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  1. Toys galore

    This morning I swam the early AGUA workout. August is such a nice peaceful month in the city—the pool felt very spacious this morning, with just 4-5 swimmers per lc lane. We had a treat this morning—Coach Frank from Curl-Burke guest coached (our regular coach, Craig, is away with our “national team” in Puerto Rico). Frank was super nice and full of energy, at 5:30 in the morning no less. I adapted the workout as necessary for my taper. Here’s what we did:

    500 lcm warmup

    5 x 100 (50 K / 50 easy swim) @ :20 rest

    4 x 200 wrap-around, skip-stroke IMs @ 4:00: 1st 200 = FL/BK/BR/FL, 2nd = BK/BR/FR/BK, 3rd = BR/FR/FL/BR, 4th = FR/FL/BK/FR

    4 x 300 w/ paddles:
    First we had a technique talk on correct paddle technique (keep elbows high and rotate, should feel it in the lats, not the shoulders)
    --On the first 300, we wore a paddle on our right hand only, and swam 100 right-arm only (50 w/ left arm at side, 50 w/ left arm in front), 100 left-arm only (50 w/ rt. arm at side, 50 w/ rt. arm in front), then 100 using both arms.
    --On the 2nd 300, we wore a paddle on our left hand only, and did the mirror-image of the above
    --On the 3rd 300, we wore paddles on both hands and otherwise did the same thing as on #1
    --The 4th 300 was paddles on both hands, 200 back build + 100 FR
    [Doing the one-arm drills with just one paddle on felt confusing, plus I was getting remarkably far behind my lanemates, so I got out mid-way through the 2nd 300 and watched how my teammates did these drills for a bit. Keeping the motion continuous and fluid seemed to be the key—I think I was stopping and starting too much with each single arm stroke. Then I noticed that two of our swimmers who were PR-bound today were doing some fast swims from a dive in another lane, so I went over there and practiced a few dives and got some good pointers. I hopped back into my lane near the end of the 3rd 300. On the 4th 300, I ditched the paddles and did 4 x 50 BK (25 sprint, 25 easy) + 100 FR easy

    4 x 200 w/ fins (150 kick + 50 swim choice)
    [I just did the first of these with fins, and really hammered the 50 swim (FR), which was majorly fun. I then warmed down finless for the last two.]

    Midway through my warmdown I was submerged under the water doing breaststroke on my back, and I happened to look backwards and saw one of my lanemates doing fly with fins swimming towards me. It looked really cool! After that, I tried lying on the pool bottom and watching several of my friends as they swam by. It’s a neat effect.

    ***********
    Over the weekend I watched U.S. nats on tv. Here’s some thoughts:

    --I wondered what Lochte could go for a 200 BR—that stroke looked great on both of his IMs.

    --My disapproval of earlier tech suits on purely aesthetic grounds still stands for the current generation. I don’t at all like seeing all 8 finalists wearing the same solid black suit. If Speedo can make sparkly emerald green sneakers for Lochte, can’t they custom-make some colorful graphic-y suits for their stars? (Or if not custom make—I think that might run afoul of FINA regs, alas—at least produce their suits in a variety of colors and patterns, a la their very successful Flipturns line?) For $375 you should get pretty suit, not just a fast one!
    On one night that swimming was not on Universal Sports, they carried a track meet from Stockholm at which Usain Bolt was wearing a cool custom designed singlet. It would be neat to see something similar done with our tech suits.

    --The thinner parts of the Speedo suit are very sheer, especially in the sunlight at outdoor meets. Some of the guys almost looked like they were wearing black nylon stockings over codpieces.

    --The Arena women’s suit (worn by Rebecca Soni) is very aggressively cut in on the sides. Arena racing suits were always cut like that in the 80s and 90s, but it’s interesting that they went back to that minimal-fabric back design once zippers were outlawed.

    --I want to try those starting blocks with the slanted bit in the back. Do any pools that host masters meets in the northeast have them?

    **********
    Yesterday I went over to my 220y track and did plyo. I had planned to plyo while on vacation in Lake Placid—I had even chosen the grassy infield of the Olympic speed-skating oval as my venue—but had to postpone it for a few days after stubbing my toe on a heavy wooden Adirondack chair. Nothing broken, but the toe swelled up under the nail and was painful for a few days. I was worried that I might lose the toenail, but now it seems fine, and I can once again wear running shoes without pain.

