Sunday, April 8, 2018

Anatomy of a Triathlon Workout

Anatomy of a Triathlon Workout

Grab Your Training Plan

Before you read this post, I recommend that you pull out your training plan.  If you don’t already have one, you can get a free sprint triathlon training plan from www.mytimetotri.com.  If you don't have one and wand a plan that's personalized, you should have one written by a certified Triathlon coach.

As you read through your plan, you may be introduced to some new terms and concepts.  You may also have many questions about the duration of the plan, its structure, and the purpose of individual workouts.  This week’s clinic and post will explain “how” to read swim, bike and run workouts.  More importantly, it will explain “why” the workouts are designed with varying intensity, distances, terrains and skills. The “why” is important to understand “how” to approach the workout. 

Every Body Adapts

The subtitle is not a typo – it’s intentional.  Everybody and every body adapts.  The goal of the training plan is to train your body to handle the demands of the consecutive swimming, biking and running exercise of your upcoming triathlon.  To take your body and mind from where you are today and develop them for the demands of your future race requires adaptations.  These adaptations include strength, endurance, cardio-pulmonary and coordination changes that occur in recurring stress/recovery cycles.  Your training plan will have workouts that are designed to cause these adaptations – different workouts with different objectives to cause specific adaptations.

Workout Specifications

Notice that triathlon workouts rarely read “just go swim”, “ride your bike”, or “run somewhere and back”.  They are (or should be) much more specific.  If they are written by a certified triathlon coach, they should include specifics for duration (or distance), intensity, terrain (grade and/or surface), intervals and recovery, and potential skill focuses.

The specifics of a workout are designed to affect an adaptation.  Different intensity levels, distances, terrain, sequencing and progression stress different energy systems and the neuromuscular system to affect different changes to your body. 


Training Intensity

The “Training Zone Chart” refers to Zones that tie to a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) range and description of how that may be perceived.  Think of zones as gears in your cars transmission.  1st gear is the easiest (engine is doing less work) and slowest.  5th gear is the hardest (engine is doing a lot of work) and fastest. 

Zone 1 as a training intensity is intended for active recovery.  You are getting circulation and exercise, but it’s easy.  Walking is a good example of Zone 1 effort. 
Zone 2 intensity is designed to use your body’s aerobic energy system.  This means that it’s primarily using your body’s ability to combine oxygen with fat to produce energy to fire your muscles.  It does not put a high strain on your cardiovascular system.  Lower intensity efforts are typically prescribed for longer distance and time efforts.
Zone 3 is the hardest you will work while using fat as your primary fuel source, but you are starting to use more glycogen (sugar) stored in your body’s muscles and liver to produce energy.
Zone 4 intensity is the tipping point where your body starts to use more glycogen for fuel than stored fat and instead shifts to and anaerobic adaptation.  It also raises your heart rate drastically, influencing adaptations in your cardio-pulmonary system. You will often see interval training prescribed in 2-3 minute durations.
Zone 5 is designed for neuromuscular, or speed, development.  Higher intensity efforts are typically prescribed in shorter “intervals”.  You will typically see intervals prescribed in 20 second to 1 minute in duration.

Training Endurance

Of the physical adaptations speed, strength and endurance, the latter is the easiest one for the body to make.  Consider what it would take to decrease your 100-meter sprint by 10%, or bench press by 10%. Increasing your run distance from 1.0 to 1.1 miles is a relatively easy adaptation.  If you consistently and progressively apply low intensity effort swim, bike and run efforts, you will be amazed how easily you are able to increase the distance of what you are capable of today and reach your goals, given adequate time.  While you want to progressively increase your distance, you want to be careful to not add too much mileage too quickly.  5-10% increases each week is recommended to avoid injury.

