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Alex's swim journal

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

  1. Sprint ladder

    by , March 10th, 2013 at 12:16 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    So, as I feared... a sprint ladder; lots of rest, no excuse to not push hard on every rep. At the end of the workout Scotty added the 25s off the block in IM order. I was already sore before I left the pool... but at least the soreness was symmetrical (i.e., both shoulders and lats on both sides).

    Here's how it went down:

    450 warm-up
    400 fly (25-50-75-100-75-50-25)*
    400 back (25-50-75-100-75-50-25)*
    400 breast (25-50-75-100-75-50-25)*
    400 free (25-50-75-100-75-50-25)*
    4 x 50 off the blocks (25 AFAP followed by 25 EZ recovery; IMO)
    Cool-Down:
    4 x 25 underwater
    150 EZ

    *We did these ladders on :45 interval per 25 yards (so we went on 1:30 after the 50; 2:15 after the 75, etc.). And took about 3:00 rest between strokes. We kept them pretty fast... my first 25 fly was in :18 and I was at :48 at the 50-yard mark of my 75, for example... this is about meet speed for me. Also, I was happy on the back to see that i hadn't lost any speed, despite not doing any hard backstroke in a week... if anything I was fast with the fresher muscles; my first 25 was in 17-18, even as I slowed down to cruise into the wall and check the clock.

    Scotty was about a body-length in front of me on the fly and back on these; I was about half to a body-length in front of him on back; we were neck and neck on the free. Tough, but a fun workout. 2800 SCY/85 minutes.
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  2. EZ day...

    by , March 8th, 2013 at 11:11 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I took it easy, though I wasn't as sore as I thought I would be after yesterday's workout. That's a good thing. The left shoulder really takes a long time to warm up though and I can feel that uncomfortable tug across the deltoid when I'm trying to stretch out my stroke. I started paying attention to my hip rotation a little more (get the stretch/stroke length from the hip rotation, rather than over-reaching with the hand entry) and that seemed to help. Also I noticed that when I was doing my faster swimming it appeared not to be as much of an issue... again, it could be b/c it warmed up, it could be b/c when I swim more slowly the shoulder is in catch too long. I seem to have much better luck when I increase the stroke rate a little and aim for hand entry closer to the ear or forehead.

    Here's what I did:

    200 EZ swim
    200 pull
    200 fr moderate pace
    200 back
    200 breast kick w/ board
    10 x 100 fr on 1:45 (1:30-1:36)
    200 breast kick w/ board
    200 back
    200 EZ free

    2600/55 minutes

    That set of 100s on 1:45 felt like the most comfortable thing; short rest but manageable pace w/o falling into a slow slog... since I was only doing 100 at a time I really focused on technique the whole time, trying to smooth things out.

    Scotty is in charge of our workout tomorrow... usually I do a distance day on Saturday, but I need a basic speed workout and I need to get some fly work in, so he said he'd come up with something a la his old high school workouts for sprint. He said "don't expect a lot of yardage, but you won't want it"; he hinted at a fly ladder (25, 50, 75, 100, 75, 50, 25) and some other things. Glad I had a more comfortable day today!
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  3. VO2max workout

    by , March 7th, 2013 at 11:46 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    So, yesterday I did an LT workout and felt pretty comfortable. Today, I didn't have any residual soreness and the tender left shoulder was even feeling better than yesterday. I'm off Advil, but still icing a couple of times at night and once in the morning if I have time. So, if my old 1500 pace is now my LT pace, then what would my VO2max pace be? I figured that would be my new 1500 pace, maybe not as fast as my 500 pace, but approaching it.

    I'm guessing all of this based on pace and distance conversions from running. If a 15K to 1/2 marathon pace is the threshold in running, then that corresponds to about the 5K pace (about 1:43/100y last summer, but I'm guessing closer to 1:40 now... my "old" 1500 pace). If the VO2max pace is what you can sustain in a 3-5K run, then that would be more or less the 1000-1500 pace in the water. So, if the technique holds together in the water (and that's a HUGE IF), then the other distance, pace, and rest times from my running workouts should be adaptable. The goal in an LT workout is to be at the threshold pace for 30-40 minutes (long intervals and short rests), while the goal of the VO2max workout is to maintain the faster pace for a shorter time (2-6 mins per rep) with longer rests... active rests in running, so I would try this in swimming too.

    The workout I chose for VO2max was a set of 150s at my 500 pace, which should mean about 2:15-2:20 of hard swimming, followed by an EZ 50 and about :10 rest on the wall before the next repeat. I don't think this rest was long enough, so some of my repeats came in over 2:20 and it felt more difficult, less comfortable than I would have liked... I was getting about 65-70 seconds of active recovery/rest between 150s and the minimum should have been 70. Maybe I should have had an EZ day after the LT workout? The LT workout felt EZ though. Anyway, here's what I did:

    WARM-UP:
    400 EZ on 8:30 (7:00)
    4 x 100 on 2:00 (1-3 fr in 1:28; 4, was IM in 1:40)
    4 x 50 kick in 200 IM order (w/fins)

    MAIN SET:
    12 x 200 on 3:30*

    COOL-DOWN:
    6 x 50 kick w/fins (fly, bk, br; 400 IM order)
    200 EZ free
    100 IM EZ

    4000 SCY/80 mins

    *I wrote the workout this way, though what I actually did was 150 hard/50 recovery which brought me in consistently at 3:20, so I could easily leave for the next rep every 3:30... but, again, I don't think this was enough of a rest for a VO2max workout... It was uncomfortable, especially toward the end... fatigue and tightness were really setting in around the 6th rep. The other thing frustrating about this workout was that the pacing felt uneven... to the extent that I got a chance to peek at the clock at all it seemed like my 100s were coming in around 1:30-:32 (:45-:46 per 50 pace), which means my last 50s were coming in mostly in :49... that's too big a drop-off.

