00 and don't think I truly fell asleep again until about 3:30. Obviously, it wasn't easy to get into the workout, but I think I did very well.

The set of 100s at the end were surprising. I felt like I was swimming comfortably on number three, and did not expect to be that fast. Putting all my energy into number six got me about a second faster, which was good. I don't think I've been under 53 for a fast 100 free in a long time, but I don't think I've done a fast 100 free in a few months.

I haven't done a gym workout in two weeks. Things felt a little sore going in, so I didn't try to push it too much. I will likely be doing a brief three-week strength building phase in mid-February, to get my fast-twitch muscles stronger and pumped for racing in March, in addition to my work with JR.

So, why am I not sure when my next pool workout will be? It's because I'm going to Rome for nine days. I'm getting on a plane later tonight, and though I know there are plenty of pools in Rome, I'm not sure if they are open for lap swim, or how expensive it is to "drop in." I do plan on doing a lot of walking, so that will provide lots of exercise, and I think my hotel has an exercise room to keep my upper body in shape. I plan on visiting the site of the 1960 Olympics, which was also where a couple of infamous world championships took place.

This should be a fun trip! I won't be blogging during my travels. If I do get to swim in Italy, I will let you know all about it when I get back!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Just Breathe

Date: January 26, 2012
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
151 days to Olympic Trials

The hardest part of swimming with the top age-group swimmers at Phoenix Swim Club is not the intervals or the amount of yards swum. It's all the breath-holding 25s we do! Every Thursday, I would estimate about 40 percent of the breaststroke workout deals with swimming or kicking underwater for 12-1/2 yards, or the entire 25.

We don't do that kind of stuff regularly in the Masters group, though I suppose it would be a good way to keep our old lungs strong. Even though we are not swimming extremely fast, the breath holding makes the sets more difficult, and I find myself gasping for air much more than everyone else. Of course, they do this on a regular basis, which makes it easier for them.

The focus of the 4,200-yard workout was the arm recovery on breaststroke. Coley kept encouraging me to be faster on the recovery, and while I know it is an area of great potential, it is not easy to do. It's all about muscle memory, and I figure it will take about a month for my body to fully be comfortable with it. We did lots of head-up breaststroke today, and that is a great drill for arm recovery. If you are recovering your arms quickly, it's easier to keep your head above water.

After the workout, I asked Coley to look at my start to get his thoughts on the things I've been working on. Before I even did the dive, he made a suggestion my back position. Instead of having a rounded back, it's best to have a straight back when you're in the set position. This was not easy to do and feel comfortable on the block. But on the bright side, once I got the position correct, I felt like I got a better push off the blocks. I went too deep on the entry, but I did feel like I had more speed in the water. This is something that will take some work, but I'm anxious to see where it will go.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

She Works Hard for the Money

Date: Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
152 days to Olympic Trials

1200 warmup

Three rounds:
15 meters fast from push/35 meters easy x3 on 3:00
25 fast from push/50 easy x2 on 3:00
50 fast/100 easy on 3:00
Round 1 50 back (30.3)
Round 2 50 breast (34.2)
Round 3 50 free (27.6)

150 easy

6x50 on 1:20
25 breast from dive/25 easy
(average 13.8)

200 easy

Total: 3,200 meters (75 minutes)

I'm glad the pool was long course. It enabled me to work on things like stroke rate and consistency on my fast 50s without thinking about turns. I was also glad to work on starts, because I need to be more powerful and explosive on my start, and continue to focus on the changes I need to make to it. That includes gliding longer after the entry, having a stronger snap on the pulldown and starting the first stroke sooner. I feel like I'm getting the hang of it. I didn't ask Mark to time me to 15 meters, but it is something I need to do before the sectional meet in March.

All in all, a good day at the pool. I was happy with my backstroke and freestyle times on the fast 50s, but know I needed to be faster on the breaststroke. My stroke rate didn't feel fast, but I didn't want to force it and feel like I'm going faster, only to be going slower because I am not taking advantage of each part of the stroke. I think by mid-February, I will feel more like a sprinter, at least in terms of putting some snap into my stroke.

I suppose I should clarify that last sentence. I always feel like a sprinter, but only mentally. In the middle of training (and especially at 6 a.m.) it's difficult to get your body to accept the fact that you want to swim fast. But if you can do it before sunrise, you can do it anytime!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Manic Monday

Date: January 23, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
154 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

6x50 breast pull on 1:00 with pull buoy

Four rounds:
200 IM drill on 4:00
8x25 on :30 (:35 for breaststroke)*
*On 25s:
Round 1 free with one breath per 25
Round 2 breast double pullouts
Round 3 back swim
Round 4 fly with one breath

8x25 on :35
Odd: free
Even: back

6x50 breast pull on 1:00 with pull buoy

100 easy

Total: 2,800 meters (70 minutes)

Yes, it is unusual that I am swimming on Monday. I had to take my partner, Geoff Glaser, to the airport very early this morning, and figured that I would switch my days off and swim today instead of tomorrow. I knew whatever the main set would be today would be too much of a distance set for me, so I decided to swim in the short course meters part of the pool instead of the yards side.

The main set was a 250 on 4:00, followed by 6x50s on :40. Not really my cup of tea, especially since I am now officially focusing on sprinting.

The water was too warm to do any major anaerobic work, as I had planned. I estimate the water was 82 degrees, so I kept everything aerobic. I'll do anaerobic sprint work on Wednesday and Friday. I plan on swimming with the age group team at Phoenix Swim Club Thursday, and their workout is not anaerobic on that day.

