So its now the time of year when the hard training and racing has stopped. You’ve probably had a bit of time out from training – maybe a holiday. But now you’re getting back into doing a little bit of sport, building a little consistency for winter. Now is the time to sort out flaws in technique, things that may have been holding you back or causing you injury. Video swim analysis is one of the best tools around to help you with your swimming – regardless of your level or ability.
We specialise in the delivery of one-to-one swim stroke analysis sessions, in our endless pool at the amazing Triathlon Shop in Bristol. Here we can break down an athlete’s swim stroke, identify any flaws or weaknesses and give them guidance on how they can improve their stroke and overall efficiency, through their usual training sessions.
So what is video swim analysis?
During an hour session, our qualified coach will put your through a structured session in the pool, analysing all aspects of your stroke and looking for areas which could be improved. Examples include, but are not limited to, overall body position, body rotation, breathing technique, stroke efficiency. During the session itself we will give pointers where we can and will also provide you with a debrief at the end, identifying key areas for improvement and also particular drills or sessions you can follow to help overcome these, as part of your usual swim training.
We will always consider your aims and aspirations with your swimming at the outset of the session and incorporate this into the sessions and the advice we give. Whether you are an experienced swimmer or a novice looking to do your first triathlon, we are here the help with video swim analysis.
Can you video me?
Yes sure, we do this for the majority of our athletes and everybody comments on how watching their videos gives them an increased awareness of their body when they swim and what it is doing at various stages of the stroke. We use a number of high definition cameras to capture video swim analysis at various angles, both above and beneath the water. At the end of the session your coach will take you through these and they will also potentially be available to keep at the end of your session.
Is swim analysis really for me?
Whether you are an experienced triathlete or relatively new to swimming, everybody can benefit from having video swim analysis. As with all aspects of life, we all develop bad habits and even the smallest issue in your stroke can have a massive impact on your overall efficiency through the water. See a video below of shop director Holly Burrage in the pool having a session of coaching with us.
What is an endless pool?
Our endless pool is approximately 3 metres long and 2 metres wide and just over a metre deep. This may not sound like a lot but a water jet at the front pushes water down the pool creating a current that the athlete then swims into. We are able to control the speed of the current and as such can set the pace to you and the type of session you are undertaking.
You as an athlete push off from the back wall and start to swim. Once you are settled into your stroke you will in effect be swimming on the spot. The mirror we have on the bottom of the pool acts as a guide and also allows the you to watch your stroke as you are swimming. Once you have had enough you simply stop swimming, float towards the back of the pool and stand up.
When Can I Do A Session?
The pool is available whenever the store is open. We can do sessions Monday-Friday 8-6, and Saturday 10.30-5.30. Things are obviously open to availability
How long does a session last?
A typical session lasts 1 hour, although first sessions may be slightly longer due to the initial chat you will complete with your coach. Remember this is your one-to-one with a coach and you have their undivided attention, but it won’t be constant swimming for an hour! A lot of the time will be spent looking at the video of you swimming and understanding what will make your stroke better/stronger/smoother/faster.
How much will it cost?
A single hour one to one session costs £65, with the option to take the video swim analysis home a further £15 on top of that. Beyond that we offer the option of a personalised PDF with particular drills, skills and comments from the session at £100. Finally with a review swim at a later date for £120. We are just about to start offering block bookings, where athletes can pre-pay for a number of sessions at a significantly discounted rate. Please contact us for our current special offers.
OK I am sold! How do I book my first session?
Simple, complete our online booking form using the link below and we will be in touch to arrange a suitable slot and get you in the pool. We look forward to meeting you!
Trail running, like off road driving, presents similar challenges. Road running, no matter how long you’ve been doing it, won’t prepare your body or mind for what awaits after you step off those smooth, flat surfaces. Read on for the top six challenges experienced road runners face when they venture away from the pavement. You’ll also learn how to develop the skills needed to master these challenges, and how these skills will benefit you, not only trail running, but on any surface you choose to run.
Rehab And Prehab In Disguise
Don’t want to convert? Scared trail running will sabotage your road or race prowess? Have no fear, the two disciplines are complementary. Elite runners see trail running as beneficial to all running. You can actually used the trails to your advantage while recovering from an injury. The slower paces don’t aggravate injury, but you are able to maintain fitness because of the effort level trail running requires. You can find that the way to get the most out of training is to do focused workouts on the road or track and recovery on the trails. This combination will allow you to stay healthy and focused. Doing road and track workouts allows you to get the maximum benefit from each quality session, while the trail excursions can let your body and mind recover as you enjoy the beauty of local forests.
The drills and exercises recommended to improve your skills on the trails mirror those you’d do as part of a rehabilitation program for some of the most common running injuries and are advised for those who want to avoid such injuries. Facing the challenges of off road running provides a more immediate and tangible motivation than preventing a potential injury and is a whole lot more fun than doing drills and exercises after an injury has occurred. Regardless of the motivation, developing these skills will make you stronger, faster and healthier wherever you run.
1 – TECHNICAL DESCENTS
Road, track, and even cross country runners rarely face the long, steep and technically challenging descents frequently found in trail running. Often these new-to-trail runners hit the brakes and gingerly make their way down, or they may surge and reach high speeds, but then find themselves stumbling out of control and suffering stride-altering soreness later in the race. Runners who struggle with this specific skill must learn to negotiate obstacles quickly while maintaining good balance with the least amount of effort.
2 – SUDDEN TURNS
Road runners are good at running in one direction: straight ahead. Negotiating sharp turns and dodging rocks and vegetation off-road takes lateral movement. This was the toughest thing for me when I first started spending a lot of time on the trails. My stabilizer muscles really took a toll from all the side-to-side movement. In order to counteract all the extra muscle-fatiguing movement, you can hit the gym to challenge core, hamstrings, glutes and quads to increase overall stability.
3 – STEEP, ERRATIC ASCENTS
“It’s an energy allowance game,” says Trent Briney, a 2:12 marathoner who was an alternate for the 2004 Olympic marathon team and recently placed third on the jumbled slick-rock at Moab’s Red Hot 33K. “You need to know how to judge your output so you still have the power to jump up and over foot-and-a-half-tall steps or rocks when you encounter them. That’s exhausting if you’re not used to it.”
4 – WIDELY VARIED EFFORT AND THE LACK OF RHYTHM
The best road racers are able to dial in pace, or rhythm, for long periods of time so they feel comfortable and controlled on race day. Rhythm, however, is virtually impossible to come by while running on the trails. Running the trails taxes multiple systems – mover and stabilizer muscles, motor nerves and the brain – and this fatigue may play a greater role in one’s ability to maintain or re-establish pace.
5 – MUDDY, ICE/SNOW-COVERED AND SANDY/SOFT TRAILS
We’ve all seen the post-race photos of the mud-encrusted trail runner. Though it’s considered a badge of honor in the off-road world, it’s often a game-changer on race day. Unpleasant trail conditions, like mud, snow, ice and sand, slow runners down and force muscles and limbs to withstand unnatural angles and loads.
6 – NUTRITION/HYDRATION ON THE RUN
Trail runs deplete glycogen reserves more quickly than running the same distance on the roads.
Road running feels different. You think that if you slow down to an 9/10/12-minute mile pace that you can run forever. It takes significant training time for your body to adapt and use fuel differently. The extra demands of the terrain on the body mean additional fueling considerations. Uphill running and all of the other dancing you do on the trails require more calories. New-to-trail road runners don’t understand that you use way more energy on shorter runs due to the terrain and changing of gears.
Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know if you have any questions! We all have our own thoughts on the matter, and we all have something different that suits us.
See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!
Just in case you were thinking of getting straight back into training for next year, here is some reasoning on why you should have a few weeks of active recovery and definitely take a break.
The Kenyan Runners swear by it – ‘Nearly every Kenyan Runner rests starting the month of October, with most not resuming training until December or January, yet top triathletes now look to race almost all year long combining an Australian & European season back to back. This is also seen at club level with many multidiscipline athletes (especially juniors) under pressure to compete for their running club in X-Country and swim in galas throughout the winter. Many athletes will go straight from the Triathlon season at the end of September/ October straight into X-Country, mountain biking and Masters swimming events without a chance to take a break.
