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  1. Alcohol Experiment update

    • July 14th was the last day I had any alcohol.
    • July 30th I was supposed to have a vasectomy, and was not supposed to have alcohol or any blood thinning medications for 7 days prior, which was the original motivation for this experiment.
    • July 29th my vasectomy was rescheduled to August 14th
    • July 31st and August 1st, two interesting data points were added to the experiment.


    For 16 days, I had very good sleep except for one night I had trouble falling asleep. That day I had 2 espressos and 3 cups of dunkin doughnuts coffee (no doughnuts, just black coffee), 2 glasses of coke at lunch and maybe a pepsi at dinner. My normal caffeine intake is limited to 2 espressos in the morning, no additional coffee and no soda, so this day was very over the top for me.

    I opened a bottle of wine Friday, had 3 glasses*, then 2 more Saturday night. Both nights my sleep was on the restless side and was distinctly worse than what had been normal the prior two weeks. Wine appears to make my sleep shallower, so I wake up more easily (say if my wife rolls over), and I think it also elongates my sleep cycle, so when the swimming alarm goes off, I am mid cycle and groggy instead of end of cycle and ready to get up.

    The major results are in, wine does affect my sleep. Going forward, I am limiting my alcohol to the weekend. After my surgery, I might try having wine with lunch on Saturday and see if that affects my sleep Saturday night.

    No more alcohol for me for another 3 weeks at least. I am worried what all this clean living is going to do to me. Am I going to start craving alfalfa sprouts?

    * In my book, a glass of wine is 5 oz, there are 5 glasses of wine to a bottle (750ml bottle with 5oz = 148ml). Also, 5 oz of wine has the same alcohol as 12 oz of beer (on average).
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  2. Wine experiment

    I was about to comment on Patrick's blog about this, but the comment got so long, I figured I should stick it here.

    I drink 1-3 glasses of wine in the evening regularly, but I have an upcoming minor surgery where it is recommended not to drink (or take aspirin) for 7 days. When I go to bed and when I get up is very regular, but recently my sleep has been broken once or twice a night and I wake up groggy. These sleep problems are fairly new, and I blamed the time change and the late sunsets for not being able to get enough sleep, but about until April I would fairly strictly limit alcohol consumption to Friday and Saturday only. The wine could be affecting my sleep as well.

    So an experiment is born. Monday I finished off the last of my open wine. The first two nights I slept well and woke up less groggy. There is probably a little sleep debt that needs to be made up, and after that, I should be waking up before the alarm by a minute or two each day if the wine is the problem. The experiment will run until August 14th. If the improved sleep continues, then I will again strictly limit alcohol to the weekend.

    Caffeine: Unlike Patrick, I am not cutting out or limiting caffeine. I have two espresso shots every morning, caffeinated sodas on the weekend, and usually a few extra cups of coffee during the week. It takes 2 espressos and 3 strong large cups of coffee to get me to the jittery stage, at which point, I know my sleep will be affected. It is possible that less affects my sleep, but I am unsure of the cut off amount.
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  3. Armless prone bridge experiment

    The idea of an armless prone bridge came up recently, probably in the comments section of Fort's blog. I tried it out Wednesday and did a little more experimentation today.

    In case you don't read all the comments on Fort's blog, but do read my blog (unlikely), let me describe the armless prone bridge.

    The armless prone bridge underwent seconds of evolution in my head as a way to do prone bridge without the shoulders or arms becoming a limiting factor. To do an armless prone bridge, you need a weight bench to substitute for the arms. Looking at the line across my chest from the edge of the bench, the edge of the bench was about mid chest. I don't think this will work for females, and they will need to balance higher up. Right below the collar bone should be ideal as most of the weight will be carried on the sternum and the head of the shoulders since both fat and muscle is thin at the top of the chest. To get into position, I suggest laying your chest on the so you are laying at a right angle to the bench, and then scoot your chest off the bench until you find a comfortable position for the edge of the bench. This will probably end up being most of your chest off the bench, with the top 3" of the chest and shoulders on the bench. This also allows you to lay your head down on the bench at around 145 seconds when you want to cry.

    What I learned. My abs get MORE work from armless. Holding my hands behind my back kept them out of the way, which was a problem Wednesday, and put a little more pressure on the abs, making them work harder. I am going to replace PB with armless PB going forward.

    I also experimented with two variations. I did 180 seconds on my back and each side as well as 180 seconds for the abs. These were all much easier than the abs, and I won't be adding them to my routine, but they were still interesting.

    Back: Lying with my mid shoulder blades at the edge of the bench and my heels on the ground, my body held straight, 180 seconds worked my lower back. This might be a decent exercise to start with if you have a weak lower back (not a BAD back, just not strong).

    Side: Lying with with the edge of the bench hitting at the bottom of the shoulder head, this one cuts off blood to the arm, so time becomes an issue. I got some decent oblique work from this, if I balanced on the edge of my bottom foot. If I used both feet for support, the pressure was taken off the oblique and it became really easy. I don't recommend this. Side bends are so much easier, take less time, and you have more control of the stress you put on your obliques.

    I would be interested in hearing experiences with armless prone bridge. One thing I noticed is that I didn't cheat, aka, I didn't let my back arch, or my butt rise, changing the pressure on the abs. Not sure why it wasn't as easy to cheat.
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  4. I wish I could brag like a triathlete

    This is exactly why I waited for the results to be posted, what I heard is not what was posted.

    Results are here and should be good for a giggle or two.

    Two things I wanted to brag about. First, I swam the 1500M and that alone might get me my first top 10 time. Last year, only 12 people swam it in my age group so the competition is fierce.

    What I really really wanted to brag about was my second fastest 50 free time. I thought I swam a 27.09 lcm which converts to a 23.30 scy. My fastest 50 was a 23.0 my sophomore year as the lead leg of a 4x50 free relay. What I really swam was 27.49 which puts me at 23.64 scy. A half a second drop from zones, so I am happy, but that second fastest time was going to be really cool. Brag worthy even.

    If you ever have the opportunity to swim the DAM Summer LCM meet, skip it The water was in the mid 80s Friday night for the 1500, and Saturday probably went from 80 to 82. It was hot (mid to upper 90s) and humid, the diving well was murky and there were touch pads only at one end of the pool. Not a great pool. The meet is well run, it is local and everyone was just there for a fun competition.

    This was an inseason meet for me, and I really just goofed off. I didn't enter the 200, I scratched the 100, swam all the 50s and the 1500. I did wear my Yingfa legskins for the 50s, and I noticed that they were exactly the same as the speedo fastskin II, except for two differences. Speedo's scales point the other direction, and speedo has much better colors.

    If you look at the results, and you notice that there is someone with the same last name as me who might be my wife. What you will also notice about this person is that they kicked my ass in the 1500M. This person only entered the 1500 because I entered it, wanted to scratch it, kicked my ass, acused me of letting her win and is now very much interested in training for the 1500/1650 after I told her I didn't let her do anything.

    TIMES!
    1500: 21:57.22
    50 Back: 35.85
    50 Fly: 34.45
    50 Breast: 44.25
    50 Free: 27.49

    With such stellar times, you must want to know how I trained for the strokes... yep, I don't do any breast or fly at all in practice, ever. If we have an IM set, I do all back.

    Relative to the 50 free, I sucked at everything else. That was the idea. I wanted to fill in some blanks on my check off challenge, and set some benchmark times. I would like to train backstroke seriously in the future, and now I have a baseline.

    Some asides:

    - I swam next to Bobby Patten in the 1500, who held and holds many zone, national and world records in the longer events. Being lapped in a long course race was humbling. Twice was just excessive. I couldn't see the other two who lapped me twice.
    - I didn't swim the 200 free, because it was last and I knew the heat would sap my energy. That would have taken the fun out of my meet.

    What's next?

    My next meet is in October, which will be my first USAS meet. I am tired of the 200 free being last, I just want to swim it fast, I don't care if the time counts for USAS, USMS or QbrainRUs. The October meet is just to get my A cuts. The A meets are at better pools, and they should have warm up/cool down lanes. The BB meet which I will start at, will not have warm up/cool down, and I think the only good pool that hosts a BB meet is BB Champs.

    In addition to getting better placement of the 200 free in the meet, swimming USAS will increase the number of meets I can swim. I asked in January what I needed to do to swim a sub 1:50, and many people suggested that I needed to race more. USMS just doesn't offer that. I should be able to swim a meet a month from October to April in my quest to break 1:50, plus there is enough pool space at the new team that I can do a 200 free from the blocks once a week if I want to (I need to, I won't want to).
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  5. I am too a sprinter!

    Jazz, Fort and I had a "discussion" about if a 200 was a sprint or a middle distance. Today, I was reading Swimming Fastest, and Maglischo weighed in on the topic.

    Maglischo classifies a person as a sprinter if their 100 and 200 are comparable competition wise. So if you place well in both the 100 and the 200, you would be a sprinter. On the other hand, if you place well in the 200 and the 400/500, you are a middle distance swimmer. Someone who performs much better at the 50 than the 100 is considered a "fleet" sprinter, because Maglischo considers drop dead derogotory.