This evening, I worked out with JR Rosania, and we found a great exercise for breaststrokers. I found out that the teres minor muscle is largely responsible for the outsweep on the breaststroke pull, and we rigged two pieces of tubing and simulated the outsweep of the pull. It definitely worked the teres minor muscles, and a few others in the shoulder area. By the end of March, we hope to work up to doing 50 repetitions of that exercise, a little more than the number of strokes I will take in a 100-meter breast race. Today, I did two sets of 15, and I felt the exercise do its thing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lazy Sunday

Date: Sunday, January 22, 2012
Time: 11:25 a.m.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Short Course Yards
155 days to Olympic Trials

400 choice

300 reverse IM: 25 kick/50 swim

200 breast kick no board

100 free breathe every 5

4x100 free on 1:30, descend 1-4
(Descended to 1:03)

4x75 on 1:30
25 breast double pullouts/50 back

8x15 breakouts on :45

100 easy: 25 scull/25 swim

Three rounds:
Power Tower (filled to 3/4 full) -- 25 fast/25 easy on 1:00
Remove belt, then 50 fast from push
100 easy on 3:00
Round 1: backstroke
Round 2: breaststroke
Round 3: freestyle

4x50 easy on :55

Three starts

50 easy

Total: 3,000 yards (75 minutes)

I planned this workout last Wednesday, which made it easier to get through, but my body wasn't too excited about sprinting. The idea of lying on the couch watching movies almost won out.

Today's Power Tower/sprinting set showed me I need to do a lot more lactate/anaerobic swimming. My stroke rate wasn't very high, and I didn't feel like my fast-twitch fibers were doing very well. I didn't have someone timing me on my fast 50s, but based on what I saw on the digital clock, I went 27-low on the back, 30-low on the breast and 24-high on the free. That was a very difficult set to do, especially since there was not much rest after doing the 25 fast on the Power Tower.

Working on starts today was productive. I thought about gliding longer after entering the water, which took a lot of trust on my part that I was maintaining velocity. I held the glide for about two extra seconds before starting the pullout, and I definitely got more distance on the pullout, but was it faster? I didn't have anyone at the pool to time me, but I'm getting confident on the idea of holding the glide longer.

Earlier this week, I got a drill progression on doing the dolphin kick at the beginning of the breaststroke pullout from Trip Hedrick, who was the former head coach at Iowa State. It involved evolving from three kicks at the start to one kick at the start. I did the drill progression well enough, but when I tried to do it on a push-off, my brain was still trained to kick at the end of the pullout, so I did a kick at the beginning and the end! It will take a lot of work to move that dolphin kick to the beginning.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Working for the Weekend

Date: Friday, January 20, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
157 days to Olympic Trials

900 warmup

12x50 on :50
Odd: 25 kick/25 swim
Even: 25 drill/25 swim

12x25 on :30
Odd: half kick, half swim
Even: breast swim

Five rounds:
100 easy on 2:00
25 breast fast/30 seconds vertical kick holding 12-pound ball/25 breast fast on 2:00
(Fast part of set took about 1:45, with time used to grab med ball from deck and put back after kicking)

Five rounds:
20 seconds easy treading water/20 seconds vertical kick/four fast backstroke strokes

200 easy (with lots of stretching)

Total: 2,950 yards (not counting vertical kicking)

I am exhausted. This week was a killer, and it ended with two very difficult workouts. I had not planned on doing any breaststroke this morning after yesterday's brutal workout, but the main set (as I worked it out in my head) seemed to work fine for doing some fast breaststroke swimming, which I haven't really done since getting back from Austin. My right hamstring felt tender, and I was hesitant to do so much vertical kicking, but it never got to the point of excruciating pain. I made sure to do extensive leg stretches before and after workout, and it feels a little better, but not great.

I am proud of myself for taking the initiative to do the main set as I did it. As it was written on the board, it was basically a 100 easy kick, then a 100 fast kick. It didn't seem boring, but I felt like I needed to shake it up a little more. The vertical kicking on the main set was completely my idea, and Mark was very surprised that I chose to do it. I was surprised I made 30 seconds holding that heavy ball!

As I mentioned, I'm quite exhausted. I've chosen to not lift weights today, and I'm fine with that. I will resume my weight program next week.

Today, I officially decided to attend the senior sectional meet in Seattle the weekend of March 9. The event schedule works perfectly for me. The 100 breast (the main event!) is on Saturday. I plan to fly to Seattle Thursday night, swim a couple of relays on Saturday to get adjusted to the meet and swim the 100 back and 100 breast on Saturday, as well as the 200 IM on Sunday. I will rest for three days for the meet, but not shave. It will be my last barometer on how training is going before Trials, though not my last long course meet. I plan to swim in the Southwest Classic, as I do every year, though for the second time in six years, I won't shave. The meet is usually the second week of June, but with the timing of Olympic Trials, the Southwest Classic might be moved up much earlier, as they did in 2008.

I'm excited to swim at sectionals. I looked at last year's results, and it appears that the top finishers aren't extremely fast, which gives me optimism about placing high in the 100 breast and maybe my other two events. Coley is very set on winning the team title, and he's taking lots of the kids, including Roland Schoeman, so it could happen. I want the opportunity to do more work on racing skills, and I vow to be better prepared for racing. I won't spend the day before my race walking around a huge mall, and if I have trouble sleeping, I'll take a sleep aid. This meet will be practice for Trials ... at least in the case of race preparation. I doubt I'm getting a second swim at Trials, but you never know!

I'm so excited to have tomorrow off. No swimming, no exercise! It'll be just what my body needs. I might spend the entire afternoon at the movies. I have a lot to catch up on before the Oscar nominations are announced Tuesday morning!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Change Would Do You Good

Date: Thursday, January 19, 2012
Time: 4:40 p.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
158 days to Olympic Trials

Today's workout with the top group at Phoenix Swim Club was tough! We churned out about 4,500 yards of mostly breaststroke in one hour and 45 minutes. The group had been increasing yardage since coming back from the Austin Grand Prix. I was not aware of this until Coley Stickels mentione dit to me as I walked into the pool complex. I wasn't sure we were going to do lots of yardage on breaststroke day, but when he started spewing out a 2,400-yard final set, I knew he meant business. The set was basically an IM set without the butterfly (thankfully), but after about 3,000 yards of mostly breaststroke before that, all my other strokes weren't feeling up to the challenge.

What was even more challenging about the final set was that it was supposed to be at 75 percent effort, which made me happy, but I think I was the only one swimming at that pace. Everyone around me seemed to be going close to 95 percent effort. For example, I swam 50 yards of breaststroke in 35 seconds in the middle of the set, and I knew it was close to 85 percent effort -- and there were three others ahead of me! I swam a 50 free in 29 seconds, knowing there was a freestyler right on my heels behind me. I think when you're a kid, you don't really know what the various swimming pace efforts are. If someone tells me to go 75 percent effort, I feel like I can approximate that very well. Seventy-five percent effort for 50 yards of freestyle for me is in the 35-second range.

In any case, today's workout was about putting more concentration on breaststroke pullouts. In the past 24 hours, many people have sent in suggestions for fixing my pullouts, and most have suggested a longer glide on the dive/push-off. After today's workout, I think they might be on to something. I was so afraid of losing speed quickly because of my bad ankles, but I think I hold speed pretty well. The new pullout seemed to work well, but I'll have to do more work with it to feel comfortable. And not gliding too long after the kick on the pullout feels good, too. Again, more work needs to be done on it before I fully embrace it.

So, thanks to everyone who has offered their suggestions. In the next few days, I will tinker with my pullout a little more and see if the changes are good or bad for me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In the Deep

Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
159 days to Olympic Trials

1100 warmup

16x25 on :30, descend 1-4 to 90 percent effort

Four rounds:
75 fast on :1:30
25 fast on 1:00
Rounds 1 and 2: kick with short fins (:50 on 75, :14 on 25)
Rounds 3 and 4: breast pull with short fins (:43 on 75, :13 on 25)

200 easy

10x25 on 1:00 fast
Odd: breast from dive*
Even: free from push
*After touching the wall on the odd 25s, I did 20 seconds of moderately aggressive vertical kicking.

Three starts

200 easy

Total: 2,600 yards (80 minutes)

Not a bad workout today. The water was a little too warm, though I could feel cool water coming out of the jets, which potentially means good things for tomorrow.

Since I was still thinking about Sunday's swimming, I had a goal of working on some problem points in my breaststroke, specifically my start and arm recovery during the stroke. That was the reason I did the main set with short fins, to focus only on the pull. I felt like my hands were faster on the recovery, and helped to set up the next stroke better. Doing this more often will help train my muscles to swim like this, especially when I get tired. Since I'm more tired than not in workout, I tend to slow down my recovery, for no other reason than the muscles responsible for proper recovery are usually very sore and don't want to do things correctly. I'm going to make sure these muscles are ready to swim correctly long before I step up on the blocks in Omaha. It starts today!!!!!

On the final set, I asked Mark to time me to 15 meters on my start. He timed me at 6.3 seconds on average, which is almost a second faster than I was in Austin. Why is that? I know my legs were tired in Austin, but were they so tired I couldn't push myself off the block stronger at 9:30 a.m. than I could today at 6:50 a.m.? I plan to get timed to 15 meters regularly. Hopefully, I will get under six seconds soon!

Felt great working with JR today. Lots of exercises geared specifically for breaststroke. Some of the better ones are not easy to explain, but they involve exercising the muscles while simulating parts of breaststroke swimming, like the arm recovery (!) and the pulldown. While it's also great to go the gym and do the standard bench press and so on, I like knowing exactly how these exercises will help me in the pool.

Tomorrow is breaststroke day with the elite group at Phoenix Swim Club. That's 90 minutes of pure mental focus on breaststroke. When I was in high school, I dreaded doing breaststroke in workout, but that was because I would usually do stuff like 10x100 on 1:20 (yards), and barely make the interval after number five. Now, every set with Coley on Thursdays pretty much has a purpose. Most of the time, that purpose is to fatigue me, and it usually works! Strangely enough, Thursday has become my new favorite swimming day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Date: January 17,2 012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
160 days to Olympic Trials

200 warmup

2x500 on 8:00 -- 25 kick or drill/25 swim
#1 free, #2 non-free

24x25 on :25
odd: back
even: breast

4x100 on 2:00
odd: breast pull
even: back with breast kick (or close to normal backstroke for me!)
(The purpose of this set was to do a stroke with a different kick.)

6x250 on 4:00, descend 1-3, 4-6
200 back/50 breast
3:30, 3:21, 3:16, 3:42, 3:22, 3:11

300 easy

Total: 4,000 meters (80 minutes)

Instead of talking about today's workout, the warm pool and my heavy, tired legs, I would rather continue discussing last Sunday's racing. I thought about it a lot in workout today, particularly when doing breaststroke.

Before I continue, take a look at my 100 breast, provided to you thanks to Chris Lundie and his team at TakeItLive, which was streaming the meet live online:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

As you can clearly see, I lose a lot on my start. The guy to my left gains a half-body length on me, and the guy two lanes over is a body length ahead before the first stroke! I've watched this video at least 20 times, pondering the mystery of my deficient start. It would appear that my trouble starts after the pulldown, that I lose forward velocity quickly. I want to believe it is my extremely inflexible ankles slowing me down after doing the dolphin kick. There seems to be no other explanation. What else could be slowing me down so severely? When I dive in, I'm pretty much even with these guys.