Swim Specific Workouts and Skills

Swimming is a skill and form-centric activity, meaning proper form can make it much easier (more efficient).  Drills are prescribed to teach a skill or neuromuscular pattern required for proper swim form.  You will see drills titled “catch up”, “fingertip”, “fist”, “right arm”, “left arm”, etc.  For a complete list of drills and definitions, I recommend using the following website. http://mastersswimworkoutsbysaramclarty.blogspot.com/p/swimming-drills.html

Swim workouts are typically prescribed as a total distance broken up into three parts, a warmup, main set, and cooldown.  Read below for warmup and cooldown descriptions.  Depending on the objective of the swim workout, your main set will be designed to help you focus on skills, speed or endurance. Following the intensity and endurance concepts previously discussed, you may have short intervals of 25 yards to trigger a speed adaptation, 50-150 yards to trigger an anaerobic adaptation, or 200-500 for an aerobic adaptation.

Bike Specific Workouts and Skills

You should see similar concepts in bike workouts with respect to total distance (or time) and intensity.  Again, longer distances are typically prescribed at lower intensities and higher intensities are reserved for short intervals. 

Terrain may be prescribed to train for strength, speed or endurance.  Hills (uphill) are prescribed for strength and endurance, while flats are typically for speed or skills.  You may see cadence prescribed to develop pedal stroke efficiency.  Faster cadence of 85 rotations per minute (RPM) are prescribed to develop neuromuscular efficiency, while lower cadence 75 or less for strength.

Bike handling skills will be a separate clinic.

Run Specific Workout and Skills

Running is another skill and form centric activity.  Proper form can make a big difference in perceived effort, speed and risk of injury.  We’ll cover running form in a future post.

Intensities are prescribed for run workouts and are like bike and swim workouts.  Intensities are often written as zones which can be indicated by rate of perceived exertion (RPE), pace (minutes/mile), or heart rate. Having a heart rate monitor is a good tool, but not essential.  RPE and pace work just fine.  

Warm Up and Cool Down

All workouts should have a warm up and cool down.  This allows your muscles, and neuromuscular system in general, to get ready for your workout.  This gets blood flow started, warms the tendons and muscular connections creating elasticity, and activates nerves that fire required muscles.  Cool downs allow the body a gradual transition back to homeostasis. It helps clear lactic acid and use circulation to remove waste products from your muscles.  It is also a good time to stretch since the muscles and tendons are still warm.  This will aid in not feeling “tight” after a workout.

I hope you found this explanation of “how’s” and “why’s” of triathlon workouts useful and will get more from your training as a result.  Good luck in your training this week!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Essential Gear for the New Triathlete

Essential Gear for the New Triathlete

Keep it Simple

Triathlon is an equipment intensive sport and triathletes are notorious for collecting the fastest, lightest and most technologically advanced gear.  All that neoprene, spandex and carbon can be intimidating to the newcomer.  Practically speaking, you don't need that much gear to do your first triathlon.  Keep it simple and follow this minimalist approach to save yourself from being overwhelmed and over budget.

Swim

Let's assume your first triathlon is going to be a sprint distance and pool swim. The only things you need are a swimsuit, goggles and swim cap.  Since most races provide the swim cap, your equipment investment is pretty small.  If you are ambitious and looking to do an open water swim, you may need a wetsuit depending on the water temperature. Renting a wetsuit is a great option until you get the first race under your belt and get "the bug" to do more races.

Bike

You don't need anything fancy, but you do need for a two-wheeled machine to ride.  At most sprint
triathlons (and even some longer distance races) you will see a variety of bike types. Road, mountain, and hybrids are all perfectly acceptable options to a triathlon bike. You will also need a helmet that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards. At the Sprint distance you can get away with riding your bike with you swim suit. If the ambient temperature is warm enough, a swim suit may be adequate. Fellas, you'll need a t-shirt as a bare chest is not allowed. If you don't have a race belt for your race bib (your race number), you'll want to have your bib pinned to your shirt. Bike shoes are optional and will require trading them in for running shoes in transition (T2).

Run

If you wore your running shoes and t-shirt pinned race bib on the bike, you can get off your bike, take
off your helmet, and start running. A visor or cap is good sun protection and can help keep sweat out of  your eyes, but it's truly optional.  If you have a race bib belt, you'll grab it on your way out of T2 and wear it during the run.