    So, to sum up, I did a total of 1800 at VO2max pace (or pushing the limits of that pace)... about 27-28 minutes total at VO2max, which is kind of like swimming a really hard mile for me. So, I guess it's OK. Maybe VO2max workouts are not supposed to be terribly comfortable anyway. I'm hoping this helps increase the oxygen uptake.
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  4. Reverse taper, Wisconsin-style: pain and snow-blowing

    by , March 6th, 2013 at 11:12 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After tenderizing myself in the lactic acid marinade on Sunday I woke up with a lot of soreness behind my left shoulder and in my lats on that side... I was guessing DOMS b/c I hadn't felt that much soreness on Sunday night, but then again I really only had the pain there on my left side. Why wouldn't I be sore on the other side? Maybe this is a little tendinitis from all the backstroke flaring up after the 200 Back and IM PRs.

    I'm thinking this might also be some strength imbalances that are working themselves out. Anyway, Monday I got in despite feeling very tight, even uncomfortable, on the left side. I thought a little EZ swimming might help loosen things up. Thinking I might do 1500-2000, I only did 1100. I only did 50 back and it hurt. Continue Advil, Ice and compression routine.

    Yesterday we had another snow day. Winter storm Saturn. Saturn: the Roman version of the Greek god Kronos, who according to Hesiod--our earliest source, c. 700 BC--was born of Sky and Earth (Ouranos and Gaia). Kronos is perhaps an allegory for the passage of time (we take the English words chronicle, chronology, etc. from the Greek Kronos). He eventually supplants his father (chopping off his manly member with a jagged, flint sickle... where's the smilie for that?), as every son becomes a father and then a grandfather, obeying the inexorable march of generations.

    Time. Turns out that's probably what I needed anyway for the shoulder. Bring on the snow, Saturn/Kronos, I'm cranking' up the snowblower and will let Mother Nature take care of the rest. I cleared about 5" off the driveway last night with the blower (nursing the shoulder like a baby the whole time), warmer temps and a little rain should take care of the rest of it later this week. And I skipped my swim yesterday, hanging out with my wife and kids at the house. More ice, more compression, more Advil.

    Today, I did 3000 SCY/55 minutes; all freestyle. Felt a lot better, almost normal... tomorrow I'll re-introduce the strokes with kick sets, maybe some full-stroke breast and fly on Friday and then bring back the backstroke EZ this weekend. Today the focus was on threshold, since my focus for state meet is going to be 1650 (maybe the 400 IM... since that is still long enough to be primarily aerobic for me!). Here's what I did:

    Warm-Up:
    400 EZ on 7:30 (6:50)
    4 x 100 free on 1:50 (1:26-1:27)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (:40-:42)

    Main set:
    3 x thru
    500 at LT pace (1:35-1:39/100)*
    100 (these were 1:55 recovery swims after ea 500)

    Cool-down:
    200 EZ free

    *These 500s were 8:04, 8:03, 8:13 and felt pretty good, comfortable. I hope this means that my LT pace is actually getting faster, we'll see how I feel tomorrow. I'm switching over to active recovery too, which I like better... I like to keep it moving. I figure this will help with a long continuous swim like the 1650 and with OW, which I have to start thinking about now. So if my LT pace is still 1:35-1:40/100 then I spent a little more than 24 minutes at that pace today. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. Sometime next week I probably need to do a test set to figure it out, but my SCM 1500 time from three months ago converts to about a 1:38/100 pace. I feel like I'm in a lot better shape than that now thanks to all the anaerobic work and cross-training with the other strokes. I might try a VO2max workout tomorrow with 1:30/100 as my VO2max pace (a 1:31/100 brings me in for a 25-minute 1650; that would be a substantial improvement, but I don't feel like it's out of reach).
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  5. Milestone, Meet results, new PRs

    by , March 3rd, 2013 at 04:25 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Passed that 100-mile mark for the year with my meet warm-up today. Shoulder felt good after the icing yesterday and with slight adjustments on the backstroke breakout. Got my counts down for back and got used to the new ceiling. My SDKs really helped out a lot today (on both fly and back) and it feels like they're getting stronger. Did a couple of starts at the end of the warm-up period and felt good about that too. So, then it was bring it on... pain-fest 2013! Here were my results with (seed times in parenthesis):

    400 IM (7:00)--7:04 [1st in age group; 3rd overall]
    200 Back (3:30)--3:16, PR by :06! [1st in age]
    200 Free (2:50)--2:45 [1st in age]
    200 IM (3:20)--3:13, PR, :02 faster than my fastest practice time [1st in age]
    200 Breast (3:40)--3:37, close to PR, but DQ'd

    I was pretty tired by the time I got to that 200 breast, my pull-outs were too shallow and my left foot was breaking the surface on the first full stroke after walls at 75, 100, 125, etc. so the referee called me on a scissor kick. Scotty got video of it... the kick is uneven, with the left leg wanting to whip around faster than the right, but still a lot better now than I was on my 50 breast at the last meet. I'll need to slow it down in my kick drills to even it out. I actually wasn't too disappointed with this DQ, it's something I've been working on and which is getting better... I joked about using this event as my cool-down, but my time was still 6-8 seconds faster than anything I've been able to manage in practice on 200 breast lately.

    400 IM: I missed a PR by a good :05 on this, but I had told myself going in that I just wanted to swim hard but relaxed, good form and finish legal. The 200 Back was the one I knew I might have a good shot at swimming a decent PR in if I didn't overdo it on the 400 IM... even with this relaxed attitude, though, I was nervous as heck about doing my first 400 IM in a meet setting (I was thinking "just get through the 100 fly, just get through the 100 fly"); So, apparently I'm the only one in my age group doing these middle-distance events at this point in the season, so a legal finish in all 5 events would automatically mean "blue ribbon"! Darn, I should have paid more attention to the kick on that 200 breast, it would have been a clean sweep! How often does a slow guy like me get to show off a bunch of "first places"? Oh, and bonus, there were only three people swimming the 400 IM--third place overall?! Yes, feel my bronze glow. I was surprised, usually there are at least 4 or 5 swimmers in that event.

    I was very pleased with both my 200 back and my 200 IM... slowly those are creeping into the low 3:00-range, and I would love to get them under 3:00 as I continue to learn the ends and outs of these strokes and work on building speed and endurance in each. Half-way through my 200 free, third middle distance event in about 20 minutes, I was thinking "I'm retiring after this meet... I never have to swim in a meet again"; then I found some hidden reserve in the last 25-50 yards and came close to my practice PR of 2:44. Go figure. Nice rest before the 200 IM, probably 20-30 minutes.

    Facilities at Whitefish Bay HS were very nice. Even though I had lane 1 in my heat of the 200 back, for example, there was a nice warm-up area off to my left, so, no lane had the "wall" to deal with. The blocks were beautiful; the bleachers, spacious; showers, nice. And the meet was very well run. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
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  6. 99.99 miles...

    by , March 2nd, 2013 at 08:09 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I got in to loosen up after taking yesterday completely off. Did 1500, included some starts... now I feel rested and ready to go for tomorrow's serious pain-a-thon.

    I ended February (swam 27 of the 28 days) with over 40 miles and had 99.13 for the year as of today. So I was surprised to see GTD tell me I was just soooo close to breaking the 100 with today's 1500; close, but no cigar. 99.99! Unbelievable... all I have to do is fall in the pool for my warm-up tomorrow and I'll be at 100 miles for the year. Or... I could be dramatic and save the 100-mile mark for the start of my 400 IM... off the blocks, cold... what a warm-up that would be!

    Not going to do that.

    Well, I'm icing the left shoulder and hitting the Advil pretty hard the last couple of days. I've found the source of the soreness in my technique too (well, that is the technique in the pool when I'm not aggravating it with snow-shoveling and other shoulder-killers). It doesn't hurt during any of my normal stroke phases, but if my streamline is not tight enough coming out of the flip turn I've found it aggravates that shoulder more than any other area... AND, probably more importantly given how much backstroke I've been doing lately, it hurts the most when I'm going from streamline back dolphins into my first full stroke cycle on that breakout. I always pull first with my right arm, but because my left arm is still in streamline I've gotten into the habit of starting the pull with my left arm before my body has rotated fully to the left... just enough torque at the wrong angle... this doesn't happen on a normal stroke where the rotation starts occurring before before the left pinky is even in.

    Anyway, I think that's where the soreness is coming from principally, so I'll have to be super conscious of that and remember either to pull with the left first on the breakout or roll to the left before bringing the left hand out of streamline.

    Event order tomorrow (for me): 4IM, 2BK, 2FR, 2IM, 2BR. Take that, EKW, I'll finish my check-off before you! Oh wait, there's that 200 fly still... curse you, fly!
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  7. 1500... trying to get psyched

    by , February 28th, 2013 at 10:52 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I didn't feel like doing much today; I feel like the last couple of months of really hard work is starting to take its toll as February closes (I'm at 99 miles of swimming as of end of workout today). I decided to try and trust my training to date, instead of trying to swim another hard workout, making me even more tired going into the weekend. Only 1500 SCY:

    25 EZ
    400 IM off the blocks, but relaxed (7:21)
    25 recovery
    575 EZ freestyle
    200 IM of the blocks; fast--3:15 (a PR, but felt good, not "too" hard)
    50 Back (w/ back start): < :45 (felt good about both start and turn on this one)
    50 recovery
    50 Fly off the blocks (:48)
    25 EZ
    100 fr cool-down

    Felt good about swimming fast and not swimming a ton of yards, or swimming to exhaustion. I'm hoping a few easy days will help me get that mojo back. I'm trying to think of Sunday's meet as a great opportunity to time-trial myself in the middle-d events I've signed up for. I'm not that competitive (except with myself), but I want to leave it all in the pool.
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  8. Snow shoveling and EZ day in pool...

    by , February 27th, 2013 at 06:33 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    The wet, slushy stuff! Not fun to shovel, so I broke down and cranked up the snowblower to get through this storm. The shoulder is still a bit more tender than I want it to feel (shoveling does not help), so I gave myself an EZ day. 2000 in about 45 minutes:

    1000 EZ free warm-up (I was very stiff)
    Masters minute(s)
    500 Back on 10:00 (9:10; endurance on bk getting much better)
    10 x 50 free on 1:00 (mostly :39-:40s; slowed down in the last couple to cool-down)

    No short axis stuff today. I want to see how I swim 100-yard segments of my up-coming events tomorrow in all the strokes, but I felt like I needed a break from fly and breast to come back a little stronger. If all goes well tomorrow will be a fast day, but not necessarily that hard. Am considering even resting completely on Friday and then getting in to loosen up, practice starts again on Saturday. Meet is Sunday. Any suggestions on this schedule for the last few of days before the meet?
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  9. 50s day; fly still drains me...

    by , February 26th, 2013 at 05:05 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Managed to squeak into the YMCA before winter storm "R" hit (what is it? Ronaldo? Rahab? Rhubarb?)... The last I saw it was supposed to roll in around 3PM, but came in at 1PM instead, dumping snow and blowing hard during my lunchtime swim. Everything is shutting down now; campus events cancelled for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We were supposed to get only 6 inches, but with lake effect snow here on the WI-IL border we might see more and the wind is blowing it so that visibility is terrible. I think I heard Wichita, KS was expecting 6-8" and ended up with 17". My kids would love the snow day, but I'm really hoping I don't have to clear off a foot and a half from the driveway.

    My swim was 3000 SCY/65 minutes. Swum thusly:

    1000 swim in 1:40/100 pace (alt. free and pull by 200)
    2:30 rest
    5 x 50 fly on 1:10 (:48-:52; last one in :56)
    1:20 rest
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:35)
    5 x 50 Back on 1:10 (:48-:50)
    1:20 rest
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:30)
    5 x 50 Breast on 1:10 (:52-:53)
    1:20 rest
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:29)
    5 x 50 free on 1:00 (1st one in :40; the rest :37-:39)
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:22)
    200 recovery swim (100 pull/100 free)

    My endurance on fly is just not there yet... not sure what I can do about it since my normal way of building up endurance is just to do the thing for ever increasing amounts of time and distance. It's frustrating being able to swim 10K freestyle and not being able to do a set of 5 x 50 fly, followed by a 200 IM, without falling apart. Tons better than I was a month and a half ago, but it's coming so slowly!
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  10. Dress rehearsal...

    by , February 25th, 2013 at 11:59 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I'm still pretty tired even though yesterday's swim was EZ; though all the kick work was pretty tiring after a hard week on the legs... and I could have not done the 50 sprint at the end. Saturday afternoon's 6000-yard workout seems like ages ago, but it was only 48 hours... I was struggling with what to do today. I didn't want to take it too EZ, because I'm going to taper at the end of the week, but don't want to overdo it and not be able to get in any decent workouts at all this week. I decided after my 1000 warm-up just to do all of my events for this coming weekend... somewhat relaxed, but hard time trials off the blocks (that sounds oxymoronic, I know... I guess it's more accurate to say I was pushing, but holding back enough to feel well in control the whole time). Knowing that the rests between some of the events were not going to be very long at all, I didn't rest too long today: 1:30-3:00 between "events." We'll call this practice "meet" the "meat" of my workout.

    This was also a good chance for me to practice going off the blocks, something I never do except the day before a meet. I had very clean entries today, no goggle problems,etc. I'm feeling better about the block starts now because I don't have to think/worry about it so much... just get up there and do it (wish I could say the same about my fly after 50-75 yards!).

    WARM-UP:
    400 swim on 7:30 (6:50)
    4 x 100 on 1:50 (1:30-1:32)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (:39-:41)

    MEAT:
    25 EZ
    400 IM off the blocks... 7:05
    25 EZ recovery
    2:00 rest
    200 Back in 3:27
    25 EZ recovery
    1:30 rest
    200 Free off the blocks (relaxed; 2:53)
    2:30 rest
    200 IM off the blocks (3:24?)
    1:30 rest
    200 Breast off the blocks (3:42-3:44)
    25 recovery swim

    COOL-DOWN:
    700 yards EZ free

    3000 yards/70 minutes

    Notes: Swam all events in meet order for this coming Sunday. Basically I did my whole meet in under 30 minutes; and I think the lack of recovery on the last three events really started to take its toll on the times... even though I was really just shooting for 85-95% effort (the 200 free was way too EZ an effort, I should have been panting a lot harder after that!). A good dress rehearsal for the meet coming up on Sunday, well, minus the swim cap and meet-day jammers... I was within 3-5 secs of all my seed times (3 under for 2BK, 5 over for 4IM), but I've got a better idea about where I can push myself and in which events.

    And, honestly, I never felt "fresh" today... just tired and tight even toward the end of my warm-up. It could be that I needed more recovery after Saturday, or it could be that I didn't get to the Y until almost 8P today, and was already too tired from the day. Don't know. Scotty and I are meeting for 25s tomorrow... see if a little sprint work will get me firing on all cylinders again before Wednesday's hard day; the last really hard one before the real thing this weekend.
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  11. 200 Back PR

    by , February 24th, 2013 at 06:14 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Forgot to mention in yesterday's blog entry, which I scribbled off pretty quickly to head out with the family for a couple of hours of errands and eating (I pigged out pretty good after the 6000-yard workout!), that among the other things I accomplished yesterday I swam a PR in the 200 back: 3:23-3:24. My previous best in practice was 3:29, and the seed time I put down for the next meet is 3:30. I've never done the 200 Back in a meet, so I'm anxious to see how that comes out... now that I'm focusing on the other strokes a little more this year, I'm besting my PRs in practice pretty regularly, so they are sometimes outpacing the seed times I have to send in a week and a half in advance. The biggest worry for me is the fact that the 200 back comes only two events after the 400 IM. My PR in 400 IM is 6:59, set a few weeks ago and I haven't tried swimming an "all-out" 4IM in a while... that's one of those events I feel like I'm "just barely surviving" anyway... swimming "all out" just means I push hard in the final 100 free, while most of the time in practice that 100 free ends up being like a recovery swim; but as my strokes get a little better I'd like to see the times come down.

    Here are my events and seed times for Whitefish Bay Masters meet next Sunday:
    400 IM--7:00
    200 Back--3:30
    200 Free--2:50
    200 IM--3:20
    200 Breast--3:40

    I feel pretty confident about these seed times, I've already mentioned where I am in 200 back and 400 IM in practice; the 200 free is overly conservative--I've hit low 2:40s at the end of a set of 200s recently and my 200 split in my 500 meet swim was 2:53--but I'm going to "relax" on this swim, since it is only two events after the 200 back, and I still want to have something for the 200 IM. 3:21 seems to be my default time for a hard 200 IM in a normal practice and I hit 3:21 the first time I did 200 IM in a meet two weeks ago (even as disastrous as that swim was: banging walls, mis-timed turns, bouncing off the bottom, etc.), so I fell pretty confident about the possibility of PB-ing that and breaking into the mid- to upper-3:10s if everything goes smoothly. I swam one of my reps yesterday within 3-4 secs (3:43-3:44) of my 200 breast seed time (3:40). That is not a focus event for me--it will be the final event of the meet for me and I'm going to be fairly relaxed about it--but going off the blocks and hopefully having some other folks around me with similar seed times should push me to 3:40 in that. In any event, after next weekend I'll have some good baseline data to work from when submitting seed times for these events in future meets.

    Today I did a really quick 2050-yard workout; mostly either relaxed swimming, drill, or kick (legs loosening up, but still pretty spent from last week's work)... an EZ day on the shoulders. That left shoulder was a little stiff going in but loosened up nicely and felt great at the end of the workout, even after a 50 sprint off the blocks.

    200 free EZ
    200 pull
    100 in fr kick drills
    200 pull
    200 free
    100 dolphins front and back
    200 breast kick w/ board
    50 back kick
    200 breast kick w/ boards
    50 streamline 3-2-1 breast kick
    100 back dolphins
    4 x 100 alt. free and pull
    masters minute
    50 fast free off the blocks: 31-32 secs (w/in 1 sec of my PR)

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  12. 6000 yards...

    by , February 23rd, 2013 at 05:57 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    My legs were still pretty wasted today from yesterday's kick sets, especially the breast, and the shoulder was still stiff, though the ibuprofen I took about an hour before I began finally started to kick in toward the end of the first set. Nevertheless, I thought it would be wise to drop the last set... don't want to push it over the limit and not be able to make the meet... this workout was already coming at the end of a pretty tough couple of weeks. Here's what I ended up doing:

    Warm-up:
    6 x 200 alt free/pull, only enough rest to grab the buoy or put it back on the deck

    Main Sets:
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:30s?... this did not feel comfy)
    12 x 100 on 2:15ish (3 x thru 400 IM order... this sucked, I was way too tired to do fly and breast!)
    200 IM on 4:00 (mid 3:30s)
    6 x 200 alt. free and back on 4:00 (frees 2:52-2:59, bk 3:23-3:30)
    Masters minute
    200 IM on 4:00 (mid 3:30s)
    6 x 200 alt breast and free on 4:00 (breast in 3:44-3:55; frees 3:05-3:15)
    Masters minute
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:40ish)

    Cool-down:
    8 x 50 alt free and pull on 1:00

    6000 SCY/2 hrs, 15 mins
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  13. 3000 more...

    by , February 22nd, 2013 at 10:13 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Not such a great day today; my muscles were still torched from yesterday's IM ladder and conditioning session in the weight room. My left shoulder especially is a bit tender, always the same spot (where I suspect I had a sprain a couple of years ago in a pick-up B-ball game with my boys) and when the yardage cranks up--especially with strokes other than freestyle--I have to keep an eye on it. So much of today's yardage was in kick sets to give the shoulders a break:

    1200 swim (alt. free and pull by 200) in 20:15.
    3 x thru:
    -100 dolphins/fly kick w/ fins
    -100 back kick w/ fins
    -200 breast kick w/ board
    600 cool-down (200 ea: back, breast, free)

    I noticed in my cool-down that my lats and shoulders were pretty stiff, especially during backstroke... probably all the fly and back I did yesterday.

    Tomorrow is my hard, distance day... hoping that the "light" day with only 3000 today will mean I'm recovered enough to get through a special torment session I've planned for myself... 7000 not including cool-down: 5 sets of 6 x 200 or 12 x 100, each followed by a 200 IM. The sets of 100s will be 3 x thru the 400 IM order; the 200 sets will alternate free w/ either breast or back for the most part. We'll see how I feel...
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  14. 800 IM

    by , February 21st, 2013 at 08:58 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After a day with some relaxing distance swimming and without any short-axis strokes, I was refreshed and ready to go for my first 800 IM... Dreaming up the 2000-yard descending ladder 800, 600, 400, 200 all IM (did I dream that or was this some diabolical nightmare I could not escape? I began to question myself as I hit the wall and turned after 150 fly!)... as I was saying, dreaming up this purgatorial workout is one thing, but actually doing it? I had never done more than 500 IM, never done more than 125 fly at once, I was beginning to question whether 400 IM was such a good idea. Just sent in my registration for the Whitefish Bay meet in March: 4IM, 200 back, free, and breast, 2IM... a good workout to say the least. If I could do an 800 IM and follow it with 6-, 4-, and 2-IMs in the same workout... yes, then I would feel better about that slate of events I just signed myself up for!

    Here it is... IM mount purgatory (or perhaps IM abyss... Dante's Inferno is a series of ever more constricting concentric circles converging on the earth's physical and metaphysical core):

    1000 wm-up swim on 20:00--free/pull by 200 (build pace); finished in 16:07
    800 IM on 16:00 (14:5?)
    600 IM on 12:00 (11:09)
    400 IM on 8:00 (7:13)
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:35)
    6 x 50 pull/free cool-down

    Another 3300 SCY; in 65 minutes.

    Wow, 200 fly is painful! And 150 fly is painful! And, what was so hard about 100 fly? Yeah, it was painful too! At 75 I honestly didn't know if I would stop at the wall at 100; going for 150 seemed like a good idea and things were going fairly smoothly, I was finding something of a rhythm... at 125 I was beginning to doubt that decision. At 150 I willed myself to turn and start back down the lane... stretch, reach, push the sternum, lift the hips, kick... at 175 my lungs were gasping, my shoulders and lats burning, my abs felt like they'd just done 200 crunches, but I knew I was doing this... 200 fly! First 50 of the back portion of the IM was just recovery, like I was clearing acid out of my lats and catching my breath... I was able to build and increase pace on the last 150 Back. As I leaned back to touch the wall and transition over to the front for breast I saw 7:35... wow, I thought, I'm making good time and might have more than a minute to rest before that 16:00 came around. Then I promptly lost 4-5 seconds on my breast leg... this 200 was pretty sucky and it just went on and on and on...! Freestyle, finally, but I was too tired to push it hard... cruised to a 3:20-something 200 for that leg, maybe it was in the 3:10s (I honestly can't remember if I was in the 14:40s or 14:50s when I finished)... it didn't matter, I was done! My first 800 IM. And in a little more than a minute I would be turning around to do my first 600 IM... 150s seemed a little easier than 200-yard legs, but I was pretty gassed. The fly was steady, the back actually felt good after only about 25 yards, breast was miserable, but improving slightly... during my free leg I kept thinking how similar this feels to the last 150 of a 5k! Maybe that means I'm doing something right. 400 IM was a piece of cake by comparison... never had a "recovery" length and ended up finishing in 7:13 (the seed time I sent in for 400 IM is 7:00; my practice PR being 6:59). 200 IM was not as good (I almost took a backstroke flip turn at the 100 mark... it seemed so weird to have only 50 yards of back!), but I was tired...

    Saw Scotty on the way out and said he should give the workout a try; he shook his head, emphatically, as if trying to ward off some evil spirit. "You're NUTs!" he said.
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  15. 3K (3300 SCY)

    by , February 21st, 2013 at 12:45 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Blog Entry 200!

    Today I needed an easy day... I'm starting to feel the soreness and fatigue of the hard workouts I've been doing over the last couple of months. I'm such a slow-twitch freak, it's still taking me a while to get used to swimming FAST or HARD on a daily basis. Today, I wanted that feeling I used to love... just get in and keep moving, stay aerobic and feel the air in my lungs, the circulation in my veins, that nice warm yet relaxed feel at the end of an hour-long swim, mostly continuous. No long rests, no hard bursts, stay in control. Here's what I did:

    1000 EZ free 17:00 (build to moderate pace)
    1:00 break to switch lanes
    500 Back, steady pace (this took me about 10:10)
    1000 Free, moderate (16:30)
    500 Back, steady (right at 10:00)
    300 free cool-down

    The twist on this nearly continuous EZ swim for about an hour, was the fact that I still managed to work in some backstroke endurance stuff and, since my back has improved so dramatically in the last couple of months, I'm able to use that instead of doing an extra 1000 free.... which means for all intents and purposes it was an EZ day with close to the yardage I've been putting in on my harder days. Three or four months ago I never would have dreamed I could do 1000 in back at basically 1:00/50 pace for an EZ workout, my backstroke was so painfully slow for so long!

    I know, I know... the hard stuff I've been doing over the last couple of months has made those improvements possible, so I'll be back to that soon enough. But it was nice to be able to just relax and enjoy the swim for once. I'm thinking about trying a descending IM ladder for tomorrow while I'm still fresh after the warm-up: 800 IM, 600 IM, 400 IM, 200 IM. No fly or breast today, so I'm hoping a break from that will help me come back with better energy tomorrow. Being a distance guy, I never feel that good about racing a distance that I can't double in practice, so doing even a slow 800 IM and 600 IM will make me feel a lot more confident about being able to swim a hard 400 IM at Whitefish Bay in a week and a half. Those 200s are looming as well... it's gonna be a lactic acid burn fest!
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  16. Infernal torments... or, evilstroke is the devil in my IM

    by , February 19th, 2013 at 07:34 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    This was supposed to be something of an EZ day... not!

