Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sabbath Prayer

Date: Thursday, May 31, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
25 days to Olympic Trials

5x100 on 1:45 descend to 1:20

1000 free (13:29)

4x50 on 1:10 -- 25 drill/25 swim

5x100 free breathing every 5 on 1:45 (avg. 1:23)

4x25 breakouts

400 kick

Total: 2,700 meters (70 minutes)

Yes, I did a straight 1000. The workout called for a straight 3000 (or it could be broken up), and there was no way this sprinter was going to do that, especially so close to the end of the season. I should have done more after the 1000, but my mind was mush after having to count to 10 (as in 10 100s), and I couldn't think of much to do. I could have done 10x100 free breathing every 5 instead of five, but I stopped at five.

The title of today's blog is the song I had in my head during the 1000 on an endless loop. It was the last song I heard in my car on the way to the pool this morning. My iPod is set on shuffle, so I'm at the iPod's mercy in terms of what I listen to. I like it that way. The song kind of had some relevance to the swim, in a small way, based on this lyric:

May the Lord protect and defend you.
May the Lord preserve you from pain.
Favor them, Oh Lord, with happiness and peace.
Oh, hear our Sabbath prayer. Amen.

I wasn't trying to make the 1000 an all-out swim, but I did take out the first 200 a little too fast (2:35), and felt it at 500 meters. I managed to get through the final 500 meters and even split the swim, splitting 6:45 at the 500. I was feeling the burn in my shoulders and upper back, and in my legs in the final 200. But I was happy that my heart rate didn't get too high (162) and I recovered pretty well from it -- physically, at least. I averaged 1:21 on the swim, which is right at my aerobic pace. Since I only got 500 meters of warm-up before the swim, I had no intention of going faster.

Combined with yesterday's fast 100 breast and today's 1000, I think I've done enough "long" stuff for the remainder of the season. I planned to have this week be the start of working on short bursts of speed and focusing on the first 25 of my 100. I haven't really had the chance to do that this week. Maybe tomorrow, after all the vertical kicking Mark has planned for us.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Sing the Body Electric

Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
26 days to Olympic Trials

1200 warmup

8x50 on 1:00 -- 25 fast kick underwater with fins/25 swim easy

Three minute break

2x50 breast on 1:40 (34, 34)

200 easy

100 breast fast from dive (1:09.2)

300 easy

50 breast fast from dive (31.3)

100 easy

50 breast fast from dive (31.2)

150 easy

Total: 2,650 meters (80 minutes)

I wasn't planning on doing much sprint breaststroke today, especially when I saw that the main set on the whiteboard was six rounds of 100 fast/100 easy. I haven't done a 100 breast from a dive in workout in a very, very long time. The last time I did a 100 breast fast in workout was November 2, and that was a 1:02.1 in short course yards from a push.

I had no choice but to do the 100 breast. My coach pretty much suggested it after he discovered I wasn't doing all six of the fast 100s. Plus, when I was standing on deck preparing to do the 100, Coley Stickels arrived. So, with both of my coaches on deck, I couldn't wimp out, even though I had just done two fast 50s breast already and was pretty wiped out. Luckily, I didn't have a previous best time for this swim in recent history, so I was unemotional about the 1:09. I didn't go out fast enough, because I wanted to avoid pain, and I didn't come home well enough, because I was in a lot of pain! Coley told me I wasn't pointing my hands downward on the insweep, which is something I try very hard to do. I think he was looking at my final few strokes, which weren't very good. But that's no excuse. I need to have perfect strokes every time!

That was the last fast 100 breast I'll do before Trials. It might be the last fast100 of any stroke I do before Trials (not counting any broken 100s).

I worked on the insweep during the fast 50s from a dive, and I think it took away from doing the sprint well. I was too focused on technique, instead of power and speed. The times weren't too bad for a morning's worth of sprinting.

Today's dryland session with JR Rosania transitioned into a speed focus more than power. Some of the exercises were to be done as fast as possible, with not much weight (if any at all). It felt a little forced to get my arms and legs moving quickly, but I'm sure when it's time to rest, my nervous system will remember these movements and respond better when it's time to race again.

Speaking of that, I'm not going to do another meet before Trials. My only racing option was to swim a meet at my home pool the weekend before Trials. That's too close to the meet, and I don't want to race right when I'm starting my taper. It can mess with me mentally if I don't swim well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Be a Man

Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
27 days to Olympic Trials

900 warmup

Two rounds:
300 free on 5:00 (4:13, 4:10)
200 IM on 4:00 (2:58, 2:56)
100 back on 2:00 (1:25, 1:19)

Two rounds:
4x50 on 1:15 --- 25 scull/25 swim
2x100 free on 1:45, breathing every five
100 breast on 2:00 (1:17.9, 1:18.2)

200 warm down

Total: 3,300 meters (75 minutes)

I am a wimp.

The main set called for four rounds of a 300 free, 200 IM and 100 stroke. After two rounds, I didn't want to do the 300 free anymore, and I wanted to be able to put a good effort into my 100 breast, which meant no 200 IM.

After two rounds, I decided I needed to put some focus on maintaining my body line while going about 90 percent effort. I took 19 strokes per length on the 100s breast, which was pretty good. I was surprised I went as fast as I did. I haven't gone under 1:20 in a 100 breast with that effort in a long time. Well, I haven't gone a 100 breast outside of a meet in a long time!

I liked the workout today. Very simple and it enabled me to deviate from the set without causing too much distraction!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Final Countdown

Date: Sunday, May 27, 2012
Time: 11:45 a.m.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Long Course Meters
29 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

Four rounds:
25 underwater kick on :40
50 IM transition on 1:00
75 free breathing every 5 on 1:20
100 IM on 1:40

8x25 breakouts on :45

Three rounds:
25 fast breast from dive with bungee cord / 25 back fast assisted with bungee cord / 25 breast underwater swim from a dive / 25 free fast
5x50 recovery on :55

4x50 :20 rest -- 25 scull/25 swim

4x50 on 2:00 IM order fast from push (30, 31, 34, 29)

6x50 free with snorkel on :55

Easy 100 (with stretching)

Total: 3,350 meters (90 minutes)

The original plan today was to do two broken swims: a broken 100 breast and a broken 200 IM. Because I did not have any to give me accurate times on my swims, I decided to cut out the 100 breast, make the broken 200 IM more like four 50s with a decent amount of rest in between.

Substituting a major lactate set for a broken 100 breast wasn't an even trade, but I enjoyed doing the lactate set today. The bungee cord wasn't too tight. I didn't feel the resistance until 15 meters out, giving me 10 meters of resistance swimming. The bungee cord was initially too short to reach to 25 meters, so I improvised and added another cord, shortening it just a little bit. I knew it was too long after the first round, but it was too much work to make it shorter.

