Weekly Swim Session Plan 29 November 2016

Download and print this session plan here: session-plan-96

Those that are familiar with GI Tri Coach, may know that I’m a certified Ironman Coach. One of the master coaches (tutors) for IMU, is Dave Scott. This week, I’ve incorporated three of Dave’s favorite drills into the technical set of this session. See what you think of these variations on theme’s I usually present differently but they should help stroke timing, effective catch and effective rotation through the stroke cycle.

Warm Up:

100 – 200m (4 -8 lengths) easy freestyle

Technical set:

3 x 50m as ‘Slow arm recovery’ going up the pool, swim back without a pause in recovery

3 x 50m as  ‘Quick Catch’ going up the pool, swim back with catch focus

3 x 50m as High Swingers going up the pool, relaxed recovery coming back

Main set:

10 – 18 x 100m at CSS pace, using a pace clock, trying to hit consistent times throughout

Warm down:

100m – 300m (4 – 12 lengths) easy cool down

Total Volume:

1650m – 2750m

Coaching Points:

Top Three Swim Drills

Slow Arm – Use the pause in slow arm recovery as a cue to start the pull phase with the opposing arm.

Quick Catch – snap the wrist deliberately into a catch position and slightly hitch the elbow before the pull commences

High Swingers – extend the high, looping arm recovery, almost to the point of entry to rally open up the shoulder during rotation.

To cap it all

This weekend I’ve taken delivery of a new batch of GI Tri Coach swim caps.

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For 2017 I’ve gone for the choice of neon pink or neon green for open water and the classic logo on a white cap for pool swims.

I’ve set some of this batch aside as giveaways, so if you’re a GI Tri Coach regular reader, and you’d like a free swim cap, in which to swim the free weekly sessions, follow the blog and email me at GItricoach@gmail.com with your mailing address and colour preference of pink, green, or white and I’ll send one out to you.

First come, first served – once the giveaways are gone, they’re gone!

Let’s see where the farthest one ships to!

Paul

GI Tri Coach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Pandora’s Box

For triathletes out there, that don’t know much about Greek mythology, Pandora was created by the gods and placed on earth, along with her box, that was never to be opened.  Inside the box were all manner of ills that filled the earth once Pandora’s curiosity got the better of her and the box had been opened.

Sometimes as athletes, we carry around the burden of all manner of ills in relation to our training – fatigue, injury, physical and psychological limiters. It’s the Pandora’s box of psychological limiters that I’d like to discuss today.

As a triathlon coach, I frequently have cause to venture into the field of sports psychology in order to support my athletes.  The problem for a coach dealing with psychological issues is that one can find the outer limits of one’s competence very quickly. Nevertheless, personal experience counts for a lot and when facing circumstances, fears and doubts that I’ve experienced myself this helps to avoid or resolve these issues for others.

I have over the years suffered from a variety of psychological limiters to my training, and for one of them, I even sought the help from a hypnotherapist (who happened to occupy the offices upstairs from my own at the time) in order to overcome it.

I was facing what a few of us have come to label ‘the running demons’, which manifest themselves as a sensation or even self-talk that would cause my run to break down into a walk, after about six miles or so, no matter how often I tried to tell myself to stay in an easy rhythm.  These negative voices would overcome me and I would indeed, within a few strides, slow to a walk being convinced I didn’t have the stamina to continue running.

I’m not entirely convinced that the hypnotherapy worked directly, as in parallel, I chose to take a break from running. But I do know, that when I returned to running some months later, the issue had gone… though I was disappointed to find there was no addition speed in its place!

I coach an athlete who when we first worked together, couldn’t complete even a short run, not because they were unfit, but because they felt that they were not enjoying it.  The consequence was, if they managed to get out of the door in the first place, that they would walk home, without completing the session.  In that case, we implemented a short break from any running, followed by a steady re-build, not on the old routes but on new routes through woods, with the smell of earth and trees, birdsong, breaking twigs under foot and light that came through branches to create contrasting patterns on the path.  The sheer joy of running. It brought about a new paradigm and one that prevails to this day.

I’m currently working with multiple athletes that find it difficult to get out of their comfort zone in training.  Each time they sense their heart rate rising to around or above threshold, they tend to back off to the comfort of zone three, or lower. Certainly, in at least one case, this resulted in a below-par performance on race day, with the athlete backing off, rather than pushing on and achieving their potential.  I’m working on a number of techniques to overcome this apparent fear of the sensation experienced when the body is working hard – most involve the athlete undertaking interval efforts and recovery ratios that become gradually more demanding.  This will allow the athlete to become familiar with the sensation of hard work and gain the assurance that everything will be ok at this level and that once they are working on that slightly higher plateau, it will feel normal and better performances will result. This ties in with the approach that training slow produces slow races and conversely, making fast seem ‘normal’ (in any of the disciplines) will allow the athlete to realise their best performances.

So, back to Greek mythology. The final gift from the gods to emerge from Pandora’s box was hope.  Hope was included to help combat all the other ills of the world.

If you’ve opened your own box of psychological limiters, don’t be afraid to share them with your coach.  Work through them jointly, so that sessions can be adapted and coping mechanisms introduced to help you perform at your best, rather than missing sessions, walking home, or having sub-par race results.

There’s a lot of the off season still left and lots and lots of hope!

Paul

GI Tri Coach

Weekly swim session plan 21 November 2016

Download and print this session plan session-plan-95

Session Introduction

For a few weeks, we have followed a pattern of drills, followed by some focused swimming to enable the influence of the drills to impact the swim stroke.  Technical improvements can be made almost year-round (though I rarely advise them during the peak competition phase of the season).  We’ll now gradually begin to introduce a mixture of intensity and volume, in order for the earlier stroke improvements to take best effect.

Warm Up:

100 – 200m (4 -8 lengths) easy freestyle

Technical set:

6 x 50m as steady swim to halfway, then accelerate to swim faster into the wall

Main set:

10 – 18 x 100m at CSS pace, using a pace clock, trying to hit consistent times throughout

Warm down:

100m – 300m (4 – 12 lengths) easy cool down

Total Volume:

1500m – 2600m

Coaching Points:

Accelerate for the second part of each length of the pool during the technical set by ensuring you have an effecting catch, before applying a strong pull (a well-balanced and held body rotation, enabling the engagement of lateral muscles is essential for best effect)

If you don’t have a current CSS pace, ask your coach about helping you with a CSS test.

The pace clock is a simple guide to time.  Note whether you’re using the red, or black second hand for your GO! moment and see where that hand is pointing after each repetition.

Generally, CSS can be held by swimming fairly with a fairly easy effort at the start and introducing slightly more effort throughout the session, to hold a consistent pace throughout.

Swimming – its all in the mind

OK, hands up! Who’s been in the pool, session plan on the pool deck, determination in your eye, long term improvement goal in your mind and you’re powering along…. Only for something (or more usually someone) to distract you from the task at hand and for the session to one way, or another, fall apart?

Yes, you have.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone, though collectively, perhaps we need to do a better job of staying focused?

As a coach, I may be the primary contributor to your session falling apart, having set a time-critical session in the first place, though the breaststroker ahead of you, with a kick as wide as the lane ropes, easing their way up the black line does have their part to play!

I like athletes to work on pace during the off season and love to write sessions with individual off times for the athlete.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re pushing off the wall every 1:40 or 3:00, holding your 100m pace for the whole session is the name of the game.

You’re counting down, holding onto every second of your rest interval but as the clock ticks to n:57 that swimmer with the dodgy low arm recovery pushes off, just before you.  He knows he’s much slower than you! Why did he do that? Surely he can see that you’d moved your goggles down over your eyes and that signifies that you’re ready to go? It’s deliberate! It must be! That’s it. It’s ruined the set! What’s the point? You can’t swim your set in this lane, as its way too crowded and there’s no way he should be swimming in this lane! Why doesn’t the pool attendant say something?

Does that sound at all familiar?

Those of us that train in public pools, without our own dedicated lane are simply going to have to face up to this reality.  The truth is that the turning swimmer is unlikely to have deliberately disrupted your set.  He is probably blissfully unaware of you and is actually focusing on his own goal, of completing his non-stop mile swim at his regular pace.  If anything at all, he may be wondering why you keep stopping, or is pitying your fitness level, suspecting you’re unable to swim continuously in the way he does.

It’s not always slow swimmers that disrupt the session.  A few years ago, I’d swim at a pool where I was often the fastest swimmer (we can all find such a place if we look hard enough).  Of course, from time to time, a ‘real’ swimmer would come in.  They’d swim faster than me and sometimes that was because they were doing shorter reps but for the most part, they’d just be a better swimmer.  That sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Until you factor in my ego! Regardless of the pace I was supposed to be holding, I’d up my pace to stay with them and that’s fine for a while but overall, instead of 6 x 400m at tempo, I’d be halfway through, having swum well above threshold and feeling tired and frustrated.

So, what can we do?  Well in a case like mine, stay focused on yourself and your own goals.  They’re faster than you. Accept it. Try harder to stick to your own plan.  For intervals, a quick session plan adjustment is required.  Your coach will thank you for putting in a session that broadly resembles the intended plan, rather than abandoning the session in a huff.  Changing the swim distance or rest interval is a possible solution, or if there are too many variables in the lane, stay as close to the plan times as possible, maybe going a few seconds early some reps, or holding back for a few seconds to create yourself some space on others.

Do the best you can with the time and facilities you have and if your local pool isn’t quite right for your quality sets leave those sessions for drills and recovery swims.

Try to find a local tri club, or swim squad session that has a lane of swimmers at your current ability level and work with their coaches to deliver your quality sessions.

The message here is to focus on your own goals, rather than the behaviours of others. That, or keep buying lottery tickets. You choose.

Paul

GI  Tri Coach

Weekly swim session plan 15 November 2016

Download and print this session plan here: session-plan-94

This week, we continue to focus on the front of the stroke but also introduce an often neglected subtlety that can increase your propulsive power and lengthen the stroke! In my own swim session last night, I focused on driving the hip and an extension of the ‘basic’ core rotation.  This helped to facilitate a full shoulder-to-toe rotation for lower drag, as well as enabling slightly better lateral engagement during the early pull phase – the outcome 2 seconds / 100m (equating to over a minute in an Ironman swim).

Warm Up:

100 – 200m (4 -8 lengths) easy freestyle

Technical set:

4 x 50m as 25m head-up lifesaver, 25m swim back (with early vertical forearm)

4 x 50m as 25m 6 – 3 – 6 drill, 25m swim back (with a focus on full-body, controlled rotation)

Main set:

6 – 12 x 100m focusing on what was learnt / experienced in the head-up and 6-3-6 drills

Warm down:

100m – 300m (4 – 12 lengths) easy cool down

Total Volume:

1200m – 2100m

Coaching Points:

Head-up lifesaver – keep a high tempo, which you should carry through to the freestyle stroke

Head Up Life Saver demonstration video

6 – 3 – 6 Be sure to achieve full body rotation from shoulder to hip and keep a well-balanced body position which should be replicated during the freestyle stroke.

6-3-6 drill demonstration video

 

Weekly swim session plan 8 November 2016

Download this session plan here: session-plan-93

Having completed a circuit of various aspects of the stroke, this week we return to the main propulsive elements of the stroke – an effective catch and pull. This is the beginning of a lighter technical focus, as we start to shift to higher volume through the off season.

Warm Up:

100 – 200m (4 -8 lengths) easy freestyle

Technical set:

4 x 50m sculling up, swim back

4 x 50m doggy paddle up, swim back

Main set:

6 – 12 x 100m focusing on what was learnt / experienced in the catch and pull drills

Warm down:

100m – 300m (4 – 12 lengths) easy cool down

Total Volume:

1200m – 2100m

Coaching Points:

Sculling and catch – keep fingertip down, palms backward Sculling drill

Doggy paddle – depth and wide of the reach should be identical during the drill and swim stroke. Ensure the pull stays ‘on the rail’  Doggy Paddle Drill