For the following reasons it might be wise to take a break:
The end of season break allows for the body to fully repair any tissue damage. During this period body fat levels may increase slightly and this time will also allow the stores of essential vitamins and minerals to be restored.
The immune system continually has to work overtime as it is trashed by hard training and competition. A prolonged break gives it a chance to fully recover and reduce the risk of illness throughout the winter. It will also reduce the risk of overtraining or under performing syndrome.
This is the time to rest or follow a rehab programme for a recurring injury. Use the time away from training to get a proper diagnosis and the correct treatment. An extra couple of weeks off, for example running, at this time of year will have no effect on next years performances, whereas running all winter with a niggling injury will!
The end of season break allows an individual to;
– spend quality time with friends and family
– recover from the pressures of training & racing
– reduce the chances of becoming stale
– stand back from the sport & recharge the ‘batteries’
Use this time constructively to:
* review the previous season and identify strengths and weaknesses * set goals for the forthcoming season * video the athletes swim, cycle and run for technical analysis * do base line tests * sort out any recurring injuries * plan the emphasis of winter training
What should your end of season include:
1-2 weeks very easy (research has shown little drop off in performance by reducing training volume for this period of time, although some swimming should still be done to maintain the ‘feel for the water’)
Followed by 1-2 weeks of different activities for example Mountain biking, racket sports, Introduction to a weights programme, hill walking or just shorter runs / bikes/swims
You should ‘exercise’ as you feel and not follow a rigid programme. This might be the time to look at joining a local running club, finding a spin or circuit training session for the winter or taking up mountain biking.
Weeks 1 – 3:
– Train when you feel like it
– No high intensity work or races
– At least two rest days per week
– No running
– Maximum 30 minutes per session
– Train once per day ONLY
Weeks 4 – 6 – Swim – 2 x per week, maximum 45’, drills & technique – Goal is to maintain feel for the water – Weights – 2 x per week, as circuits ( class or attached sheet) – Stretch – 2 x per week – Optional sessions – maximum 45 minutes per session – Train once per day only- ( you can stretch on the same day as another session) – No high intensity work or races – At least one rest day per week
THE GOALS FOR THIS WHOLE PERIOD ARE:
* Recover from any niggles or injuries.
* Recharge the batteries
* Rebuild fitness
* Analyse performances from this season
* Set goals for next season
* ENJOY LIFE!
As a coach of distance swimmers and triathletes, I believe counting strokes is a necessary part of most swimming workouts.
What Counting Strokes Can Do For You
If you stick with it and do it on a consistent basis, stroke-counting in swimming is an excellent way to increase your DPS (Distance Per Stroke). The world’s best swimmers are faster than you because they travel further with each stroke, not because they are moving their arms faster. Keeping track of the number of strokes you take per length will allow you to begin to lengthen out your stroke, as well as add more speed and distance while keeping your heart rate down and allowing you to save your energy for later in the swim or race. Added to this, you will be more aware of changes in your stroke, if something is not quite right.
Obviously less strokes a length is good up to a point – but when you start trying to “glide” too much to drop your numbers further, or over extending your wrists trying to reach further, you lose speed and get dead spots. This is obviously a fine balancing act!
Counting Strokes can be really beneficial. It’s not to obsess over, but a key metric in seeing how your swim is changing and improving
Finding Your Target Stroke Count
Count your strokes for a few lengths in a steady, aerobic pace set. Hopefully things should be fairly steady and even, consistent. Otherwise that is your first goal – making the number of strokes you do per length the same every time. Consistency is a good thing because it means that your stroke is repeatable. If it is repeatable, then it will be easier to hold when you go and race.
Now something I was always taught when I was swimming competitively was that you should aim to travel the length of your arm span for each stroke. So if your wings measure 2 metres tip to tip, for every stroke you do, you should travel *2 metres*. On that basis a 25m length SHOULD take 12-13 strokes(counting 1 for each arm pull)! If you take into account a decent push off the wall, that is something that with good technique is possible. If you are doing less than this, either you are doing some great turns or you are gliding a long way but not very quickly! The reason for this is that if you have contact on the water all the way through your stroke you should be able to lever yourself through the water all that way.
This is where things get more difficult and more individual. Not everyone has the power to leverage themself that far per stroke – so you may look to move your arms a little faster, and slice your hands through the water a little more, to give you a higher cadence.
Swim Faster, Swim Smarter
To borrow this equation from a previous blog your swim speed is very much dependent on the length of your stroke and how quickly your arms turn over.
This is where you can play around with things to work out what fits best for you, playing a training game called Swim Golf. Take a simple set of 50s – maybe 6, with a reasonable rest period – 20 or 30 seconds. For each 50, count your strokes AND check your time. Add these two numbers together to get your golf score. Try to lower this score through the set. The tricky part is, trying to add speed without adding strokes, or subtracting strokes without sacrificing speed.
Consistently incorporating counting strokes into your sessions will, over time, help you to swim longer (or “taller”) in the water, and use less energy to go the same speed or even faster. And for those that don’t consider swimming to be their strength in a triathlon, this saved energy is sure to translate into a better bike and run!
Just as a note, in a 25m pool, I swim 12 strokes a length almost religiously. When the pace goes up – or I’m tired – that might increase to 13 or maybe even 14 strokes per length. This is always my key to remember to press on the water rather than pull at it, and really finish my stroke off at the back end.
Take your time with learning this – as with any skill. The point is that the linked drills are there to make you smoother, stronger, more efficient. Make sure you hit all those target points! Have a go at the swim golf; maybe rather than thinking about trying to swim faster aim to swim harder.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here!
I’ve always felt that running with music makes things easier, and if you’re like me, then you probably will grab a music player and headphones before you head out for a run and potentially your favorite playlist. The question is, can music make you a better runner?
How Running With Music Affects The Brain
Though there have been a number of recent studies on the relationship between music and exercise, research on this subject dates back until at least 1911 when Leonard Ayres found that cyclists pedalled faster while music was playing than when things were silent. Over 100 years later, in 2012, another piece of research showed that cyclists who listened to music required 7% less oxygen to do the same work as those who cycled in silence without music. So not only does music help us to push ourselves further and faster, it can also help us use our energy more efficiently.
Studies have also shown that when athletes work with music they often work harder for more sustained periods of time, as illustrated below.
A type of legal performance-enhancing drug
Music changes people’s perception of their own effort throughout a workout. Simply put, music distracts us from pain and fatigue, elevates our mood and increases endurance. Dr Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London, one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of exercise music, wrote that one could think of music as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.”
The image below shows our brain at rest vs. our brain when reacting to music. You see a much wider region that is activated when music is playing.
Another way music increases endurance is by bringing out our emotions. We all have certain songs that remind us of special occasions, motivate us and make us awash with emotion. Music competes for the brain’s conscious attention and helps us get lost in the moment—instead of our focus being on the miles we’re covering and the distance to go, we can instead escape to a place the music takes us. If we strongly identify with the song we’re listening to it can increase our motivation and focus too.
What’s the most popular workout music? According to a study of college students the most popular types of music listened to during exercise are Hip Hop (27.7%), Rock (24%), Pop (20.3%), and Country (12.7%).
Music Tempo and Volume
It’s clear that music does affect our running ability, but can different types of music have different affects on us? A study by Judy Edworthy and Hannah Waring at the University of Plymouth looked to answer that exact question. Using the two variables, tempo and loudness they tested 30 physically active participants in five conditions (loud/fast, loud/slow, quiet/fast, quiet/slow, and no music) at a self-selected pace for 10min on a treadmill.
What they found was that loudness and tempo boosted the participants’ speeds and heart rates in a predictable manner. Louder and faster music resulted in the subjects selecting a faster treadmill pace than slower and quieter music.
Tip: While compiling your next running playlist it could be worth keeping in mind that there’s a ceiling effect on music at around 145 bpm – anything higher doesn’t seem to add much motivation.
Music doesn’t make the strain exercise puts on our bodies any less severe, but it makes it more bearable. It gives us a way to escape from the signals of fatigue and helps us to become stronger, faster and even braver in the pursuit of the finish line. At the highest levels, where athletes are finely tuned for performance and at the top of their game the effects of music are minimal, but for those of us who aren’t professional runners it can make a profound difference to our mentality and results.
So what is on YOUR list? Let us know, I’m always on the lookout for more tunes to add to the list! Here’s a sample of my play list: