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Alex's swim journal

It's a journey: musings on art, literature, life... and occasional notes on training.

  1. Slippery roads, falling down ladders...

    by , January 27th, 2013 at 06:56 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Managed to get into the Y right before another winter storm hit. Roads became very slippery, but the temps are mild so it changed over from snow to rain within a couple of hours. By the time I was on the road again it was an asphalt flavored slushy.

    I didn't want to do anything too difficult today, since yesterday was a 7200-yard day. I thought 2000, maybe 2500... but in the car on the way over I realized I wasn't sore at all from yesterday; the mind started churning... "if I do an EZ to moderate 1000 free as a warm-up and add 500 IM to the ladder I did last Sunday (400, 300, 200, 100 IMs) I'll be at 2500 already and a cool-down could get me to 3000 pretty quickly." And that's what I did, 3000 SCY in +/- 60 minutes. The intervals on the IM ladder were aggressive (for me), but the pool was cool and I think my endurance on these other strokes is getting a lot better (even as the speed doesn't seem to be going anywhere). Here's how I did:

    1000 free, EZ to Moderate on 18:00 (16:45)
    500 IM on 10:00 (9:25-ish)*
    400 IM on 08:00 (mid 7:30s)
    300 IM on 06:00 (5:40-ish)
    200 IM on 04:00 (3:30)**
    100 IM on 02:00 (1:45)
    :30 rest
    200 fr, EZ on 4:00 (3:25)
    4 x 50 fr on :50 (:43-:44)
    100 fr, slide-n-glide (came in around 1:40, averaging 12-14 strokes per length)

    *First time I've ever done 500 IM, first time I've ever swum 125 fly all at once.
    **On this 200 IM I was really hustling and finished within 1-2 seconds of my fastest 200 IM ever; I think I was doing more or less a 3:20 pace (:50 per leg) until I got to the breast where I lost a lot of time... got to figure that out... but I made some of it back on the free section (which was about :45, not blazing by any means).

    I rinsed off quickly, washed out my suit and goggles, dried off and put my gym clothes on... got in about 30 minutes of conditioning in the weight room. I skipped most of the "dynamic warm-up" because I figured I was already pretty warm, but I spent a good amount of time on the injury prevention exercises, before moving on to core and foundational strength exercises, all of which I'm still going very light on until I get the hang of this again. This was my first conditioning session since last Sunday... I'd like to say that's because I had the cold this week, but honestly I would really much rather just swim, so I probably leaned on that a bit much as my excuse. I'm paying for it now! I do have high hopes that this conditioning, if it does nothing else, will help me to stave off injuries and soreness a little more.
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  2. 7200 SCY

    by , January 26th, 2013 at 06:00 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today was "distance" day after having my first day out of the pool in almost a month yesterday. My first thousand or so felt very rusty, but I was fairly pleased with the fact that I was able to keep my workout in the "quality" zone by breaking up the swim into 100s and focusing on technique with each length of each rep... even with the short rests I felt like I was getting stronger as I went along. Honestly, the first couple of thousand had me questioning whether I would finish, but since the water was cooler than last week I did feel better toward the end.

    5 x thru:
    12 x 100 fr on 1:45 (1:29-1:38)
    200 IM on 4:00 (mostly 3:50s, last one in 3:40)

    finished w/ 200 cool-down

    The wrinkle on this workout that is different from the 7200 workout that I did a month ago is the that the 200 "recovery" swim after each set of 100s is now a 200 IM. There is no way I could have done the workout I did today a month ago, so my "IM endurance" is getting better. Each set is exactly 25 minutes [x 5 = 125 minutes] and with cool-down the whole workout should have taken about 2 hours, ten minutes to finish. I finished in 2:15 because I took a Masters' minute break after the 4th set to talk to Scotty. My fifth set was much better as a result.
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  3. EZ day, recovery...

    by , January 24th, 2013 at 05:44 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    feel like I've turned the corner on the cold. I felt so good in fact I was planning to do some drylands after my swim, but I forgot my gym shoes ("zer iz no such sing az an accident..." I can hear Dr. Freud saying in an outrageous movie-German accent). My freudian slip means I got to skip another day of drylands... less torture, more rest when recovering from a cold, it's all good. The swim was the EZ day I should have taken yesterday, except that there is still nothing EZ about any of the "other" strokes for me. I had originally planned on doing a descending ladder for yards 2-3000 (400 IM, 300 IM, 200 IM, 100 IM), because I have unresolved masochistic tendencies, but I got to yard 2000 and decided that was good enough for the day. Scotty was not there to share my pain, so I feel like my times were a lot slower, but I've been swimming everyday without a break for 24 days and have only had 4 days completely off of swimming since Thanksgiving. I might take tomorrow completely off and then hit the reset button for a long workout Saturday. Here's what I did today:

    400 swim (fr, bk, br)
    2 x 200 IM kick drills
    2 x 100 IM kick drills
    16 x 25 on :45 (400 IM order)
    1:30 rest
    200 IM (3:29)
    2:30 rest
    16 x 25 on :45 (400 IM order)
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  4. Fighting off a cold...

    by , January 23rd, 2013 at 06:52 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Felt miserable today from the congestion of this full-blown head cold I've been trying to fight off over the last couple of days. I skipped my dry-land conditioning work yesterday and today couldn't bring myself to do it... plus I'm just now feeling back to normal from the soreness instigated by Sunday's drylands. I decided just to steam and sauna for a few minutes on either end of my swim, while drinking tons of water. I went through about 80 oz. in an hour and a half.

    The workout was slow (it felt hard, but the times were off... I'm blaming the cold and the fact that I probably needed an EZ day anyway). I did 3000 SCY in 60 minutes, water temp back to normal (78?)... yes, something went right! Here's what I managed, again a lot slower than I expected:

    400 swim EZ on 8:00 (fr, 6:50)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 fr (walked it back from :45-:41)
    100 pull on 2:00
    100 3 fr/4 bk drill on 2:00
    100 bk on 2:15
    2 x 50 fr hard on :45-:100 (:39s)
    1:00 rest
    10 x 100 fr on 1:45 alt. fr hard and pull recovery--no paddles today, too tired (1:26-1:41)*
    1:30 rest
    10 x 50 fr on 1:00 (stay smooth, try to focus on form: :44-:45)
    500 EZ fr (8:30) as cool-down

    *This whole workout felt harder than it should have, again I probably could have taken the day completely off--haven't had a non-swimming day since the first of the year--, but the 100s were especially labored. After feeling pretty good, relaxed coming in at 1:26 on the first hard fr, my pulls were all in the 1:38-1:41 range (which seems really slow, even for a "recovery" swim in this set. That made the 1:45 interval tough and my hard frees slowed down even as I tried to work harder: 1:29, 1:30, 1:30, 1:30. Guess I've spoiled myself, getting used to seeing mid 1:20s in the last few weeks. They're still a little faster than the 1650 pace, though, so I guess I did something right. Come to think of it, I probably need to do a day soon with lots of pace work for the 1650. I've been going back and forth between hard work, trying to inject speed into my strokes, and moderate (5-10k) pace work, but nothing in between since the broken 1650 I did a couple of weeks ago.
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  5. 3100 SCY in IM work

    by , January 22nd, 2013 at 05:46 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Mercifully, the temp in the pool was much more comfortable today; probably 83-84 at the start and headed down to 82 by the time I finished today, making it much easier to get through the workout. The water temp had to be low 80s at the highest this afternoon for a HS meet. Worked on my speed (such as it is!) today:

    WARM-UP:
    400 EZ Swim on 7:30 (6:50 fr)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (walked these back from :43 to :40)
    300 in kick work (mostly breast)

    MAIN SETS:
    16 x 25 fly on :45 (:18-:25)
    1:00 rest
    100 fly recovery (1:52)
    1:00 rest
    16 x 25 back on :45 (mostly :21)
    1:00 rest
    100 back recovery (1:50? can't remember)
    16 x 25 breast on :45 (:22-:23)
    1:00 rest
    100 breast recovery (1:45)
    16 x 25 free on :45 (:16-:18)
    1:00 rest
    100 free (1:21)

    COOL-DOWN:
    200 IM EZ (3:50)

    Couple of notes: the work on 25s really helped me focus on faster turnover in the back and breast portions; the free was a piece of cake; and the fly wasn't too bad, after going out in :18 I held back to focus on form... and maybe 25 yards is the ideal distance for me to do that with fly now, since it is so new to me. My endurance with fly is getting better though; today I did 550 total fly, which is the most I've ever done of that stroke in a single workout.

    Don't know if anyone else has had this problem, but my kick on breast and fly is asymmetrical. I'm pretty sure it has to do with an old hamstring injury in the left leg and IT band injuries on the right, which have created structural imbalances over the years... I'm working on that in part with yoga; but the asymmetry is really noticeable on the strokes where you really have to have a symmetrical kick... they don't want to work together. I tried slowing it down and focusing on my breast kick out-sweep on back and front, bringing the feet together is getting easier, but one leg wants to sweep out and down, the other out and up even as I try to lock down the rest of my body in the horizontal plane.
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  6. Heat wave continues as arctic cold tightens its grip...

    by , January 21st, 2013 at 06:36 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    The temps outside have plummeted, we'll be -20 to -30 windchill by tomorrow morning; the actual air temp will be -5. The coldest it's been here in over a year. So, of course, the pool at the Y must be the hottest it's ever been... how ironic! The lifeguards today confirmed what I suspected yesterday, weekend water temps got up to at least 90. It was 90 degrees this morning after they had already turned the heater completely off. By the time I did my lunchtime swim it was back down to around 87. Apparently, they had someone in to fix the heater in the warm water therapy pool last week and they think that they must have adjusted or "fixed" the lap pool as well! The noodle riders and side-stroke/elementary backstroke seniors love it; there's an extra spring in their step. I'm having to scale back on the workouts and am running out of water at an incredibly fast rate. Today I wanted to get 4000 in, but settled for 3000 and backed off of my more aggressive interval in the last 1000. Here's what I did:

    WARM-UP (probably unnecessary):
    400 fr on 7:30 (6:43)
    4 x 100 pull and fr on 1:50 (1:30-ish)
    1:00 break
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (:40-ish)
    2-3 minute break

    MAIN SETS:
    10 x 100 on 1:45 (alt. fr and pull: frs 1:21-1:26, pulls 1:30-1:40)
    5 x 200 IM on 5:30 (mostly 3:30-3:35; last one in 3:45--my cool-down!)

    I originally wanted to do the 200 IMs on 4:30, but I was running "hot" and needed the extra time to get my heart rate back down a little and my body cooled. It didn't help that my legs felt like hardened cement the entire practice (I added squats to my lunges in the conditioning workout yesterday and I was definitely feeling it today). Scotty swam these 200 IMs with me, if he hadn't been there my times would have been glacial slow... as if they weren't bad enough already

    There is hope that the temps in the pool will be back to normal by midweek, though. Yay! I'm thinking about what I should enter for the February meet in Madison; I would have like to do the 50s I had planned for a final set today (25 back/25 breast--working on increasing my turn-over in both events and the transition turn for IM at the same time); it might have given me a better idea of what to enter. Definitely want to try the 50 breast, 100 back, and 200 IM... not sure about the rest; 200 free is the first event of the day (how cruel!). Something else I think is cruel after struggling through IMs for two days in a hot pool: evil-stroke is the third leg of the IM, traditionally the hardest leg of any race anyway... cruelty! cruelty I tell you!
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  7. 9000-yard weekend; tropical heat wave at the Y?

    by , January 20th, 2013 at 10:59 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    It was like slipping into a warm bath... only I was hoping to get in a couple of high-yardage workouts, not play with rubber ducky! I've gotten spoiled apparently over the last couple of years here at the Kenosha Y where the lap pool normally has temps around 78 or 80 and the air temperature is a tad cooler. Today the temps had to be close to 90, yesterday at least 86-87. I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm hoping they'll have this temperature thing taken care of soon, we have a high school team practicing in there 6 days a week, I can't imagine they're comfortable.

    Yesterday I planned to do a repeat of the 7200-yard workout I did about a month ago: 5 sets of 12 x 100 fr on 1:45 with a warm-up 200 and and 200 back or breast between sets. Here's how far I got:

    200 swim (fr, bk, br, fr by 50s)
    12 x 100 on 1:45 (1:34-1:35s)
    200 br on 4:00
    12 x 100 on 1:45 (1:34-1:35)
    150 bk/br on 4:00
    12 x 100 on 1:45 (mostly 1:36s)
    150 br on 5:00
    12 x 100 on 1:45 (1:37-1:38s)
    100 br on 3:00
    4 x 100 on 1:45 (1:36-1:40)

    6000 SCY/1:40.00

    Workout started off great, every rep was coming in under 1:35 or right at 1:35, somewhat of an improvement over the last time I did the workout, but things started to come apart after that second set; I had to drop 50 breast off of the recovery swim and take a minute breather before starting the next set... the 100s then started to slow no matter what I tried to focus on to pull the times back down. The 100 times were still well within the range of where they were last month, so I would have continued to slug it out, but I started cramping around yard 4000, and ran out of gatorade/water pretty quickly. 1/3 through my last set I called it quits, I felt pretty bad. The scale said I lost 3 pounds, all water weight I'm sure and I'm attributing it to the high pool temps. I usually don't have any trouble staying hydrated, if anything I have a tendency to over hydrate and end up taking a bathroom break in the middle of these long weekend workouts. I was pretty disappointed and it took me all afternoon to get re-hydrated and start to feel less "droopy." Next week I'm taking a couple of gallons of ice water with me if they don't correct the water temp.

    Today, I ran a mile on the treadmill to warm up for a conditioning session (core work, injury prevention, foundational strength) then headed off to the pool feeling stiff and worn out. With the water temp even hotter today, I decided to swim nice and EZ, focus on slide and glide, lengthening the stroke, just taking it nice and easy for 2000 continuous free. Then I felt pretty loose and decided to work in a descending ladder of IMs for my final 1000; here's what I managed:

    2000 EZ contniuous swim (36:00)
    1:00 rest

    400 IM on 10:00 (7:50)
    300 IM on 7:00 (5:45)
    200 IM on 5:00 (3:50)
    100 IM (1:48)

    3000 SCY/61 minutes

    This was the first time I've done an entire 400 IM all at once, so my fly endurance and form is getting a little better; the back and free were just slow, the breast was extremely disappointing... I know it's supposed to be the slowest stroke, but, dang! I'd like to take at least one or two good cycles before it all falls apart! This workout really taxed my system, especially after doing the drylands conditioning beforehand.

    One realization I had today, though, while swimming in our new tropical swim zone at the Y, is that one of the things that probably brought about my overtraining last summer in August was the fact that I was trying to maintain the same mileage and speed in the lake when the water temps were in the mid- to upper-80s that I had been swimming when the temps were in the low to mid-70s. Since the temperature change happened gradually over the course of a month or so it wasn't as noticeable... but I shouldn't have been shooting for "improvement" at that point (and then overdoing it to compensate for the fact that I wasn't seeing the improvement I thought I should be seeing). Running track in Texas in July and August as a kid, we always stopped trying to improve our times after June... there was no getting better with temps always in the 90s-100s; it was all about heat management and trying not to lose fitness. Our times were always slower in late July than they were in late May, but so were everybody else's. Guess it's the same in the water!

    At least I wasn't as dehydrated today after the swim, just beat.
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  8. working through it...

    by , January 18th, 2013 at 11:37 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Just a quick post to record what I got in yesterday. I wasn't able to get in until late last night, because things kept popping up during the day, so I didn't have much time. Got to the Y at 7PM, they close at 9PM. I did 45 minutes of dryland conditioning (I made it through two sets of everything in the Salo/Riewald Masters Workout I-preliminary phase; my preliminary phase might be longer than most as I learn these exercises and overcome the previous workout's soreness!).

    After a quick stretch in the sauna, I showered and headed out to the pool. The evening crowd was just starting to thin out, so I got a lane right away and went through the following:

    400 swim (alt fr and pull by 100)
    4 x 100 on 2:00 (alt 100 IM and 100 fr)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:39-:41)
    16 x 50 on 1:00 (or 1:05), (4 x thru IM order; 1:00 rest after ea round)
    200 IM (3:38)
    200 fr cool-down
    ---
    2200 SCY/50 minutes

    I was so tired and sore from the previous workouts (new drylands along w/ yesterdays 4200-yard session), that I really considered getting out after 1000, but I said to myself I might as well do one round through the 50s in IM order, who knows I might even get in 1500 tonight. At 1200 I decided, OK, one more round, the same at 1400 and 1600... at which point I had already done 250 of each stroke (not counting the extra fr) for the day, 2 x 100 IM and the equivalent of 4 broken 200 IMs. I was dead tired and running out of clock, so I decided to do 200 IM without the rests between strokes (my original plan was to do 20 x 50, IM order). I finished in 3:38 just as the lifeguard was turning off the digital pace clock and starting to pack things up for the night.

    Today I don't feel nearly as sore as I did on Tuesday, Wednesday, or yesterday; I'll try to get in for a nice stretch out swim today and then prep for tomorrow's distance workout.
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  9. soreness, fatigue

    by , January 16th, 2013 at 11:33 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Following the drylands session yesterday I did some Yoga this morning and felt pretty good, but my core was good and sore. Also my shoulders, mostly on the back were pretty tight. I was determined to do a long workout with short rests today, however, since looking over my workouts for the last couple f weeks I'm noticing that I'm putting in a lot less yardage per session in January than I was in December. I know part of that is working the strokes, which tires me out a lot faster than working strictly freestyle and drill (cf. my "strokework is killing me..." blog entry from last week); muscle endurance is definitely stroke specific.

    So I planned 5000, and only got to 4200 before I decided the best thing was to stop rather than go on and maybe hurt myself. Here's what I did:

    WARM-UP:
    400 swim on 7:30 (6:43, all fr)
    4 x 100 pull/fr on 1:50 (all around 1:29-1:30)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (all in :40)

    MAIN:
    10 x 100 on 1:45 alt. hard fr/EZ pull (1:23-1:27 for the hard; 1:33-1:42 for EZ pull)
    4 x 250 on 4:30 (200 free hard + 50 Bk EZ; 200s were 3:05-3:15)
    4 x 250 on 5:00 (200 Bk + 50 fr EZ; these were torturous and came in around 4:50)
    3 minutes rest

    COOL-DOWN:
    200 EZ fr in 3:23
    --
    4200 SCY/85 minutes

    The original plan was to do 5 x 200 IM after the 250s, but I bagged that b/c my legs felt like rocks and my shoulders were screaming for a break.

    My hope is that I'll be able to revisit this workout in a couple of weeks and finish it much stronger... once my body adapts to the dry land conditioning a little more and I build my endurance in the other strokes. I have to keep reminding myself that I really am in good shape (my weight is under control and my resting HR is still in the mid 40s after all these years), but every sport and every event has its own demands that don't necessarily translate right away into the "new"... got to give myself that adaptation period! But right now I feel like maybe I should take up napping and soaking in hot-tubs for my next competitive sports!
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  10. Conditioning; slow day in the pool...

    by , January 15th, 2013 at 08:50 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After doing one set of everything in the dry land conditioning routine today (I'm going to be feeling those lunges tomorrow... and the next day!) I got into the pool and swam some pretty slow times. I just had nothing left in the tank, only did 2800. My yardage is way down over the last couple of weeks, but since I've been doing more speed work and stroke work my body feels like it's putting in 5000-yard days instead of 2500-3500. Today I felt doubly bad because not only did I only swim 2800, but I swam it with painful slowness!

    2800 SCY/70 mins.:

    400 swim on 7:00 (6:44; fr)
    4 x 100 on 2:00 (1:30-1:33)
    2 x 100 IM kick on 3:00 (??)
    10 x 100 on 1:50 (alt. fr and pull w/ buoy + paddles; these were all mid to high 1:30s)
    5 min rest
    Broken 800 IM (:10 rest after each rep)*:
    4 x 50 fly
    200 back
    200 br
    200 free

    *I was so tired at this point that I honestly didn't pay attention to times, except I know my br had a lot of gliding and was probably averaging a 1:00/50; the free was about 3:20.

    So, on the FLOG, what should I call the Salo/Riewald conditioning (dynamic warm-up, injury prevention, core stability, foundational strength) program? I used light weights a couple of times, but I wouldn't call that weightlifting. I put myself down for 20 minutes of pilates, but I'm not sure if that captures it either.

    Updated January 16th, 2013 at 11:52 PM by mcnair

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  11. Day-after workout...

    by , January 14th, 2013 at 08:42 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I was pretty sore last night and early this morning. My body is used to threshold or aerobic paces for long times and distances, but is responding less enthusiastically to the short intense bursts required of the pool events.

    I did some yoga this morning and afterward felt really good for about five or ten minutes before all the tightness started to creep back in. Mostly I'm tight on my left trapezius which I think reveals a technique flaw making one of my strokes imbalanced or a muscle imbalance that racing the strokes is just now making me aware of. Either way a technique day was in order. I did work on technique some and tried to swim slowly but smoothly for a while, but my body was still a bit amped up from the meet, so my pace was all over the place and I felt creaky for the first 1500 yards or so. Then Scotty wanted me to do some 100s with him. He likes to do long rests and short, hard swims. Not exactly what I had in mind, but I told him I'd do a few with him and see if I could keep up. We did 4 x 100 alternating free and breast... I beat my seed times on all reps... where did that come from? Here's the workout:

    WARM-UP:
    400 EZ swim (100 fr, 100, bk, 100 br, 100 fr)
    4 x 100 pull w/ buoy on 2:00 (desc. 1:34-1:24)
    2 x 100 IM kick

    MAIN:
    11 x 100 (1-5 fr; 6-7 bk; then w/ Scotty: fr 1:15, br 1:37, fr 1:17, br 1:38*)
    500 fr (8:15--tried to relax, but couldn't find a rhythm, pace was all over the map)

    COOL-DOWN:
    4 x 50 on 1:15 (bk) or 1:00 (fr)--alt. bk and fr
    200 IM (relaxed, sub 3:40)

    3000 SCY in 90 mins(?)**

    *The 4 x 100 I swam with Scotty we were going under for the push off at :57, so these times are a little fast (closer to 1:18-1:20 for the fr and 1:40 for the br), but I felt more in control on the frees than I did on free at the meet yesterday. I had a second, maybe third gear on the last 25 and closed the gap between us (which is usually a body-length or two by the 75-yard mark).
    ** There was a lot of chatting going on! Really don't like such long gabby breaks between swims; my first 1700 by myself went by pretty quickly (maybe 30-35 minutes) even with the longer intervals to help me focus on form. I do like the speed I'm able to muster during the swims as a result of the breaks, but my instincts from years of distance running tell me that the sprint stuff has to be sparing and well under control to avoid injury.

    Tomorrow I'm going to do my first dry land workout in almost a year (aside form the yoga, of course): I think I'm going to work through Salo/Riewald's Preliminary phase Workout I for Masters, then do II and III on Thursday and then Saturday/Sunday.
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  12. Oconomowoc YMCA, WI Masters Meet

    by , January 13th, 2013 at 04:16 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    The roads south of Milwaukee were pretty dicey and it was still snowing a bit when I left this morning, but by the time I hit the bypass and headed west the roads cleared nicely. I made it in time to change and take full advantage of the warm-up.

    I'm pretty happy with this meet; I think there were only a couple of others in my age group so I focused on racing the folks around me whose seed times were similar. It was nice to be pushed and I PR'd each of the events I entered; and think I might have even won a few of my heats. Here were my events (seed times) and results:

    50 Back (:50)--:44.89, 1st in age group.
    100 Free (1:20)--1:15.14, 2nd.
    100 IM (1:35)--1:29.77, 2nd.
    500 Free (7:50)--7:38.48, 2nd.
    100 Breast (1:45)--1:37.62, 1st

    Scotty took first in the 100 IM and 500 FR in our age group and had a good meet. He was swimming in the faster heats (usually a heat after me), though we ended up in the same heat of the 500. I felt like my technique on freestyle was all off... the times are faster, but I was all over the place... I'm interested to see what my splits were in the 500; another Kenosha Y swimmer was watching my 100 free and said I was pretty close to even split (about :36 at the 50 mark), I pulled even with and may even have passed the swimmer in the lane next to mine on the final length, his seed time was 1:16... both of us were in the 1:15s, leading the heat. Fun. But I felt like both freestyle events were missed opportunities... my left goggle filled up with water at the start of both, and so that distraction means I wasn't really thinking about form, tempo, etc... yuck. The 500 was a sub 1:32/100 pace, but I feel like it could have been better.

    I had the most fun with the "new" events/strokes: I really enjoyed the backstroke and the 100 IM was fun as well. The dreaded (for me) backstroke may be my new favorite! I wore my OW National Champs lime green cap and the timer for my 100 IM said, "This is an interesting contrast, I wouldn't have expected that cap in this event." She commented afterward that my back was probably my best leg and that my turn-over was really good. I wouldn't have predicted that two weeks ago! In my 50 back I had a good start and nailed the turn.

    I also think it's pretty funny that I was first place in the breast in my age group (and won the heat), when that is clearly my worst stroke and the one I was most worried about going in.

    All and all a fun time
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  13. Taper day...

    by , January 12th, 2013 at 04:11 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I know, I know, a single EZ day does not a taper make. I had considered not going in at all today and just counting on my warm-up tomorrow to work out any kinks. I woke up this morning really tight, and thought it might be worth it just to go in for a few hundred yards and try to loosen up. Also gave me a chance to take the new speedo jammers out for a test drive. Did 825 yards; mostly Free and Back, practiced some back starts.

    I spent some time in steam and sauna (drank about 80 oz of water) to try to sweat out whatever toxins I couldn't work out in the pool. I feel a lot looser now. Time to rest. Have to get an early start tomorrow morning; the meet's about an hour and a half away. Meet starts at 9AM with warm-up at 8AM.
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  14. EZ 3000, prepping Sunday's meet...

    by , January 12th, 2013 at 12:27 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I wanted to get in a workout today that was not too short (I'm missing my distance day because of the meet this weekend), but was somewhat relaxing. Here's what I did:

    10 x 100 on 1:45 (1;35-1:38; mostly 1:36)
    100 bk
    5 x 200 on 3:30 (3:11-3:16; mostly 3:14)
    100 bk
    8 x 100 on 2:00 alternating IM (2 reps) and Br (2 reps) with EZ Fr.

    3000 SCY in about 60 mins.

    This felt a lot harder after yesterday's workout, and the works work on stroke and IM along with fast free. I probably should have gone lighter today and then light again tomorrow, but I still feel weird not putting in tons of yardage. One thing I will say is that I really am sore in places I didn't know I was using in swimming, because of all the work on back, breast, and even fly... I feel like I've done more yardage than I actually have.

    Starting next week I'm going to add some dry land conditioning (I just picked up the Salo/Riewald book over the holidays). Right now I only do about 3 short sessions of yoga per week outside of the pool. I'm looking forward to doing some strengthening of the core and exercises that will help keep the injuries at bay.

    This weekend I plan to have fun with the meet; trying all new events. My goals are pretty simple right now:

    1. 50 back--enjoy the view from below as I back dolphin off from the start; nail the turn.
    2. 100 free--don't flop off the forward start; hip rotation rhythm, relaxed hands, EVF, break 1:20.
    3. 100 IM--Survive the fly; don't DQ!
    4. 500 free--Negative split after the first 100 (I think this will encourage me to relax earlier)
    5. 100 Breast--maximize the pull-outs; don't DQ; match my best practice time.

    Got some new jammers today, I know the added compression can't hurt; and I'll be using my newish vanquisher 2.0 goggles at the meet. I even practiced swimming my main sets with cap this week, so that wouldn't feel so different and I could make sure that my cap and goggles were interacting properly with my head... want to make sure everyone's getting along for Sunday.
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  15. 100s day

    by , January 10th, 2013 at 07:51 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today, the lunch-time (or just post-lunch) crowd was pretty light, so no need to share a lane. I did 3600 SCY in just under 80 minutes. I wanted to get in 4000, but decided on a 600-yard cool-down instead of 1000. Here's what I did:

    WARM-UP:
    400 swim on 7:30 (6:45 fr)
    4 x 100 fr on 1:50 (1:28-1:31)
    4 x 50 kick IM order
    2 mins rest

    MAIN SETS:
    10 x 100 fr/pull on 1:45 (1:22-1:30*)
    1-2 mins. rest
    10 x 100 IM/Stroke on 2:15**
    1:00 rest

    COOL-DOWN:
    8 x 50 on 1:00
    200 EZ fr (3:17)

    Notes:
    *On this set of 10 x 100 I alternated free and pull w/ buoy; the free 100s came in like clockwork at 1:24, with the exception of the second (1:28) and the last (1:22); the pull 100s came in 1:28-1:30 (no paddles) and felt like recovery swims. I focused the last eight reps or so on my hip rotation and/or keeping a higher tempo.

    **After the best set of 100s fr I'd had in a long time (perhaps ever, given the interval), I thought the stroke and IM 100s were going to be tough; in fact, after doing 100 IM on 2:15 I felt like cutting it short, but I gutted it out, I kept telling myself... "one more 100 then that's it" and eventually I was saying, "hardly any fly left, what's the big deal? Just do it!" Here's how I split up those 100s, working on 100IM, and 100-yard segments of 200 and 400 IM: 100 IM, 100 fly/bk, 100 br/fr, 100 fly***, 100 fly/bk, 100 bk, 100 bk/br, 100 br, 100 br/fr, 100 IM. I held my 2:15 interval easily enough, usually with a good 15-25 seconds rest. Fortunately, I had written this set down on my wrist so I could keep tabs of where I was between 100s otherwise I would have been thoroughly confused.

    ***I'm still not strong enough on fly to do 100 straight, so on that rep I came into the 50, took 5-7 secs rest, and then finished. I'm figuring out what to do with my hips to make the kick more effective on fly (consciously bringing my hips up when the shoulders go down, rather than just hoping everything will follow from my chest and shoulders)... that's encouraging. Once I was through that 100 fly, I felt like I might be able to get through the set ok (maybe a little worried about the breast sections); all in all I'm happy with the set, even with reduced rests (2:15 interval instead of 2:30) I was still swimming most of my segments within a couple of seconds of my seed times for this weekend's IM, BK, and BR events, which means my endurance on the strokes is getting better.
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  16. Broken 1650 (1/9)

    by , January 10th, 2013 at 01:37 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Couldn't get to the YMCA until 6PM yesterday and then circumstances conspired against me... lessons in almost all the lanes, water aerobics on the open swim side of the pool... it was crowded. I managed to get my own lane though for much of the workout, including a broken 1650:

    WARM-UP:
    400 swim (by 100s did fr, bk, br, fr)--on 8:00
    4 x 100 fr on 2:00 (1:28-1:31)
    4 x 50 (:40-:41)

    MAIN:
    Broken 1650 (:10 rest between swims):
    500, 400, 300, 200, 100, 50, 100 = 27:05 (swim time = 26:05)

    200 IM (3:32)
    300 IM (?)

    COOL-DOWN:
    300 swim (by 100s did bk, br, fr)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 fr

    3650 SCY in about 70 minutes.

    Notes: The 1650 time is down 18 seconds from the broken 1650 I did two months ago (27:23--26:23); the first 500 was in 7:50, my fastest (that I know of) 500 yet... going back through my notes I find that a year ago I did a 7:55 TT for the 500; so there is some improvement there (however slight), both in terms of speed and endurance. I should be able to break my seed time (7:45) with a start from the blocks and the prospect of not having to turn around and swim 400 hard after only :10 rest.

    I had originally intended to finish climbing the ladder back up with IMs after finishing the broken 1650 (i.e., 200IM, 300IM, 400IM, 500IM), as relaxed as possible, just trying to survive it. But after I finished the last 100 free of the 1650 and was getting ready to do the 200IM one of the lifeguards said I'd have to move over to make room for another class coming in at 7PM--I had time to do the 200IM with the lane to myself, but had to move over and share the lone lane reserved for lap swimming for the remainder of the workout. The 300 IM was dicey, I was trying not to run off lane-mates during my 75 fly (I hit the lane lines a lot, did a lot of gliding and was generally out of sync); 75 back, breast and free were ok. I decided at that point that I would drop the 100 fly off of the 400IM and just do a 300 swim IM order and close out the workout with a cool-down rather than fight the crowds.

    Getting ready to do the lunch-time swim now; will blog about that later (I'm thinking lots of 100s and 50s today for some reason). Meet this Sunday, don't want to overdo it this late in the week, but if I get in a hard workout today I can do recovery swims and drill tomorrow and Saturday.
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  17. Recovery day...

    by , January 8th, 2013 at 08:08 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I realized when I was about half-way through today that I really should have taken the whole day off. I was so worn out from the stroke work and the cumulative effect of the last 7 days. I intended to do about 2000-2500. I did 1700. Last Tuesday was the January 1st: no swim. Ditto, the previous Tuesday. As it turns out those are the only two days I've had out of the pool in a month now. I focused just on form today, even when I was pushing it a little the times were horrible.

    Here's how it broke down:

    400 fr EZ on 8:00 (this came in around 6:50)
    4 x 100 pull w/ buoy and paddles on 2:00 (1:34-1:37)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:44-:46 ugh!)
    14 x 50 relaxed*

    *I started off doing 150-worth of kick with short fins in streamline (50 each: dolphin, back dolphin, back), then I did 150 w/o the fins and w/ the board (3 x 50 breast kick), then I did 3 x 50 br, 3 x 50 bk, and 2 x 50 free (the fr were around :40; maybe I was finally warming up?). Lots of interruptions during this set, as everyone I hadn't seen in over a week showed up (I've been there, where were they?) and they wanted to chat. OK, I didn't mind the chatting either.

    Tomorrow I'm anxious to see if I can't swim a little faster.
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  18. Stroke work is killing me... softly?

    by , January 7th, 2013 at 06:18 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Apologies to Roberta Flack. I also could have titled this post "The experiment continues." After my first exclusively freestyle workout in a while (the 20 x 200 on 3:30 Saturday) I went back to the Y on Sunday expecting really just to get in a warm-up and cool-down, maybe some turn and start work in between. During my 1000 warm-up I did 400 fr in 6:40 and then 4 x 100 on 2:00--my 100s felt hard but relaxed and I was bringing them in at 1:24-1:25... in a warm-up! Last week (or maybe the week before, the holidays have me all goofed up) it was 1:26-1:27, but certainly not the day after a distance workout. What's going on here? I have some theories ... maybe you have some of your own, feel free to share, here goes:

    1. My freestyle yardage is down, but I'm not doing anything slower than BASE (1:40), a lot at the threshold 1:32-1:36, and often throwing in sets with faster work. So it's quality, rather than quantity. By comparison, the first 7 days of 2012 I swam a total of 18,400 yards, 16,850 of which was freestyle (almost 92%). In the same time period in 2013 I have 20,750 yards but only 13,400 freestyle (64.6%): the total freestyle amount is down, the percentage is down, but the quality for the most part is much better; no garbage, maybe this is what is driving me off the plateau finally.

    2. Incorporating more drills and stroke work for IM is benefiting my freestyle as well. This theory seems to contradict the concept of specificity, so I better qualify this... I'm sure there is a point of diminishing returns, but introducing the other strokes into my workouts is helping my range of motion, balance, core, and stability of muscles that work differently in freestyle... while still providing the same aerobic effects, if not enhanced aerobic effects, since I have to work that system so much harder in training new muscles, movements--while simultaneously providing extra recovery and injury prevention for my freestyle.

    Those are the working hypotheses; unfortunately when I began this journey into the land of middle-d and IM a couple of weeks ago I didn't have the foresight to add controls to my personal experiment; so it may very well be that 1 and 2 are working together in mysterious ways that I don't fully get (isn't that part of the fun?).

    Oh, but this is a love-hate relationship (enter Ms. Flack ). I love mixing in the stroke work; it's very challenging, but...

    My fly, my back, and my breast strokes are HORRIBLE! I would say they "suck," but I want to keep my G-rating. There are slight, ever so slight improvements. For example, my back is now slightly less sucky than my breaststroke. This is very strange, since I probably did 4% of my overall yardage last year as breast... whereas back accounted for like .0008% (not an exaggeration, by the way) of my total 2012 yardage; and fly, even less. So basically, I've been working on fly and back for about 3 weeks and already they are both faster than my dang breaststroke. Ugh.

    Today's workout exemplifies this love-hate thing (3850 SCY/90 minutes):

    Warm-up (1000/20:00):
    400 swim (100 fr, 100 bk, 100 br, 100 fr)
    4 x 100 on 2:00 (1:28-1:32)
    200 IM, relaxed (3:30)

    Main sets:
    5 x 100 IM on 2:30 (1:36-1:40)
    5 x 50 bk on 1:30 (:54-:55)
    5 x 100 br on 2:30 (mostly around 1:48)
    5 x 100 fr on 2:00 (1:30-1:32*)
    3:00 rest
    500 free in 8:12*

    Cool Down:
    12 x 50 on 1:30 (used IM order: 1-3 fly, 4-6 bk, 7-9 br, 10-12 fr)

    *My freestyle at the end of this workout was tanking big time , the stroke work had me so exhausted...even with a 2:30 interval (or 1:30 on 50 back set). That kind of interval in a freestyle workout would have me snoring after 10 reps, I'd probably be so cold I would tear something anyway, but with the new (for me) strokes I was looking at the clock and saying "Really?! I've got to go already?"

    I was disappointed in the times throughout; I wasn't trying to swim AFAP, but thought that 85-90% effort might bring better results; I think I might be worn out from yesterday's 2000 in which I didn't in fact do a good enough cool-down and, feeling good from my warm-up, decided to race Scotty in some 50s back and breast, ending with a 100 IM (1:32)... love/hate.

    IM; Killing me softly!
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  19. 20 x 200 free

    by , January 6th, 2013 at 01:22 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Yesterday I didn't have much time and I wanted to get a little extra sleep, so I had to do an abbreviated version of my workout. Remembering that this is a step-back week for distance, I was not too concerned about having to cut it short. Last week I did a total of 60 x 100 on 1:45 over the course of a 7200-yard workout, maintaining my threshold pace the whole time. This week I decided to do 200s on 3:30, seeing if I could keep the pace I had on my 100s.

    The workout was 20 x 200 on 3:30; 4000 SCY in 70 minutes. Pretty straightforward. I actually managed to negative split a lot of the 200s in the mid to latter half of the workout... I was coming in mostly in 3:14-3:17. My last 200 was in 3:21, so I thought it was a perfect time to stop. I didn't want any of my reps coming in over a 1:40/100 pace (my BASE). The only thing I regret is not having time for a cool-down (or a warm-up for that matter... unless you count my first 4-5 reps, which were in my threshold, but felt tight).

    Today will be an easy day. Maybe just 1000 warm-up, practice starts, and 600 cool-down.
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  20. Fatigue... question on IM turns.

    by , January 4th, 2013 at 06:49 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today, I was pretty tired and for the second day in a row had to settle for a late-afternoon swim (yesterday's was an evening swim), which are usually not as productive for me. I did 3000 SCY in just under 63 minutes:

    Warm-up:
    400 fr (in about 6:40)
    4 x 100 on 1:45
    4 x 50 kick w/ board, IM order; no fins*

    Main Sets:
    10 x 100 on 1:45 (alt. pull w/ buoy and fr--no paddles today; these were averaging mid 1:30s, my threshold pace)
    8 x 100 on 2:30**

    Cool-down:
    200 fr, EZ (sub 3:20)

    Notes:
    *My kick w/o fins (zoomers usually) is TERRIBLE! It just didn't feel propulsive at all, or minimally propulsive on back and breast... on fr and fly it just felt like I wasn't generating any momentum (the board might have had something to do with that--io non so!).
    **These 100s were meant to work on the IM strokes in the IM order: 100 fly, 100 fly/bk (50 each), 100 bk, 100 bk/br, 100 br, 100 br/fr, 100 fr, 100 IM. I actually had to pause after 50 fly and go on 1:00 for the last half of the fly 100; I figured out that I needed to glide more before beginning my pull--this helped me get into a better body position for the pull and recovery... I wasn't dying at the end of 50 fly like I was even last night. The back and breast 100s were all in my seed-time ranges, the 100 fr was in 1:24, and the 100 IM, very tired but fairly relaxed, was at 1:40.

    Anybody have any tips for the butterfly to back turn in IM? Or maybe you know a forum thread where this is discussed... I'm having trouble re-entering after hitting the wall with both hands... do you have to re-enter on your back or can you do the turn just like fly, breast turns (i.e. on the side) as long as your first stroke of the pull out is on the back? I'd like not to DQ in my first meet IM next week.
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