One thing Coley Stickels suggested to me immediately after the race was that my arms were recovering too slowly after the pullout. I think he was onto something, though as you can see on the video, the damage had already been done by the time I was recovering my arms to start swimming . This morning in workout, I consciously recovered my arms faster, to find that I was able to keep my velocity so much easier! It's such a small thing, but it means so much.

The good news is that on the first 50, I kind of make up some ground on the guy to my left. That makes me feel good, that I'm outswimming him. Or, maybe I'm overswimming the first 50? That's not true, since I only went out in 30.8 or 30.9, depending on your stopwatch. That's not too bad for the first 50 of an in-season swim.When I swam my 1:04.42 last July, I was out in 30.26, and was probably doing the same pullout then that I did on Sunday. (I don't have a time goal for Omaha, but I do know that I want my first 50 to be under 30 seconds.)

The more I watch the video, the more encouraged I am by what I see. (Of course, I stop before the camera pans to the scoreboard. I don't need to be reminded of the time!) I like seeing that there is a major point in the race that needs fixing, and by simply fixing it, I can probably drop five tenths of a second or more on the first 50! My pullout on my turn was just as bad. As you can see, I turned almost even with the guy in lane four, but he took off after that. He must have been quite rested, because he swam a time very close to his seed time. I, on the other hand, was swimming on about six hours of sleep and tired legs.
Today I got some body work done with Tod Miller, and I asked for his opinion about my ankle inflexibility. He stated with full authority that anything can be made better with a little work. And with that, he put his body weight on my Achilles heel and did his best to stretch them out. I don't feel any difference three hours later, but maybe with his monthly techniques, things could improve. In my life, I have tried everything to make my ankles more flexible, from using the FINIS rack to sitting on my heels while watching television. My collee coach, Eddie Reese, once suggested breaking my ankles to reset the tendons. I think he was kidding.

I know you have the urge to tell me how to fix my start, pullout and overall stroke. I would love to hear from you. Post your comments here on the blog, or if you're too shy, send me an email to

Monday, January 16, 2012

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Date: Monday, January 16, 2012
161 days to Olympic Trials

Times at the Austin Grand Prix (long course meters):
100 breast: 1:07.11
200 IM: 2:14.80

I had a lot of fun in Austin, Texas, despite what the official results from the meet show. I had hopes for swimming very fast at the meet, but I was not upset by the times on the scoreboard. Well, maybe for about five minutes. I was only upset because I knew I could have done better, that external circumstances hindered me from doing my best, that I had come all that way (from Phoenix to Austin) only to swim slower than expected and that I wasn't going to be able to swim in finals. But in the end, it was a very valuable learning experience that I could not have gotten if I had, say, swum those races in a Masters meet or local meet in Arizona.

What I learned is that my racing skills are very rough around the edges. I got the opportunity to watch my 100 breast on video a few hours later, and I saw lots of things that were not only rookie mistakes, but were easily fixable with some concentration during workout.

Sitting down with Coley Stickels after my 100 breast, he told me I had surfaced from the pullout after the start about a body length behind. That's a lot of ground to make up in a 100-meter race, and it's a lot to lose in the first15 meters. What we both believed (and was confirmed by me when I watched the video) was that when I recover my arms after the pulldown, I am very slow, which in turn slows me down quicker. By recovering my arms faster, I can keep my velocity on the pullout high and not work so hard to get up to racing speed. In fact, I would likely be at racing speed if I did it correctly. Also, my first stroke after the pullout is taken too long after the first kick. These were things that I was doing in a race, because I was probably doing them in workout. When you're tired, the first thing to go is speed, and when you're doing long repeats, the little things get dropped, and sometimes you or your coach don't notice that it's happening. No offense to my coach, Mark Rankin, but he probably didn't notice these issues either, and he sees me doing breaststroke a lot during the week. There are many things coaches miss when standing on deck. Making a video of my technique helps everyone see the mistakes, but they are highlighted the most in races.

Another reason I was glad to swim int he Grand Prix was because I was racing people of the caliber I will be racing in Omaha. No offense to my wonderful Masters friends, teammates and most competitors, but the mistakes I made yesterday in the 100 breast would not have been as easy to see in a Masters meet, because I would already be ahead after the start.

As I had mentioned earlier, a few external things conspired to cause me to swim a little slower than expected, though I will place no blame on them. First, I had a bad cold the weekend before, and I don't think I was fully over it. Second, I didn't sleep well the night  before. I woke up at 4:30, and could not get back to sleep until about 5:45, which was 30 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. I did feel a little groggy in warmup yesterday, and did have a hard time getting my brain amped to race. Finally, I spent Saturday afternoon with one of my best friends in the world, who I met in college, and after a great lunch, he sowed me around one of the big malls in Austin. I did not know he was going to do that until we were halfway through the mall, and by then, I think we had walked half a mile! My legs didn't feel awesome in warmup Sunday morning, though they had felt pretty good in my brief "workout" on Saturday.

Going forward, I have to make sure everything I do in and out of the pool has a focus on making my 100 breast the best it can be for Trials. I think I'm going to move up my training schedule a bit to start my race pace training a few weeks early, like the middle of February. I need to get my fast-twitch muscles primed to race, even in in-season meets, and I need to race plenty of times to hone those flaws I was making yesterday. Before this weekend, I was on the fence about going to sectionals in March, but I am going to try to make that happen. Like Austin, I probably won't have any time goals, but to be able to race people who are as fast as me will be invaluable come June 25.

