Weekly Swim Session Plan 18 September 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 187

Last week, we began our off-season technique focus with hand entry and some great guidance from Dave Scott.  This week, we’ll follow the logical sequence through the stroke cycle and look at catch. Of such importance is a great catch, that we will spend more than one week, making improvements.

Warm Up:

200m easy pace

Technical set:

6 x 50m (with pull buoy) scull to halfway, swim to wall

8 x 50m ‘Quick catch’ drill, popping up the elbow and forming the catch quickly to the speed-killer for over-gliders, the dead-spot. (If you have never done quick catch drill before, follow this link, or search Dave Scott’s ‘top 3’ drills on You Tube for how to do it and the benefits it offers).

Main set:

3 – 5 x 300m occasionally bringing your focus onto the catch and ensuring that you’re attaining that quickly formed, high-elbow catch you practiced in the drills.  Do remember to ‘swim’ though and not be too mechanical and deliberate during this part of the set.

Warm down:

200m easy – feel how easily you’re moving through the water.

Total Volume:

2000 – 3600m

Coaching Points:

An effective catch sets you up for an effective pull and faster swimming.  To catch effectively after hand entry, make sure to keep the finger-tips below the wrist and the wrist below the elbow.

Let’s see what Paul Newsome says about sculling in this instructional video:


Weekly Swim Session Plan 11 September 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 186

Technique focused session now to take us all the way through to 2019.  This week, we are going to start at the very front of the stroke, hand entry, while drawing on some great advice from 6 X Ironman World Champion – The Man – Dave Scott.

Warm Up:

200m easy pace

Technical set:

8 x 50m Swim with focus on the middle finger of the leading hand, pointing straight forward at the end-wall (not down, inward, or outward) Take 15 seconds of reflection and re-focus after each

8 x 50m Swim with technique paddles (if you have them) or use 1-finger drill going up the pool, full hand when swimming back. Assess whether your leading hand is straight out. 15 sec rest after each.

Main set:

4 – 8  x 200m maintain focus on hand entry alignment – re-perform drills between sets if required.

Warm down:

200m easy – feel how easily you’re moving through the water.

Total Volume:

2000 – 3600m

Coaching Points:

Enter finger-tips first and reach forward, ensuring the middle finger is pointing straight at the end wall, before forming your high-elbow catch.

Watch what Dave Scott says in this instructional video:

Triathlon For Weight Loss

Since starting GI Tri in 2009, initially as a triathlon club, with an inclusive ethos that provided a safe environment for people of all fitness levels, to train and improve, I have worked with a great many athletes who were training to lose weight.

As I discussed in my blog Diet and Exercise, Who’s the Daddy? exercise isn’t the best way to transform your body, unless of course, you have already made the required modifications to your diet.

That being said, triathlon is a great way to improve fitness for anyone who spent a little too long without any real physical exercise.

The sequence of triathlons being swim – bike – run, lend themselves perfectly to the progressive increase in impact on the lower body and gradual increase in intensity on the cardio vascular system, as the returning athlete extends their training to include all three main disciplines.

The usual thing to do for anyone with initial determination to lose weight by, or in parallel to taking up more physical exercise is to run.

A word of caution here.  If you’re significantly overweight, running hurts!

If you haven’t run for years, chances are your technique may be less than ideal, putting strain on your feet, ankles, knees and hips that will make you sore tomorrow and present a heightened risk of injury.  There’s also the psychological impact of returning to running – it’s hard!  As you head out of the door, you may have planned to gently trot around your neighborhood, light and easy, nodding to the occasional passer-by.  The reality of being red-faced, breathless, hands on knees by the time you reach the second street corner, may be somewhat disheartening and put you off repeating that for the foreseeable future.

If you have come to triathlon in the hope of transforming your body, my advice is this:

Be kind to yourself and be patient.

Start in the pool, progress to riding your bike regularly and only when you can comfortably ride for an hour, or more, consider pulling on your running shoes.  Start slowly, perhaps structure some run-walk intervals to introduce the effort gradually. Over time, reduce the walk intervals and increase the running efforts, until you’re able to run continuously.

In summary – never forget who the daddy of body mass is – avoid a post work-out rewards that are going to wipe-out the energy deficit you just created. To give some indication of this, here are some approximate comparisons:

1 hour of moderate swimming = approximately 500kCal = a plain bagel with cream cheese
1 hour of moderate cycling = approximately 400kCal = a can of tomato soup and two slices of bread
1 hour of easy running = approximately 600kCal =    2 roast chicken and avocado sandwiches

As you can see, exercise doesn’t give you a huge bang for your buck in terms of energy demand, when it’s translated into food equivalents. Compensatory eating or eating as a reward can quickly wipe out the hard work you have put in, when it comes to weight loss.

Of course, your cardiovascular system will still benefit, so you will become fitter but not necessarily lose weight by training, without modifying your diet.


What are your thoughts? Leave comments below.


GI Tri Coach


Ironman – Its Mental

In a recent question from an Instagram follower, I was asked about mental preparation for Ironman.

@mummytrying said in a question to my Instagram account @gitricoach “apparently, 70% of success is between your ears”

For all of the athletes out there pushing the pool yards, putting in the hard climbs and pounding the trails, this may come as a surprise and disappointment, given you may only working on 30% of the requirement for success.

Whether you can give credibility to Ironman success being 70% mental, perhaps depends upon how you view success and what we consider to be the whole…allow me to elaborate:

All the hard yards are a result of a decision made, pretty much every day.  Ironman triathletes often have between one and three training sessions each day, in order to get themselves in shape for success.

Of course, the coach’s go-to phrase is “the key to success in training, is consistency” and in order to be consistent, you have to have the right mental approach to training.

Many athletes talk about having (or losing) the “motivation” to train.  I have an issue with that particular terminology but I’ll talk about that another time and perhaps, in another place?

There are mental tools that you can use on race day to squeeze out that last 0.5% of your performance, in the moment (that’s a heavy clue), to achieve a personal best, or gain a podium place (success!).  However, for the rest of us, the main way to use your mind to influence the outcome on race day, is by applying it year-round, to maintain consistency in training and thereby “success” on race day.

My thoughts on how to apply your mind to achieve consistency?

I recently re-blogged something I had written a few weeks ago about goal-setting.  Once you have your aim, goals and objectives in place, you have a framework for defining what “success” means for you.  More than success, there should, if done correctly, be a whole series of successes available to you that occur throughout the year.

As part of goal setting, I recommend writing down your aim, goals and objectives, as early as possible.  All athletes I coach have written goals and objectives, which are provided back to them, along with their training plan every week.

Just a few moments at the beginning of each week, when first looking at the planned sessions, will remind any athlete not just of the time, or pace they hope to achieve but the bigger meaning that their aim and goals have to them.  Why are they undertaking this monumental task of training for months, to push their body close to its limit, on one particular day in the future?

If you have set your aim, goals and objectives correctly, then take a few moments of reflection each week to remind yourself of what success means for you, its value and benefits, whether tangible or intangible but nonetheless personal, then I challenge any athlete to not be motivated that week to get out there and do what it takes!

So there, you have the key to consistency, in the most powerful mental tool to deliver race-day success.


GI Tri Coach

Planning for ’19 – Goals and Objectives

GI tri coach

While many of us are still to reach our 2018 ‘A’ race, for others, that time has already passed and the search for the next challenge is already underway.

It might be a good time to talk to your coach about your ideas for next year and seek their advice and guidance on goal and objective setting.

Unfortunately, I hear all too often, a jumbled interpretation of some basic terms that may sound familiar but for many people, pinning down exactly what they are (and also what they are not) proves to be quite tricky.  So, here are a few words on Aims, Goals and Objectives, that hopefully will see you through this minefield and out of the other side, looking toward 2019 with enthusiasm.

Aims represent a desire or dream – to become an Ironman, or I’d like to go to Kona someday.

Goals – Defined accomplishments that…

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Weekly Swim Session Plan 4 September 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 185

This is one of the last high volume alternating weeks, before we ramp up focus on technique through the off-season. Stabilizing your core and kicking effectively reduces drag and increases propulsion. What’s not to love?

Warm Up:

200m easy pace

Technical set:

50m kick / 50 swim X 5

Main set:

3 x 500 or 3 x 800m 2 mins rest after each

Warm down:

200m easy – feel how easily you’re moving through the water.

Total Volume:

2400 – 3300m

Coaching Points:

Through the longer swim reps, hold a narrow focus on your core, glutes and rotate that focus down to your feet from time to time.  Monitor the rhythm of your kick.  Does it feel right?  Compact and Rhythmic?

If you sense that your kick is out of time with your stroke or you feel more drag during a particular part of your stroke, check that your feet are rotated inward and try again.  Ask a swim-partner to take a look at your kick and comment on what’s happening, so you might have the chance to improve it.

Often wide, scissoring kicks are stabilizing an imbalance at the front of the stroke.  If that sounds like you, use some of your pool lengths to focus on a straight-line hand entry in front of the shoulder (not crossing the centerline).

Ten Thousand Squats?

Through the off-season, I’m going to be working on strength, particularly focusing on enabling me to run better off the bike in an Ironman.

If you don’t regularly do enough strength work, it can be a daunting prospect, so to get started, I have set myself a challenge, using a very basic strength exercise that’s great for runners.

The squat.

YouTube is littered with squat challenges already and in thinking of my own, I’d initially thought of 100 squats for 100 days, which for the mathematically talented, you already know is 10,000 repetitions.  I like that number because it has associations with the magic number of training hours in takes (in theory) to reach the pinnacle in a sport.

Those lofty ideas were soon set-aside however, when I realized that during that period, there are going to be days when for one reason, or another, I simply won’t be squatting on that day. So rather than bring you the 97 out of 100-day challenge, I am simply going for the 28 days of my current work rotation in Iraq.

Today was day 5 of 28 and at 5 from 5, I’m feeling confident enough to share.

If 100 squats sound like a lot to you, let me also share that I’m doing it as 10 set of 10, off 1 minute… humm that sounds like a swim set!

Setting off at the start of every minute each 10-rep set takes about 30 seconds, leaving me an equal amount of time to move out of the stance position (in my case to do mini-tasks that get me ready for work), before hitting the next ten. It fits easily into my morning routine and takes just nine and a half minutes to complete.

If stronger running next season is something you’d like to add to your 2019 objectives, why not join me in the challenge?

Here’s a helpful technique video, if you’re unsure how to perform a basic squat correctly: