Posts Tagged ‘first triathlon swimming tips’

My New Swim Suit

June 8, 2009

It’s terribly embarrasing to pull on my new speedo trunks and waltz out into the public. I realize that people don’t really care, they may notice and think something but they really don’t care if some dude is wearing a suit he has no business wearing, or at least they think that. They may shake their head and think why do people do stuff like that. Well, for this case anyway I have an answer.

I swam a test 500 meters for time this weekend since I didn’t properly measure my time on my triathlon last week. I got a confirmation that swam my fastest time yet. I did the test in 8:55. This was after my 1 hour bike class that I like to swim before not after because it wears me out so much. So I got a better result in me if I start rested.

I set a goal a while back to swim 500 meters in under 10 minutes for my sprint triathlons this year. I beat 9 minutes on the first one. My goal, after I got 10 minutes in this swim was to extend it out to 1000 meters and 1500 meters at the same pace which is the length of my two longer triathlons. I think I am there now, again just from changing my swim suit. I will have to run a test next weekend for that.

I often train with a couple of people that are doing the Ironman Couer d’ Alene coming up in two weeks now. When I started swimming back in September, I was in the slow lane because they didn’t have a bumbling idiot lane. Then I worked my way up to earning the right to take up space in the slow lane. All the while these other two were in the fast lane. There were a couple of times new people came to class and I got bumped to the fast lane, but I had to work my butt off to try and not get lapped in a set of 200. Eventually I became a permanent fixture in the fast lane, though as little as two weeks ago I was struggling to not get lapped in sets of 400. What this means of course is that they could swim 7 laps faster than I could swim 8. My “100%” time was just dipping below 50 seconds a lap which means they were just below 44 seconds a lap. The last two workouts I was nipping at their toes so they let me pass and I was finishing sets of 150 a good half length in front of them and not only that but I was able to maintain a pace fast enough to be about even with them as we finish up. (usually as we finish up a 3600 yard workout I was trailing off and not a threat to keep up with anyone.) So I am now the fastest person in the fast lane (only because truly fast people are not showing up mind you) which is something I would have found hard to believe if you had told me back in September, or even a month ago for that matter.

All of this thanks to my new speedo. So yeah, when you see me and think, “why is that dude wearing a suit like that?” the answer is the same if you see me experimenting with shaving all my chest hair off (no I haven’t tried it yet and likely wont for a while). Because I can go much faster.


Race Weekend Coming Up

May 16, 2009

Half Marathon

I am looking to getting this half marathon over tomorrow. I can’t believe I have been so worried about it. I do not like training shorter than the full run, I wish I had gone on a long run longer than the race so I have an idea what to expect. Oh, well, this is a new experience I get to have and I can decide how to do my next one after this. I plan to start out with a 9 minute mile and see how I am feeling. I hope my worst case is slowing down to 10 minute miles but again, who knows. I don’t know if they mark every mile and the start is a bit murky on the map, so I will gauge this by the first water station which is listed at 1.8 miles. So I should hit it at 16:12 if on a 9 minute pace. They have marked the miles on the map as 4/17, 6/19 etc as the full marathon joins the course in the middle. Since I don’t know and didn’t ask, although I may at the expo, I have to assume that any number is up to a tenth of a mile off (the half should meet the full at the 13.1 mark and the miles would be off by .1, since its officially a boston qualifier I have to assume the miles are marked for the full more accurately so when I hit mile 13/26 I actually have .2 left not .1 cause I am probably at 12.9 really), meaning should reach mile markers 1 minute earlier than of than my planned pace. I didn’t have much kick at the end of the 10k, so I doubt I will be able to pull out an 8 minute mile at the end to make up time. Either I am steady and can keep the pace or I will slow down the longer it goes and drop off my goal. We shall see tomorrow.


I found out that there are 800 people entered in the half marathon so far, and they said that a lot are signing up as the day goes by. So I found another nearby half marathon one week later and looked at the results from last year. It took a bit of work but I graphed the distribution of the finishers by minute. The biggest spike is minute 121, 32 finishers of 1006 entrants. This is quite a spike for a group of people that likely tried to push to beat the 2 hour mark but couldn’t quite do it. (Or at least I envision they would have tried to.) Assuming they pick up another 200 entries today and get to 1000 as well, I can expect a finisher every 2-3 seconds at the peak of the bell curve where I am hoping to be. At a 9 minute per mile pace, that is 30 people spread over 1/9th of a mile or roughly someone every 20 feet. There should always be a person to try and keep up with or catch for extra motivation.

 half marathon distribution
Last Nights Swim:

At swimming last night I broke my best time for 500, 8:14, which is 49 seconds and change per lap. My original goal was to get down to 52 seconds and maintain the pace for triple the distance. So I need to do another 1650 to see if I can break the half hour mark. I suspect I will without difficulty now. Considering I have 9 weeks to go before my first olympic triathlon I can probably decrease my swimming and hit the bike harder.