As for tomorrow, I might be doing a lot of breaststroke pullouts!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Morning Has Broken

Date: Friday, January 12, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
164 days to Olympic Trials

1300 warmup, swim and kick

6x100 on 2:00
15 breakout/85 free breathe every 5

100 easy

Two rounds:
16x25 on :30
Start with 15 strokes on #1, then 14 strokes on #2, all the way to zero strokes on #16 (similar to a 25 kick)
Round 1: free
Round 2: 8 back, 8 breast

8x50 on :50
4 back, 4 free

100 easy

Total: 3,300 meters

Another workout perfect for the type of swimming I wanted to do today. On the set of 100s on 2:00, everyone was doing fast kick, but I was able to make perfect changes.

I probably should have done a fast swim today beyond the 15-meter breakouts. Before the final set of 50s, the team did a fast 200 kick for time. I hung out on the wall, watching Alan Carter go 2:57 backstroke kick with fins. I could have done a 200 breast kick for time, and my prep for this weekend would not have been hampered. I think I was just being lazy and using the excuse of resting for the meet too much. I would have like to see how fast I could go. Maybe under 3:20? We'll never know.

It was extremely cold this morning. My car's thermostat read "36 degrees," and it sure felt that way. The pool was comfortable (about 81 degrees), but most times I could feel the sting of cold air when I took huge gulps of air. I think it'll warm up very soon!

As I've mentioned before, I'm very excited to be racing in the Austin Grand Prix this weekend. The uncertainty of how I will place in the 100 breast makes me very nervous, but I'm excited to be back in the pool I lived in for five years. The last time I raced there was at Masters nationals in 2008. I did very well there. In fact, I think I have swum well every time I've raced in Austin ... with the exception of a few dual meets here and there.

I won't have computer access in Austin, so I'll be back here Monday with a recap of how things went!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Take It Easy

Date: Thursday, January 12, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
165 days to Olympic Trials

6x200 free working on breathing patterns

9x75 on 2:00
25 pull choice with pull buoy between ankles
25 scull
25 kick

10x100 on 1:45
5 free, 5 back

Three starts

200 easy

Total: About 3,100 meters (75 minutes)

Today's workout was just what I needed. I wanted to keep my heart rate at aerobic level, and was successfully able to do that. The distance was less than I expected, but I'm not complaining!

I wanted to back off on the intensity today to give my body some rest for this weekend. I don't want to go all the way to Austin and not do well. My only goal is to get a second swim in the 100 breast, and that will be difficult enough.Pulling back on the throttle for a couple of days won't hurt my training.

I haven't worked on starts since my taper meet about a month ago, and was surprised that everything felt good. I even felt like I pointed my toes on the entry, or at least as much as my bad ankles will allow.

Gotta finish packing for the trip! Austin is going to be about as chilly as it is here in Phoenix, so I'm making sure I'm ready for all weather conditions.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Shock the Monkey

Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
166 days to Olympic Trials

1700 warmup

8x25 non-free on :30
    Done as 4x25 breakouts
                 2x25 easy
                 2x25 breakouts
4x25 free low breath count on :25
2x25 easy on :20
1:00 break
4x25 breast fast on :30 (averaged 15-high)
4x25 easy on :30
4x25 free low breath count on :25
4x25 free easy on :20

Easy 150

Four rounds:
50 fast/50 easy on 2:30
25 fast/75 easy on 2:30
Round 1: 27.1 50 free, 12.3 25 free
Round 2: All easy
Round 3: 32.2 50 breast, 12.3 25 free
Round 4: 32.0 50 breast, 13.1 25 back

100 easy

Total: 3,500 meters (80 minutes)

Some days it's easy for me to be a sprinter. Some days, it feels like my body just wants to swim slow. This was one of those days. I didn't get much sleep last night, and as such I was pretty groggy when I dove in. It took me nearly 40 minutes to feel like I was ready to do something worthwhile in the pool.

Breaststroke times continue to surprise me. To be in low 32-second range is pretty good, considering that it felt like my stroke wasn't fully clicking. I don't know if it's making the transition back to short course or if it's from being sick for a few days, but nothing has truly felt right since Thursday. I'm chalking it up -- for now -- to the long course to short course transition. When I swim short course, I feel like I have to have a faster stroke rate, and while that may not be true, it's what I'm feeling this week. We're supposedly doing long course tomorrow, so I'll be able to get a feel for long course again, which is the format I'll be racing in this weekend.

With the meet this weekend, JR Rosania decided it would be good to work on some explosive exercises, to get my nervous system ready to race. Specifically, these exercises could help me with my starts and turns, as well as get my muscles ready for real sprinting. Doing resistance jumps on a horizontal sled and push-ups with claps were just a few of the things I did tonight. I wasn't as tired as last week, when the goal was to do a lot of work in an hour, but I was pretty tired at the end. I don't mind if I'm sore tomorrow from it.

This afternoon, I got a very good package in the mail. It was an electronic muscle stimulator that is like an angel sent from heaven. This device is working to get my left rhomboid muscle back in working order. I believe that muscle has been in some state of disrepair for many years, though I do not know why. It is the major reason why I believe I got tendonitis two years ago. Because I had limited use of that muscle, I relied on other muscles to do the job of the rhomboid, which was a pathway to injury.

