Weekly Swim Session Plan 12 June 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 174

For most of us in the Northern hemisphere, open water swimming is well under way.  This week, we practice some useful open water skills in the pool, in order to be more effective when we are out in the open water

Warm Up:

200m, easy

Technical set:

4 x 50m, turning at the deep end of the pool, without touching the side, or pushing off.

4 x 50m, sighting practice, every 4-5 strokes

4 x 50m, drafting (if you have a swim-buddy)

Main set:

3 – 5 x 400m consistent target race pace, occasionally mixing in an open water skill

Warm down:

200m – 400m     Easy to very easy

Total Volume:

2200m – 3200m

Coaching Points:

Turning – choose either backstroke turn, or single arm stroke turning technique – see which works best for you.

Sighting – always sight on the non-breathing stroke, keeping the head low, in order to cause least disruption to your normal swim-stroke.

Drafting – stay right behind a faster swimmer to improve your usual swim pace, or swim behind someone of similar pace to discover how much easier life just became! Make a conscious choice on race day, which drafting tactic you’ll adopt – go faster, or save energy for later!

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Weekly Swim Session Plan 5 June 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 173

Back to a volume session this week, with a small amount of race-start practice.

It’s all too easy to go into the red at the race start.  Getting a fast, clean start is important if you want to be competitive, so swimming very fast (sprinting) at the start is commonplace. If that sprint leaves you breathless and anxious, the chances are, the rest of your swim may be compromised as a result.

Practicing the transition between the sprint-start and race-pace may help you become familiar with the sensations you may experience, when it’s time to settle into race-pace swimming.

Warm Up:

300m, easy

Technical set:

2 x 200 as 100m hard, followed by 100m average race pace (simulated race starts)

Main set:

4 – 7 x 400m at consistent race pace efforts

Warm down:

200m – 400m     Easy to very easy

Total Volume:

2500 – 3900m

Coaching Points:

Ease off your starting pace gradually, focus on exhaling into the water and try to not take huge gasps of air as you breathe.  As you settle into a sustainable race pace, understand and be confident that your heart rate will take a few strokes to respond to the decreased effort.  Stick with it.  A fall of just 3-4bpm (beats per minute) can make all the difference and allow your RPE (rate of perceived exertion) drop from a 9.5 to a 7 out of 10 and you are able to swim the remainder of the race.

Whether you find this practice difficult or really useful, consider modifying this session by doing slightly more technical reps and reducing the volume main set, if you feel that more practice will benefit you on race day.

In other news…

It’s been a while since my last blog post and the main reason for that, is that I only tend to write when I feel like I have something to say and of late, well….

There have been lots of small things going on but nothing that compelled me to write.  Here we are though, with a cluster of little bits and pieces that I thought I’d share with you, in what may turn out to be more of a magazine format….

On my last home leave from Iraq, I managed to get a second appointment with my swim coach (yeah, coaches need coaches too!) Morgan Williams of  Evolve.  We looked at my stroke rate and found that I could increase my stroke rate by around 10% from 60 spm to 66 spm, in order to get the optimal balance between speed and RPE over the swim distance.   I came away from the session with best intentions and now swim with a stroke rate beep from my tempo trainer for each session.  Success? Well, let’s just say that I’m work in progress.  I can report, that last night I had the best swim I’ve had in the last three years or so, (based on perception).  I can at least remember why I used to swim six days a week.

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Its Ironman season and Ironman UK looms large on the calendar.  A couple of weeks ago, Vaughn Dinnage, (who’s racing) and I, headed over to Bolton to do hill repeats on Sheep House Lane and Hunter’s Hill (the course’s ‘new’ climb).

Sheep House

Ascending Sheep House, I managed to PR in all 11 segments and was feeling pretty positive about the day.  However, as I descended for the second repetition, an oncoming car, overtaking a cyclist, forced me into the very edge of the road and directly over a large pot hole, breaking a spoke in my rear wheel, buckling it so badly, it wouldn’t turn in the frame.  Thankfully, I was able to bring the bike to a safe stop but won’t share with you Vaughn’s expletives as he pulled up behind me!

Top of Sheephouse

Not to lose the day, Vaughn rode down the hill, drove back up in the van and I waited with it, while he did his reps. We then headed over to Hunters for him to sample that test for the first time. Here are a couple of clips to give you a flavor of what the Ironman UK athletes have in store this July:

What did Vaughn think of the climb that he’ll face for the second time at about 90 miles?

Vintage shirt, vintage rider, no helmet…. what decade could this have been?

Fredericks

The reward for Vaughn’s hard work – a double scoop cone from Fredericks ice cream parlour in Chorley – worth a visit if you’re out on a course recce.

As well as getting regular Zwift rides in Iraq and some longer road rides in UK, I think the main reason for my Sheep House PRs, had been my reduced body mass.  Those that read this blog regularly may recall Faster Fasting, where I described my intermittent fasting regimen that I combine with a low carb diet, while in Iraq.  Since that time, I have lost 12Kg, which compared to the 20g saving when switching to a carbon bottle cage from a plastic one, is quite a bit!  Many of us would do well to remember that comparison when spending yet more money on the latest kit, rather than looking in perhaps more obvious areas for weight savings.

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Speaking of which, as well as getting a walk-in repair and truing of my buckled wheel by the great guys at Bridgtown Cycles’ workshop, I did at the same time, pick up my new Time Trial bike, a Project One design on their popular Speed Concept range. I transferred my Quarq / SRAM Red power meter and chain ring over to the new bike, as it doesn’t have many miles on it (replacing that on the old bike with Ultegra).  I just got the standard wheels in it, as my Reynolds race wheels will ultimately pair with it.  SRAM E-tap wireless electronic shifters and a white-on-white minimal paint job, with tapered dark-to-light graduated blue top tube and rear stays.  It may not be everyone’s taste in this age of stealth matt black but I like it!

You can see the rear box (large enough to store a tubular tyre) and the top tube mounted nutrition box.   I have been struggling to balance training, the idea of racing and my low-carb approach to diet.  For long rides, I’ll often stop and buy something along the way but that isn’t really the solution and wouldn’t work for race days.  Recently, I came across Veloforte – an all-natural energy bar, in three flavours, that I’m going to try when I’m next home – I think that experience may become a blog entry of its own…

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For a few years, I have subscribed to the idea that shopping for kit, is almost as good as a training session (cue canned laughter).  I have (more recently than the bike) also shopped for some new wheels, to be primarily paired with the summer road bike but that could on the right occasion, also be dropped into the TT.

My friend Vaughn, from the videos above, has bought and heavily recommended some wheels by Spin.  They have extra-wide rims, to take either wide, or narrower tyres and can be run at unusually (for a road tyre) low pressures.   See Ride Full Gas.  Known affectionately as ‘fat boys’ (sounds strangely familiar…), they can be custom designed to your requirements and hand made in around 3 – 7 weeks, depending upon the order backlog.

I’ve gone for red hubs, black spokes, red nipples and black-on black decals on the 58mm rims, with the heavy-weight rider design for the wheel spokes.  I would have chosen  45mm rims, which perhaps more suitable in a road frame? But Drew at Ride Full Gas, recommended the 58mm rims, given my relatively high body mass, the deeper section should offer a better ride, without too much flex and of course, aerodynamic benefits over their slimmer siblings.

The wheels when they arrive, should look something like this:

Front-Hub-1__59650.1465400490.1280.1280

They are, in my own view, a thing of beauty.  Once I try them out, I’ll give you a report on how they perform.

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Aside from the spending spree, I also recently received by Level 3 British Triathlon coach certification.

Level 3

 

It’s been a long time coming, having missed a weekend and having had to wait a year to pick up that content as part of another group.  The course content is quite different to the Ironman Certified Coach accreditation that I’d completed prior to starting my Level 3 (and have already refreshed after two-years).  I prefer to see them as complementary to each other, rather than rival qualifications.  Of all the modules, the one where we perhaps only scratched the surface, yet the one that I’ve got most use from is Sports Psychology.

I’d like to publicly thank my superb coach tutor, Simon Ward of The Triathlon Coach who really helped me to understand where I am in the process of becoming a coach, which could perhaps be summarised as a little like passing your driving test.  It’s now it’s time to learn how to drive!

Paul

GI Tri Coach

 

Weekly swim session plan 30 May 18

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 172

All great swimmers exhibit excellent balance in the water.  Let’s look at what I consider to be the key drill for balance and alignment – skating drill and use an intermediate step (6-3-6) to carry that alignment into our freestyle stroke.

Warm Up:

200m, easy

Technical set:

6 x 50m as skate to halfway, swim to wall. Alternate left and right hand lead

6 x 50m 6-3-6

Main set:

4 – 7 x 200m focusing between alignment and balanced rotation.

Warm down:

200m – 400m     Easy to very easy

Total Volume:

1800m – 2400m

Coaching Points:

In skating, the leading arm should be straight out in front of the rotated shoulder.  The trailing arm should be ‘in pocket’ (straight down on the INSIDE of the thigh). Kick should not be so aggressive as to throw you off balance – consider a compact ad rhythmic kick.

6-3-6 is as simple as counting to three (strokes) then switching sides. Breathing on the second stroke or just after the third stroke, when you have maximum propulsion, works best.

Weekly Swim Session Plan 22 May 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 171

We have been alternating technique and volume now for many weeks.  This week’s session aims to sharpen your race pace, with higher intensity and a little less volume than you’re now used to.

Warm Up:

2 x 100m, the first easy, the second, steady.

Technical set:

No technical set

Main set:

5 – 8 x 100m over threshold – 15 sec rest

3 – 6 x 200m threshold – 30 sec rest

5 – 8 x 100m over threshold – 15 sec rest

Warm down:

200-400m easy

Total Volume:

2000m – 3400m

Coaching Points:

As with all volume sets, don’t go out too hard. You should gradually get up to threshold and just over it, through the first set of 100s.

If you feel rising anxiety focus on your exhale and if you need to ease off the pace, do so very gradually, allowing your heart time to respond to the reduced intensity.  Don’t switch from hard to easy but just think of easing off the gas very slightly, allowing you to recover over 50m or so.

Weekly Swim Session Plan 15 May 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 170

This week, we are going to re-visit our kick by engaging glutes, kicking (from the hip) without a board, then rolling the kick into the freestyle stroke.

Warm Up:

200m, easy

Technical set:

6 x 50m as kick (no board) to halfway, swim to wall.

Main set:

4 – 7 x 400m at target race pace, 2 minutes rest

Warm down:

100m – 200m     Easy to very easy

Total Volume:

2200m – 3500m

Coaching Points:

As you push from the wall, engage your glutes and focus on keeping them engaged, as you kick from the hip, arms outstretched in front.  Breathe forward, or take a single pull and breathe to the side, as preferred.

Ensure the glutes remain engaged through the swim portion of each length and kick from the hip, with a relaxed knee.

Weekly Swim Session Plan 8 May 18

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 169

Further work on our continuous swimming, using just short breaks to capture repetition data and refocus on holding great technique.

Warm Up:

2 x 100m, the first easy, the second, steady.

Technical set:

No technical set

Main set:

3 x 20 minutes continuous (1-minute rest in between) for athletes training up to 70.3 distance

3 x 30 minutes continuous (1-minute rest in between) for athletes training up to IM distance

Warm down:

No warm down

Total Volume:

2800m – 5000m

Coaching Points:

Aim for consistency across all three repetitions. In terms of level of effort, set out slightly easier than you might expect, preserve yourself for later parts of the swim.  In the third repetition, you may build as if coming to the end of your race swim. Build your swim by holding good body alignment and balance, coupled with a strong, symmetrical pull.

Got questions? Leave a comment

Paul

GI Tri Coach