Posts Tagged ‘Swimming’

Week In Review

February 2, 2014 1 comment

badtriThis may or may not end up being a recurring feature on this blog, largely dependent on how busy lazy I am on Sundays.  We’ll give it a try for a bit and see how it goes.

Looking Back:

WIR 140202

I love recovery week.  I slept in a few mornings, I went to the gym a few one morning.  It was nice to listen to my body instead of my training plan – push when I felt it, and rest when I didn’t.  The lion’s share of the work this week came from a brick yesterday – 60 minute bike ride followed by a 50 minute run (all indoors – it snowed 20cm yesterday thank you very much).  It was great to do a brick like that – the first I’ve done since the summer.  As my wife told me after: I’m going to be in much better shape this triathlon season than I ever have been before!

January’s now in the books.  I’m really happy with how this month went.  Without a doubt, the most consistent training month I’ve ever had!

MIR 1401

MIR 1401 weekly

Looking Forward:

I’ve decided this year to follow a modified version of a 1/2 Iron training plan I found on – modified, for the most part, because I’m not training for a 1/2 Iron, but rather primarily Olympic distance races (with a Sprint or two likely to also happen this summer).  In short, where the training plan calls for 20 miles of biking, for example, I’m doing 20kms.  It’s an easy way to keep the structure of the plan, while dialing back to roughly 60% of the volume.

I’m also making a few other adjustments – incorporating some bike and run workouts from One Hour Workouts, a wonderful little training guide my Mother in Law gave me at Christmas; moving a few sessions around to better fit my personal schedule.

Throughout January I repeated week one 4 times over, focusing on consistency and getting used to the every day (and often twice a day) schedule.  Now that it’s February, it’s time to start progressing through the plan.  Ironically enough (and I didn’t realize this until just now), the plan is for 18 weeks leading up to the race day, and this coming week is 19 weeks out from the Toronto Triathlon Festival, which is my A race this year.  How convenient is that?!?

Edit: Turns out I’m 19 weeks out from the Muskoka 5150 that I hope to race in June, but haven’t yet signed up for.  Not from the Toronto Triathlon Festival, which is another 3 weeks after that.  In case that’s important…

So… Week 1 this week, for keeps this time!

56 Things I Think I Think:

  1. I think I’d forgotten how much I love swimming.  I’m a half decent swimmer and cyclist, but a lousy runner.  So I spend a lot of my training effort running.  In fact, in 2013 I almost didn’t swim train at all (a total of 25.3km swam in all of 2013 – including races).  But the more I swim now, the more I remember how much I enjoy swimming.  I’m looking forward to it being a bigger part of my 2014 training.
  2. I think I need to remember that riding a bike machine is different from being on a stair master.  I try to remember to spin full circles, but when I lose focus for a few minutes I fall back into mashing the downward stroke like we were taught to ride bikes as kids.  It’s amazing how my power goes up, while my perceived effort goes down when I remember to spin full circles.  A very simple thing, but one I need to keep working on.
  3. I think Wiarton Willie predicted 6 more weeks of winter.  I think Wiarton Willie’s historical success rate is close to 37% (which is lousy for what is essentially a coin flip).  I think I don’t really believe in this crap anyway.  I think this is one of the lousiest, coldest, snowiest winters in a long time and I’m so ready for it to be done!
  4. I think there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes of organizing a race.  It takes a lot of volunteers, and a lot of planning.  I’ve done volunteer coordination before, but never for a race event.  I think I’m learning a lot, and my brain is kinda pooped.
  5. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  Go Seahawks!!  Though I think my cat wishes the Saints were in it…OlwynSaints
  6. I think this is my 200th post on this blog.  I think that should mean something, but I’m really not sure what.  Thanks to everyone who’s read so many of my random ramblings, and for all the comments and conversations!

That’s my week in a nutshell.  How was your week?


Week In Review

January 19, 2014 Leave a comment

badtriThis may or may not end up being a recurring feature on this blog, largely dependent on how busy lazy I am on Sundays.  We’ll give it a try for a bit and see how it goes.

