I’m a swimmer now?

Garmin Forerunner 910xt

For the last few months I have been swimming 3 or 4 times a week. Not huge distances or durations (usually for around an hour and between 2 to 2.5 kilometres) but enough to get a good workout in and, more importantly, often enough to get some consistency.

Swimming is incredibly neuro-muscular and very dependent on good technique, which means that practice practice practice is the best way to get better. Yes, I do some dryland training and strengthening and that helps out a lot but not nearly as much as the time I spend in the pool doing drills, intervals and just plain old swimming.

Kevin Koskella (TriSwimCoachOnline) says “I feel that athletes – especially beginning triathletes – get overwhelmed by all the technicalities and science of training and forget the essentials like form, drills, and how their bodies are reacting to training.” It would appear that Coach Ben feels the same way. For example, this week’s swim workouts were:

  • Tue: 1500-2000 meter easy recovery aerobic swim. OK to use different strokes.
  • Thu: Warm-up freestyle swim 500 meters.
    Swim 100m with the paddles, at about 70% intensity, focusing on long reach, pressing your chest down, and high elbows as you pull.
    Recover 15-30 seconds.
    Swim 100m with the paddles and pull-buoy, same rules as above.
    Recover 15-30 seconds.
    Swim 100m with the paddles, pull-buoy, and the bicycle tire wrapped tightly around your ankles so that you cannot move your legs.
    Recover 15-30 seconds.
    Swim 100m with the paddles, NO pull-buoy, and the bicycle tire wrapped tightly around your ankles so that you cannot move your legs.
    Recover 15-30 seconds.
    Complete 2-3 rounds of the workout above, as time permits, then cool-down with another 500m at about 70-80% intensity.
  • Fri: Warm-up 400-500m. Then swim 100m at T-Pace (~85-90%). Time this 100.Recover 15 seconds. Then swim 75m at T-Pace – 5 seconds (~90-95%). Recover 10 seconds. Then swim 25m at maximum pace (100%). Recover 15 seconds. Repeat until you can no longer sustain within 5 seconds of your original 100m pace. Cool-down well.

It might look complicated on paper but it wasn’t in the pool.

Tuesday was just a day to swim and enjoy the activity. It’s great to take a break from the formality of drills to just enjoy moving through the water and to not worry about watching the big clock on the wall (or the fancy new toy I got).

Thursday was a good day for me. This workout has been really helping me find the follow-through on my stroke. A lot of swimmers’ strokes end somewhere near their chest but if you can keep it going all the way to your hip (and beyond), you are going to get a big advantage. Your arm is very powerful, pushing downwards from your chest to your hip. Try it!

Friday was super fun. A lot more fun that just doing 12 repeats of 100m. I am always happy when I get to do short sprints. It makes me feel like a real swimmer and there is something very satisfying about panting for breath at the end of the pool.

I also added a new piece of gear this week. I bought a Garmin Forerunner 910xt. It has an accelerometer in it (like an iPhone) that measures your arm stroke, stroke rate and distance – even in a pool! Very cool. Here’s a link to the workout report Garmin made after my swim on Thursday. Very cool and useful for me and my coach!

2008, 2009 vs. 2010 Totals

Me running in the Seattle Marathon 2010

2010 wasn’t the best year for me in a number of ways… sigh… but it was a great year for my training, racing and for expanding my knowledge of Marathon and Triathlon. I received my TnT Coach Certification from an idol of mine, Jack Tupper Daniels, I have nearly completed my coach certification from the AFLCA (group fitness with a portable equipment designation) and I have reached “triathlon coach in training” status from the NCCP. I completed my first Olympic Distance Triathlon and now have my sites set on a Half-Ironman.

I track my workouts at www.workoutlog.com and these are my yearly totals for 2008, 2009 and 2010 (barring me going out for a big ride or run later today).









Run (trails, track & treadmill)

1751.0 km

1512.6 km

2100.2 km

Bike (Road & trainer)

472.4 km

1527.9 km

2122 km

Swim (Pool & open-water)

41475.0 m

28775.0 m

65118.4 m

I pretty much kicked my own ass this year. On top of what you see above, I also spent 81:20 doing resistance training and another 20-ish hours doing various other cardio activities (tennis & hockey). I lost approximately 15 lbs, dropped 2 pants sizes and put on a noticeable amount of lean muscle. Not bad for a (nearly) 40-year-old chump with a funky ticker.

2010 Races:
Maui Oceanfront Marathon – Jan 24th
Edmonton Hypothermic Half Marathon – Feb 28th
Vancouver Marathon (on-course coach) – May 2nd
Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon – June 26th
Tour de L’Alberta – July 25th
St.Albert Starrt Triathlon – Aug 8th
Alberta Challenge Olympic Triathlon – Aug 22nd
San Francisco Nike Women’s Marathon (on-course coach) – Oct 17th
New York ING Marathon – Nov 7th

2011 Races (subject to change):
Edmonton Hypothermic Half Marathon – Feb 13th
Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon – May 15th
Ottawa Marathon (on-course coach) – May 29th
San Diego Marathon (on-course coach) – June 5th
Great White North Half-Ironman – July 3rd
Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon – Oct 9th

I have my sights set on qualifying for the Boston Marathon this year. I ran a 3:50:51 in NYC and I need to do better than 3:20:59 to qualify. This may be a lofty goal but I think I can at least get close. I’m going to try anyway.

So, here’s to 2011 being even faster, stronger, healthier, leaner and even more fun than 2010 was. Woohoo!