Two-fer Sunday  

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It’s a little early in the season to be hitting 2 workouts per day, but that’s how my schedule has worked out.

This past Sunday morning was a Spin or Turbo session with Ben, the Bike Doc. Yes the same Bike Doc that did my bike fit. The session was 90 minutes on my road bike and trainer. Ben’s class is different from other health club spin classes. He concentrates ore on cadence and speed, and you can certainly see his method from the way he structures his session.

Last Sunday was supposedly EASY, although I certainly didn’t feel like I worked out easy, especially during the last 15 minutes where I really started to fade.

Then in the evening, the Sunday Masters Swim. Thankfully, this workout featured a lot of instruction and drills for Fly. I say thankfully because although they were difficult, it was hardly a Tough workout.

If this Sunday is a HARD spin workout, and a HARD masters workout, I am in trouble.

Turning Around a Crappy Workout Session  

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An intense work schedule and a tight project deadline this week resulted in a drastic drop off in my activity level. This made for a tough masters workout last night.

I didn’t feel terrible. I was rested, and energetic, and ready to go, but in the water, I felt out of place. The water felt light, and I had a hard time grabbing it on the catch.

The positive, was that my flip turns felt awesome, and I was determined to slug my way through it. I just kept hammering away at my laps, and tried to concentrate on body position, catch, and turns.

The main set was 6 x 200m descending. When I do a set like this, I try to start with a slow relaxed pace. Then I try to work on improving just one thing on each upcoming 200 like a quick turn, or a hard push off the wall, until I reach normal pace about half way through the set. Then on the last couple I try to gut it out and swim hard, and descend my times with pure effort.

As I eased into last nights set, I started to feel better and better. I was speeding up in relation to the others in my lane until on the last two, I was feeling good and swimming fast, and doing my flip turns.

At the end of the session I had comments from one of my lane mates as well as the coach on how good my turns looked. And that made it all worth it.

So the takeaway message is when you find you are not having a great workout, find something to focus on and battle through. In the end you will feel great for not quitting.

Bike Fit  

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It’s hard to imagine that after almost 10 years in the sport of triathlon, I have never had a proper bike fit.

Sure, when I bought both my road and tri bikes, the guys at the shop set me up on a trainer, and made some adjustments to the seat and handlebars.

From there, I read article after article on fit, and I tweaked my set-up countless number of times trying to find the sweetspot between aerodynamic position, and comfort. But I have never had an experienced professional, measure me up, then change my bike setup to match.

So middle of last week, I made an appointment with Ben, the Bike Doc. On Friday, I stopped by his house where he measured me up from stem to stern. Then yesterday, it was GO-TIME.

The fit was done on my tri bike, since Tri’s and Time Trials are where my interest lie. The first change was to lower the seat, and move it back. Then the aerobars were raised, which you would think would cause less of an aero position. But then came the biggest surprise. We switched stems with my road bike, and extended the reach by almost an inch, then moved the bar extensions forward even more.

The result was a more forward position that seemed to feel more comfortable, with less strain on the neck to see the road ahead. I can’t wait to try it out on the road.

So why now? Why get a fit in January and not May just before the snow and salt disappear, and the road bikes hit the road? The advice from the bike doc is to get your fit in the winter, then use it on the trainer so when you hit the road, your body is accustom to the new position. And I guess the doc knows a thing or two as he was once ranked as one of the top time trialists in the UK.

So from here I need to match my trainer bike position to my tri bike, and start spinning. OH THE JOY!

Masters Workout, Broken Breast  

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I knew that would get your attention. This is just a little example of what I don’t look like.

So much to write about, and no time to write it.

We jumped into the new masters season with abandon last night. When coach gave us the pre workout speech, and the warm-up, she started with “Tonight we are going to mix it up a little.”

Now my feelings on “Mixing it up a little” are mixed. And whereas, I am not very good at any of the strokes besides free, it certainly takes away the boredom, and I actually look forward to some new workouts for other strokes.

Last night we concentrated on breast stroke, and as it turns out, this would be my second best stroke. Please take the term best with a grain of salt.

So our opening set consisted of 3 sets of 4 x 50, drill swim, all breast stroke. Then an easy 300 free, then another 4 x 50 STROKE (Your choice of any stroke excluding free, and dogpaddle) then 300 easy free, then a broken 200 at race pace.

A broken distance inserts a known rest interval, then at the end you subtract your rest time from your total swimm time to get your equivalent race time.

So I did 4 x 50 Breast, with 10 seconds rest. My total time for the set was 4:42, so my equivalent race time would be 4:12.

I don’t think I’ll need to make reservations for 2012 London at this point.