Looking Back

WIR 140119

Nice to finally get a bit of everything into the same week.  Though I was a bit skeptic posting some of these numbers – they feel really slow.  I’m starting to add in focused drill work – particularly in the swim, and to a lesser extent on the bike – to work on my technique.  Funny thing is, when you start swimming drills like tombstone kick drills, you don’t go very fast.  I guess I just have to get over myself and remember that no one else really cares how fast I go in training.  You don’t care, do you? (do you?!?)

Looking Forward

Right now I’m not thinking much further ahead than this afternoon, and trying not to take a nap (to make sure I sleep nice and well tonight).  I’ve had crap for sleep all weekend, and it’s really been wearing on me.  This week I want to make sure I sleep well and am rested for each of my sessions.

Thoughts From This Week That I Think I Think

  1. I had a lovely long run yesterday.  My running app wasn’t working properly, so I had no GPS indication of distance or pace, and therefore no data indication of when to speed up, slow down, or take a walk break (or stop taking a walk break).  So I just ran.  It was really nice to run by feel and perceived effort alone.  In the end, I took less walk breaks than I normally would, but also ran a bit slower than I normally would.  And I didn’t go as far as I would have liked for a “long run”.  But it was a very enjoyable session.  A great winter run!
    140118 A Perfect Running Day
  2. The pool is much busier on weekday mornings than is the gym.  The swimmers there are very friendly and chatty.  A nice social crowd.  I need to keep reminding myself I’m there to get some work done.
  3. The bike saddles at the gym still suck, but they suck distinctly less when you’re focusing on paying attention to a drill and the gym TVs have the Raptors vs Lakers game on than when you’re just spinning an easy 60 minutes and the TV is playing crap.  Then you have nothing else to think about other than how much your ass hurts!

Thoughts From This Week That Have Nothing To Do With Triathlon

  1. Denver vs. New England.  Seattle vs. San Francisco.  I think I’m both cheering for, and expecting a Denver vs Seattle Superbowl?  I think?  Or maybe I’m just hoping for a good Superbowl party.  Anyone out there have a particular strong interest?
  2. After having an unintentionally beer-free week last week, this week I got to enjoy a lovely bottle of Fin du Monde.  In fact, I even had a second!  Lucky me!!!
  3. My wife and I, having finished watching the 3rd season of Sherlock, are now re-watching the first 2 seasons on Netflicks.  Really great show.  Too bad there’s only 3 episodes per season (although at 90 minutes long they’re almost mini-movies…)
  4. I love tacos.  I love tacos!!  Friends of ours made tacos for a dinner party this weekend!  I don’t think there’s any better surprise than surprise tacos!  #The #Best  What’s your favorite guilty-pleasure-food?

That’s my week in a nutshell.  How was your week?

Race Recap: Toronto Island Sprint Triathlon

August 25, 2013 2 comments

On the ferry by sunrise. We triathletes are a crazy breed!

It’s a little odd writing two blog posts in a row that are Race Recaps… maybe it’s a sign that I’m not posting often enough (or, more likely, that I don’t have enough interesting to say these days to warrant posts).  Or maybe it’s a sign that I’m racing too often.  Either way, this morning – for the second consecutive Sunday morning – I got up at the shit crack of early and caught the ferry over to Toronto Island for another race.

… and a huge Thank You to my wife for getting up early and coming out to cheer me on.

I love my #triwife

I love my #triwife

Today I raced the Toronto Island Sprint Triathlon race – a race I signed up for as a training race.  Though, let’s be honest: this wasn’t a training race – it was a fun race, pure and simple.  I didn’t sign up for this because I had a specific training goal I wanted to hit.  I signed up for it because I could walk to the ferry docks (thus, effectively to the starting line) from my front door.  I signed up for it because I have come to love Toronto Island as a beautiful part of this city and it’s waterfront, and a great training site for me this summer.

I think mostly I signed up for it because I really love racing.  And regardless of what a proper training arc suggests about rest and peak periods – I wanted to race.  So I did.

You gotta really love this sport to be dressed in spandex neoprene before 8:00am

You gotta really love this sport to be dressed in spandex neoprene before 8:00am… or to post a picture of yourself like that on the internet

How was the race?  It had pros and cons…

Pro: My swim felt great.  The water was mid-low 60°s… really cold, although I swam in colder last weekend, so it wasn’t bad in comparison.  I remembered my wetsuit this time.  I felt strong through the swim, and by half way through I was reeling in other swimmers who had started out stronger than me.  I’ll file this one in the memory as what a good swim should feel like.

Con: My swim time.  18:00 exactly.  That’s pretty rough for a 750m swim, especially for how good it felt (I blame the long run up from shore that must have been at least 500m through sand, grass, and along a boardwalk).

Pro: My bike felt really great.  Toronto Island isn’t very long – the course was 2 loops of a 10k out-and-back that spanned the length of the island.  And it was flat as a road in the prairies.  No hills in the climb.  I rode 20k in 40:16 – easily a PB bike split.  It’s fun to ride fast (or at least fast for me).

Con: Absolutely everything about the run.  For as great as my swim and bike were, my run sucked!  The course wasn’t my favorite course – they had us run 4 laps of a 1.25km course (and it was a 625m out-and-back course to boot… not even a circuit).  4 laps of a little course is a lot – it’s surprisingly boring to run past the same few trees again… and again… and again.  Also, in a normal run course the runners are all spread out.  In a small 4 lap course like this there are runners everywhere.  It was crowded, and boring… and just exhausting.  Not that that’s any excuse – my run is my Achilles’ heel.  It sucked.  I have a lot of training work to do on my run this off season.  36:50.  GROSS!!!

Overall:  1:39:02.9.  48/58 in my Age Group (241/272 Men overall).  But I had fun.  I enjoyed going back over to the island.  And any race experience is a good experience.

Sometimes, we just enjoy the finish

The finish is always worth it!

Race Recap: Toronto Island Lake Swim

August 18, 2013 1 comment


This morning I tackled the inaugural Toronto Island Lake Swim, 1,500m distance.  I treated this as a training race, and boy did I learn a lot…

My goal for this race was to stick with the pack for the full 1,500m.  Was I successful… well… it’s hard to say…

While sitting around on the beach, waiting for the swim to start, some volunteers came around announcing to everyone that the water temperature had dropped a lot over night, to a frigid 61°F.  Brrr. 

cold swim

Seriously?!?  August!!!  WTF?!?

Right away everyone around me started pulling wetsuits out of their bag.  Did I?  No – my wetsuit was in my closet back at home.  Crap.  Lesson #1: Always bring the wetsuit.  Always.  Even when the organizers send out emails stating the water was too warm, bring it anyway!

I decided to swim with my tri top on.  It isn’t nearly as warm as a wetsuit, and doesn’t offer any buoyancy, but I think it was a bit warmer than swimming shirtless.  At least I hope so…

The 3,800m swimmers were off first and shortly after us 1,500m swimmers got our turn. We lined up at the start line – 3 out of 4 swimmers in their wetsuits, and poor, cold, me.

The gun went off and I dove into the water.  My arms and legs burned instantly.  It was SO cold.  It felt like an ice bath.  I found myself instantly short of breath and scrambling to get into my stroke.  I had to force myself to put my face in the water – it was so cold.  And my tri top, while possibly adding some warmth, felt like a drag chute.  Lesson #2: The tri top may feel like spandex when running and biking, but it’s not.  And swimming in it anytime the clock is running is a bad idea.  I was slow, and still cold.

By roughly 1/4 of the race, my toes started to go numb.  I lost feel of the water and felt like i was kicking aimlessly.  I seriously contemplated waiving the swim cap and calling it a day.  But as I looked around, I was surrounded by a sea of wetsuits.  I was sticking with the pack so far, so I kept pushing.

The water was choppier than I was used to, and I felt it really messed with my stroke, and with my breathing.  I was limited to breathing away from the chop, which started to tire one of my shoulders faster than the other.  But that’s part of open water swimming – just keep on keeping on.  Eventually I sighted the orange buoy that was my turn around point.

It was hard to tell how well I stuck with the pack after the turn around point – the pack thinned out as the race went on, and there was always one or two swimmers with me, though never more than that.  I was never alone, but I was never surrounded by other swimmers.

Funny story – I got my first ever kick to the face in this swim… in the last 100m of all places.  Go figure!

I was hoping to swim sub 30:00.  In the end, I swam 1,500m in 36:50 (8/9 in my age group).  I was a bit disappointed when I saw the clock – It was a slower time than I’d normally like, but given the cold and the chop, it wasn’t awful.  And in fact only 3 minutes separated me from 4th out of 9 in my age group.  Had I swum sub 30:00, I would have been 2nd.  Everybody had a rough day – most of them in wetsuits that I didn’t have.  Lesson #3: I can swim with the pack.

After I packed up from my race I threw my stuff in a locker by the beach and set out for a quick 5k run.  Go figure – the sun was blistering hot and the shade was sparse.  I could finally feel my toes again!

What’s the coldest water you’ve ever swam in?

Training Race Preview: Toronto Island Lake Swim

August 17, 2013 Leave a comment


Tomorrow morning I’m tackling the Toronto Island lake Swim, 1.5k swim race.  It’s the first of two training races I’m tackling this month in preparation for the Lakeside Olympic Triathlon in September.

I’m looking forward to this one.  I’m feeling very relaxed about it.  The plan is to use it as a training race, and that’s what I’m going to do.

What’s a training race to me?  Well… I’m still going to race hard.  I still want to do the best I can and get the fastest time I can.  There’s no intention of half-assing this one.  But I’m looking to learn from this race.  The whole idea of a training race is to go in with a purpose – something specific you want to test or assess and take away feedback in preparation for your ‘A’ race.

For me, this is my first time doing the 1,500m distance in open water with other swimmers around me.  And I expect – based on how they market this race – that this won’t be your typical triathlon swim start field (where half the racers are looking to survive the swim and get to the bike or run, where they excel).  There will likely be a lot of good swimmers here.

Good.  Bring ’em on!  My goal in this race is to swim with the pack for the full 1,500m.

I’ve done a lot more open water swim training this summer than in any previous summer, but it’s all solo swimming – out in the open water, away from lane markers or time clocks or coaches or other swimmers… anything at all to use as a pace coach.  I find it so easily to mentally drift.

I’ve swam 1,500m many times before, but never in a race.  Never with race nerves or adrenaline.  I’ve never pushed to keep up with other swimmers over this long a distance.

So that’s my goal for tomorrow: irrespective of finish time, to keep up with the pack and stay strong through the full 1,500m.

Have you ever done a “training race”?  How did you approach it?

The Dog Days of August

August 14, 2013 7 comments

bautistaencarnacinimage from Drunk Jays Fans

I’m a huge baseball fan – a huge Blue Jays fan (at this point in the season, I may be the only one left).  I often hear the term “The Dog Days of August” referred to in baseball context as a tough part of the season – the fatigue of having played ball every day (essentially) for 5 straight months, combined with the heat of August, and the horizon of post season (the finish line) just a month away.

I think I’ve found my own Dog Days of August.

In 2011 I raced a single sprint triathlon in September of that year.  I started training for it, in earnest, in July of the same summer.  That summer I could hardly run a mile, and sure as shit complained if I had to run two.  I was almost 40lbs heavier than I am today.  I “trained” (though in hindsight, I really just “occasionally exercised”) over a 2 week period, ran my race, and then shut it down.

In 2012 I raced the same triathlon.  This time I started training in June, and with a bit more regularity (albeit with the same general lack of purpose) for 3 months.  I took a few weeks off after before turning to a Run Only program and raced my first 10k running race in early November.