The physical therapy got it into some shape, but I think I needed constant work on my rhomboid to keep it working. That is the goal here. Tonight, I had the device do its thing for 30 minutes, and I can't say for sure if the muscle is better, but I could feel the electrodes shocking the muscle into action, which is a very, very, very good thing. I plan to do this once a week for 30 minutes, and with regular physical therapy work (using resistance bands), I could gain more use of the muscle, which has a major function in swimming, especially in arm recovery on breaststroke and the catch phase of backstroke.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Spoonful of Sugar

Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
167 days to Olympic Trials

4x(3x50 on 1:00)
1. fly/back
2. back/breast
3. breast/free

300 non-flutter kick no board

6x100 on 1:50, descend 1-3, 4-6
50 breast/50 free (1:10, 1:08)

8x25 breast on :40 double pullouts

8x75 on 1:20, descend 1-4, 5-8
25 fly/50back (:51, :52)

100 easy

3x100 back kick on 2:00
4x15 backstroke breakouts on :45
3x100 breast kick no board on 2:00
2x15 breast breakouts on :45
1x50 breast fast from push (32.2)

200 easy

Total: 3,500 meters (80 minutes)

At the gym:
Five minutes shoulder warmup
Sitting bench press (15 @ 110, 12 @ 135, 10 @ 155)
Leg extensions (15 @ 100, 12 @ 130, 10 @ 160)
Hamstring curls (15 @ 70, 12 @ 85, 10 @ 100)
3x25 breaststroke strokes with five-pound dumbbells
Ten minutes abdominals and stretching

I felt like I was pretty much over my cold this morning, and hopefully I won't have to take anymore of that horrible cold medicine. It was the generic brand from Walgreens, and though it said "cherry flavored," I didn't notice a soothing aftertaste.

My backstroke felt miserable. The set of 75s were quite tough because I couldn't get my arms moving fast. It felt like I was swimming in molasses, which is partly true because the water was a little too warm.

Breaststroke felt OK, and I was surprised by the time on the fast swim at the end. The stroke felt good but not all that powerful, which could be my body trying to return to normal. It's a good sign for this weekend, but I'm trying not to get too overexcited. I don't want to make this meet to be any bigger than it is: an in-season meet. I would very much like to get a second swim in the 100 breast, and will do my best to make that happen, but I know I will tend to let my mind get too far ahead of itself and psych myself out.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I Got a Cold in My Nose

Date: Sunday, January 8, 2012
Time: 11:15 a.m.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Short Course Yards
169 days to Olympic Trials

400 free swim

300 IM
25 scull/25 drill/25 swim

200 kick
100 breast/100 free

100 breast drill

400 free swim with snorkel

300 IM
25 scull/25 drill/25 swim

200 kick
100 breast/100 free

100 breast
25 underwater breast pull/25 breast pull head out of water/25 breast swim head out of water/25 breast swim underwater

400 free swim

300 IM
25 scull/25 drill/25 swim

200 kick
100 breast/100 free

100 breast swim with double pullouts

200 easy
25 scull/25 kick

4x15 breast breakouts on :45

100 easy

Total: 3,400 yards (70 minutes)

Friday after workout I felt horrible. As I wrote on that day, I wanted to sleep for hours, but day wore on, I started to feel congested in my head and sneezing uncontrollably. By Friday evening, I was so stuffed up that the only way I was going to sleep was to take some cold medicine. It did the trick.

It's a good thing Saturday was my day off. I slept a lot that day, going out briefly to teach swimming lessons. By Sunday morning my stuffy nose was pretty much gone, but I still felt icky. Today's workout was supposed to keep my heart rate down and keep me in shape for the meet next weekend. The last 400 free was a little too hard. I went a 4:43, and my heart rate was about 170, a little too high for that speed.

Having a cold is a minor inconvenience this weekend. I could feel much sicker, and I'm glad that this cold is likely to go away by the time I get on the plane to Austin. Tomorrow is my usual day off, and I'll use it to continue to get better. More cold medicine tonight!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thank God It's Friday

Date: Friday, January 6, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
171 days to Olympic Trials

400 warmup

12x50 on 1:00
25 kick/25 swim

8x50 on 1:00
25 drill/25 swim

4x(6x50 on 1:00)
Two easy, four hard
Rounds 1 & 2: breast kick (:53 on fast ones)
Rounds 3 & 4: back swim (:36 on fast ones)

200 easy

4x(3x50 on 1:00)
2 easy/1 fast from push
Fly: 30.8
Back: 31.1
Breast: 34.1
Free: 29.7

100 easy

Total: 3,500 meters

I felt like rubber when I woke up today. Nothing wanted to work. When I dove into the pool, I felt a little better, but I had to change up the main set, doing backstroke on the last two rounds instead of breast kick. My legs were not responding well. Even on a good day, though, I don't think I would have been too much faster.

I was very happy with my times on the last set, though my freestyle could probably be faster. My strokes didn't feel smooth, but they did feel strong. I was also happy that the entire workout was 50s, because I wasn't sure I could handle anything longer!

A few hours after workout, I was hit with the strong urge to take an extended nap. If I could have done so, I would have closed my eyes for at least an hour. No nap possible for me today, though when I get home, I will sneak in about 20 minutes of rest before getting into my car and driving the 120 miles to Tucson for the weekend. It took me a while to figure out why I've been so beaten down physically this week, and after I looked at my past workouts did it all make sense.

I haven't had a day off from exercise since December 26. That's 11 days of some really tough stuff in and out of the pool. I am counting New Year's Day as an exercise day, since I lifted weights and walked a lot at Six Flags. Those who read my blog often know that I do not normally swim on Saturday and Monday, but it was good to do so while in Los Angeles for New Year's. I didn't think, though, that it would have this effect on me today. I even think I'm coming down with a cold and a sore throat. I'm going to work to get rid of this nastiness before I get on the plane to Austin.

Because I have been putting my 37-year-old body through so much in the past two weeks, I've decided to skip the gym tonight. My body needs the recovery, and even a light weight workout could be counterproductive. Sleeping in tomorrow morning will feel soooooo good!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Eyes of a Child

Date: Thursday, January 5, 2012
Time: 4:45 p.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
172 days to Olympic Trials

Today's workout with the gold group at Phoenix Swim Club reminded me that I am seriously lacking in aerobic conditioning. I suppose I am well-conditioned for a person of my age, but when I'm swimming next to and in a lane with people half my age, it's humbling. I usually gauge my aerobic level based on my Masters teammates. I've been improving on my aerobic base lately because they have as well, but teenagers have seemingly endless resources of energy that they can use for 90 minutes with little problem. Of course, when I was their age, I didn't think much about this wonderful aerobic capacity that I had. I just put my head in the water and swam.

I find that Coley's workouts are the most difficult when it comes to the breath-holding parts. I can handle the short rest and the weird drills. In fact, those are the reasons why I try to make the workouts every Thursday. But when it comes to swimming breaststroke underwater or kicking underwater, I find that my lung capacity is put to the test. That typically elevates my heart rate, which today was high for pretty much all of the last set, which involved lots of breath holding, with some 100s free on 1:35 holding about 1:10 mixed in. That's well above aerobic pace for me, but I think I held up pretty well.

Breaststroke felt good today, though my left shoulder was giving me some trouble. It is probably because I arrived to workout 15 minutes late and did not stretch much before diving in. Lesson learned! Because I was late, I don't think I got more than 3,000 meters in today. But it was a very high-quality workout, and it was not easy in the least.

Gotta shovel some food into my mouth before heading off to bed. Tomorrow's workout is at 5:45 a.m. Maybe I should have just unfolded a cot at the pool and stayed there!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Steady As the Beating Drum

Date: Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
173 days to Olympic Trials

1200 warmup

Four rounds:
6x50 on 1:00 hold best average
200 easy
Round 1: free, :35 avg.
Round 2: back, :36 avg.
Round 3: free, :34 avg.
Round 4: breast, :38 avg.

2x50 breast fast from push on 2:00
(33.6, 34.6)

200 easy

Total: 3,500 meters (80 minutes)

I have mixed feelings about best average sets, and it depends on the time of season. They are good in the first half of the season, when you are working on building endurance. These sets test your aerobic threshold, and as such, you are not going at race pace for 100 meters. It's a good set for anyone training for a 200. When I'm in the part of my season when I'm focused on race pace training, they can be a good warmup set, in that I get my heart rate up and usually don't push the pace too fast.

On my breaststroke round, I tried to hold the time I want to have on my breast leg of the 200 IM, and I was pretty consistent, except for a couple in the low-39 range. These sets, if done correctly, can be very taxing, and I tried to hold back a little bit on the freestyle rounds to have energy for the back and breast rounds. I didn't go as fast as I wanted on backstroke (goal was 35 seconds), but the breaststroke felt controlled and smooth.

I was happy to be able to do the fast 50s at the end. I didn't think I would go under 34 today, after that tough set. I think I didn't go under 34 on the second one because I knew I would be very fatigued and therefore tried harder to go the same speed. I should have trusted that the 87 seconds of rest that I got would have given me ample recovery time. I got real tight in the last 15 meters, but that was because I rushed my stroke in the first 25 meters. In the end, those two times are very good, and I'm still trying to figure out why I'm going under 34 consistently lately. Holding steady in the 33-second range is going to be important after the Austin Grand Prix, when the training will be ramped up in and out of the pool. I might not be doing a lot of long course training after this week, but when I do, I have to make it count!

Today's work with JR Rosania was not as tough as last week, but still very intense. The goal this week was to do more volume in an hour than ever before, and I think my body held up well. My legs don't have the same aerobic capacity as my upper body, which is largely due to the fact that I'm primarily an upper body swimmer. I have been trying to focus on building leg strength, and when I'm working with JR, there's no escaping the work we do in that area. When I'm at the gym on my own, I tend to say that I want to put a bigger focus on my core, or simply wimp out when it comes to doing heavy leg weights. I'm happy that I'm adapting to JR's workouts, and he noticed I'm getting stronger, especially on the sled jumps. I'm lying on my back on a sled with pretty heavy resistance (no weights, but rather a few resistance cords), and I emulate pushing off the wall on backstroke. I do feel like I am getting more "air" on the jumps, and can do 10 in a row without taking a very brief break between jumps. Though I feel sore the day after, I know it is paying off.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Billy Don't Be a Hero

Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
174 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

16x50 on 1:00
odd: 25 free swim/25 free kick or drill
even: 25 stroke kick or drill/25 stroke swim

4x(4x100 on 1:40)
1. 25 breast/25 free (1:24 avg)
2. 50 back/50 free (1:22 avg)
3. 100 back (1:19 avg)
4. 100 free (1:14 avg)

100 easy

@ mid-pool:
8x50 on 1:10 (25 free easy/25 stroke fast)

400 breast distance per stroke (12 strokes per length)

100 easy (with stretching)

Total: 3,500 meters (80 minutes)

At the gym (5 p.m.)
Incline chest press (15 @ 90, 12 @ 110, 10 @ 130)
Leg extensions (15 @ 90, 12 @ 115, 10 @ 130)
Standing lat pull (15 @ 50, 12 @ 60, 10 @ 75)
10 minutes abdominals
Bicep curls (15 @ 15 each arm, 12 @ 22.5, 10 @ 30)

I wasn't trying to be a hero in the pool or at the gym today. My glutes and groin were still sore from Sunday's weight workout and trip to Six Flags, so I figured I needed a day to hold back when I could probably pick up into another gear. The pool workout was pretty tough, and holding those averages on the 100 back and 100 free were not easy. But, on the other hand, I was glad that I didn't have to do a 400 IM!

Monday, January 2, 2012

California Dreamin'

Date: Monday, January 2, 2012
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
175 days to Olympic Trials

I spent New Year's weekend in Los Angeles with my partner, Geoff Glaser, and it was great to get a change of scenery for a few days. I did a search of the various Masters programs in the area, and I came upon UCLA Masters. They were doing their Saturday workout at the new Spieker Aquatics Center, and since I had always wanted to check it out, I decided that was the place to be.

Unfortunately, the GPS in our car could not recognize the pool's address, and as such, it took us through Beverly Hills, which I was confident was not the way to go as we were driving. When the guidance system ended the trip in an alley, I was livid. It was 10:45, and workout started at 11. It took us another 40 minutes to make our way to campus, find a parking spot and get into the pool. Here's the workout we managed to get on New Year's Eve:

(Short Course Yards)
Four rounds:
4x125 free on 1:35
4x50 stroke descend on :50
Rounds 1-2: backstroke descended to :31
Rounds 3-4: breaststroke descended to :33

200 easy

Total: 3,000 yards (45 minutes)

That was a tough workout! If we had gotten to the pool in time, that set wouldn't have been as difficult as it was. To dive in and do 125s on 1:35 was tough, but after two rounds, I was ready to go.

On New Year's Day, we had no plans to swim. We had fallen asleep at 11:15 p.m. on New Year's Eve and woke up at 7:30 the next morning. We used the gym at the Westin hotel, which isn't fully stocked with all the amenities, but was adequate enough for some free weight chest presses, free weight lunges and a few sets of breaststroke strokes with five-pound dumbbells while laying on the therapy ball.

I probably shouldn't have done the lunges that morning. We spent about seven hours at Six Flags Magic Mountain on New Year's Day, which was a great thing to do that day. The weather was 80 degrees during the day, and all the rollercoasters were thrilling. I'm like a kid in a candy store at amusement parks, especially Magic Mountain, which has the most rollercoasters in the world. The best one in the park was Green Lantern: First Flight. We did a lot of walking around that amusement park, including up a fairly steep hill.

When I woke up this morning, my glutes and hamstrings were very tight. This is the price I pay for having loads of fun at Six Flags. I did some dynamic stretching as soon as I got out of bed to get the blood flowing, since we had to be at the UCLA rec pool for a final California workout at 10 a.m. Just to be on the safe side, we got there 30 minutes early!

Here's a photo of the pool:

Does this pool look familiar? It should be if you've seen the movie "Minority Report." This pool was part of a crucial scene in the movie that I probably shouldn't reveal, but if you see the movie, you will recognize it. I swam in this pool back when I was in college. We had a dual meet against the now-defunct UCLA men's team in early January, I believe. I remember it being in the early afternoon and being somewhat warm.

UCLA Masters is coached by two-time Olympian Erika Hansen, and she's very committed to the team. She spent the entire time encouraging every swimmer, and didn't exclude me just because I had "experience." I enjoyed swimming with the team, and might come back on a future trip to LA!

Here's today's workout:

(Short Course Meters)
500 warmup

5x100 with :10 rest
75 free/25 kick fast

Six rounds:
1x150 free on 2:40
2x25 free no breath on :30

3x100 free on 1:25
3x50 fly descend on :55 (descended to :34)
2x100 free on 1:25
3x50 fly descend on 1:00 (descended to :34)
1x100 free on 1:25
3x50 fly descend 1:05 (descended to :33)

 200 warmdown

Total: 3,350 meters (65 minutes)

Lots of butterfly today! This was a typical Monday workout for UCLA Masters, which was not what I was expecting. Most Masters team make Mondays their distance day, and on the drive to the pool, I was mentally preparing for a long set of 500s. My legs weren't as sore as I thought they would be when I pushed off the walls, but the kicking was tough on my glutes. On the whole, the workout wasn't too bad, or at least as bad as I was expecting. It was a good way to say goodbye to southern California.

Now, it's time to get back into the rhythm of real life. I've got to get ready for the Austin Grand Prix, which is a little less than two weeks away!

Kick It

Date: Friday, December 30, 2011
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
178 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

8x200 on 3:45
odd: 100 swim/100 kick
even: 100 kick/100 swim

12x50 on 1:15
odd: 25 kick underwater/25 swim
even: 25 swim/25 kick underwater

8x150 on 2:30
1-3: easy with breakouts
4: 50 back/50 breast/50 free fast from push (1:53)
5-8: recovery

50 easy

50 breast fast from push (30.0)

100 easy

Total: 3,900 meters (80 minutes)

I needed a little bit of recovery today, which is why I did not work the set of 150s as they were originally written. Everyone else descended 1-4 and 5-8, but I just swam number four fast and thought it would be good to finish up with a fast 50.

I did not expect to go under 34 again in my fast 50 breast. Everything felt good, but when you add up all the hard work I've put in this week, both in and out of the pool, I didn't think I had another great 50 in me. I know there are a few tweaks I could experiment with to see if they work. First and foremost is getting rid of the slight hesitation in my stroke after the insweep. I tend to do that when swimming fast, but oddly, not so much when swimming slower. Tako was our guest coach this morning, and he noticed that, as well as a little tip on holding water in the kick during the finish. As I noted before, I'll listen to every recommendation people give me about stroke changes, but I'm going to be very cautious about adopting them just because someone thinks they are best for me.

As you may have noticed, I did not lift weights this week. This was not by design. I planned to lift on Tuesday and Thursday, but life caught up with me, and other responsibilities took priority. Thankfully, I was able to my work with JR, and I should be back on schedule next week.

I hope to swim this weekend. I'm off to Los Angeles through Monday!