    Here’s what I did yesterday:

    Warmup

    4 x 40y sprint (85, 90, 95, 100%)

    5 x 40y skip:
    warmup skip
    skipping for height, both legs
    skipping for height, right leg
    skipping for height, left leg
    skipping for distance, both legs

    I left off the one-legged skips for distance, because my right knee was feeling a little wonky right at the place (MCL) where it was injured last summer. It feels ok today, though, so I’m glad of that. I’m still very nervous about injuring myself with the plyo, so am being pretty conservative about how much and how quickly I add stuff. I might get in one more plyo session before Zones, if my legs feel good this Wednesday or Thursday, or this might be the last one for a couple of weeks.
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  2. What gets me to the pool

    I just did a little swimming at my Y today— just my regular 1000 warmup—before going upstairs to stretch a bit. Sometimes I get in too much of a perfectionist mode, and get discouraged if I’m not able to go over to the fancy pool to do a team workout or if I don’t have time to get in long swim session, and I end up choosing not to swim at all. I try to remind myself that even getting in the water for a little bit is worthwhile—I always feel happy when I finish a swim in my Y’s ancient, narrow-laned pool, even if it’s just for 15 or 20 minutes, and even if the lane situation isn’t ideal for doing a real workout.

    I was thinking today that one thing I really appreciate about blogging and reading others’ blogs is that it helps me feel like part of a community of folks who swim even when things (health, pools, teams, weather, hours in a day) aren’t ideal, simply because swimming is part of who we are and what we do. So thanks to everyone out there who writes about how they persevere—I’m glad to have your examples to follow on those days when it seems hard to drag myself to the pool!

    Another motivation trick I’ve come up with lately is this: I took my nice shampoo and shower stuff over to my Y locker, and replaced it more ordinary products at home. So now if I want to use the fancy stuff, I have to go shower at the Y, and as long as I’m there I might as well get in a swim and/or a workout. So far this has been working pretty well!

    After a longish workday, at sunset I went down to the little Riverside Park track and plyoed. Here’s what I did:

    2 x 220-yard laps warmup—mix of jogging, skips, and striding out
    3 x 40-yard sprints—1 @ 80%, 1 @ 90%, 1 @ 100%
    1 x 40 skipping (warmup)
    2 x 40 skipping for height (1 right leg, 1 left leg)
    2 x 40 skipping for distance (1 right leg, 1 left leg)
    1 x 40 skipping for speed
    1 x 40 warmdown

    After each of my 40s I walk slowly around the rest of the track, so I have plenty of rest between efforts. It was a beautiful night, and I was really enjoying watching the sun set over the river while I was doing all this. On my 3rd sprint I got to outrun some bikes on the river path next to the track—it reminded me of those yahoos at the TdF who run along the road by the cyclists. I plan to stick to the sprinting and skipping variations for a few more weeks, then gradually add some jumping into mix.
  3. Mellow Friday morning workout

    I went to the morning AGUA lcm workout. It was not very crowded today—I started in a lane with 6, then switched to one with 4. Here’s what we did:

    800 lcm warmup

    3 x (3 x 50 DR + 100 build), odd rounds FR, evens ST

    150 easy / lane change

    4 x 100 kick (2 FR, 2 BR) @ 2:10-2:30 [this was actually a swim set involving build 75s + 25 easy that I adapted]

    2 x (3 x 150 @ 3:00 + 2 x 50 easy) [This was a free set, but I did IMs on the 150s the first time through and ST/FR/ST, IM order the 2nd time through.]

    50 fast backstroke

    250 warmdown

    At sunset last night I went down to the pretty little track in Riverside park and took some baby steps towards restarting a plyo routine. This cinder track is 220 yards around, with very sharp turns at the ends, and gets limited use. It’s ideal for doing short sprint pieces of about 40-50 yards or so. I ran a few laps to warmup, then 3 x 40 sprints (going 75, 85, and 90 percent of max speed), then 3 x 40 of unspecialized skipping. I haven’t done any plyo since spring of 2009, so I’m trying to be pretty cautious and patient as I build back up to doing some power leg work. It’s always tempting to do more, because skipping and sprinting feels so fun!

    Off to the gym now for weights. It’s amazing how deciding to swim shorter events at Zones has made me more excited about lifting and building strength and power!