Time Crunched Running #RunFormFriday

Time Crunched Running #RunFormFriday

No Time to Run? 5 Creative Ways to Find Time

Our lives are busier than ever. We are all frantically juggling family life and long working hours; some statistics showing the average working week to be close to 36 hours, with some professions working 40 or more. That’s before we even include sleep, cooking, housework, social engagements, study and additional commitments.

With so many demands placed on us, it’s no wonder that training slips down the list of priorities. But are we really that busy? Or are we just poor at time management or just making excuses?

Scheduling a run can be tough. But with these tips, we’ve got you covered!

 

Make running a priority using creative runner friendly hacks

The busier we get, the more creative we have to be about how we spend our time. It’s easy to waste many hours on the internet, watching TV, on your mobile phone or just frittering time away. You have to get tough with yourself and become incredibly efficient – don’t get distracted by things are less important. In our frantic, busy lives, if you really want to find time to run, you have to find a way to make it work and get organized.

The main thing that stops us finding time to exercise is not giving it a high enough priority in our lives.

When we have enough time, we usually manage to fit exercise in, but when we get busy, exercise is the thing that gets pushed aside, because it’s not deemed as important. But running is one of the best ways to help us deal with stress and overwhelm. Yet the time when we need it most, is the time we tend to short-change ourselves.

We all know intrinsically that exercise is one of the most important things we can do for our health and we need to make it a top priority, but it’s easier said than done. People who make exercise high in their list of priorities are generally the ones who manage to fit it in. They understand the connection between physical fitness, health and mental wellbeing.

That is certainly true for me. I’ve learned over the years that training is a vital part of my life. It’s like medication, and without it I feel physically sick, grumpy and can’t function well. That doesn’t mean I’m always joyful about going for a run or getting in the pool, it just means that I need it in my life and on the days I train I ALWAYS feel better.

So I’ve learned to prioritize. It might mean I go to bed early, or it might mean I miss out on a social event or a TV show, so I can get up early the next day to train. It’s not an obsession; it’s just a choice. And in our busy lives, we can’t have it all. We have to make choices. Life is about balance, sometimes you need to make the social choices. Sometimes you need to make the training ones.

Schedule your run into your day for a guaranteed win

There are two other behaviors that set successful runners apart from the ‘excuse makers’.  ‘The other thing they do is schedule it into the day. They know it’s high priority, and they don’t immediately move it when something else comes up.  They also recognize that a short session is better than none at all.  Even just 15 minutes some days is easier to fit into gaps in your schedule, and keeps you in the routine of regular exercise. Little and often is the key. It’s better to be consistent, but do regular short runs, rather than overwhelm yourself with big mileage goals.

On that note, I find standard training plans for busy people often don’t work. You need to devise your own flexible plan to fit in around your own lifestyle or work with a coach who understands you and can tailor your training to your life conflicts. This is where our coaching plans comes in! Learn HOW to train, what you need to do to meet your goals and work with your schedule to make it happen. A strict training plan (which isn’t personalized to you) can add more stress and the sense of failure when you don’t manage to follow it.

Don’t ‘go hard’ all the time

Pushing hard every single time you go out could be making it difficult for you to stay on track with your training. I often encourage people to back off in a large percentage of their sessions as it helps get the best out of them consistently.

If your brain always associates running with pain, eventually it’ll persuade you to stop.

If on the other hand, your brain associates running with pleasure and enjoyment (perhaps a slower pace and gradual increase of miles, rather than forcing things) then it’s far more likely you’ll continue and WANT to go training, rather than dread it.  Try it and see what happens.

5 Ways to Fit Your Training into a Busy Schedule

  1. Get your training done as early in the day as you can. If you’re waking up for an early morning, you could go to bed early. It sets you up for the day and makes your more productive. We can  ALWAYS find something else to do, so get your run done first.
  1. Make it a habit. Habits are easy to form when you do them every day. Even if you don’t run every day, try to make it the same TIME each day you run. It helps to have a trigger. For example, you run immediately after getting up, or always at lunchtime at work. The idea is that you embed it as something you do automatically. On days where you don’t run, you could do some stretching, strengthening work, or even just work on your balance.
  1. Don’t underestimate the power of a training partner. Training with someone else at least once a week is a great way to make sure you get out there and run. Book in with a friend or group session. The commitment of meeting someone else will mean you’ll be less likely to let them down. If you do not have anyone else in your area to run with, you could set up a virtual running partner with friends on social media, or even using Strava.
  2. Make sure your training schedule works for everyone else in the household. If you’re finding it tough to get out, and the people around you are complaining or encouraging you stay at home, it makes it doubly difficult. Perhaps get them to join you? Or at least make sure they know your plans and how important it is to you. Don’t allow anyone else to derail you or your enthusiasm. Kids could come out on the bike with you, partners could run with you (or do one of your supplementary exercises), or running could mean that once you’re done training, you spend time with them.
  3. And finally, leave some gaps in your schedule. Life has a habit of disrupting plans and things always take longer than you think. All time management systems work best when you build some spaces in for contingency. It reduces stress and gives you another window to run when things go off schedule.

You have 168 hours each and every week. If you work a 40-hour week and sleep 8 hours every night, that leaves 72 hours or just over 10 hours per day. Of the remaining time how much of it do you spend doing things that benefit you less than training; watching television, wasting time on your computer, playing video games or on your mobile phone? I know that it’s something I’m guilty of!

168 hours per week. 40 hours working, 8 hours sleep(!), you have 70 hours left, some of which could be used for training. How are you going to organise your life to do the runs that make you feel better?

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!

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Swimming in the Off Season #SwimTechTues

Swimming in the Off Season #SwimTechTues

As the racing season comes to an end for most, there is always the question on how to go forward with training into the winter months and what some call the off season. With no races on the horizon, it’s a great time to have a mental break as well as a physical break. This means a lighter training load that is more focused on form, always working on consistency. During this time athletes should shift the emphasis to more technique based training, as well as tweaking the structure of our sessions.

Get Some Technique Coaching

Look for private coaching from a knowledgeable and experienced swim coach (hint hint!). All jokes aside, use word-of-mouth recommendations as well as Internet searches. Working with a local coach is advantageous because you can see them multiple times or easily schedule a follow-up session a few weeks later. Things like video swim analysis can be really helpful in making breakthroughs with your stroke – especially if you feel like you have been banging your head against a brick wall trying to improve something during the year.

Improve Your Kick

Use the winter months to become a stronger swimmer from all round. The benefits of having a strong kick include a well-balanced stroke, increased core strength, quicker starting speed and strong and stretched hip flexors (used in cycling and running). Mix up kicking sets with different body positions in the water: Streamlined, kick on your back, side kick or try vertical kicking. Remember, kicking might not give you the most propulsion in your stroke, but a good kick can make life much easier in the water. Plus it can help you get a good workout if you are crunched for time!

Enter Masters Competitions

Competition is the key to staying motivated during training. Search for a local Masters meet online (www.swimming.org/masters/) and register as an individual or as part of a team. Pick the longer events and work on endurance and pacing and enter the sprints to improve speed and power in the water. If a swim meet holds no appeal for you, schedule a monthly time trials into regular training – of varying distances; try 800 one month, 3k the next. Record the times to track improvement and use 100 splits to judge pacing ability (and make sure that there is a difference between the shorter distance pacing and the long distance speeds!).

Learn New Skills

With no pressure on racing, you could use your time to learn some new skills to help spice up your swim sessions – but these skills won’t just help you enjoy sessions more. They will help your all round swim ability. Work on tumble turns for better rhythm and speed throughout a swim, or learn butterfly and breaststroke to give your body variety from standard freestyle and backstroke.

Improve Your Strength

Increase power in the water by building strength in swimming-specific upper-body muscles like the lats, triceps and pectorals. Prevent shoulder overuse injuries with shoulder rotations and elevation exercises using resistance bands and light weights. Improve core strength with balance poses like planks, or power exercises like squats and deadlifts to aid in endurance and maintain technique during long swims.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

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Are Swim Drills Good For Your Swim #SwimTechTues

Are Swim Drills Good For Your Swim #SwimTechTues

Many swimmers ask how often they should be doing drill sessions or swims; how many swim drills they should be doing. Swim drills can be pretty controversial topic depending on who you speak to.

Why Would You Use Swim Drills?

Drills are a useful part of working on form and technique in your swim. In stepping away from JUST swimming up and down the pool, you give your stroke focus and control; You give your speed the chance to improve without having to work physically harder for it.

From my experience, a large number of novice swimmers/triathletes who are just getting started can swim only a few lengths without taking a break. They need drills like side kick or sculling to get their form right initially so that they can swim further or easier.

[bctt tweet=”What is holding these swimmers back is not necessarily fitness but form. #FormBeforeFitness” username=”@Tri_coaching”]

To improve the former, you have to get the latter correct. If we just give these swimmers sprints or 500 metre repeats not only would they not be able to complete sessions; They would most likely quit because of how miserable it feels. They may get a little faster over time, but will always be limited by inefficient form. The compounding effect too is that swimming without the technique instruction first ingrains bad form habits that will prevent them from getting faster later on in their swim development.

These errors not only will be in the pool but also in the open water. In this instance, drills and building awareness in the water allows swimmers to be more confident in the water. Drills build awareness of what your body is doing, which is a critical skill for those uncomfortable in the water.

You aren’t going to  float better in the water if you don’t know what it feels like to be balanced in the water. Nor are you going to be able to develop a high elbow catch if you don’t focus on it and work to improve it. Breathing, the trickiest part of learning to swim, is hard to develop without knowing the timing of your stroke. It’s hard to develop timing without breaking down your stroke into individual parts.

[bctt tweet=”Drills build awareness of what your body is doing, a critical skill for those new in the pool.” username=”@Tri_coaching”]

Why Would You NOT Do Swim Drills?

Some incredibly successful coaches see swim drills as unimportant for becoming a better swimmer. Rather in fact it is better to spend your time with intensity. Matt Dixon goes as far as to call drills making you faster a “myth” and that they “rarely translate into improved swimming for triathletes”.

His reasoning is that as triathletes, we are training for open water swimming. As a result swim drills that focus on technique are great for competitive pool swimmers but not for the open water. It’s like learning to run a marathon by looking at the form of Usain Bolt.

At the same time, Sutton states that “90% of non-swimmers would be far better served by using aids and instead of drilling, performing swim sessions that specifically address the needs of the physical exertion of swimming non-stop for an hour”. He goes on to say that “developing a feel” for the water prevents you from becoming a better triathlete.

Both Dixon and Sutton have some very valid points here. Since many cannot get to the pool more than twce a week, we have to make every lap count. Spending an hour of our time and majority of the practice doing fingertip drag for length after length does little to building swim fitness or speed. And drills will not make you faster- at least not directly.

So What Should You Do?

For me, swim drills are important. A key, even, to making you a better swimmer. But they are only a tool to help you along your way; they are not the be all and end all. Perfection is not necessary, either in your stroke, or in your drills. But EVERYONE has parts of their stroke that they need to work on. That’s where these swim drills can be used to make a difference. They exaggerate a particular element of your technique, allowing you to feel a positive change when you swim full stroke.

Rather than doing whole sessions of mindless drills all the time, incorporate specific drills into your warm up. Swim with purpose, and use improved form to help improve your speed and fitness. Make sure that you know why you are doing a drill, what it is aiming to improve. Then you can get the maximum out of the exercise, and the sessions you are undertaking.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

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Swim Like A Cyclist – But You Can’t Buy Speed! #SwimTechTues

Swim Like A Cyclist – But You Can’t Buy Speed! #SwimTechTues

Some athletes spend so much money on shiny kit, trying to get us as aero as possible on the bike. You might know a few who are always upgrading their bike(s)! How much did you pay for your bike (frame, aerobars, wheels, accessories, fittings, etc…)? There are plenty of articles and an abundance of research out there that can detail out for you the cost per second you save on each upgrade to your cycling kit. For example, upgrading from a regular road frame to a TT frame saves about 2-2.5 min on a 40km time trial (www.aerosportsresearch.com). Based on what the average triathlete purchases, seconds on the bike are valuable!

When it comes to swimming there is very little time that you can “buy.”  On the other hand, just like in cycling, there is a lot of time to be saved without necessarily increasing effort (power output).  Alternatively, you could swim the same speed but much easier, a reduction in power required.

Things To Consider:

  • Water is 784 times denser than air.  Fun fact, dirt is only 2.5 times denser than water!  
  • Your drag coefficient while swimming is always changing; you need to be aware of your body position at every point in your stroke and the water around you.
  • How often do you watch yourself swim? You’ve probably seen yourself on the bike, maybe on the turbo.
  • A good swim saves you energy for the rest of your race. Becoming a more proficient swimmer does not just save you a few seconds on the swim but it will improve your bike and run performance.
  • Doing something over and over again without feedback creates habits.  Are you creating good or bad habits?

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – Albert Einstein.

Thinking Of Swimming Like A Cyclist:

  • Good body tension = A nice stiff frame
    • You would never use full suspension shocks on your TT-bike because you don’t want those precious watts being absorbed by the shocks.  Keeping good tension throughout your body creates a stiffness to transfer the power generated by your arms and legs into forward motion.
  • Body position or alignment = Aero (Frame, Wheels, Helmet, etc..)
    • Your body position at each point in the in the stoke is your TT frame, aero-helmet, race wheels etc..,  If you have a soft inactive core, over bending knees, over lifting of the head, then you are not riding an aero frame you are riding a mountain bike with a parachute dragging behind you.
  • Catch/engagement with the water = Gears or chain ring
    • Are you pushing a “38 tooth chain ring” next to someone who is pushing a “53”? Keeping your hand and wrist in vertical alignment with your forearm as long as possible throughout the pull will maximize your leverage on the water.

Unfortunately you can’t walk into your local swim shop, swipe your credit card, and come out a faster swimmer. However, with proper feedback and a systematic approach you can greatly improve your swim this season!

If you want to work on your “hydro” check out our swim coaching or video swim analysis packages.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here!

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

Slow Down To Speed Up, Take Your Time #SwimTechTues

Slow Down To Speed Up, Take Your Time #SwimTechTues

Do you find that if you try to swim faster, you end up moving the same speed or slower – for more effort?

Slow down, take your time

If this is you, you may find that you need to slow things down a touch.

Have you noticed that the best athletes in their respective sports look like they have all the time in the world?

The two examples above show this perfectly.

With Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, most of the race they are rowing at around 40 strokes per minute; not that it looks like it! To stroke at that rate, it takes timing and control.

When you watch Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal, he has time to catch the ball, look at the posts and score the drop goal – even with players running at him to charge him down. But he keeps his eye on the ball and doesn’t snatch at the action; if he had, he may well have dropped the pass all together.

 

Less Haste, More Speed

Taking your time does not mean that you have to move slowly. Especially when it comes to racing, cadence makes a difference to how quickly you move through the water. That said, just throwing your arms round and round is not going to be any assistance to you at all!

When trying to take faster strokes, think about what effect that is having on the rest of your body. A more unstable body means the water is less stable too.

Rowing is a perfect example: when the blade is out of the water the rowers are smooth, relaxed and controlled. The speed of the oars cannot physically increase the speed of the boat. In fact if Helen and Heather were to throw the blade in faster, it would destabilise and slow them down. Once the blade goes into the water however, both rowers are forcing the oar against the water with as much force as they can. This accelerates the boat forward with every stroke.

In this regard, swimming is exactly like rowing. When your arm is out of the water, it is not positively influencing your body’s speed or momentum. Rushing and throwing it forward will destabilise you, and make it more difficult to connect with the water at the front end of your stroke. With a calmer, smoother entry, you will create less bubbles, you will be more in control of your arm AND the water. Once your hand is in the water you can look to accelerate the water backwards, and your body forwards.

If your hand/arm is accelerated back quickly enough, it will come out and recover over the water fast enough without needing to be forced or thrown forwards. This is where the example of Jonny Wilkinson is appropriate; not needing to force your action, or rush. If you are putting the work and effort in in the right places (i.e. once you have engaged with the water), then being calm and controlled and trusting in your skills is key.

[Tweet “Less haste, more speed – grabbing at the water makes you slower #FormBeforeFitness”]

Put It Into Practise

Try it out in training – remember, if your body position is good then you don’t require too much action to generate forward momentum. You should focus on generating force underwater and being relaxed in your recovery.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!