And today, my shoulders are burning. Think it’s a good choice to take a rest day.

Another Giveaway  

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This time it’s not me. This one is by KC at 140.6 Mile Journey.

Click HERE to go to her giveaway post.

Up for grabs is a pair of Trinity Multi Sport Tri Shorts, pictured above, one women’s, and one men’s pair.

4 entries per person, One each as follows:

1. Follow KC
2. Post the giveaway to your own blog
3. Sign up for the Trinity Newsletter
4. Become a fan of Trinity on Facebook

Again, further details on how to do each one can be found HERE. Good luck.

Christmas Solo Swim Session  

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We had a pretty kick-ass masters session last night. Thank goodness I managed to swim regularly over the holidays including 2 coached sessions and another 3 hard workouts that I did on my own.

It was tough to focus on doing a hard swim by myself. I definitely perform better in a group. There’s just something about trying to catch someone, or knowing someone is on your butt trying to catch you. But sometimes, a hard solo session is the only thing available.

This set was done after a 700 yard warm up which included lots of drills and kick sets. You all know how much I love kick sets. Here was my first solo session.

Warm Up
200 smooth and easy
5 x 50 drill swim
5 x 50 kick/choice

Pre Set
4 x 250 as 200 free 50 kick

Main Set
4 sets of 3 x 200 as:
1 x 200 Easy, almost a pause drill
1 x 200 Normal
1 x 200 Fast

200 Smooth Cooldown

The interval for the 200’s were done on my best 200 time + 30 seconds for the first, the 5 seconds less for the second, and 5 more seconds less on the third.

It was a challenge, but I found the 200’s the perfect balance of speed and endurance, and I have come to find out that I am more of a distance swimmer than a sprinter.

Michael Phelps No Limits Book Review  

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Before you read this, please keep in mind that it is a review of the book. This is not a criticism of Michael Phelps himself.

The book originally consisted of eight chapters, one for each medal in Beijing. A ninth was added after the 2009 World Championship in Rome.

Each chapter describes its respective race, as well as the lead-up including competitors and teammates as well as all the behind the scenes stuff you didn’t see on NBC.

But each chapter also includes a long setup including stories about his training for other events, his competition, his relationship with Bob Bowman, his coach, as well as his relationship with his family. It’s good to get a glimpse into his life and his training, but it’s sometimes very hard to make the connection between the story, and the particular race the chapter is centred around.

He also throws a lot of names at you. When he is describing teammates in the relay races, as well as competitors, and other training partners who influenced him, it’s very easy to get lost. I found myself constantly backtracking to try and keep the names straight. Same goes for times. There are goal times, split times, personal best times, world record times, preliminary race times, and again it’s easy to get lost.

And then there’s the grammar. Throughout the book, there are glaring examples of bad grammar such as “Some of this is because I started swimming at 7 and had, by the time Bob arrived at NBAC, put in 4 years in the pool.”

None of this, especially the grammar is Michael Phelps’s fault. He is a swimmer, not an author or an editor, and I get the impression that the book was rushed through without a lot of proof reading or editing because the publishers knew it would be a hit.

Despite these criticisms, there are parts of the book worth the read

After winning the 400m medley relay, and his eighth medal, Phelps describes the post race celebrations, and the whirlwind of press conferences, and interviews. I found it very interesting to get a glimpse of how everyone wants a piece of you.

Is this an excellent story? Obviously yes.
Is it an excellent book? Not quite.
Should you read it? Definitely.

Michael Phelps accomplished something thought impossible. Reading the depiction in Michael Phelps’s own words is a must for all swimming, sports, or human interest fans.

Happy New Year  

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Here it is, that time of the year again. I must confess this year, I fared way better than other holiday seasons. I still indulged, as in other years, but this year was a little different. This year I focused on some real quality workouts, and limited my indulgences to only the evenings. No sugar or wine or beer before 4:00pm.

My plan going into the holidays was to come out fitter than I went in. Even with crappy weather, I managed one short ride on my mountain bike, and one 5k race on New years Eve.

But there were a couple of pools open in my area, and I swam, swam a lot. Almost everyday, including 4 key workouts of over an hour and a half, and a total of at least 3000 yards.

So the damage this morning was a few pounds over my pre Christmas weight, but nothing to panic about. As for being fitter, the jury is still out, but my splits in the pool were respectable, so I’ll keep it at, I didn’t get as unfit as other years.

Now it’s time to start thinking about the 2011 season. I have some goals in mind, but nothing on paper as of yet. And I am still on the fence about if I’ll share. I may keep them private a-la Michael Phelps. In any event, Happy New Year, and Stay tuned.