I didn't go right into each subsequent round on the lactate set. I did the lactate 100 in about 1:40, then had about five minutes for the recovery. Then, I gave myself an additional three minutes or so before starting the next round, putting each round on a 10-minute interval. It was a pretty adequate amount of rest.

Today was a crucial day for swimming fast, not because we are past the 30-day mark until Trials. I will likely not do as much fast swimming per workout for the rest of this training cycle, concentrating instead on explosive speed on 25s more than 50s. Everything seemed to fall in line today, and I was happy with all the fast swimming I did today, especially the 50s at the end. The times listed above are based on what I saw on the clock when I touched, so likely a little faster, but who knows? The real goal was good technique and speed endurance. I fell apart a little bit at the end of each 50, but not to a major degree.

I'm happy to have tomorrow off work and swimming! I will definitely enjoy sleeping in and having no real plans to the day. Have a good Memorial Day everyone!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Break My Stride

Date: Friday, May 25, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
31 days to Olympic Trials

1300 warmup

15x50 kick with short fins and snorkel on 1:00 (avg :45)

12x25 on :30 (half underwater kick/half swim)

400 free breathe every 3 aerobic

6x100 on 2:00
Fast 100 IM on 3 and 6 (1:03.1, 1:02.7)

200 easy

Total: 3,550 meters (80 minutes)

At the gym (5 p.m.)

Eight minutes elliptical machine

Five minutes shoulder warmup

Sitting bench press (15@110, 12@130, 10@155)

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

Leg extensions (15@100, 12@125, 10@155)

Three rounds of:
15 reps ball throwdowns (12 lb. ball)
15 reps horizontal crunches with feet on therapy ball
15 reps lie on back with ball throws and kicks

I didn't want to go to the gym today. I almost talked myself out of it. But once I put on my gym clothes, I figured I might as well go. Once I got there, I reduced my workout to only 40 minutes instead of the usual 50. It was the end of a physically stressful week, probably one of the most stressful my body has felt in a few weeks. All I wanted to do was crash on the couch ... at least until I had to get in my car and drive 120 miles to Tucson. I have to keep up my motivation for at least 15 more days. After that, it'll be time to start backing off dryland and focus on the meet.

As far as the pool workout goes, I was surprised with my fast 100 IMs today. Understandably, I haven't been doing much IM work in the past few weeks, and I know I need to not forget about that since I will be doing the 200 IM at Masters nationals a week after Olympic Trials. But considering I hadn't put all four strokes together in a long time (and add in that I was circle swimming) the times were pretty good. I usually gauge a good fast swim in workout if it is six to seven seconds slower than my time in a shave and taper meet. My goal is 57.0 in short course meters in the 100 IM, so I was right on target.

I'm so glad the week is over, and the holiday weekend is here! I won't be doing much out of the ordinary, except sleeping in on Monday!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Heart of Rock and Roll

Date: Thursday, May 24, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
32 days to Olympic Trials

4x250 on 4:30
150 swim/50 kick/50 pull

6x100 free on 1:45, 12 breaths per 100

10x125 on 1:45 (avg. 1:29)

300 easy (25 kick on back/25 free fingertip drag drill)

10 minutes starts

Total: About 3,300 meters (70 minutes)

I wasn't going to do the set of 125s. I didn't have an alternative to the set, though, so I did it anyway. It wasn't an extremely difficult VO2max set, as I didn't start to break down until number eight. Usually, I'm toast halfway through sets like these, but I was able to hold my stroke and not feel like I was sinking until I pushed off for the eighth repeat. What made it worse was a female teammate in the lane next to me had been descending the set, so she was starting to catch me, even though I resolved to keep my average, even when Mark Rankin provoked us by telling her, "Don't let the old guy beat you." She did by a lot. I went 1:30 on number 10, and she went about 1:25.

My heart rate was high at the end of that set, about 180. I took another heart rate 30 seconds later and it was about 145. Another 30 seconds later, my heart rate was 126. It appears I'm doing well in getting my heart rate down. I remember when it wasn't easy to do so, before I was on my blood pressure medication. I remember having a 180 heart rate, and 30 seconds later, it was 170.

When I was working on my starts, I tried to think about keeping my legs together and not have them just float behind me on the entry, but that is not easy to do. I am thinking about so many other things that I still forget to focus on my legs. If I don't focus on throwing my head and my arms, I might not have a powerful leap or a good entry. If I don't keep my head at a good angle on the entry, I'll be too deep. And then I have to think about the pulldown, and by then, it's a little too late to worry about my leg position. Lots to improve, and plenty of time to do it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
33 days to Olympic Trials

250 warmup

1. kick on 1:10
2. non-free on 1:00
3. free on :50

16x25 on :35
1-4, 9-12 breakouts
5-8, 13-16 descend

Four rounds:
75 fast/175 easy on 7:00
1. free with small fins (40.8)
2. breast from dive (48.5)
3. back from push (45.5)
4. breast from dive (47.5)

50 easy

4x50 kick with small fins fast on 1:30 -- 25 dolphin on stomach/25 flutter on back with 12 dolphin kicks

100 easy

50 breast fast from dive (29.9)

100 easy (with stretching)

Total: 2,900 meters (80 minutes)

This has been a rough week, physically. I haven't been able to get my body to perform as easily as weeks past. But I guess it can't all be life on a bed of roses, can it?

This morning, I didn't have much of a desire to do fast 75s, but I did them! Instead of doing eight rounds of 75 fast/75 easy on 3:30, I decided to do every other round fast. I still don't think I had enough recovery to adequately do each one fast, but six minutes is better than three!

I wasn't too happy with my breaststroke times on the 75s. I thought 46-high was a good goal, but I realize now that's reaching pretty high during workout at 6:30 a.m. But it might have been possible if I hadn't swum my first 50 in 31 seconds. If you remember, I was doing that on repeats last week! I did have to circle swim on the fast 75s, so maybe I can take away about a second, since I swam about 77 meters!

I was happy that I was able to get under 30 on the 50 from a dive. I got to swim that one straight, and though my legs were tired from the kick set we had just done, I felt like I was swimming quite well. I did have trouble with the finish. I glided a little too long on the final stroke. I was trying not to spot the wall as I approached it, and maybe that affected my ability to accurately time my stroke to finish better. These are small things that I can work on in the next four weeks.

JR Rosania helped set my mind at ease today. He said all of the swimmers he's training for the Olympic Trials are feeling the same way I'm feeling in the water. That gave me a huge sense of comfort. He added that all the hard training we've been doing -- both in and out of the water -- is finally catching up with our bodies, and it's OK to feel like this right now. We've got a little more than a month to go, and everything will be OK.

I'm sure he's right. I am not pushing the panic button. I'm going to continue on this path, knowing the final three weeks will feel much better.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Could We Start Again Please?

Date: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
34 days to Olympic Trials

4x(3x50 on 1:00)
Round 1: 25 fly/25 back
Round 2: 25 back/25 breast
Round 3: 25 breast/25 free

16x100 on 2:00, four each stroke, descending
fly: 1:17
back: 1:12
breast: 1:17
free: 1:05

400 kick choice easy

4x200 on 3:30
100 back/100 breast descend (#4: 2:29)

100 easy (with stretching)

Total: 3,500 meters (75 minutes)

I did not want to swim today. I did not sleep well last night, because my partner, Geoff Glaser, got food poisoning. It's not easy to sleep with the sounds of retching coming from the bathroom. I think I got a total of five hours sleep.

Before I left I considered going back to bed, because I was moving so slow and a little out of sorts. But I figured I wouldn't get any more sleep with Geoff still sick, so I went to the pool. I was so lethargic in the water today. I felt heavy, and it wasn't easy to get my body to put forth much effort. I did the best I could, but I wouldn't rank today in my top 100 workouts of the year -- and I think I've only done about 100 in 2012!

Later on, I started getting muscle cramps in my stomach, and instantly I remembered that I got so busy at work that I forgot to eat breakfast! All I had consumed today was my P2Life Nutriboost shake. No matter how busy my day gets, I rarely forget to eat!

This day hasn't been all negative, but dealing with a sick person in the middle of the night, suffering through workout that included a 100-meter butterfly and subconsciously skipping breakfast outweighs all the positives. If I could start the day over ... well, maybe we should rewind to last night and not go to the Asian restaurant, where I'm certain Geoff ate a bad batch of sushi.

In any case, the key to getting through a tough workout is to concentrate on technique, because if things aren't feeling good, the tendency is to forgo technique. Not a good thing to do!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go)

Date: Sunday, May 20, 2012
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Long Course Meters
36 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

Four rounds:
50 with :20 rest -- 25 scull/25 underwater kick
100 free, breathing every 5 on 1:40
150 with :30 rest -- 50 back/50 breast/50 free (25 kick/25 swim each stroke)

4x50 on 1:00 free descend 1-4 (descended to :30)

200 easy

Broken 100 free -- 50 fast/50 fast with small fins

6x50 choice easy, :10 rest

Broken 100 breast -- 50 fast with small fins/50 fast no fins

6x50 choice easy, :10 rest

50 breast fast from push (32.9)

200 easy

Total: 2,950 meters (75 minutes)

This morning I started watching "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" on ABC Family. It's probably my favorite in the series, and when it comes on TV (as it seems to do a lot on ABC Family), I will watch it. This morning, my body wanted a brief nap before workout (despite waking up three hours earlier).

I planned on a 15-minute nap. It became a one-hour nap. This made me late for workout. I had swimming lessons to teach this afternoon, and I had planned the start of my workout to give me time to get dressed and have a bite to eat (as well as guzzle my P2Life Nutriboost shake) without feeling rushed. I dove in right at 1:00, about 15 minutes later than planned.

As usual, I put the workout on the wall of the pool gutter. At this time of year, you have to make sure the paper is always wet, because the heat will dry it up quickly, and it'll float away. That's what happened in the middle of the first set. When I looked for the paper, I could not find it floating in my lane or on the deck. I was pretty sure I could remember the workout, particularly the sprint sets I had in mind. After the workout, as I rushed to write it out on another piece of paper to remember it later for typing this blog post, I realized that I had missed a 400-meter warmup set. Would it have made a difference? I don't know.

I was fairly lethargic in the pool today. I wasn't sure if I had the energy to swim fast. But when you mentally challenge yourself, some good things can happen. My legs were overworked on that broken 100 free, and that was the goal. I wanted to overload the work on my legs on that final 50, which is when the legs should be working hardest, especially in a freestyle swim. I'm planning on swimming the 100 free at the Masters summer nationals in Omaha, so I do need to train for that as well!

I took about 15 seconds rest between 50s on my broken swims, just enough time to either put on or take off my fins. I was pleased with how my body responded to the sets. I was very, very tired at the end of each 100, but unlike Wednesday, I was able to put forth some great effort on each one because I did a recovery set in between. Nothing against Coley Stickels' lactate workouts, but I prefer the ability to flush out a good portion of the lactate before ramping up the speed again.

As for that fast push 50 breast at the end. I had my partner, Geoff Glaser, time me, and after he told me the time, he said he thought he started a tick late. Therefore, the actual time might have been a 33-low. Still, that's a great time after those fast 100s.

With five weeks left until Trials, this is a crucial time in training. I think the power focus in my dryland has really helped me, but i have to be careful to not get too bulky. I don't want my muscles to get in the way of fast swimming! It is possible to be too buff in swimming. You want to have strong muscles, but you also want to be hydrodynamic. Having arms and legs like tree trunks can often work against you.

Friday, May 18, 2012

One More Chance

Date: Friday, May 18, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
38 days to Olympic Trials

3x(4x100 on 2:00)
1. 75 swim/25 kick
2. 50 swim/50 kick
3. 25 swim/75 kick
4. 100 kick

12x50 on 1:00
odd: 25 flutter kick rotating all sides/25 swim
even: 25 dolphin kick rotating all sides/25 swim

100 breast kick with board fast (1:30)

300 free easy with snorkel

4x15 breakouts on :45

2x50 breast fast from push on 2:00 (31.6, 31.8)

200 easy

2x50 breast fast from push on 2:00 (32.0, 32.0)

200 easy

50 breast fast from push (31.3)

100 easy

Total: 3,050 meters (75 minutes)

I haven't done a lot of breaststroke kick work recently, so today had a breaststroke focus. I was surprised that we didn't do more fast kicking, but I wasn't really complaining. I did very well on the fast 100 kick. I wasn't expecting to go 1:30 in meters. I think I usually go 1:30 for yards!

This makes me happy because I'm getting stronger in my legs, thanks to all that vertical kicking and work with JR. My IT bands, which greatly help breaststrokers, are quite sore this afternoon, but it's nothing a nice soak in the hot tub won't cure, which is what I plan to do after work. The hot tub at my gym isn't the best, but since I'm paying for it, I need to use it!

As for the fast 50s, I was extremely happy with them. I was working on grabbing as much water as possible on my outsweep, and as a result, my Trapezius muscles were working very hard this morning. These are the muscles used mostly to help the arms go outward on the breaststroke pull, and is a reason why you see overdeveloped "traps" on many breaststrokers.

After the second round of 50s, I was content to do a warm down and move on with my day. But, something inside me convinced me I could do one more 50 under 32 seconds. How was I able to go 31.3? It's real simple. On the first two rounds, I was circle swimming with others in my lane. On the fifth 50, I swam straight in the lane. But besides that, I picked up my stroke rate just a little bit. I had a long glide into the finish, but it couldn't be helped. Knowing I was going to be a little far from the wall, I just kicked extra hard on the last stroke. When I heard the time, I didn't tell those around me that I went faster mostly because I wasn't swimming in a circle, but I let them heap lots of praise on me. I was, despite the obvious advantage, happy that I was able to break 32 seconds, and it was a good way to end the workout.


I haven't mentioned anything about this, but I found this article about the special group of swimmers that I belong to: the breaststrokers. I've copied the full article from below. Everything that's mentioned about breaststrokers is pretty much true!

By Ryan Hurley, NBCOlympics
Thus far in 2012, Phelps’s world rankings are fourth in the 100m butterfly, fifth in the 100m freestyle, 10th in the 100m backstroke, and tied for 77th in the 100m breaststroke.* True there are millions of swimmers out there that swim their entire career without being ranked 77th in the world in any event, but comparatively for Phelps it does not stack up.  The trend is similar for most of the other elite “well-rounded” swimmers because of one simple fact - you’re either a breaststroker or you aren’t. 

Just ask Brendan Hansen, Rebecca Soni, Eric Shanteau, Amanda Beard, or Kosuke Kitajima.

They represent the other side of the spectrum – the best breaststrokers in the world, who cannot disguise themselves as anything else. It is unlikely that you will see them compete in any event other than the breaststrokes, let alone earning a spot in the world rankings. For the most part, breaststrokers put in their two races, and an occasional high-stakes medley-relay leg, and are on their way. 

More so than with any other stroke, breaststrokers find their calling early on in their swim career, and if the body position and feel does not come naturally, it’s an uphill battle to master the stroke.

“It either comes to you or it doesn’t,” says Olympic-gold-medalist Rebecca Soni. “You have to have funky legs that turn in funky ways and stretch.”

The way breaststrokers are built affects the way they must train, often breaking off into their own practice group and doing particular sets that allow them to hone their skill. Tips on rotating your feet, lifting your torso, or extending your glide are instructions you would hear barked in the breaststroke group, but nowhere else. You might also see more kick sets or breath control, as breaststrokers spend plenty of time underwater during their pullouts and rely heavily on their legs.

Breaststroke to me, at least the way I swim breaststroke, it’s more [about] finesse, more of a gliding stroke than the others,” says Soni. As it is the slowest of the four strokes, breaststrokers are always looking to find that perfect rhythm, and glide a little bit more smoothly.

Outside of their atypical training, breaststrokers are also known for their unorthodox perspectives on the sport, and - most notably to the untrained eye – their distinctive walk or waddle. 

“We’re definitely the weird ones,” says American Eric Shanteau. “I think you have to be weird to swim breaststroke. You can pick us out in a group of swimmers - we’re usually the ones standing with our feet sticking straight out like a duck.” 

For the most part though, breaststrokers embrace their role as the oddballs of the swim community. Consider it a peaceful medium between the nutty distance workhorses and the often-envied lackadaisical sprinters.   

“We’re our own special breed of swimmer,” says Shanteau. “It’s kind of fun being in that little group within the group.”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Hard Day's Night

Date:Thursday, May 17, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
39 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

3x(3x100 on 1:45)
1. last 25 head up breast
2. first 25 head up breast
3. free or back, 12 strokes per 25

8x50 on 1:15
odd: 25 swim/25 v-scull
even: 25 v-scull/25 swim

2x500 on 8:00
1. 100 back/100 free (6:45)
2. 100 free/100 back (6:40)

8x25 on :40
odd: free 1 breath
even: breast double pullouts

6x75 on 1:40
50 bow and arrow drill/25 swim

Total: 3,250 meters (75 minutes)

I was a little worried about this workout before I arrived at the pool, but it turned out to be just the type of workout I needed. My body was still in recovery mode from last night's workout, and I needed to just "go through the motions" this morning. My heart rate didn't get very high, and Icould feel my body actively recovering with each set.

The drills we did were a good way to feel out my muscles in ways I am not often able to do when simply swimming. Head-up breaststroke allows me to keep my core in check when my hands are in the glide position. Without my core, I'm not able to keep my head above water. The vertical sculling was another good core exercise, though I would have liked the interval to be slower. It was essentially a straight 400 for me.

I didn't complain about the 500s, because I knew a little distance swimming would help stretch out the muscles. I didn't feel that good on my backstroke, but freestyle felt OK. Again, my body was still smarting from last night, so I wasn't up for pushing the pace past 1:20 per 100.

In the gym today, I did more maxing-out exercises. Sitting bench press, seated row and hamstring curls were my main exercises. I also did some calf extensions, but didn't do them too heavy, because I felt some tightness in my right calf. The exercise was primarily to get range back in that right calf muscle, and it seemed to work.

I spent longer than usual stretching at the gym. I got a foam roller and rolled it over my IT bands. It felt goooooood. I also stretched out my calves on the foam roller, and could feel that tightness still in my right calf, but it's much better now. Everything feels much better now than it did 24 hours ago!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Take a Look at Me Now

Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
41 days to Olympic Trials

That was the hardest workout EVER!

OK, maybe I'm exaggerating. A little bit. I have done some very difficult workouts in my 30-plus years in swimming, but very few of them had me wishing I had a third lung to help me get through it. Plus, I have never seen two people throw up into a garbage can in the middle of workout. I saw that happen today.

It wasn't a completely difficult workout with the Phoenix Swim Club's elite group from start to finish. Just the main set, which had us sprinting for 600 yards with next to no warm down between rounds. I built up so much lactic acid during the first of the five rounds of fast swimming, and I never fully got rid of it. That is the essence of lactate day at Phoenix Swim Club, and though it's very tough, I know it will pay off in the end. The pain I'll feel in the last 15 meters of my 100 breast will be NOTHING compared to the pain I felt for 45 minutes today.

The set called for a lot of swimming on the Power Tower, plus a few running dives and more fast swimming. Three of the five rounds only had 100 yards of fast swimming, but the entire 100 was at all-out pace, no building to the last 25. The other two rounds had 150 yards of fast swimming, and I think those were harder than the other rounds.

During the main set, Coach Tako was doing some underwater filming, and after the workout, most of the swimmers gathered around a monitor to watch our strokes. I was still warming down while they were watching, but I got to see some of my swimming. A few people remarked on "interesting" freestyle kick, which consists of a whip kick, a flutter kick and a scissors kick. It used to be much worse.

But on the video, Coley and I got to take a look at my breaststroke pullout. He discovered that I am bringing my hands too far under my body on the insweep. My thinking behind that was to simulate a butterfly pull, but he believes I could be better by keeping my hands outside my body line. I'll have to try that in tomorrow's workout.

Ugh. Tomorrow morning. I don't know how much I'll have to give for Mark Rankin. I gave everything I had to Coley tonight. Thursday morning with the Phoenix Swim Club Masters team is very much like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get!

When I got home tonight, I drank about 24 ounces of my P2Life Nutriboost shake, and I'm going to probably have a bit more before I go to bed, to help with the recovery process. I'm glad I didn't drink any before  workout. You might have seen some of it in the garbage can on deck.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Be Our Guest

Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
41 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

400 IM - 25 kick/25 drill

6x50 on 1:30 -- 25 fly with flutter kick/25 vertical breaststroke

8x100 roving IM on 1:45

200 easy

Two rounds:
4x50 back descend on 1:00
1x50 easy on 1:30
4x50 breast on 1:00 -- 25 fast from dive/25 easy
1x50 easy on 1:30

4x50 breast kick easy :10 rest

Total: 3,400 meters (75 minutes)

This morning, I felt pretty sore when I got out of bed. This is how I usually feel on Thursday morning, after my workouts with JR. My legs weren't feeling up to the task of walking from the bed to the bathroom, then from the bathroom to the closet, then from the closet down the stairs to the kitchen, and so on, but they managed anyway.

Before I got to the pool, the plan was to not push the workout if my body wasn't able to handle it. But we had a special guest in our group this morning. Mike Nelson, who swims with the top group at Phoenix Swim Club, was in the pool! Mike has also qualified for Olympic Trials in the 100 breast in a time that's a couple of tenths faster than mine. When I saw Mike, I sighed and groaned a little, but put on a happy face. I knew this meant I'd have to push my pace a little harder than planned this morning.

Both Mike and I weren't feeling like breaststrokers today, but we got through that last set. On the first round, Mike did backstroke, but he switched to breaststroke on the dive swims, which offered up a challenge for me. I was happy that he was stepping up to race me at the end of workout. It was the push I needed to work on getting off the blocks faster. I think I haven't been doing very well on my starts because there has rarely been someone there to challenge me. Mike did that, and I had good results. I did a couple of the dive 25s in the low 13-second range (13.3 and 13.4).

I was so exhausted from the workout that I was this close to a nap at work. I managed to hold out well, knowing that I was going to sleep extremely well tonight. And I'll need it: Tomorrow, I'm doing the lactate workout with the kids, and I'll need every bit of energy I can muster!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Walk Like a Man

Date: Monday, May 14, 2012
Time: 4:45 p.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
42 days to Olympic Trials

Today was supposed to be a planned day off from exercise, but I adjusted my schedule this week to allow me to do my dryland session with JR Rosania today instead of Monday. This week might be the last time I get to swim with the kids at Phoenix Swim Club, since the team is shifting to morning workouts only when school lets out in a couple of weeks. I won't be able to swim with them at the 7 a.m. start time, so I wanted to get in one more lactate workout on Wednesday with Coley and his crew before Trials.

Today's workout was pretty tough, but it was kind of fun to do! I enjoy working on power ... I am a sprinter, you know! I wasn't very active physically at work today, so I felt a little lethargic when I started exercising. That went a away during the first set of exercises! My legs weren't feeling so good today, and I worried about them on a new set of plyometrics that had me jumping down from a platform and up onto another one. I didn't feel any pain, but my IT bands were having a hard time responding to the quick motions I wanted them to do.

Near the end of the workout I noticed myself walking a little funny. Well, I'm a breaststroker, so people think I walk funny anyway. But in order to avoid the soreness in my legs, I felt like I was walking like a penguin! I don't know if I walk like that after all of JR's workouts, but I think the heightened awareness of the tension in my legs made it more noticeable.

When I got home tonight I drank about 12 ounces of Nutriboost milk to help speed the muscle recovery, and did some stretching on my foam roller. When I rolled that right over my IT bands, I felt waves of endorphins envelope me. For a brief moment, everything felt wonderful ... until I started on the other leg! I should feel OK for tomorrow morning's workout.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

We Do What We Can

Date: Sunday, May 13, 2012
Time: 11:25 a.m.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Long Course Meters/Short Course Meters
43 days to Olympic Trials

Long Course Meters:
300 warmup

1-5 free with snorkel on 1:45 (avg. 1:22)
6-10 50 back/50 breast on 1:55 (avg. 1:28)

4x75 :30 rest
15 fast/20 easy/30 fast/10 easy

Short Course Meters:

Starts for 10 minutes

Two rounds:
4x50 on Power Tower on 1:30
3x100 aerobic on 1:40
Round 1: 25 fast/25 easy
Round 2: 25 easy/25 fast 

2x50 on Power Tower on 2:00 all fast
3x100 aerobic on 1:40

4x50 on 1:00 -- 25 scull/25 swim easy

Total: About 3,300 meters (80 minutes)

I usually write my Sunday workout two or three hours in advance, but today, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, mostly because my motivation for training today was pretty low. All I wanted to do was sleep for the entire day. The past six days had been very stressful, and I just wanted to relax at home, not put my body through rigorous exercise.

But I did it anyway, and the main Power Tower set wasn't devised until about five minutes before I did it. I originally was going to do some short-burst sprints in the long course pool, but I knew I needed to work on my swimming strength, and the Power Tower was a great way to do it. Unfortunately, the Power Towers were only set up in the diving well, which was about 82 degrees today. Not optimal at high noon, when the temperature was in the mid-90s. I didn't do too bad, and was happy with the way the set went.

I knew I needed to work on my starts, not because I wasn't happy with how they were on Friday, but because the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center has the fins on the back of the blocks, similar to what will be used at the Olympic Trials. So, I got some good work done on those. I still need to adjust my start, since the fins put my body at a slightly different angle on the blocks. But I do feel like I get a little more power and am able to hold that into my pullout.

For a workout that I wasn't too thrilled with doing in the first place, it turned out to be one of my best.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Date: Friday, May 11, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters/Short Course Yards
45 days to Olympic Trials

6x200 on 3:00
odd: 150 swim/50 kick
even: 50 kick/150 swim

Four rounds with snorkel and small fins:
4x50 on 1:00
1x50 easy on 1:30
Rounds 1 and 3: free swim easy
Rounds 2 and 4: kick @ 90 percent

2x200 free :30 rest
#1 breathe every 3
#2 breathe every 4

Short Course Yards:
4x50 on 1:20
25 breast from dive/25 easy
(12.6, 12.4, (no time), 12.3)

100 easy

4x50 on 1:20 as above
(12.0, 12.2, 12.2, 12.2)

100 easy

Total: 3,200 meters/yards (75 minutes)

I wasn't feeling like going fast today. On the set with snorkel and fins, I tried to look like I was putting forth some effort, but my body was saying "No!" Doing a second workout within 12 hours used to be the norm for me, but that was almost 15 years ago. Now, I need a full day to recover, especially after that tough set of 50s breast pull I did last night.

That said, I knew I need to do some short-burst sprints today, and the last set provided a great opportunity to do that. The original set was 8x50 on :40, but I knew that was not for me. I was glad Mark was able to time me on the 25s, but I had hoped to go under 12 seconds a couple of times. I still feel like I have a lot of work to do on my start, particularly with keeping my legs together on the entry, and having a faster reaction time. I'm not sure how exactly to work on that, since I don't know how slow my reaction time is, and how to work on improving it on the blocks. Sure, I can do lots of dryland work, but how to get that to translate to a faster start? Any ideas?

At the gym (4:30 p.m.)
Five minutes elliptical treadmill

Five minutes shoulder warm up

Sitting bench press (10 @ 150, 8 @ 170, 6 @ 190)

Lat pulldown (12 @ 135, 10 @ 165, 8 @ 180)

Five minutes abdominals

Hamstring curls (12 @ 110, 10 @ 120, 8 @ 130)

Leg adduction (12 @ 160, 10 @ 180, 8 @ 200)

Five minutes abdominals and stretching

Felt a little invigorated at the gym. I am doing a two-week strength routine, followed by a week of endurance lifting, followed by two more weeks of strength, then taper! My hamstrings are weak, and I know it. That's why I rarely do the hamstring curls. I will be instituting more plyometrics into my Friday dryland routine, which could help reaction time and explosiveness. Again, though, how will I translate to the blocks? I need to devote time during workout for that, and have a coach start me and look at my entry. I've got plenty of time, so no reason to panic!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sunrise, Sunset

Date: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Time: 6:10 p.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
46 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

8x150 on 2:30
1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 free
3, 6 100 back/50 breast

12x25 on :35 with small fins
underwater kick to 15 meters, then swim easy

12x50 breast pull with small fins on 1:00 (averaged :36)

200 free pull easy with buoy at ankles

8x75 on 1:40 -- 50 easy/25 fast
1-5 back, 6-8 free

100 scull (with stretching)

Total: 3,300 meters (80 minutes)

I had planned to swim with the kids at Phoenix Swim Club today, but they started an hour earlier, and I was unaware of the temporary schedule change. My only other option was to swim with the evening Masters group, which I wasn't too thrilled about, but I had no choice if I wanted to swim today. It was a weird feeling swimming when the sun was going down. I'm usually swimming when the sun is rising!

The workout was a little bit harder than I wanted it to be. Since I was going to be back at the pool at 5:45 the next morning, I had hoped for an easier workout. Actually, I could have made the workout easy, but instinctively, I made it hard. I pushed the pace of those 50s breast pull a lot harder than I should have, but the first five 50s felt relaxed and smooth. The last seven were torture. I thought about doing backstroke pull for the last six, but I stuck with it. My technique stayed nearly flawless through the set, with an emphasis on grabbing plenty of water during the outsweep.

I should have done the last set aerobically, but again, my mind and body decided to put some element of speed in it. I wasn't at my best in that last set, and I considered not swimming fast after the third 75, but I kept going. My stroke wasn't holding together, and that's not a good thing when you're trying to sprint. If your stroke isn't doing well, it's a sign that maybe you need some active recovery. Tomorrow won't give me the opportunity to do that. After Wednesday, Friday is the hardest workout day with the Phoenix Swim Club Masters group! Lots of kicking and some sprinting at the end of workout!

I'm extremely tired, and I have to be at the pool in eight hours. Add to the fact that I am also doing weights tomorrow afternoon, and you have the recipe for a very tired person who will probably sleep until noon on Saturday!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Morning After

Date: Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters/Short Course Yards
47 days to Olympic Trials

Short Course Meters:
4x125 free on 2:00 various breathing patterns

6x50 on 1:00 with short fins (12.5 kick/12.5 swim)

20x25 on :35 various speed work

Short Course Yards:
200 free fast with short fins (1:55)

200 easy

2x150 aerobic on 2:30 (1 free, 1 back)

100 easy

4x50 breast on 1:30 fast from push (28.8, 29.7, 29.5, 29.4)

200 easy

Short Course Meters:
4x50 on 1:30 - 25 fast from dive/25 easy
(12.8, 13.5, 13.4, 13.4)

100 easy (with stretching)

Total: 2,800 yards/meters (75 minutes)

The day after my 400 breast, I could still feel it lingering in my bones. I wasn't feeling especially fast today, though the times on my push 50s were fine. I wish I could have been more consistent with my splits. In my 50s and my dive 25s, I did the first one very well, then the average fell off after that.

As you remember from yesterday's workout, I asked Mark to do 4x50 on 2:00 fast, but I think he shifted it to 1:30 because it was short course. After number three, he said he should have put them on two minutes, so we got an extra 30 seconds rest on the last one. My stroke felt rushed today, and that might have been due to the switch to short course, or just because I wasn't feeling like a sprinter today.

Of course, that 200 free may have taken a big bite out of me as well. I overkicked the first 100, and I think I paid for that the rest of the workout. All things considered, today was a good day in the pool.

It was also a good dryland day. I made some improvements from last week in terms of putting quickness in some of my exercises, and implementing more power into others. Doing the breaststroke-specific exercises were tiring, but those were the ones I concentrated on the most! The hardest exercise of the day was the push-ups with a 25-pound weight on my back!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Genie in a Bottle

Date: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
48 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

16x50 on 1:05, various kick, drill and swim repeats

2x400 on 7:00 -- 200 back/200 breast
#1 6:07, #2 5:50

200 easy

400 breast (goal: under 6:00)

6x50 on 1:10 easy

4x100 back on 2:15 (avg. 1:16) 

300 easy

Total: 3,500 meters (80 minutes)

Despite having two days off from exercise, I felt pretty good int he water today. No sense of feeling "off" in any my strokes.

On the board this morning was written "4x400 on 7:00." Immediately I thought, "No way!" I decided to do just two of them, then branch out and do some sprint work, though I wasn't completely sure what I would do. But anything would be better than two more 400s!

After I finished the 200 easy after the second 400, Mark wanted to know what I was going to do. "Definitely not another 400!"

"I wanted to see if you could go under six minutes breaststroke on this last one."

Sounded like a challenge -- and even though I knew I didn't want to accept this challenge, I thought about it for a few minutes. I had found out that one of my teammates, Laura Ruberto, had specifically requested the set of 400s. Since she got her wish granted, I figured I'd make a wish of my own. I told Mark I'd try to break six minutes, but only if we did a set of 4x50 on 2:00 tomorrow. That's my type of set!

I was nervous about the 400. The sprinter in me wasn't confident about taking the 400 out slow and building to the finish. I am not very good about switching to another gear, and that's what I would have to do. Plus, I was doing this 400 alone. No one else in the pool would be going at my speed. The first 100 was very easy, probably too easy. I don't know what the split was, but I knew I was going too easy. I tried to speed up without picking up my stroke rate on the second 100, and it wasn't easy to do.

At the 250 mark, my arms were quite tired and my legs were feeling the burn. I knew I needed to go faster, but I couldn't feel my body kick into that next gear. Sprinters have only one gear: fast!

The final 400 was brutal, but the entire time I kept focusing on maintaining my stroke technique. It kept my mind off the pain.

When Mark said "6:02" when I touched the wall, I let out a mixture of a groan and scream. I was furious! I swam all that way and didn't break six minutes! It seemed fairly easy to me at the start. All I had to do was average under 1:30 per 100! Another teammate of mine, Tarek El Dokor, congratulated me on the time. Yes, it was pretty fast, but I was too upset to acknowledge that.

It's been 13 hours since that swim, and I'm still a little miffed about not breaking six minutes. I think it was simply a poor pacing choice and not a statement on my conditioning. However, my body was ruined for the remainder of the workout. That final set of 100s was pretty much useless, but I gave it my best effort anyway.

The point of today's workout is that it is OK to accept a challenge from your coach, but don't be afraid to go for it! If you fail, fail because you tried your hardest. I think I was too wimpy in the first part of the swim, and it stung me in the end. I'm now reminded of a special day I had when I swam at the University of Texas. I was challenged to do a get-out 400 butterfly (short course yards) swim one day, and all I had to do was go under five minutes. I had never gone under five minutes, and was pretty much the only swimmer on the team who hadn't done so. But on that day, I went out fast and held on, going 4:49. I also had the team cheering for me. This morning, I only got a few medium-loud yells from my coach.

I can't wait for those 50s on two minutes tomorrow!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Surprise, Surprise (reprise)

Date: Saturday, May 5, 2012
Location: Tucson, AZ
Long Course Meters
51 days to Olympic Trials

At Southwest Classic
Session 1, 7:30 a.m.

1500 warmup

200 freestyle: 2:05.14

400 warm down, then 15 minutes break

100 backstroke: 1:01.48

500 warm down

Session 2: 4:30 p.m.

1000 warmup

100 breaststroke: 1:05.69

400 warm down, then five minutes break

200 IM: 2:18.64

400 warm down

The Southwest Classic has always been essentially an intrasquad meet for the Ford Aquatics team, as not many teams bring top swimmers to challenge them. Every year except for 2006, I've shaved and tapered for this meet and done quite well. Because I'm so close to the Olympic Trials, I didn't want to rest too much for this meet. I only rested one day, as you can see from this week's workouts. During warm up this morning, my body felt OK, and I tried not to think about how good I felt at sectionals in Seattle, since that would be like comparing apples to juicy strawberries. My body felt like a juicy strawberry in Seattle; today, it felt like a semi-ripe apple.

I had no expectations for my 200 freestyle today, though my coach, Mark Rankin, was sure I would be close to breaking to two minutes. My 2:07.00 seed time was the best time I've ever done in the event, and I hadn't done it shaved or tapered. I felt I could go faster, but maybe just two seconds. When I dove in and took my first breath to my right, I was almost a body length ahead of the swimmer to my left. That never happens to me. I'm usually a little behind, especially on non-breaststroke starts. That gave me a little confidence for the first 50. The next 150 meters I was swimming alone. It's not easy to do so. On the third 50, I held back just a bit to make sure I had energy for the final 50, and that might not have been a good idea. Since I went out in a :59, I didn't split the final 100 very well. But, 2:05.14 is a best time, so I'm not upset! And I moved up from 25th seed to 13th place overall! And the 200 free is, like, my eighth event!

I swam the 100 back less than 30 minutes later. I did a pretty good warm down, and again, didn't have too much of an expectation for this swim, given the short time between events. I wasn't very aggressive the first 25, because I wanted to see how much my muscles had for this race. Things felt OK, and I built the first 50 to the wall. When I turned to flip, I saw that I was right with the leaders. That wasn't in the game plan, since their seed times were almost four seconds faster than mine. I knew for a fact I wasn't going under 1:00, but I was exited to race, especially after a lack of such in the 200 free. I could see Matt Hurko, a junior at Arizona, right next to me, and wanted to beat him badly! I managed to get my hand on the wall three tenths ahead of him for ninth overall.

I didn't get much of a nap between sessions, but was glad to have about six hours rest. I watched "Batman Forever" and gave my cat a bath. (Hey, life goes on!)

This afternoon during warm up I felt quite sluggish and got very worried about how I would swim my 100 breast. I didn't change my warmup much, only doing more breakout sprints to get my body to wake up. It didn't work too well. Did I feel this bad because I didn't take a nap? I also didn't have that big of a lunch. Was I running low on energy? I took a couple extra Enduroboost adaptogen pills this morning to prepare for the extra load I was going to put on my body and maybe that helped me recover from the morning session, and possibly give me a little bit of mental boost as I continued to doubt my performance.

Needless to say, my 100 breast performance surprised me! The first 50 felt comfortable, but that was because I was trying to save some energy for the final 50 sprint. When I turned at the 50, I saw that I was a body length ahead of the field, and that gave me a little boost as well. The final 15 meters was painful, but not as painful as I thought it would be. I can't explain why I swam so fast after just one day of rest, and I guess some things defy explanation. My stroke count was right on par -- 20 strokes for the first 50, 24-1/2 for the final 50. I was told that my first 50 was 30.4.

So many things to be happy about that swim, but I'm not going to get overzealous about how this will translate for taper. All I know is that training is going very, very well so far, and I'm going to keep things on the status quo for the next 40 or so days.

About 15 minutes later, I swam the 200 IM. I considered scratching, but I had paid money to swim the event. Plus, it was the last event of the day, so why not? I decided to take the first 100 easy, and apparently I took it very easy. I was told I was out in 1:08, thanks to a 38-second backstroke split! I turned at the 100 and saw I was only a body length behind the leaders, and made a goal to turn first after breaststroke, no matter what it might mean for me physically on the freestyle leg. Everything hurt on freestyle, but I saw the guy to my left catching me, so I kicked harder and picked up the stroke rate. I got to the wall first!

This might be my last meet before Olympic Trials, but that's not an official decision. Arizona will have two or three more meets before Trials, but I tend to stay away from competition in the last month of training. Based on how I swam today, I might turn back on that decision.

Until then, I'm going to enjoy two days off!

Friday, May 4, 2012

High Noon

Date: Friday, May 4, 2012
Time: Noon
Location: Tucson, AZ
Long Course Meters
52 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

200 free on 3:10 aerobic (2:45)

2x400 free on 5:50 aerobic (5:27, 5:20)

100 easy

4x50 kick choice on 1:00

2x100 free breathe every 4 on 1:40

4x50 back on 1:00
4x50 breast kick drill on 1:10

4x50 on 1:00 (15 fast/35 easy)

6x50 free on :55 aerobic (:37)

100 easy

Two starts

Total: 2,800 meters (60 minutes)

I had today off from work, so I drove to Tucson last night. It was great to prepare for tomorrow's meet, but not great to swim on distance day with Ford Masters. I deviated from the set after the 400s, knowing that what was to follow would not be good for me to do the day before a meet, even if I am "swimming through it." I wanted to just feel good in the water, which I didn't for about 45 minutes. Mostly, my body was recovering from yesterday's body work, which always does a number on me the following day.