Table of Required and Optional Equipment 


Pool Sprint
Open Water Sprint
Olympic or Greater
Swim
Goggles
Swim Cap#
Swim Suit
Goggles
Swim Cap#
Swim Suit
Wet Suit%

Goggles
Swim Cap#
Swim Suit
Wet Suit%
Bike
Bike
Helmet
Top (no bare chest)
Bike Shorts*
Athletic Shoes
Bike Shoes *
Socks*
Sun Glasses**

Bike
Helmet
Top (no bare chest)
Bike Shorts*
Athletic Shoes
Bike Shoes *
Socks*
Sun Glasses**

Bike
Helmet
Top (no bare chest)
Bike Shorts*
Athletic Shoes
Bike Shoes *
Socks*
Sun Glasses**

Run
Running Shoes
Socks*
Race bib#
Shirt (no bare chest)

Running Shoes
Socks*
Race bib#
Shirt (no bare chest)

Running Shoes
Socks*
Race bib#
Shirt (no bare chest)
Nutrition
Bike bottle with water
Bike bottle with water
Bike bottles with electrolyte
Carbohydrate drink or gels
Misc
Sunscreen**
Towel*
Visor or cap*
Bike pump
Spare tube, inflator, CO2
Sunscreen**
Towel*
Visor or cap*
Bike pump
Spare tube, inflator, CO2
Sunscreen**
Towel*
Visor or cap*
Bike pump
Spare tube, inflator, CO2
General
Tri Suit*
Race Belt*
Sports watch*
Bike computer*

Tri Suit*
Race Belt*
Sports watch*
Bike computer*

Tri Suit*
Race Belt*
Sports watch*
Bike computer*
Tri Slide (for wetsuit)
Bike Short Moisturizer (eg, Chamois Buttr)



*   Optional
** Optional; Recommend
#   Typically Provided
%  Depends on Conditions

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Why a Stryd Run Power Meter Should Be Under the Tree

I love running. 

When I’m finished with a run, I have that sense of accomplishment and satiation that comes from endorphins coursing through my brain. For all the satisfaction that comes with the run itself - I’m a data guy.  A workout without data, metrics, charts and graphs is like witnessing a beautiful sunset on your dream vacation and not having the picture to show your relatives.  For all the data that you can use to analyze and improve your running, I’ve learned in the past two weeks that there is nothing more powerful (all pun intended) than Stryd power.  Here’s why.

For many runners, data comes from what is native to your GPS watch in terms of pace, distance, heart rate, grade and elevation.  I’ve been intrigued with running with power and using that data in my training since running power meters first hit the market.  Running with a power meter promised to have many of the same advantages as a cycling power meter.  By knowing your run power, you could know your actual work and output during training. If you know your actual rate of work in training, it follows that you would know definitively what performance you can expect to perform on race day - exceed that work rate, and you risk of unraveling in a muscle-quivering mess walking from aid station to aid station.

Intrigued to put running with a power meter to the test, I recently had a chance to talk to coach Jim Vance, who literally wrote the book Run with Power.  Jim advocated Stryd as the product leader in the space, so I was eager to get my hands on a Stryd foot pod and try it for myself.  While it has no direct bearing on product performance, the out-of-the-box experience is an important first impression and speaks volumes about how much Stryd has thought about the user.  Simplification is paramount.  Stryd gets a high rating right from the start. The first thing I experienced when I flipped back the cardboard lid of the package was a simple black on white card with 3 steps comprised of 9 words of instruction. 

Get Started Here. 

Following the instructions to “get started here”, I opened my browser and navigated to stryd.com/get-started. The Set Up Stryd process is straight-forward and tech sexy.  The wireless charging unit is sleek and has the look and feel of quality.  The registration and profile setup are easy they warrant no further description and the integration to your other fitness applications is idiot proof.  I had my Stryd configured to receive data from my Garmin and send data to TrainingPeaks as fast as I could read the text on the page.  Installing the Stryd app on my iPhone was equally easy and the foot pod seamlessly interfaces with the phone app.  One of my favorite features on the phone app is being able to check the battery charge level of the Stryd foot pod to monitor the progress to a full charge – another tech sexy point!

Run With Stryd

The Run with Stryd process is where you first start to interface Stryd with your GPS or other watch; in my case a Garmin 735XT.  Stryd’s website is very intuitive and the instructions are simple.  Select the type of watch you are pairing the Stryd with and then follow Stryd’s instructions.  If you follow the instructions literally, you should have no problem completing the device connection and collecting data. Deviate at all from the instructions and you will potentially find yourself lost on in your watch’s menu.  My advice, trust the Stryd instructions and not your belief in your confidence in tech adoption. 

Stryd is compatible with Garmin, Suunto, Polar, iOS, Android, or you can use the Stryd by itself. In the case of Garmin, I downloaded the Stryd Power activity app and then installed it in the Garmin Express application from my laptop.  On my watch, I set up a running activity screen with a single field for “power”.  Once the setup was completed, I started a run activity and the power foot pod connected within 20 seconds. During my first run with Stryd I frequently checked my watch to take note of the power numbers in various terrain (uphill, flats and downhill), and was pleased to see the reading adjust instantly to the changes. Hit an uphill section and the number reading would instantly increase.  Adjusting my pace on a constant grade, and again the display would immediately change in response.  By contrast, pace and heart rate would like considerably behind the Stryd’s response time.
At the end of my run, I completed the activity, launched the app and with a single thumb press synced my power to Stryd, Garmin and TrainingPeaks. From the Stryd app, I could immediately see a summary of my power data from the run on my phone. Eager to see my complete power data analysis I turned to the last of the three easy “get started” steps - Learn From Stryd.  
Navigating to Power Center on the Stryd website where you can begin to analyze your data. Again, first impressions are important and the Analyze view of Power Center presents a dashboard view with a summary of the workout including power, form power and cadence.  I used the radio buttons to toggle between elapsed and moving data to filter out stop light stops.  This is great if you capture elapsed time on your GPS and still want the option to just see moving time data.

It’s not been more than a week and I’ve collected Stryd data for six runs in that time.  That has enabled me to explore some of the other features of Power Center, including the comparison feature to evaluate two workouts side by side and compare differences.  Analysis is only the beginning of the features in Power Center.  I wanted to begin exploring other features in the application, including Improve, Compete and Settings. 
Settings is where I first completed my profile and data sync preferences.  This is also where I would establish my power zones.  Stryd provides 4 methods in the application for establishing your power zones.  For this review, I chose the 5K estimation method.  During this past week, I performed the Jim Vance 20-minute rFTPw test and ironically came up with similar FTP numbers using the 5K estimation method.  I’ll likely experiment with the other methods, including the 3-9 test, which involves a 3-minute all out, followed by a short recovery, and then a 9-minute hard effort.  With FTP known, I was able to establish my power training zones and experiment with training within specific power zone ranges. 

Power Center

The Improve screen of Power Center is designed to provide individual insights about your power data and running performance.  The Runner Profile presents your relative strengths and weaknesses with respect to metabolic fitness, muscle power, and muscle endurance. The Training Optimizer suggests workouts that will help you focus areas where you have the most potential and areas for improvement.  Having facts and data helps me be accountable to today’s performance and provides actionable information for setting goals and direction to my training.  The Training Power Heat Map does a great job of illustrating where you are spending your training time compared to where you should be spending your time to reach your running goals.
The Stryd and Power Center has provided a whole new world of insights in the first week of usage.  It has peaked my curiosity to learn more, and is channeling me to address my greatest opportunities for improvement and track my progress.  It feels like I’ve just begun to understand the new possibilities these insights will provide and stirred up a sense of excitement about my training plan over the winter months and eager anticipation for my race season next year. 
If you are looking to stir up some excitement for your tech-lover-athlete this holiday season, Stryd is more powerful than mistletoe.  Cheers!

