Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Training Tips Tuesday: How to Read a Swim Workout

Welcome to the first installment of triple T, Training Tips Tuesday!

Since I come from a swimming background and the pool is the only space I seem to really be able to zone out, let’s start with a Training Tips Tuesday on swimming.

Its winter and the motivation to get out of a warm comfy bed in the pitch black to be submerged into water is probably at a low point.  BUT this is when you SHOULD be getting to the pool.  Now is the time to work on technique and efficiency which is a swimmer’s secret to getting faster.  For all you former swimmers out there or those that are distance nazi’s, put away your “must get to XX yards” mentality (I am speaking to myself here as well).  Winter time isn’t for building crazy yardage.  Here are a couple of key swimming drills we should all be doing this winter:

Fist:  This drill is pretty self-explanatory, close your fists and swim.  Why it’s a good drill? It’s a great way to be aware of your arms in the water while you’re swimming.  Most of us focus on our hands, which are essentially our paddles and primarily where we “pull” the water.  However, we sometimes neglect our arm positioning and this is a great drill to refocus.  Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ1AiR45YQQ

Catch up: This drill helps you focus your body positioning in the water---long and straight!  Start with both arms out front straight and long, one arm will perform the normal freestyle stroke as the other stays out long and straight in front of you…when your moving arm catches up to your static arm, you switch the front arm. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Si6VeAfluQ

Shark Fin: This drill helps you focus on keeping your elbow high when it is out of the water.  The best way to describe the drill is just to think of your arm as a shark fin.  Keep your elbow high when it’s out of the water and a good way to help focus that is to skim your fingertips along the water while your elbow is held high.   Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4w-_vc0I-wk

Those are three drills we should all be doing this winter.  For more videos and ideas on swimming drills, I encourage you to consult the Google!

And, because we all had to start somewhere and there may be some swimming newbies out there, here is a reference guide on how to read a swim workout. Sample workout from “Swim Workouts in a Binder: Workouts for Triathletes” (an excellent WATERPROOF book of swim workouts):

W/U: 200 SW 2x 200 {50 SW, 100 K, 50 SW (:20RI)}

Main Set:
300, 200, 100 MOD (:20 RI)
200, 100, 50 N/S (:25 RI)
200 FAST (:30 RI)
100 FAST (:30 RI)
6x100 P (:25 RI)

C/D: 100 Choice

From one end to the pool to the other is typically 25 yards or 25 meters, but here in the US at most standard gyms, you’re swimming 25 yards.  So, doing the math, swimming a “50” is down and back, or 2 lengths of the pool.  Swimming “100” is 4 lengths of the pool and so on.  Having this Garmin helps b/c it counts for you but until 2012 I spent most of my time in the pool counting while staring at the black line.

Speaking of the black line.  It is there to divide the lane.  Consider it like a driving lane one side you go down, the other side you come back…unless of course you are splitting the lane with one other person and in that case you’re going down and back on one side of the black line.

SW: Swim

K: Kick

N/S: Negative Split

P: Pull

FAST, MOD, EZ: denotes speed of the set

Choice: Choice of swim stroke

RI = rest interval (time spent at the wall—most pool locations will have a big clock for you to use if you don’t have a watch that is waterproof)

‘ = typically denotes minutes

‘’ = typically denotes seconds (although in the “Binder” book RI’s are written as :XX denoting seconds of rest and X:XX denoting minutes and seconds of rest)

WU  and CD = warm up and cool down (as with running and cycling and every other activity use this period to warm up for the main workout and to cool down from the workout)