All in all, I'm ready to race tomorrow. I have almost no expectations, though I do want the 100 breast to go well. I'm racing in four events tomorrow: 200 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 200 IM. The first two events will be swum in the morning timed finals session, and the other two in the evening session. As a Masters swimmer, I won't have any problem with the "one and done" format of the meet. All Masters meet are swum as timed finals!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lay Your Hands on Me

Date: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
53 days to Olympic Trials

6x(4x25 on :30)
1-4 free with 3 breaths
5-8 stroke
9-12 free at 90 percent

8x200 on 3:30
50 swim/50 kick/50 drill/50 pull
Rotate back. breast, free

16x25 fly on :30

8x100 on 1:30
1-4 back aerobic (avg. 1:20)
5-8 free aerobic (avg. 1:15)

4x25 on :45 no breath

100 easy

Total: 3,600 meters (75 minutes)

This morning, I forgot my water bottle at home, and I learned the hard way what it's like when you don't stay hydrated during workout. During the final set of 100s, my calves started to cramp after the second 100 back. On each push-off, I felt the tightness and it affected how I swam the repeats. I tried to stretch my calves between repeats, but I felt it would have been better to switch to freestyle. That helped, but I still felt the tightness in my calves. I never feel this problem when I'm drinking water during workout. Let that be a lesson to all of you: drink water during workout!

Mark gave me the option of not doing butterfly on that set of 25s when he said "If butterfly is not your thing, you can do another stroke."

"Hey, Mark," I said, "since butterfly is not my thing, can I do something else?"

Mark said I could do another stroke, but I stopped him and told him I was joking. When I pushed off for the first 25, I instantly wished I had taken Mark on the suggestion to do backstroke -- or even breaststroke! I was happy I was able to do all 16, and the key is to not think about how many you have left. It's important to count, but don't think "That's 4. Oh my gosh...12 to go!"

I went to Tod Miller for my monthly bodyworking session. My hamstrings and calves were quite tight today, and I think Tod was able to get my muscles back to their normal lengths. My rhomboids weren't as bad as they usually are, but my teres minor muscles were quite tense. It took a lot of work to get them back to "normal" working order. I have to say the time it took to get there was very enjoyable. With each pass over the muscles, my body let go of a high dose of endorphins, probably to shield from the pain of releasing the tightness. I got lots of tingles, and that was my sign that the scar tissue was disappearing. But, as much good as the massage did, Tod's bodywalking was extraordinary. By putting his body weight on my muscles (while I'm lying on the floor), I felt a lot of my muscles reconnecting with my neuromuscular system, which is the most vital connection for muscles to have, especially in racing conditions. This is what makes fast-twitch muscles twitch!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

You Saved the Best for Last

Date: Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
54 days to Olympic Trials

1100 warmup

10x100 on 1:45
3, 6, 9 fast free from dive @ 200 pace (1:01.1, 59.5, 59.3)
others easy

10x50 on 1:15
1, 5, 9 fast free @ 100 pace (27.5, 27.4, 26.9)
others easy

10x25 on 1:00
Odd breast from dive (avg. 13.1)
Even easy

100 easy

Total: 3,500 meters (75 minutes)

I liked doing lots of fast swimming from the blocks today, but I felt like my reaction time was very slow. I have no gauge of whether it was or not, but to me, it felt like it took an eternity for me to enter the water. Each time I did a start, I tried my best to react quickly, but it wasn't happening.

Also, I wasn't feeling much of a snap in my strokes today. I was going fast (at least as fast as I wanted to on each set), but getting my arms through on the 25s breast took lots of effort. I know everything can't feel effortless and simple every day, but today was somewhere in the middle.

Luckily, I started my explosive speed phase today with JR Rosania. Almost all of the exercises were different, with much fewer repetitions and a focus on quickness of motion. Today's exercises were difficult, but my muscles were exhausted in a neurological way, not in a fatigue way. I was getting my brain and my nervous system to mesh, and it wasn't easy all the time! On one exercise, I threw a 10-pound ball down to the ground and had to catch it quickly as it bounced back up. I stumble through that a few times, as my arms often didn't move to catch the ball quickly enough.

Though many of the exercises were new -- or readjusted for this phase -- sadly, my two least favorite exercises are still around: hip extension and leg extension! And worst of all, they were the last exercises of the session. That was not the way I wanted to end the workout, but I accepted it with a sigh and did them anyway.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Turn, Turn, Turn

Date: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
55 days to Olympic Trials

2x500, 1:00 rest
#1 25 free/25 stroke/50 free/50 stroke/75 free/75 stroke/100 free/100 stroke
#2 same as above, except drill/stroke

400 breast pull (no pull buoy)

200 breast kick with board/200 dolphin kick on back

4x50 on 1:00 (1 each stroke)
15 fast underwater kick/20 easy/15 fast swim

Four rounds:
4x50 on 1:00 IM order
2x50 easy on 1:15
Round 1 (32.1, 36.0, 39.1, 33.1=2:20.3)
Round 2 (31.9, 35.0, 37.5, 31.0=2:15.4)
Round 3 easy
Round 4, fly from dive (29.8, 33.5, 37.1, 30.5=2:10.90)

200 easy

Total: 3,200 meters (75 minutes)

I was glad to do breaststroke pull today, because I wanted to work on my insweep. My shoulders and lats were quite tired by the end of the 400! The reason I try not to do breaststroke pull with a pull buoy is because the pull buoy affects your body line. Your legs are too close to the surface, which either means you'll glide on the surface, or your upper body will be angled down too far. And I used to do it with dolphin kick, but it makes my body dive too deep.

The last set was a nice surprise. I wasn't expecting to go 2:10 on the last broken 200 IM. I didn't feel great on the first round, but felt OK on the second round. Instead of going at about 90 percent effort on the third and fourth round (and likely not going much faster), I decided to do the third round easy and the fourth round faster. (Coach Mark was OK with that plan.)

The key for my 200 IM is to be more aggressive on the middle 100. I tend to use back and breast as my assets in the IM, but don't attack them enough. For backstroke, I spend too much time "recovering" from butterfly, and in breaststroke I try to depend less on my kick, which I'll need for freestyle. Sets like this help me understand the importance of not backing down (too much) on each stroke.

For those in the know in swimming, today is a very sad day. World champion Alex Dale Oen died last night at training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona. I got to do an interview with him last week, and he was an absolute delight to meet. I've been experiencing a lot of emotions today, and it is hard to grasp that he will not be racing in the final of the 100 breast in London.

I wrote an article with my thoughts on meeting him last week. You can read the article here.

All day, I keep hearing the opening lines from U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in my head when I think of Alex:

I can't believe the news today
I can't close my eyes and make it go away

A sad, sad day.