Authored by Rich Soares


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Heros!

We all have them.  When I was in grade school, my favorite super hero was Captain America. He didn't really have a "super power", but he did have a shield and a motor cycle - pretty cool super powers to an 8 year old.

Today my hero's super power is "character"!. Meet my friend Jamie Twedt. This past weekend, Jamie shared her story about her road to the Ironman World Championship this October.  I won't do it justice to try to summarize it in the blog - you simply have to listen to Episode 75 of MHE.

Jame spoke very personally about her sister (Dawn) who recently lost her battle with ovarian cancer. Jamie and Dawn never finish a conversation about whether or not Jamie should pursue an Ironman Foundation slot to Kona.  If you've listened to the interview, you know how that conversation ended.


We were joined by pro triathlete Rachel Joyce, who is on the Board of Advisers for Women For Tri.  Rachel joined us to celebrate and support Jamie's journey to Kona and explain the mission, strategy and the growth of the organization.


SPOILER ALERT - Jamie is going to Kona!  She has partnered up with Women For Tri and is asking you to help her raise $40,000.

Health IQ has offered to help Jamie by making a donation to Jamie's charity up to $200.


Take the Triathlon Quiz! 
This Quiz was developed by over a dozen professional triathletes and coaches.  Check your knowledge with questions from Siri Lindley, Bek Keat, Terry Laughlin and more!



Sunday, April 9, 2017

USE YOUR HEAD! The "Neural Pathway" to Faster and Safer Endurance Performance Gains



The Neural Pathway to Endurance Performance Gains

Last weekend I had the best swim training sessions I can recall in more than twelve years of swimming.  It wasn't the longest swim workout.  It wasn't the most intense swim session.  It wasn't a well designed Masters workout and it wasn't with my friends that I enjoy swimming with.  In fact, I wouldn't have any data to analyze because my GPS watch battery died the moment I pressed the "start" button.  While frustrating, not paying attention to my watch was part of the success  What made this the best swim training session in more than a decade?  Hold onto that question and read on.

Mile High Endurance Podcast is dedicated to helping listeners accelerate their learning of the endurance sports. Along with co-hosts Khem Suthiwan and Bill Plock, we want to connect you to experts to learn how to improve and get faster.  A number of exerts over recent months have pointed us to the potential of "neural development" and I've become increasingly curious about the brain's role in our pursuit of improving performance in in triathlon and other endurance sports. 

Training for endurance sports like swimming, cycling and running has historically been defined in terms of fitness, strength and economy of motion.  Endurance sport training is traditionally concerned with adaptations though a combination of aerobic and anaerobic training at varying duration and intensities.  These adaptations are achieved through important considerations and accurately applying concepts like periodization, acute training load, chronic training load, and recovery.  These are essential aspects of physiological development.




Experts in a variety of endurance sport disciplines are advocating neural development as an importance of aspect of endurance training.  In the article 
What is Neural Training and Why Do It? by Terry Laughlin, founder of Total Immersion, writes "Neural Training. In this form of training, you target adaptations to brain and nervous system. As you do, aerobic training still occurs, but is precisely matched to the demands of the task to which your brain and nervous system are adapted."  

In his article, The Science Behind How We Learn New Skills, Thorin Klososwski writes "Every time you learn something new, your brain changes in a pretty substantial way. In turn, this makes other parts of your life easier because the benefits of learning stretch further than just being good at something". 


What is Learning?

What is learning?  Early in our lives we learn some basic things such as how to walk and talk.  As we grow older and our brains develop we learn logic, language and music.  We also take walking to the next level and learn to swim, bike and run, among other sports.  True learning and long term retention allows us to build a base of knowledge that we continue to build on as we refine our understanding and gain new insights. Whether we are learning to swim or learning an algebraic equation, we are learning. While learning to swim happens in a different part of our brains (swimming in the motor cortex) than the part of the brain that helps us learn statistics (using the frontal lobe).  Learning is learning.