2 months of work in 2011.  5 months of work in 2012.

2013 has been a whole different story.  Beginning with a half marathon in February and followed by a 30k run in March, I’ve raced 6 races already this season, with another 3 planned in the next 5 weeks.  I started training in December 2012, 9 months ago and – other than missed sessions – I really haven’t given myself much of a break.  And further to the length, I’m training with purpose now.  I’m doing more than simply shuffling for a few miles – I’m planning a training routine, mixing up strength training with swimming, biking, and running.  Doing short speed work as well as long endurance work.

I’m exhausted.

worn out

And yet, really, in the world of triathlon training, I’m not doing all that much.  I’m still only training 5-8hrs/week.  But it’s a lot more, for a lot longer, and a lot more intense than it was before.

This is my dog fight.  My dog days of August.  When the summer is hot and the legs are tired, and the finish line is on the horizon.  No amount of sleep seems to be enough.  No amount of food seems to be enough.  I feel like I’m in a constant fog, and my friends and family have noticed.

4.5 weeks until my ‘A’ race, my first Olympic distance triathlon.  In between I have a pair of warm-up races: a 1,500m swim only race this weekend to experience 1,500m in open water with other racers, and a sprint distance triathlon the following weekend to focus on my brick run in a race setting.  It’s time to dig deep – deeper than I’ve had to dig before.  This is my dog days of August.  This is my chance to finish my season strong and proud, and show how far I’ve come, and what I can do.

If only I could do it on a little more sleep.  Wouldn’t that be nice…

Have you ever felt like you were in your ‘Dog Days of August’?  How did you push through?

Applying the Principle of Specificity

August 1, 2013 1 comment


I’ve decided over these next 6 weeks, leading up to my ‘A’ race of the season, I want to really focus on targeted training sessions, or what the Tri world calls Specificity.  I know, this seems like such an elementary concept to seasoned racers (or to many of us who blog like we’re seasoned racers – I’m picking on myself too here).  But I’ve actually been really bad at this lately.

Specificity is quite simply put:

Your body will adapt to the type of stress you put on it. These adaptations will relate to this type of stress being placed on the body and where they are being placed. For example if you want to be strong you must create demands from your body that require these changes. You can run 20 mile a day and you will not become strong because the demands you are placing on your body do not relate to strength they relate to endurance.

– From the Triathlon Training Blog

If you want to run faster, you need to do running speed drills.  If you want to be able to run longer, you need to do long run sessions.  If you want to bike faster, you need to do bike power drills.  If you want to bike longer, you need to do long bike rides.

If you consistently go out and run the same pace, the same distance, the same road, you will be the same runner with the same times.

– Abby, Run Stronger Every Day

Up until this point in my training, I’ve been primarily guilty of doing long runs, and long rides, and long swims, over and over again.  I give myself a bit of slack – I’m still pretty new at this, and still very overweight and out of shape.  Simply being able to run a certain distance without having to stop is a pretty big accomplishment for me

(yeah, I just linked to my own Twitter post… )

But I’ve reached that point where merely finishing isn’t enough any more.  I want to get better.  I want to be faster.  So I need to start putting in the right work to get faster.

Today I spent my lunch hour on the stationary bike at the gym doing overgear training and 1-leg drills.  It felt really weird to go in with a 30 minute plan, work hard for the prescribed 30 minutes (without concern for the average pace the machine told me I was keeping), and then get off the bike.  But I got my sweat on, that’s for sure.  I had kept to the plan – focused on developing speed and power on the bike (and not just the ability to stay in the saddle for long mileage).  Bonus: I didn’t have to ride for 2 hours to get a bike session in.

6 weeks to go until my ‘A’ race seems like a long time, and yet it really isn’t.  I want to look back at the end of that race – at the end of my season – and know I pushed myself.  It’s about training smarter, not training longer.

Do you have a favorite Swim/Bike/Run speed drill you like to do?

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