    Based on SCY Zones, I am ranked #103 in the 50 free, #123 in the 100 free, #98 in the 200 free, #61 in the 500 free. Crap, that makes me a fleet middle sprinter.

    Ok, how about USAS timestandards as a better, larger pool to compare too? I have the A cut by .5/50 in the 50, I missed the A cut by .25/50 in the 100, I missed the A cut by 1.5/50 in the 200 and I missed the A cut by 1.7/50 in the 500.

    So yes, I am a sprinter, not middle distance. It also means my endurance really sucks.

    I really really want to blog about my meet from two weeks ago, all triathlete style, and tell everyone about how my wife kicked my ass in one event and in another I went my second fastest time ever. But since the results still are not posted online , I am only positive about the first occurance and a little hazy that the second actually happened. So until the results are posted, no details.
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  6. Analysis and Experimentation

    Analysis:

    The local USMS meets in my area all have the same format, Friday night is the 400 IM and the 1500/1650 and the rest of the events are Saturday. You are allowed to enter both events Friday and are limited to 5 events Saturday.

    If you enter the 400 IM, 1500/1650, 200 back, 200 breast, 200 fly, 200 IM and the 100 IM (if short course), you can get official times for every event in a single meet by submitting 11 split requests.

    Experimentation:

    My next taper meet will be in October. This gives me about 1.5-2 months to experiment with things that might get me hurt, or hurt my performance.

    I need to find out the volume of work my shoulders can comfortably handle. To do this, my training intensity and yardage needs to be ramped up, and I need to keep better track of what I am doing in my workouts. I already keep good track of my yardage and what the major accomplishments were in practice, but I think that won't be enough if I have to go back and analyze when I crossed a threshold with my shoulders. I have done well in the past keeping a food diary at the kitchen table for tracking everything I eat, so I will do the same for workouts. This might result in me actually knowing my typical stroke count and my times through out entire sets. Maybe.

    Experiementation in the pool is what is most likely to result in injury.

    I will be experiementing with dry lands, but my weight routine will not change drastically before October. I will try adding drylands with heavy core work on non-lifting days, and I will make RC stretch cord work a regular part of my daily routine.

    The current blog popular topic, diet. This is where I expect to make some mistakes and hurt my performance in the pool and moreso in the weight room.

    A few weeks ago, I tried a "slow carb" diet, and lost some body fat while gaining muscle. The reason I only did it for a week was that it is boring as ****. The diet is very simple, you just replace white carbs (bread, pasta, potato, sugar, etc) with beans, lentils, chickpeas and the like. Essentially, all you are trying to do is convince your body that you are usually full, and you don't need to be in fat storage mode. In theory, doing this would result in a lower bodyfat percentage than somone who fasted between binges but ate the exact same caloric intake, assuming you eat 3-5 meals a day that all included fiber rich, slow to digest beans, lentils and chickpeas.

    On top of being boring, I upped my workouts from 6 to 10 during that week. I have a theory about which played a bigger factor

    If I make a mistake with diet, and my calories drop as a result, that will effect my performance in the weight room. Increased strength requires increased muscle mass, but increasing muscle mass while loosing weight is not realistic. Hopefully with a more detailed log of my swimming, I will be able to see the subtleies that might be related to diet.

    I also got some new toys to play with during solo practice. If I find that they are effective, I will share.
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  7. Stole Chris Stevenson's warm down

    Warm up
    300 Swim
    200 Kick
    300 Pull

    Transition
    200 Swim/Catchup/Fist/Swim
    200 broken at the 100, 10 seconds rest moderate pace (aka filler while everyone else catches up)

    Main set - Consolidate from 18 lanes to 8, group send off, times are called out.

    4x200 maintain pace (2:20 passed 3 people, 2:20 passed 2 people, 2:18 passed 1 person, 2:18 passed no one)

    3x100 descend with buoy and paddles (1:09, 1:04, :59)
    again he says (1:09, 1:04, :59)

    Split into 4 teams, 2 girls teams and 2 guys teams.

    9x25 free relay (my team won!)
    9x25 fly relay (my team didn't win)

    And for the GRAND FINALE I BRING YOU THE CHRIS STEVENSON WARM DOWN!

    Hopped out and toweled off, no warm down.



    We do a consolidated workout about twice a month, the rest of the time we spread out, have a work out on a sheet of paper, and the coach spends time working one on one with people on their stroke. This works great for me, since I need to be out of the pool, around 6:00am so I can get to work. We finished the second relay at about 6:13, thus the Chris Stevensonesque warm down.

    I am not planning on blogging my workouts, but may occasionally blog random swim related thoughts that don't really fit into the forums ... or a comment on someone else's blog
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