I had a strange experience during my swim. I started out my first 100 at 1:30, which was too fast (I thought it was 2:00 though). I always try and create a gap so the person behind me isn’t nipping at my feet. But I started to feel like I couldn’t breathe well. I was weird as I felt like I was able to breathe in as often and as much as I needed but that my body wasn’t getting enough. Its like I could breathe the air in fast enough but I felt oxygen deprived like it wasn’t getting into the blood stream fast enough. Sort of the same feeling you get if while sitting there reading a computer screen you start breathing fast and deep even though you don’t need to. Hey you are sitting there reading a computer screen. You should try it, take 10 fast deep breaths and feel your heart start to speed up and you might even get a funny light headed feeling. This has to be a kin to having your mouth water just thinking about a fresh lemon being sliced on a cutting board and popped into your mouth. Now this is different in that I didn’t have enough oxygen and doing this makes too much, but the feeling of not needing to breathe as fast as you are is certainly the same. I have no explanation as to what happened other than I have been freaking out about this half and this workout in the pool was my last before I run and I was concerned with if I was going to hard or not hard enough and yada yada. I am going to do this same thing on purpose one of these weekends to see if I can get the same feeling and try to figure out why. I just need to to a set of 500 and start out way too fast and then speed up more. I could do several one Saturday and see if I can fix it. The reason I am so concerned is I lost my focus completely. I wasn’t watching the line on the bottom of the pool and seeing my arm pulls go by, I was worried if I was getting caught, I was worried why I was having so much trouble while going so slow. I was almost in a panic and thought pretty seriously about pulling up at the end to breathe some. This is just not me and I don’t like that feeling. I need to stay focussed on the task. The main thing that will help me in a real triathlon is that if someone catches me its not a problem, they can just go around and I won’t care.  I actually thought my time was going to be worse, we started at the bottom of the clock and after 100 yards I peeked and saw it at exactly the top. I thought we had started on the top cause I was already freaking out then and realized I was on a super slow pace of 60 seconds a lap. So I tried to speed up a bit. I had actually just swam two 45 seconds laps and was now trying to go faster. This didn’t last long and I eventually slowed and got caught by the person behind me with 75 to go.

Fixing the whole panic problem is probably going to be as simple as making sure I don’t start too fast and build a giant oxygen defecit right off the bat. This is easier said than done with pre-race adrenaline and all, but I will work on it.

Swimming – proper technique

June 28, 2008

I wanted to give myself something to work on while swimming Saturday rather than just thrashing about in the pool again. So I did some research on it. Who am I to do research and not share? Enjoy this if you are thinking of entering a triathlon and don’t know much about proper swimming technique (yep that’s me).

But First, My Results

Using all that I learned from info below I improved my swimming to the point where I get more laps without choking on the water when trying to breathe. My times for 1/2/4 laps improved from 0:25/1:10/2:45 to 0:21/0:50/2:20. I think I figured out part of my getting tired problem. I do this workout after I lift weights for the day, and of course part of the goal with the weights is to do two sets of 15 reps to the point that each and every muscle is separately brought to the point where it can lift no more or is close to not being able to. This might explain the feeling of not being able to pull myself through the water for long periods of time without getting to the point where I feel like I can’t keep it up.

I still have the serious problem that I am not able to find a rhythm at a slower pace. I try and go slower and breathing every 3rd stroke becomes too far in between breaths to wait. I tried to go 2-3-2-3 which has the effect of breathing twice on each side then switching. It helped a bit but I just don’t know if it’s going to work for me yet. As to some of the commentary below which I wrote before I left to swim, I found that I get across the pool in about 22-24 strokes. Apparently I have a long way to go to improve my stroke length. I did a total of 500 yards this time with lots of breaks, as in every 1, 2, or 4 laps. It took 35 minutes but I think I rested more than 20 minutes of that time. Roughly estimating my total swimming time I think it was just about 10 minutes, which sort of proves that my pace is too fast. I need to start adding more laps to each set rather than stopping so much. This will force me to swim slower and get better at it. Next week I will do a set of 10 laps at some point which is half of the sprint triathlon swimming leg. I would like to think that I can do it in about 5 minutes. Obviously this will be pushing it since there is no rest in between, but I think if I do this before the weights I will have a bit more stamina.

What I found on Proper Swimming Technique

Here is a primer on how to swim and why efficiency is important. 

Very funny in that they suggest a nice warm up for a 2000 meter workout and it totals that on it’s own. Warm up or the whole thing it is more than I am going to be swimming. I need to race 500 meters in my triathlon, so I seriously doubt I will be swimming more than 1000 as a workout. Besides, my technique is so bad, I get the same amount of exercise from a 300 meter workout that a real swimmer would get in 1500 meters.

Check out this little tidbit of the workout:

10×50 freestyle: Rest 30-60 seconds. Count the number of strokes with each 50 meter interval and try not to exceed 22 strokes. Remember, good swimmers swim fast because of a long stroke length! Your goal should be to reduce the number of strokes you take in 50 meters.

Besides the fact that my entire workout consisted of just over half of this this little bit, I am supposed to get all the way across the pool in 11 strokes. Yeah right. I will have to count and see how many above 50 I am.

Here is a story about a California celeb learning to swim for a triathlon.

Here is a 5 part primer on swimming freestyle. The guy is hung up on the forearm and how long it is vertical so apparently that is an important part of the stroke.

Here is a swimmer talking about the dreaded dropped elbow, which basically means your forearm is not vertical.

Here is a link on how to practise to make your kick better.

You Tube Breathing tutorial

After you read all of these is it nice to see videos of proper swimming technique.

Mark Foster
Ian Thorpe
free style kicking

I have a feeling this swimming thing is going to be a lot like golf or bowling where you know all the moves you need to make but then tend to focus on one or two to the detriment of the others without a ton of practice.