Weekly Swim Session Plan 13 November 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 192

This week, we are going to build on the breathing work from last week and try an objective measurement of our breathing technique and its effect on performance. Three simple timed swims, with varied technique.

Warm Up:

200m easy pace

Technical Set:

200 – 400m timed (choose distance based on experience and fitness) breathing to ‘strong’ side

1 minute rest per 100m swum

200-400m timed (choose the same distance) breathing 3-stroke bilateral pattern

1 minute rest per 100m swum

200-400m timed (choosing the same distance) breathing to ‘weak’ side.

Main Set:

6 – 10 x 100m working on the weaknesses found during the timed sessions.

Warm down:

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

Total Volume:

1600 – 2600m

Coaching Points:

If you are a strongly unilateral breather, work on the weaker side, either in a bi-lateral pattern, or unilaterally to the weak side.

If you are already an established bi-lateral breather, practice using all left side, then all right side unilateral breathing in a 2 and 4 stroke breathing pattern.

Having options of left side, right side or bilateral can be useful on race day depending upon prevailing wind, course layout, or positioning of a competitor.

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Weekly Swim Session Plan 6 November 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 191

This week, we are going to shift focus ti the area where novice or intermediate swimmers struggle the most – the breath. We will go through some technical practice but to give you context for this session, make sure you watch the video with more great advice from 6 X Ironman World Champion – The Man – Dave Scott.

Warm Up:

200m easy pace

Technical set:

4 x 50m Being aware of your exhalation and the timing of your breath (is it early or late?)

4 x 50m Ensuring that your breath commences prior to your arm leaving the water and your face returns at the point where your hand passes your face. Keep your face and mouth relaxed in the water.

4 x 50m Breathing to your weaker side on the way up the pool and recovering on the way back to your normal, stronger side. If you’re an accomplished bi-lateral breather, continue to focus on timing and a progressive exhalation.

Main set:

4 – 8 x 200m maintain focus on good breath timing.

Warm down:

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

Total Volume:

1800 – 2600m

Coaching Points:

Breath-holding is an issue for many swimmers and an extended inhalation can cause technique issues that include over-reaching, which may lead to a poor catch.Watch what Dave Scott says in this instructional video.

Weekly Swim Session Plan 31 October 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 190

This week, we are going to shift focus through the stroke cycle, to the finish of the stroke. We’ll support the technical set with more great advice from 6 X Ironman World Champion – The Man – Dave Scott.

Warm Up:

200m easy pace

Technical set:

4 x 50m long doggy paddle pressing back with an extended wrist at the finish of the stroke, so your palm points to the pool wall behind you.

4 x 50m easy swimming, implementing the “palm-press” finish

4 x 50m with technique paddles, or visualising the backward palm press through the finish of the stroke

Main set:

4 – 8 x 200m maintain focus on a strong finish to your stroke.

Warm down:

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

Total Volume:

1800 – 2600m

Coaching Points:

During doggy paddle and freestyle, pull straight through the stroke as we practiced last week but then move your focus to the heel of your hand (not your fingertips) to press through the finish of the stroke with a hyper extended wrist, before recovering under the water.

Watch what Dave Scott says in this instructional video. He makes an interesting point about the harmonious relationship between strong finish with extended wrist and preparing for setting a high elbow catch:

Weekly swim session plan 23 October 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 189

This week, we are going to shift focus through the stroke cycle, to the pull phase, having set up an effective catch over the last few weeks. We’ll support the technical set with more great advice from 6 X Ironman World Champion – The Man – Dave Scott.

Warm Up:

200m easy pace

Technical set:

4 x 50m long doggy paddle going up the pool, swim back (review coaching points for hand position)

4 x 50m easy swimming, implementing the pull pathway practiced during the drill

4 x 50m with technique paddles, or 1-finger drill going up the pool, swim back

Main set:

4 – 8 x 200m maintain focus on a straight pull pathway and correct hand alignment

Warm down:

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

Total Volume:

1800 – 2600m

Coaching Points:

During doggy paddle and freestyle, set the catch with a high elbow, keep the hand and forearm neutral, with fingertips pointing toward the bottom of the pool.  I particularly like Dave’s paint brush analogy – check it out.

Watch what Dave Scott says in this instructional video:

View From The Top

I know many of you like to gain insights from the sport’s leading athletes.

Not many people know this but I recently had the Ironman AWA points list through and I’m officially ranked No.1 Ironman athlete for my age group (M45), in the country.

 

I’ll just let that settle in a while longer.

 

As unlikely as it seems, I’m not making it up but I thought you’d be interested in how I made that dream a reality.

Some moths ago, I’d decided to take a leaf from my good friend and fellow GI Tri Coach, Dan Noz, to reassess which country I represent in Ironman events.  Dan is a great athlete, he’s German (of course), lives in Britain and is married to a wonderful Swede, so over the last few years, he has represented all three nations in various races.  Given that I literally spend half of my days working abroad and considering my transit days and Ironman vacation days in other countries, I spend more time in away than at home, plus I officially have local residency for work.

So, for my second Ironman race of the season, Barcelona, I represented Iraq.  It’s as simple as changing the selection in a drop-down menu.

I’d thought nothing more of it, until collecting my race number and seeing the Iraqi flag on it where the Union flag normally sits.  Novel, I thought. Quite literally novel, as it turns out.

Ironman stops discounting your AWA points award at 1000 when you’re so far behind your age group winner, that all the officials and volunteers have run out of fingers and toes to count them on. At least I think that’s how they do it…

So, with a grand total of 2000 points from two full distance Ironman races, I am officially the No.1 ranked M45 Ironman athlete in Iraq.

Here’s hoping to no one else registering from Iraq next season!

Paul

GI Tri Coach

Ironman Barcelona Race Report 2018

Anyone who knows me, could tell you, I’m not a big fan of race reports but I thought I’d make the exception for a few reasons.

I’d been ill for a full two weeks leading into the race (gastric problems) and my pre-race test ride had me wondering whether I should be racing at all.  Cutting a long story short, I did race and I did finish, in a time that I’d have bought with cash money on the day before, so all in all, I have to be happy.

The End.

PS.

Let me share with you though a few moments actually worth sharing, mainly relating to Vaughn, doing his 10thIronman event and Gabi, an athlete I’d coached toward this, her first Ironman.

The swim.

Oh, the swim.

Normally, I’m a half decent swimmer and on a reasonable day, 65-67 minutes should see me grinning my way into T1.  On race day, the organisers had to make a tough call about whether to delay the start, as they were waiting for a thunder storm to pass. They didn’t delay it and perhaps due to making that decision in the dark, the swim went ahead as scheduled.  If they had been looking at what we were seeking as race start approached, they may have moved to Plan B.

We anxiously awaiting AC/DC’s Thunderstruck to be played as the age group pre-start anthem. The air horn sounded and the pros hit the water, their arms turning over as fast as possible.   I turned to Vaughn, “this is going to be interesting.”

It looked like they were taking two stokes forward and one stroke back, such were the swell and rolling waves pushing them back toward the beach,

Unperturbed, we edged toward the water.  I’d somehow got ahead of Vaughn in the funnel and decided opt for the right side of the entry chute. Beep, beep, beep, beep GO! In I ran, using my larger than average frame to vault the first wave and get straight into my stroke.  In short order, I realized that my sighting buoy was in fact the inbound one and I was a good 30m away from the train of other swimmers.  Groaning and gasping for air as the incoming waves crashed over my head, I made my way back.  Judging by the arms, legs, elbows, heads, and swimmers in all directions, I don’t think anyone was having a good time of it.  There was a lot of contact, which a few years ago, I’d have enjoyed but I somehow seemed to be coming off the worse from every encounter.  Where the hell is the first buoy? Sighting was difficult to non-existent. Bang. I’m not sure what body part hit me but it did so with anxious force, knocking my goggles partially off.  The assailant, sorry athlete, perhaps sensed he’d made a hard contact as when I shouted an expletive in return, he actually stopped, turned and apologized.  Its only now, long afterward that I can appreciate that for many, including myself, by just 150m into the swim, this was a fight for survival.  Eventually reaching the turning buoy, I was again breathless, gasping for air and for what seemed like a very long time, considered the following:

“Can I even get around this swim?  I feel like I have been swimming a long time to be at 200m in.  I can’t get away from all these people. I don’t want to be here. My time is going to be slow. I still have the bike and run to get through. I don’t want to do this.  I can see the paddle boarder sitting next to the buoy.  Can I quit by getting across to him?  What about Gabi?”

I kept swimming.

You see, Gabi only learned to swim about a year earlier and was somewhere behind me in a much slower swim pen.  She’d struggled with deep water in the pool when learning and that had translated into open water anxiety too.  Today she would face this angry sea.  What kind of example would it set if I were to quit and she were to get around?  That’s ridiculous of course because there is no way she can cope with this. Its madness!

 

An indication of what I’m attempting to describe (these are the front pack swimmers):

 

The swim remained challenging throughout, the swell making sighting very difficult and my swim course was a saw-tooth as best, as I persistently realigned my position each time the sea pushed me toward shore.

As with the swim start, the finish was frantic madness. Elbows, thrashing feet, misdirection and eventually, the breaking waves themselves that threatened to drag you back from shore as they receded to the depths.

Finally, I was out.  I walked into the transition tent, like a Sunday stroll. I had a mixture of dejection and relief that it was over!

Thankfully, this year, I had opted for a long course race suit, rather than separate bike and run kit, so I saved a few minutes in T1. I grabbed my bike and walk-trotted toward the mount line.  A Russian athlete in front of me was making a real meal of getting on his bike and just as I was about to tell him to davai! davai! I heard “Alright Pauly?”  It was Vaughn.

The realization. It’s Vaughn. He loves a T1 pamper. If there’s one thing I will have done today, it’s being faster in T1 than him, which can mean only one thing… he’s beaten me in the swim!  This has been unheard of in any training session or race event over the last 11 years that we’ve been training together.  In the moment, I was shocked. On reflection, I’m delighted! He’s had a few moments in the swim over the years and for him to cope with that better than I had done, I’m absolutely delighted, particularly that it marks his 10th Ironman finish! Go Vaughn!!

Out onto the bike.  Its 112 miles and I did see Vaughn a couple of times but for the most part, I pedaled and it rained, then stopped, then rained again.  You get the idea.   It wasn’t until about 65 miles into the bike that I had the best sight of all.  On the other side of the road, spinning her legs and waving back, was Gabi.  “She’s made the swim!” was my first thought. Swelling pride was the feeling in my chest, rising up through my neck to my head and causing my eyes to mist and vision to blur, just a little.  She’d bloody done it. In all that. That from which I’d nearly quit. She’s done it. She’s gonna finish this!

I quickly calculated that I was roughly twenty miles ahead, so rode on, reasonably confident that I could stay away for the rest of the ride.  Little did I know of course that equal and opposite thoughts were on the other side of the road.  She was off to try and chase me down.

pic 1

Once out on the run, I’d seen Gabi a couple of times on opposite sides of the course and knew she was gaining.  I resolved to try to make it to halfway before being passed. I only got to 18km when I got a tap on the elbow.

Rather than pass, Gabi sacrificed an untold amount of time and finished the run with me, coach and athlete side by side.

pic 2

From non-swimmer to long-distance triathlon. I could not be prouder of her accomplishment.

Gabi, you are an Ironman!

Paul

GI tri Coach

Weekly Swim Session Plan 16 October 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 188

After a two-week, health related hiatus, we are back to the weekly session plans!   This week, we are going to continue to focus on an effective catch, with more great advice from 6 X Ironman World Champion – The Man – Dave Scott.

Warm Up:

200m easy pace

Technical set:

4 x 50m Butterfly pull (double-arm) with under-water recovery.  Take care to maintain a high elbow

4 x 50m Alternating arm half-pull with under water recovery (short doggy-paddle drill)

4 x 50m Alternating arm pull / push full stroke, keeping the elbow high in the water on the front of the stroke

4 x 50m 1-finger drill going up the pool, full hand when swimming back. Feel the resistance when the full hand is utilised – keep the elbow high at the front end.

Main set:

4 – 8 x 200m maintain focus on setting a high-elbow catch.  Initially, your stroke may feel slow and mechanical.  Try to maintain the high elbow catch but smooth out the stroke as the set progresses.

Warm down:

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

Total Volume:

2000 – 2800m

Coaching Points:

High elbow catch may feel strange at first, if you’re used to dropping your arm. Stick with it, it will be transformational for your swimming.

Watch what Dave Scott says in this instructional video: