Weekly Swim Session Plan 28 June 2016

Session Introduction

This week have a technique and threshold session, designed to help you maintain good technique and high stroke rate when in open water.

Warm-up

2 – 5 minutes sink-down drill (if required)

200m as 50m easy, 100m steady, 50 race pace focus on relaxed exhalation into the water, even as the pace increases 

Technical Set

200m doggy paddle up the pool, swim back with high elbow

200m high tempo – use core rotation to set tempo (let the arms follow the core rotation to deliver a higher stroke rate)

200m head-up life saver, high tempo, feel for early vertical forearm pull

Main set:

4 – 6 x 200m @CSS pace + 4 seconds taking 20S rest

Warm down:

200m – 400m Easy, down to very easy focussing on relaxed exhalation.

Total distance (average) 1800-2400m

Coaching Points:

Observe lane etiquette

Don’t pull too deep if you’re raising the tempo. Elbow at 90° as the hand passes under the shoulder

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Weekly Swim Session Plan 21 June 2016

This week have a threshold session, designed to help you maintain the race fitness you have worked so hard to attain through the long build phase of your annual plan.

Warm-up

2 – 5 minutes sink-down drill (if required)

200m as 50m easy, 100m steady, 50 race pace focus on relaxed exhalation into the water, even as the pace increases

Technical Set

100m stroke-count, aim to reduce strokes per length by 2 strokes/length

100m head-up life saver, high tempo, feel for early vertical forearm pull

100m high tempo – use core rotation to set tempo (let the arms follow the core rotation to deliver a higher stroke rate)

Main set:

10 – 15 x 100m @CSS pace + 4 seconds taking 20S rest

Warm down:

200m – 400m Easy, down to very easy focussing on relaxed exhalation.

Total distance (average) 1700-2400m

Coaching Points:

Observe lane etiquette

Swim on pace throughout – don’t set out too fast!!

Weekly Swim Session 13 June 2016

This week have a low volume, high technique content session, looking at breathing.

Early season feedback suggests this is still the main are of concern for athletes, particularly during mass-start events. Breath holding and anxiety go hand-in-hand and can spiral out of control.  This session promotes relaxation and emphasises techniques that can be useful in open water – such as breathing leeward (away from the chop), or keeping sight of other competitors who may be on either side of you.

Warm-up

2 – 5 minutes sink-down drill

4 x 50m as 100m easy, 100m steady, focus on relaxed exhalation into the water

 Technical Set

100m breathing every 3 strokes (2 strokes for unilateral breathers)

100m breathing every 5 strokes (4 strokes for unilateral breathers)

100m breathing every 7 strokes (6 strokes for unilateral breathers)

Main set:

200-300m (8-12 lengths) breathing to right side only

200-300m (8-12 lengths) breathing to left side only

200-300m (8-12 lengths) breathing bilaterally

200-300m (8-12 lengths) 2 breaths right, 2 breaths left

Warm down:

200m – 400m Easy, down to very easy focussing on relaxed exhalation.

Total distance (average) 1500-2100m

Coaching Points:

Observe lane etiquette

During sink-downs, try to relax throughout.  After exhaling, break the water’s surface gently to take a small breath, rather than launching yourself from the water to gasp in a lungful of air, re-submerge and gently exhale, promoting continued relaxation.  This might sound familiar to yoga practitioners.

While swimming, take smaller breaths than you might be used to (its less to blow out). If you find yourself rapidly exhaling at the point of rotation, you may be taking in too much air to start with!

If you’re normally unilateral and moving to bi-lateral or unilateral on the ‘weaker’ side, make your first breath on the ‘weak’ side – start as you mean to go on!

Three disciplines of triathlon – that aren’t swim-bike-run

If you’re going longer than a standard distance triathlon, you’re going to need to think a little deeper than how to take off your wetsuit, or buying elastic laces.

My top three triathlon disciplines?  Eat – Drink – Sleep

Eat.

Most, though not all long distance triathletes are pretty lean.  When you’re going long, watching what you eat takes on a whole new meaning.  Calorie counting can become an obsession.  The challenge? No, not to be as light as you possibly can on race day.  It’s to actually eat enough to keep your body maintained, repaired and adapted through months of hard training.  A good guide to whether you’re eating enough is to maintain your body weight.  Losing a few winter pounds is fine but what if you see your weight continuously tracking downward, when you’re already pinching less than an inch of fat? Seek some guidance, ideally from your triathlon coach, on how much you might need to eat each day during the various phases of the training cycle.  Don’t be surprised if you’re creating a daily deficit of 1000kCal on a hard training day.  Doing that week in, week out is unsustainable and if you try to push through, it can be a short road to chronically low energy, extreme fatigue and debilitating demotivation.  This can be particularly problematic in female athletes who can suffer the symptoms of RED-S.

While I’m a big fan of low carbohydrate diets for athletes, I still advise athletes to take in carbs at the right time during training and racing for durations exceeding three hours.  High intensity efforts such as hill climbs on the bike or hard efforts on the run cause the athlete to burn glucose rather than fat and without a steady feed of carbohydrate, each effort depletes the glycogen stores a little more. Topping them up is essential for 70.3 racing and upward including Ironman, where athletes are often working for twelve to sixteen hours.

Immediately after exercise, it’s important to top up your carbohydrate and take on some protein too to help repair your body.  Whole milk is ideal, as it has a great balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat. Just a 200ml (half pint) is usually enough for essential recovery.