    400 EZ swim
    4 x 100 on 2:00 (alt. free and pull; 1:29-1:30)
    100 EZ pull
    100 free w/ fins
    400 dolphins w/ fins (alt. front and back by 50s)
    300 in breast kick work (board, streamline, full stroke by 50s)
    300 dolphins w/ fins (alt. fr/bk by 50s)
    4 x 50 fly (:48-:52)
    4 x 50 back (:44-:46)
    4 x 50 breast (:55-:58)
    4 x 50 free (:36-:39)
    200 IM (3:21; :50, 1:40, 2:39...)
    100 EZ free, cool-down

    3100 SCY

    I was leaving as Scotty was finishing his warm-up and he hadn't really thought about what he wanted to do, so I suggested the 50s followed by 200 IM, since he wants to do 50s at the next meet. He told me later he was hating me for this!

    My Breaststroke is just absolutely the worst... I don't even know where to begin. I did less kick work on that than I did on the dolphins today because I almost pulled my groin at one point... right-side very tender. If my fly can come in at :50, my back at :50, and my free at around :40 in the 200 IM at the end of a 3000-yard workout, then I should be poised to make a run at that 3:00 mark for the 200 IM at some point toward the end of this season... but the breast is really holding me back: a :59 breast leg! Ugh.

    Got back into the gym for some strength and conditioning work for about 30 minutes... really don't like that either; I just want to get in the water and swim, non-stop, for about 4000 yards. Maybe I'll give myself a break and do that tomorrow, recharge the batteries.
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  17. Encouraging day after break

    by , February 18th, 2013 at 08:48 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After taking my first day completely out of the water since January 25, and only my third day without swimming all year, I was hoping I would feel a little faster and more rested. I was fighting off a cold yesterday, so I knew I couldn't get my hopes up too much... and I'm beginning to doubt the efficacy of my "swim to the breaking point, swim some more, and THEN take a day off" program. Whatever, you really can't tell if it's a limit if you don't try to push past it now and again.

    Today I did 3600 SCY and took a really long time to do so, but swam faster in the process--so longer rests, harder swims was the theme:

    WARM-UP (19 minutes):
    400 EZ swim on 7:30 (7:00)
    4 x 100 pull/free on 1:50 (1:33-1:35)
    4 x 50 free on 1:00 (:37-:39)

    MAIN SETS (60 minutes):
    5 x 100 IM on 3:00 (1:33-1:36)
    10 x 100 on 3:00 alt. Free/Breast (frees in 1:15-1:19; breast in 1:44-1:48)
    5 x 100 Back on 2:15 (1:39-1:48)

    COOL-DOWN:
    600 EZ swim, done as:
    -100 free EZ
    -100 pull
    -100 back pull
    -100 back
    -100 breast
    -100 free

    This is encouraging because of the fast times. Originally I'd planned to do a 100s day, something like I did last week (intervals at 1:45-2:15, depending on the stroke), but Scotty showed up about half way into my warm-up and said he was doing 100s too. After warm-up he suggested 5 x 100 IM, 5 x 100 breast, 5 x 100 free all on 3:00; he's focusing on the 50s and the 100 IM, 100 breast for the Whitefish Bay meet. I need to focus on the 200s and the 400IM, but I also need a speed day now and again, so this was good for me. I convinced him to alternate free and breast and that worked out really well for both of us. Scotty's not doing any backstroke (except in the IM) for the next meet, but that's going to be something of a focus for me (especially at the 100-200 distances) through the state meet, so I added on the last set of 100s back while he was doing his cool-down. We realized too late that I probably should have swum the backs when he was doing the breast (our times would have been much closer and we would have pushed each other pretty good). On the 100 free we were really close, I touched him out on the first rep and was close on the last one, but he was maybe half a body length ahead on the three in the middle. Still, I'm getting closer... He used to beat me in the free as badly as he beats me now in breast and fly!

    Tomorrow... thigh thrashing, core crunching conditioning and kick sets. I'm going to hit the dolphins pretty hard and do a lot of breast 50s, alternating board, streamline, and full stroke.

    Plans for the Whitefish Bay meet, for me, include:
    Event #2 = 400 IM
    Event #4 = 200 Back
    Event #6 = 200 Free
    Event #12 = 200 IM
    Event #15 = 200 Breast

    1200-yards of torture; looking for redemption on the 200 IM!
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  18. 7500 SCY... torture fest

    by , February 17th, 2013 at 01:42 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I am so incredibly tired from this workout that I almost couldn't blog. I texted this workout to Scotty a couple of days ago and he wrote back "You're nuts." Sounded great around Thursday; this morning as I was getting ready... well, not so much so. It's like seeing a mountain in the far distance and saying, "yeah, that would be cool to climb." The closer you get to it, the larger it looms before you. I decided just to focus on getting through the warm-up, then the first set, etc.

    Here's how it went:

    Warm-up:
    8 x 50 on 1:00

    Main sets:
    5 x 200 free on 3:30 (3:05-3:08)
    400 IM on 8:00 (7:24)
    5 x 200 on 4:00/3:30*
    400 IM on 8:00 (7:40?)
    5 x 200 on 4:30/3:30**
    400 IM on 8:00 (7:30)
    5 x 200 on 3:30/4:00***
    400 IM on 8:00 (7:4?)
    5 x 200 free on 3:30 (3:18-3:24)
    2 x 50 fly on :10 rest
    2 x 50 back on :10 rest
    2 x 50 breast on 1:05
    2 x 50 free on :05 rest

    Cool-down:
    2 x 50 free EZ

    *Swam back, free, back, free, back--backs in 3:45-3:48; frees, 3:10s
    **Swam breast, free, breast, free, breast--breast in the 3:50-4:00 range; frees in 3:17
    ***Swam free, back, free, back, free--backs were around 3:50, the frees at 3:17-3:21

    I knew I wasn't going to make it through the last 400 IM, so I swam it as a broken 400 IM, or 8 x 50 in 400 IM order, however you want to look at it.

    What can I say? It was slow, but I was happy just to have survived it... the goal of the day was to build endurance in all strokes. I did 4 and 1/4 miles; 500 yards of fly, 1100 yards of breast, 1500 yards of back, 4400 free.
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  19. Recovery days? We'll see...

    by , February 15th, 2013 at 06:36 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After pushing pretty hard Monday through Wednesday, I've taken it down a notch the last couple of days (4950 SCY/130 minutes over two days). Lots of kick work, just a little bit of sprint. Yesterday was basically a warm-up followed by a long breaststroke set:

    400 EZ free on 7:30
    4 x 100 free on 1:50 (1:29-1:31)
    4 x 50 free on 1:00 (:39-:42)
    2 x 100 back on 2:30 (1:48, 1:54)
    700 in breast work (alt. 50 breast kick w/ board and 50 breast)
    100 back
    200 breast (around 3:50)
    200 EZ free
    25 swim
    25 off the blocks,forward start

    Today, I met Scotty for the 25s... I always swim these faster with him in the lane next to me. He killed me on fly and breast, I owned him in back, and we dueled the heck out of the frees (tying almost every one). Here's what the day looked like:

    400 EZ warm-up 7:00
    50 free, crisp (:42)
    2:00 rest
    8 x 25 fly on :45 (:22-:26)
    1:00 rest
    200 fly/back (first two legs of 400 IM; 3:42)
    8 x 25 back on :45 (:19-:24; mostly :19-:21)
    200 back/breast (2nd two legs of 400 IM; 3:50*)
    8 x 25 breast on :45 (:24-:27)
    200 breast (3:55)
    8 x 25 free on :45 (:15-:17)
    break--master's "minute"
    2 x 50 fly
    5 x 50 dolphins hard underwater; free cruise after surface
    2 x 50 back, dolphins hard, cruise after surface
    200 EZ free

    *100 back on this 200 was about 1:42; so the breast was 2:08--yuck!

    My breast and fly appear to be getting slower rather than faster, WT#? Focusing so much on kick, maybe the front end is falling apart. Don't know, but I'm frustrated. I'm just going to try to relax, not think too much and swim hard tomorrow when I do my 400 IMs... see if I'm not making some kind of progress. Less than half of my yardage was freestyle Thurs-Fri, which means my freestyle should be pretty fresh tomorrow. But who knows anymore?

    On another note... Backstroke is getting better quickly. I noticed in my meet results from last weekend that my 50 split for the 100 Back was faster than my 50 back in the January meet. Faster only by a few tenths of a second, but given the pathetic flop of my start (see my entry on 2/10) I'm pretty happy with this result! My 50 Back time has taken a real turn for the better in the last month... hoping my 200 back will do the same for the next meet!
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  20. 200 back

    by , February 14th, 2013 at 02:31 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I had to break up my workout again. I had enough time to get a little more in in the morning, but without much of a warm-up or cool-down, which I think I'm going to pay for somehow. And again, I did 30 minutes of conditioning in the evening before the swim. My legs were totally thrashed from the extra backstroke work in the morning, plus lunges and squats... so the kick sets didn't feel good and I don't think my technique was holding together all that well. Here's what I did:

    AM:
    5 x 200 free on 3:30 (3:11, 3:08, 3:09, 3:09, 3:10)
    :30 rest
    5 x 200 back on 4:00 (3:44-3:47)
    1:00 rest
    400 IM in 7:55

    PM:
    200 EZ free
    300 dolphins/fly w/ fins
    2 x 50 fly
    300 breast kick
    2 x 50 breast
    200 EZ free


    I was pretty happy with the 200 Back set on 4:00, a very aggressive interval for me on 200 back. That was a real workout. I'm hoping those times come down over the next couple of weeks, because I'd like to do the 200 back at the next meet (on 3/3/2013) along with the 400 IM (first) and the 1650. There is a lot of time between the the 200 back and the 1650, but the 200 back (event #4) is pretty close to the 400 IM (event #2)... there will probably only be one or two heats of each. Between them is the 50 free, which I won't do, but those heats will go by pretty quickly, so my endurance on back has to be really good... got to be able to swim it faster even when tired. I can do a couple of other events that day too and I'm thinking about maybe 200 free and 200 breast; swimming the free hard and just going for smooth on the breast (no DQ). But to be able to do a schedule like that I need to shift my focus to 200 work and 400 IM for the next few weeks and really build that endurance. I'm just going to keep adding reps on the 200 back and free, keep working technique for the fly and breast... and try to do a 400 IM, even if it's just an EZ cool-down, everyday. I'm already half way through the check-off challenge (a little bit less if I don't count my two DQs at the last meet, but maybe 3/4s of the way there if I want to count practices).
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