In the book, "Make It Stick - The Science of Successful Learning", authors Peter Brown, Henry Roediger, and Mark McDaniel help us to understand what contemporary research tells us about how we learn successfully with retention.  The brain is plastic and malleable through changing neural connections.  These authors explain how effective learning occurs, they reveal misconceptions about previously believed effective methods of learning, and explain what methods truly result in faster and longer memory.  

In one cited experiment, they describe two groups of children to assess which of two learning approaches would result in effective learning. The goal of the groups was to toss a ball into a basket from a distance of three feet.  Group A was only able to practice the ball toss from three feet from the basket.  Group B was only able to practice the toss from two and four feet from the basket - never from three feet.  What do you think they learned about how Groups A and B compared in their accuracy when tested more than a week after the practice phase?  Group B outperformed A by a significant margin.  Why?  While there are many dynamics at play here, the basic explanation was because Group B had the benefit of learning the difference in effort and motion between two and four feet causing their brains to work harder during the learning process.  Each time the subject had to try to learn it takes this much effort with this motion to hit the basket from two feet and that much effort for four feet. It's that concentration and recall that causes the neural pathways to form.  


The authors use an analogy of a grassy field to represent the tapestry of the brain's neural connections.  If we walk lightly across a grassy field once, we may leave a slight trace of our footsteps.  Walk that same path lightly many times and you may start to see the effect  of deepening traces from repeated light footsteps.  Drag or stomp your feet as you make your way across the field and you're likely to leave deeper impressions. Forcing the brain to work in the form of recalling knowledge or concentration on coordinated muscle movements results in learning.


Learning physical skills like swimming, biking and running cause these same brain changes to make the execution of movements easier. When I see professional athletes demonstrate perfect form, I say to myself "I wish I could learn to swim like Amanda Stevens, or bike like Andrew Starkowitz, or run like Marinda Carfrae. What does that mean to learn to do that? Okay, I may not have the genetics for the VO2 max or composition of slow and fast twitch muscles as these athletes. However, I can learn form and skill. 


There are gaps between Rinny's any my running performance. I can however study and learn the elements of good running economy and performance and learn them through focused learning session. Think of them as training sessions, but the goal is to learn. Yes there will be physiology adaptations that come along for the ride, but I want to maximize learning.  I have a run workout that is only 30 minutes and it's sole purpose is to focus on cadence and ground contact time. I don't think about anything else, but those two things and using my mind to figure out what coordinated muscle contractions and alignments result in higher cadence and lower contact time.

What Makes a Great Training Session?

I began this article proclaiming one of my best swim training sessions in more than a decade.  What made that training session so good?  I mentioned that I had been emailing a Researcher at Halo Neuroscience to additional instruction on how to design my training sessions to get the best learning outcome.  My question was about how to design my training to best leverage the Halo Sport, but the response from Alex is useful to understand what made my swim last week so effective.

"The beauty of Halo Sport is that because it targets the brain, it allows it to be applicable to a number 

of different applications and adaptable to the athlete's needs.  The double edged sword is that all movements are better encoded, not just the "better" ones.  Therefore the best type of training to pair with Halo Sport is less about what exercises and more about the attitude.  You want to pair Halo Sport with periods of deep practice, ensuring that the best repetitions are what are being better encoded and transferred into the central pattern generators we talked about."  

He also shared an article on on the Halo Neuroscience website on  Swim Training.  From the article, "Swimming is not the primary mode of locomotion for humans, so the motor cortex plays a larger role in coordinating swimming patterns than in, say, walking or running. Mastering CPG coordination is a perfect task for the motor cortex, as this area is specifically geared towards using motor skill learning to pinpoint the appropriate motor output."


Learning Session Approach

I started last week's swim in the weightroom of the recreation center that also houses my pool. The entire training session can be broken down in to thee sections:
  1. Core and Warm Up - 20 minutes
  2. Shoulder and Back Strength, Imagery and Form - 30 minutes
  3. Swim Skill Drills  - 30 minutes
While I will overlay the application of the Halo Sport as I describe each of the three sections of the workout, the approach, techniques and elapsed time are the same.


Core and Warm Up

I like to start every strength session with 20 minutes of core work.  I do three strength sessions per week and each session has a different mix.  In my pre-swim core workout this day, I had three core exercises. They were 2 and 1 Arm Supermans, Scissor Kicks, and V-Ups. I did these as a circuit of 1 minute 2 & 1-Arm Superman, 1 minute rest, 1 minutes Scissor Kicks, 1 minute rest and so on.

My focus while performing each of these core exercises is to be thoughtful about the application to swimming through visualization.  I will close my eyes while doing the Superman, for example.  Face down on a mat with my pelvis pressed firmly into the ground I extend both arms and imagine myself as I extending in a push off the wall of the pool. My shoulders, arms and fingers stretch for the bottom corner of pool wall ahead of me, while my legs, feet and toes are extended and pointing to the pool wall behind me. After holding that pose for 10 seconds, I bring my right hand back to my side with left hand extended, I point my right leg and toes in a counter balancing move while engaging my core.  After ten seconds with left hand forward and right foot extended, I switch sides as I think through the gliding motion, extension and core engagement.

I continue though Scissor Kicks and V-Ups with the same mindful, swim focused imagery equivalents and then progress to Back and shoulder strength training.

Halo Sport Application: at the beginning of my core work, I turn on the Halo Sport and start the 20 minute Neural Priming session.  I set the intensity and just go through the core workout as normal while I listen to music and get primed.  At the the end of the priming session, my Neural Cortex is in a state of hyper plasticity for 60 more minutes and I proceeded to work on back and shoulder functional strength training.


Back and Shoulder

Important Note: anyone starting any of these exercises should seek a certified personal trainer or physical therapist for instruction on proper form and injury avoidance.

I do 30 minutes of back and should strength training with specific functional movements to replicate the various functional movements of swimming arm recovery the exercises performed in this session were 3 x each of the following functional movement (and it's paired strength exercise):

  1. Swim Motion  - Rotating shoulder forward (Single Side Dumbbell Shoulder Shrug)
  2. Swim Motion  - High elbow/lead with elbow (High Elbow Standing Shoulder Fly)
  3. Swim Motion - Hop N Slot (Shoulder Press)
  4. Swim Motion -  Catch and Pull (Pull Ups)

In the Pool

With the strength training session complete, I jump in the pool for a 30 minute swimming training session that is focused solely on skill drills.  Borrowing skills from Total Immersion Effortless Self-Coaching 1.0 Course.  With each of the skills below, I used a snorkel to take breathing out of the motor coordination equation.  The skills were done as 100 x each and cycled though.three times. 
  1. Superman (1 & 2 Arm)
  2. Recovery Elbow Swing
  3. Hop N Slot
  4. Full bi-lateral swim
I've been practicing these skills for several weeks, but I am still am occasionally clumsy with them. On this day, my proprioception was high and the motions came smoothly with intentional effort. By the time I was executing the third round of drills and putting it altogether with what felt like perfect timing and balance - I was giddy with excitement. 

It is exciting to have breakthrough training sessions. When we are younger and newer to the sport, it's reaching those new levels of speed and distance. Today, the excitement of "cracking the code" and developing neural pathways toward perfecting my swim stroke.

In Summary

This swim training session is just one example of how I have paired functional movement visualization with strength training and skill practice.  In this session, my primary focus was arm recovery and keeping a strong core.  You can imagine the number of possibilities for applying neural training to different skills related to swimming, cycling and running.

I'll take on examples of pairing functional strength training with specific functional movements of cycling and running in future articles.  Keep in mind, these will not be the "going-through-the motions" article. This will be an article focused on how to keep your head in the game and learn how to be faster and more efficient.

Rich Soares