Drink.

Not so much the Saturday night out kind of thing but upward of 2L (over 60oz) of water per day, as well as ensuring your diet includes adequate amounts of salt to help you hydrate before, during and after exercise, is essential for successful training and racing.  Having a clear plan for race day to ensure that you or your athlete stay hydrated can make all the difference to performance.  Begin drinking before the swim, again in T1.   On the bike, plan on consuming around a bottle per hour, clearly make use of the feed stations for refills. If you’re hydrated off the bike, the frequent feed stations on the run course will keep you topped up until the finish line.

Sleep.

Nothing helps you recover from a hard session like a good night’s sleep. While everyone is different, a standard 8-hours is a good benchmark, so planning for an early night as often as possible is a good start.  That’s not the end of the story though. Sleep isn’t just about quantity but quality too.  Sleep hygiene includes avoiding stimulants such as caffeine nicotine or alcohol close to bedtime, sleeping in a dark, quiet, cool, well ventilated room, electronics switched off, having a comfortable bed and a comfortable pillow will all contribute to a better night’s sleep and you’ll be better prepared for training, racing or simply taking it easy on your rest day.

So, the next time you’re at a social gathering, rather than talking about swimming cycling and running, just tell them that you spend most of your time eating, drinking and sleeping.  They’ll probably relate to that and perhaps think you’re slightly less crazy than they otherwise would have.

Paul

The GI Tri Coach

Is this aero too?

You may remember a blog Is This Aero? from a few months ago, discussing the aero road bike options available to my friend Tony.  We settled on the Specialized Venge, mainly on the recommendation of a top triathlete.

After looking at his options, Tony settled on a little used S-Works Venge, with limited edition Mark Cavendish paintwork.  Having checked the bike over myself before purchase, Tony was assured that he could be riding a pretty special super-bike for the price of an off-the-shelf Specialized. Deal done.

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Having spent less on a bike, the next part of the advice package was to spend more on a bike fit.  Enter my old friend Mike from Bike Fit

Tony was in UK on a last-minute short visit but he did manage to bring with him from Abu Dhabi, a borrowed bike box (more on that later). As the trip was arranged at short notice, we were unable to see Mike himself, as he’s usually booked up well in advance.  Instead we did managed to see Mike’s colleague, bike fit expert and local Time Trial legend, Steve Biddulph.

As Tony was brand new to cycling Steve helped choose some shorts, a shirt and some cycling shoes, selecting some great Bontrager tri shoes with mesh fronts, perfect for the heat of the Abu Dhabi Formula One motor racing circuit, where Tony will be doing most of his training rides. In summer it can be 40°C even at 10:00a.m, that’s well over 100°F for our friends across the pond!

The bike was already reasonably well set up, here’s Tony sitting on the bike for the first time – facial expressions are optional.

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As you can see, he’s naturally positioned his hands at the back of the handle bars. Some of the adjustments made by Steve, included moving the seat both forward, and very slightly higher.  Once the adjustments were made, Tony’s hands naturally fell onto the brake hoods but what was most telling was the ease with which he could pedal, producing more power, he felt that it became easier, even though he was riding faster. At this point I was a little worried that he might do to me on the bike, what he already does on the run….was swimming to be my only preserve?

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Once back home, it took us almost an hour to get the bike into the box.  Tony looked on expectantly as ‘the expert’ disassembled his new prized possession and then proceeded to twist and turn the frame, forks and handlebars in a way that the box seemed to agree with.  Thirty feet of foam tubing later and the bike was safely wrapped up, box closed and ready for a flight to the land of sand.  I’m just grateful that Tony was on a 56cm frame and not the 60cm I ride!

Thankfully, Tony’s mate and cycle box owner in Abu Dhabi was able to help him reassemble the bike and recreate the set-up, using the tape markers left by Steve. Wasting no time, Tony was out the very next morning for his inaugural ride.

Here’s a screen shot of his first ever ride:

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Not bad at all.  Almost 30km/h, so nearly 20mph average.

As some of you may recognise, I taught Tony one thing during the whole experience:

“If your ride ain’t on Strava, it didn’t happen!”

He has a few rides under his belt now, and so far, he hasn’t fallen off and hasn’t yet forgotten to unclip at a standstill.  Perhaps he’ll be the first ever cyclist to bypass that learning experience?

Enjoy the ride Tony, it’s gonna be a blast!

Paul

The GI Tri Coach

Weekly Swim Session 6 June 2016

As many people have already started their race season, this week, we refresh again the skills needed in open water including starts, turns sighting and continuous swim endurance.

Warm-up

4 x 50m as 50 easy, 50 steady, 100 race pace

Technical Set

4 x 25m as stationary sculling into sprint start

4 x 50m sighting every 3-5 strokes, no-turn turning at deep end

Main set:

4 x 400m (4 x 16 lengths 1 min rest after each rep) OR

2 x 750m (2 x 30 lengths 2 min rest in between) OR

1 x 1500m (60 lengths) OR, for faster swimmers training for IM70.3

2000m as a single swim

For sprint distance athletes, break out at least 2 x 750m continuous efforts as intervals, taking just a few seconds for composure between each.

Warm down:

200m – 400m Easy, down to very easy

Total distance (average) 2200-2900m

Coaching Points:

Observe lane etiquette

Take your time on technical element – focus on good execution

Focus on exhale throughout the race-distance efforts.