How Quickly Can You Lose Fitness #RunFormFriday

How Quickly Can You Lose Fitness #RunFormFriday

How much will taking time off from running hurt my fitness? It’s one of the most common questions I get from athletes struggling with injury, fighting illness, or hesitant to take a much-needed rest from training. This becomes especially prescient now with training ability reduced by the Coronavirus. As athletes, many of us are paranoid about taking more than a few days off, generally thinking it will ruin our months of meticulous training.

As a coach, I am not immune to being frightened by this irrational fear. I’ve had niggles, injuries and illness that I have tried to train on through in one-way shape or form, generally not ending particularly well!

However, I wanted to share this with you to demonstrate that this is written with the deepest understanding of how hard it can be to listen to science and understand that a few days off isn’t going to end your hopes of running as fast as you’ve dreamed.

When we delve into the effects of taking time off from training, we have to analyse the detraining from two perspectives: 1) your energy systems such as aerobic fitness, threshold and VO2 max; and 2) your structural systems such as your muscles and neuromuscular coordination (how fast and efficiently your brain can tell your body to perform and execute a specific movement).

Effect of detraining on the aerobic system
Because VO2 max is one of the best measurements of an endurance athlete’s physical fitness, it’s the easiest baseline to compare the effects of detraining on your aerobic system. To be brief, VO2 max is an individual’s maximum ability to transport and use oxygen during exercise.

Recent studies show that there is little reduction in VO2max for the first 10 days following inactivity in well-trained athletes. It is important here to mention that all of these guidelines assume you are a well-trained runner, having trained consistently for a 4-6 month period. New athletes will lose fitness at a slightly faster rate since they have a lower base of fitness.

After two weeks of not running, studies show that VO2 max decreases by 6%. After 9 weeks VO2 max drops by 19%. After 11 weeks of no running, Studies demonstrate that VO2 max falls by 25.7% from peak physical fitness. So, as you can see, from an aerobic standpoint, you have very little to worry about if you have to take a break from running for two weeks or less.

This is very important for those runners that need to take a hiatus because of a small injury or are nervous about taking downtime after a long training segment. A 6% decline in VO2 max can be made up with one or two weeks of solid training. In the current situation with Coronavirus, this shouldn’t cause too much of a worry – while we are still allowed outside in the UK.

While percentages are fantastic, what do those numbers really mean for runners? Let’s use an example of a 20 minute 5k runner. A 20 minute 5k runner has a VO2max of roughly 49.81 ml/kg/min (estimated using a calculator). After 2 weeks of no running, the 5k runner would lose 6% of his VO2 max, which would be 46.83 and would now be in 21:05 shape, give or take a few seconds. After 9 weeks of no running, the same 20-minute 5k runner would now be in 24:00 minute 5k shape. After 11 weeks of no running, our poor running friend would be in 25:30 shape.

While this is not exactly ideal, this is the absolute worst-case scenario, with no training done in this time. Even if you can’t get out as often as you might like, or for as long as you may prefer, if you are training then you are preventing this kind of drop off.

Effect of detraining on the structural system
While the reduction in aerobic fitness has been explored in an applicable manner, the effect of detraining on specific running muscles has been harder to find.

However, the little research that does exist about detraining, in general, proposes that the most dramatic reduction in fitness occurs over a 10 to 35-day window. Before and after this window, detraining from a structural perspective isn’t severe.

Also, there is some research on how quickly you benefit from strength training. In short, most of the research shows muscle power declines significantly slower than metabolic factors.

While not run or triathlon-specific, this study on detraining in kayakers shows that over a 5 week period, even minimal training (3 sessions as opposed to around 10!) can stop the decline in physiological gains. Image courtesy of Yann Le Meur Sports.

What does this mean? After 7-10 days of not running, you will lose some muscle power and coordination, but not enough to totally derail your goals.

With a few specific workouts such as hill sprints, you’ll be back to your pre-detraining levels before you know it. If your break from training is longer than two weeks than you’ll have a little bit to make up before you can get back to personal best shape.

What does it all mean?
Research shows you shouldn’t be too worried about losing significant fitness if your break from running is less than two weeks.

You’ll lose some conditioning in your aerobic system and muscles, but pre-inactivity fitness will return quickly. Again, this assumes that you have built a healthy and consistent base of training of 4-6 months prior to taking time off. It’s not the end of your career if you haven’t been training for this long; it simply means that the reduction in fitness will be slightly more pronounced.

After two weeks of not training, significant reductions in fitness begin to occur and you’ll have about 2-8 weeks of training (depending on the length of inactivity) ahead of you to get back to your previous level of fitness.

On the flip side, doing SOME training, whether running, turbo riding, skipping or strength training will slow any losses considerably. If you are injured, there is always something you can do training-wise. In the current situation with Coronavirus, while it may not be ideal that you can’t be out training all the time every day – there is a lot that you can do, and you can come out of this lockdown in a strong position.

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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Long Plods Or Short Swims To Get Better #SwimTechTues

Long Plods Or Short Swims To Get Better #SwimTechTues

Many people seem to get in the pool and plough up and down for length after length. Here’s a little secret of the swimming world: you do not have to swim 400m repeats or a 3k straight to get better or faster.

In fact, if you are a beginner swimmer, shorter repeats like 25 to 100m can actually make you faster and more efficient than doing longer distance efforts.

Since swimming smoother and stronger is largely dependent upon much your body position and pull technique, if either or both of these two are lacking then you are going to be expending a good deal more energy for very little gain; sometimes you might actually swim slower.

By swimming shorter, having shorter and more regular breaks, and focusing on your form each and every time, you can build your muscle memory with good habits and not have to worry about fatigue breaking down your technique. You’ll probably find that you swim slightly quicker as a result too, so you can look to maintain this as you swim longer.

Try a session like this – or a variation of. It will build your swim stroke up through drills and then will take that technical work and translate that into speed:

Warmup:

4×25 side kick drill (go half on your left side and half on your right)
4×25 6/3/6 drill on 10-15s rest
4×25 catch up drill on 10-15s rest

Main set:

20×25 following this rotation Focus on your balance in the water
Focus on good rotation
Focus on focus on good hand placement
Focus on high elbow catch
Put it all together

8×50 Smooth and strong on 30s rest

Cooldown: 2×100 choice of stroke

This sort of thing will always work best when you understand your stroke and what the breaking points are, what things you need to work on and improve; whether that is from a swim lesson or a friend has watched you swim.

As your season and your form progresses, this sort of session can become more of an easy recovery swim rather than a normal session.

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.

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Be A Lazy Swimmer – Swim Smart #SwimTechTues

Be A Lazy Swimmer – Swim Smart #SwimTechTues

Very few athletes that I see or coach are lazy. Quite the opposite! But, many swimmers work extremely hard and that excessively hard work does not pay off in expected gains. Instead of working harder to make small gains, why not think about working smarter. By training smart, and swimming lazily you should see more improvements. Many times, young and old swimmers get burned out with excessive training sessions. With smarter swimming, you will be more likely to enjoy your training and get more out of it. We all want to go as far and as fast as we can for each and every stroke, for minimal energy. That’s the ethos of swimming lazy

Swim Smarter with Mindfulness

The first, and best way to swim smarter is to swim mindfully. Think about what you are doing. Too many people will swim fast, but not pay attention to the quality of their strokes. If you are not using your body the right way, you will not better your strokes, your strength, and your flexibility. You might get a good aerobic workout, but you might not actually get much faster. It is better to swim slower, smoother and calmer while paying close attention to the technique of your strokes. Are your hips at the surface? Are you swimming from your core? Are you dragging yourself along? Are you connecting with the water with power? Are you kicking with more than just your calf muscles? Make smart adjustments to use less effort, and get the most out of your swimming. Swim lazy!

Swim lazy

Swim Smarter with Drills During Your Workouts

No matter how often you swim and no matter how long you swim, it is a good idea to add some swimming drills. These can be sets of laps that should be completed in a certain amount of time, or it can be something as simple as using pull buoys or paddles. It is always a good idea to try to do something intentional while you spend time in the pool. Drills can help you focus on strength, speed, stroke, or breathing. Make your workout smarter by actually swimming with a purpose.

Occasionally, Take it Easy

Finally, give yourself some time to recover. Pushing hard all the time is like driving a car and constantly bashing against the rev limiter. To change gear, there has to be a drop in the revolutions of the engine. Use the easier swimming and recovery time to be aware of your stroke and take control. Then when your body is feeling a bit more refreshed, you can attack a few more sessions or sets again.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by emailfacebook 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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WHY AM I NOT IMPROVING? #SwimTechTues

WHY AM I NOT IMPROVING? #SwimTechTues

 

Many athletes often expect to improve more quickly than is really feasible, especially when they are strong runners and cyclists. This inevitably leads to frustration, particularly when you cannot swim the number of lengths you would like to or develop the kind of swim speed you were hoping for. This is extremely common with newcomers to any sport and can often lead to people giving up trying altogether.

All this is connected with our emotions, but it also about setting realistic goals in relation to our own ability and motor skills.

 

Why can’t I swim that well?

This is the question lots of us ask ourselves just after starting to swim. We inevitably compare ourselves to better swimmers, which can often be extremely frustrating. This can also depend on the methods our swim instructor employs to teach us the proper technique.

Good instructors realise that beginners have not had time to learn the right motor skills to swim properly, whatever stroke they are focusing on. In this respect, we know that verbal instructions need to be backed up by visual aids: observing and attempting to implicitly memorise is the most effective strategy for achieving the aspired standard of swim technique. The idea is to make all the movements constituting our swim stroke automatic. Learning to make these movements automatic takes time and lots of practice, as well as expert help.

One major reason for not swimming as well is not putting yourself and your body in the correct position. Because swimming is counter-intuitive, this means doing things that the survival part of your brain isn’t necessarily comfortable with doing, and this can take some time and mental resilience.

 

Why can’t I swim as many lengths as I would like to?

Quantity is something even less experienced swimmers use to assess their swim skills. Nevertheless, it is also a yardstick that can easily lead to frustration. To avoid this, it is extremely important to set realistic goals for your own ability, as well as being willing to train hard.

How far you swim is not the only measure of how well you are doing. Quality and quantity are both equally important in testing your swimming ability. If you can do the same distance in a session but feel better, not as tired, and swim smoother or quicker, then that is just as much – if not more of an improvement than swimming further. 

Some of your distance issues may be related to pacing. The further you want to swim, the easier your effort will have to be, this is a learned skill that takes time and practise, just as in running and cycling.

 

Take away

Learning to swim takes time. Improving your swimming and technique takes longer. It’s not just a case of turning up and putting in the physical effort – it’s a concentration effort more importantly. Take your time and enjoy the process!

 

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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#SwimTechTues – How To Work On Pacing

#SwimTechTues – How To Work On Pacing

#SwimTechTues – How To Work On Pacing

One of the things that can make or break your swim is your pacing. Whether you’re a new swimmer or an experienced athlete, the pace you train or race at can affect your chances of success and also your enjoyment.

When athletes start swimming for the first time, many feel like they have issues with their breathing. They could be incredibly fit and strong but put them in the water, and they are blowing like a train after one length! The issue here is that at this stage, they only have one pace – things are either on or off, go or stop. Go is 100% effort. If you imagine when you went for your first ever run; the first 2 minutes, you felt amazing, running strong. Next thing you know, you’re gasping for air and needing a pause. This is how you are feeling when you start swimming. As you get experienced with your running, you learn to regulate your effort, and therefore your pace. In the water, you have to learn the same skill. In the same way that you would run a 10k slower than a 5k, or a half marathon slower than a 10k, your swim efforts should reflect the distance that you are aiming to swim.

If you’re a more experienced athlete pacing in your training sessions can help you get the most out of your swims. Swimming is different from biking or running in that it’s easier to go hard every day without tearing up your ligaments and joints. Since you don’t feel the same type of soreness as when you run and bike, swimming leads many triathletes to think that maybe they didn’t swim hard enough. Beware: Swimming hard every day eventually will wear you down and something will give. It could be your shoulder, your back…or your motivation.

Learning to pace is a skill. It will improve your race pace, keep you injury free and maintain your motivation.

So how do you manage your intensity when it feels good to work hard so much of the time?

 

Swim with a plan: Each time you get in the water the workout should have a specific purpose. And every swim set within that workout should have a distinct purpose.

pace

 

For example:

Drill/Skill Sets: The purpose of a drill session is to practice technique and improve your efficiency. It’s NOT to see how fast you can swim 100 metres while doing fingertip drag or catch up.

Speed Sets: These sets are designed to teach you how to become efficient at going fast and to raise your top end speed. These sets are NOT designed to see you swim 35 seconds for 50 metres and then swim 45 seconds for the rest. Pick a speed you can handle for the duration of the set. Typically, when I have a set of 10×50 metres, I start out at 30 seconds and aim to maintain that speed. You don’t want to fall apart. Your times shouldn’t vary too much. Learn to swim fast when you are tired – feel what might be falling apart.

Endurance Sets: These sets are designed to create a nice big aerobic engine that will let you swim at race pace for as long as you need to. These sets include 200 metre and up repeats. You may have to swim a set of 3×500 metres. Just like when you swim the speed sets, maintain your pace throughout or get quicker. If you start out at 8:00 for your first 500, and then swim 8:30, and then 9:00 you just blew your whole workout. Remember you want to maintain your pace throughout the reps, and for each rep.

The goal of any swim set, be it 50-metre efforts or 800-metre repeats, is to swim with consistency and at an appropriate effort level. The more you start incorporating this into your practices, the faster you will become.

Pacing Skills

 

There are different ways of swimming sets, that can improve your feel of effort and the pace that you are putting in. Negative splits, build and descending sets will all challenge your ability to change pace and control how you swim.

Negative splits – A common set across various sports; doing the second half of a rep at a faster speed than the first half.

Build – A steady acceleration across the length of a repetition.

Descend – Maintaining a steady speed across each repetition, but swimming each repetition quicker than the last.

The main point is to learn the importance of pacing in the pool. Take it out easy during the first few sets and repeats when you swim. As you warm up, increase your pace. If you find that you’re swimming is getting ragged, or the pace starts to fall away, take a pause at your recovery and workout what needs attention to help you swim stronger and faster.

Practice the way you are going to race and it will become second nature. You want to be the athlete doing the passing at the end of the race, not the one being passed.

Start slow and finish strong.

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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Getting Ready For Open Water #SwimTechTues

Getting Ready For Open Water #SwimTechTues

Getting Ready For Open Water #SwimTechTues

With the UK race season officially underway, I have been seeing a lot of posts from triathletes about getting in the lake, river or sea for the first time this year – or possibly ever! Getting in the cold water can hold fear or confusion for many athletes, or others just simply don’t enjoy it. Whatever happens, it’s good to be prepared; here are my recommendations for preparing for the open water! First off, let’s identify where people struggle the most when switching to open water: Going off course. Panicking. Running into people. Letting their form collapse. Maybe you’re not being used to a wetsuit. Possibly you’re not being used to swimming in the open water. Open water conditions like currents and surf/chop. The number one remedy to the majority if not all of the above is (drumroll please!) Practice outside as much as you can (but not too much)! I know, I know: It is hard to get to open water because of schedules, weather conditions, and other commitments. So continue to swim your regular sessions every week. But as the race approaches take one or two of those swims and do it in open water. Make it as high a priority as possible. Swimming in the pool is not completely different from swimming in the open water – but it does have its own vagaries. So to get faster at the latter, you need to do it more. And not just on race day. Use these swims to test your wetsuit, practice sighting, get used to not seeing the bottom, and practice with others. Also, work on longer intervals at race pace. Some people will benefit from maintaining a more constant rhythm – others will need to readjust from having a rest and a push off at the end of every length!

What Can You Do In The Pool To Prepare?

Swimming in the pool still has its place. Even though you race in the open water, you should still keep up your regular weekly pool sessions, especially if your form is still weak. Of course, you can work on technique in the lake, but it becomes more challenging. Pool swims are important to develop speed and improve technique without the distractions that open water provides. Use the pool to focus on your form and drill work as well as a few race pace speed sets for time so that you can monitor your splits. If open water is simply out of the question, simulate the chop, surf, and congestion by trying to swim in a lane with three to four other people at the same time. It is tough but it will mimic that race start well. Also, close your eyes while swimming to mimic losing your ability to guide yourself with the black line (obviously only do this if you have an empty lane!). Turning before the wall is also a great way to simulate the stop-go of open water swimming, and not resting between lengths. Swimming in open water – at least with a wetsuit – should be quicker than swimming in the pool. So make sure that you are prepared for swimming in open water. Practise putting your wetsuit on so that it fits properly over your shoulders. Get yourself comfortable entering the water so that your HR doesn’t take such a shock to the system come race day! 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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How Much Should You Change Your Technique – Minimum Effective Change – #SwimTechTues

How Much Should You Change Your Technique – Minimum Effective Change – #SwimTechTues

How Much Should You Change Your Technique – Minimum Effective Change – #SwimTechTues

Often swimmers ask how much they should be changing their stroke/swimming – especially if they have races coming up. This is where I like to talk about Minimum Effective Change. It’s not dissimilar to the medical ideas of minimum effective dose – why use a sledgehammer to crack a nut! The issue comes with how much you can remember and make into a habit.

Path Of Least Resistance

When I coach I see that everyone moves and swims in their own distinct style. It’s why you can pick out particular athletes at events without being able to see their faces. Your swim style (or any other movement pattern for that matter) is a dynamic expression of your combined:
  • Limb lengths
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Areas of Restriction
  • Areas of Mobility
  • Stability & Instability
  • Neuromuscular Control / Co-ordination / Timing (or lack thereof)
  • that’s just for starters…
Not to mention the habits we pick up along the way through pain (current or previous) and daily postures we hold ourselves in. Taking all the above factors into account: as we swim or move, your body will try to follow the path of least resistance. For example in terms of mobility, finding the movement from the areas most willing, or strength-endurance, often emphasising imbalances…

Biomechanical Efficiency And Performance

As a coach try not get too hung-up on subtle changes in efficiency (real or perceived) that come with changing an athlete’s stroke. Minimising resistance to the water will increase efficiency (and speed). Increasing contact on the water will increase power (assuming the strength is there to manage it). There are plenty of fast and theoretically inefficient swimmers. Hell Ian Thorpe was not the technically most sound freestyle swimmer and neither was Michael Phelps; in both cases as a coach or a swimmer could look at either and theoretically make changes. But to make changes in either of these swimmers, would it really have made a difference?  
Minimum effective change

You’d suggest that Thorpe is crossing the midline here, and potentially even clawing at the water too. Didn’t stop him breaking the WR for 200 and 400 though!

  Biomechanical efficiency doesn’t automatically make a given swimmer faster… CONSISTENT TRAINING DOES Thus we should be more concerned about what we can do to affect a positive change to the athlete. In order to not over complicate things, we want to make the smallest changes possible for the largest impact.

Minimum Effective Change

Firstly, consider these points in combination:
  1. Most people struggle with swimming because they are creating large amounts of resistance to the water – almost as much resistance as the forward forces they are trying to create. This makes life tiring
  2. Many swimmers struggle with breathing, for two reasons; firstly that they are in a poor body position – so getting the mouth out of the water is challenging. And secondly, because they aren’t able to slow down or ease off – potentially for the same reason.
  3. Given that the athlete’s previous patterns demonstrated their body’s path of least resistance, the further away from this we deviate, the harder it’s potentially going to be for them to sustain the desired changes… at least in the short to medium term, while they should also be working on improving the physical traits that dictated their path of least resistance in the first place!
We have to ask ourselves not just why we’re coaching each athlete to make any given change, but perhaps most importantly to what extent we need the given change to occur to make life easier. If we take a given athlete, understand their current and historical training status and individual biomechanics, then work towards the concept of Minimum Effective Change to elicit the desired outcome, we can reduce the effort required on a given part of the body while achieving a modified swimming style that they can sustain effectively. Take a swimmer who is struggling to do more than 25 metres at a time for example: Once they get more comfortable in the water and able to swim lighter or easier – is what their stroke looks like important? Assuming no injury and they are happy, I would argue not. Obviously, if they are looking to swim further and faster, then we can build on those foundations, and add new things to work on. But until that point, stick with minimum effective change – ie getting the swimmer higher in the water. For me, the sweet spot is the change we can make to an athlete’s stroke which does enough to reduce stress and strain on their ‘weak link’, yet is subtle enough to sustain in the long run… after a bit of practice, of course 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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Swimming On Your Own – Being Your Own Detective #SwimTechTues

Swimming On Your Own – Being Your Own Detective #SwimTechTues

Swimming On Your Own – Being Your Own Detective #SwimTechTues

Most of us swim on our own – certainly the large majority of the people I coach do. Added to this, even if you do swim with a club, getting technical feedback can be few and far between. As a result, if you are trying to improve your swim technique and speed, it can be very difficult to know if you are making improvements.

To make these improvements on your own, you have to BE YOUR OWN DETECTIVE. This doesn’t mean that you need to obsess over every little element of your swim; just that you need an awareness of your body – and tools to help understand whether you’re improving or not.

Metrics To Help You Understand Your Stroke (And Training)

One of the best metrics to measure yourself by is your speed; the time it takes you to complete particular reps or your average pace. But clearly, in training, it’s not all about going hard all the time. It’s knowing how quick you go for a particular effort. It might be that you know you can hold 2 minutes per 100m all day every day. Or that if you’re swimming at race pace you can usually maintain 1.20/100m. Just a basic awareness of your speed can tell you a lot about how you are swimming. It may be that you realise you have to get your head in gear – and concentrate – because you’re swimming slower than you should be. Or it could be a sign that you’re tired/ill/stressed and need a break. Equally, you could be absolutely flying – in which case you might want to work out why!

Another score that people like to work by is stroke count. Simply put, counting the number of strokes that you take per length. BUT – and it’s a big but – lower stroke counts are not necessarily better. You could do fewer strokes but by gliding and slowing down end up going much slower. A better measure of your stroke is swim golf (or SWOLF). This is where you add your time for 25 or 50m to your stroke count. At any given effort level, you can compare your SWOLF score – and that will give you an awareness of whether what you have changed has had a positive effect; or whether what you think you have changed has actually changed!

 

Improving Your Awareness

When it comes to actually thinking about your form, you don’t have to be obsessive about your stroke! But you do require a little bit of an awareness around your body and positioning in the water.

My favourite way of helping create that awareness is by doing contrasting drills on consecutive lengths. It might be that you need to think about your head position; on one length you might swim looking directly forwards, on the next length you’d swim looking straight down at the floor. It may be that you want to improve the front end of your stroke and where you reach to. In which case you might do some sidekick and moving your lead hand up and down in the water to find the optimum position. Or you may be working on rotating more from your hips – so you could try and swim one length completely flat, the next with a massively exaggerated roll. In each case, there are drills that you can do to really nail down the form and the specifics – but then sometimes it’s just good to swim and play around with where you fit along the spectrum.

 

We All Love A Challenge…

A challenge that I like to do – and to give – is to swim a length as fast as possible and a length as slow as possible. The target is the largest possible gap in time – but there are two caveats. Firstly, you have to swim both with reasonable form (fairly obvious for swimming fast, not so much for swimming slow). Secondly, you need to keep the stroke counts within 2 strokes of each other – so you can’t just go crazy on the fast length. My best is an 18-second gap (13/31 – 11 strokes for both).

Swimming on your own can be a challenge when you can’t see yourself or you don’t have external feedback. But with a clock/watch, and an increased physical awareness, you can definitely embed good habits and improve your skills.

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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Getting Comfortable In The Water #SwimTechTues

Getting Comfortable In The Water #SwimTechTues

Getting comfortable in the water is a tricky business. Not least because you have to learn to control your breathing and your body in an alien environment! Added to that the fact that water is 750 times more resistant than air, and a brute force, “Just do more” approach very rarely works – or only works to a point.

Swimming Is Counter-Intuitive

When you learn to swim – there are certain things that it seems logical to do.

Looking forward seems like the sensible thing to do – after all, you want to see where you are going!

When you want to breathe you lift your head – because that is fairly logical.

You move your arms and legs as fast as you can to keep you afloat (and hopefully move you forward!) because it makes you feel like you are making a productive use of effort.

However!!!

All these things that seem logical and rational in your brain when you start will actually be holding you back.

Instead of looking forward, look down at the bottom of the pool or body of water you’re in. (Unless you are breathing or sighting) It’s not the only part of the posture and body position equation – but it’s certainly important! If you’re in a pool, then you have the “T” to tell you that you’re at the end! In open water, the likelihood is that you won’t be able to see very far in front anyway…

With breathing, we want to turn our heads to the side rather than lift – going back to the whole posture and body position part. And with that body roll hopefully going on too, it makes life so much easier to get air in smoothly.

Finding the rhythm of your stroke can take time and practice. For many athletes a good starting point is to take your time – the water can support your mass a lot better if you are not rushing and thrashing about. That’s not to say things have to be glacially slow(!), just that you can follow the idea of less haste to gain more speed.

Get comfortable in the water

How To Get Comfortable

When learning to swim – or improving your swim – one of the biggest keys is getting in the water more often. That’s not to say that you should be spending hours in the water each week ploughing up and down; but if you aren’t spending time in the water, how are you going to enjoy it, gain confidence or get comfortable? Just spending short regular intervals in the water can make a big difference in how comfortable you are.

In your swims, pick a focus and stick with it. I like to get people building their stroke from a solid foundation – the higher and more horizontal your body is in the water, the quicker and smoother you will move forward and the easier other parts of the stroke will become. Start your session practising a skill that you know you need to work on. For some, it might be doing a couple of floats just to remind yourself that the water supports you. For others, it may be sink downs under the water to remember how to breath out. And for others, it may be a case of doing a handful of streamlines to remember that a good push off the wall can help your swim.

You don’t have to make each and every swim a massive skills effort – remember we’re not aiming for textbook swimming. Instead, we want something that helps us feel more comfortable, that feels like an improvement. We also want something that we can repeat length after length.

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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9 Top Tips For Swim Set Success #SwimTechTues

9 Top Tips For Swim Set Success #SwimTechTues

I am always thinking of ways that change can help with triathlon, swimming, and fitness in general. I regularly get asked what people can do to get faster as they feel like they are banging their head against a brick wall training hard. Equally, I love the responses I get from athletes who have followed my swim sets when they say the swims are completely unlike what they have done before!

The biggest issue is that regardless of how hard they are working, many athletes are just doing the same things every time they get in the water.

Are you currently doing the same routine each day? Each week? Is your schedule flexible or fixed?

With swimming, do you do the same workouts all the time?

 

Create Variety For Swim Set Success

 

 

One of the things I found challenging when I moved into competing and coaching in triathlon was that all the sets were the same, and it was predominantly freestyle based – if not wholly freestyle! Nothing wrong with these sets and sessions but they get boring and stale after a while! Many triathletes and fitness swimmers also get hung up on the number of meters they did.

“I did 2200 meters yesterday so I’m going to do 2300 today!”

I prefer to think quality over quantity. Changing things up on a regular basis is healthy and great for your swim and triathlon success.

Do you always swim in the same pool? Maybe it’s time to try a different pool.

Do you always do the same format for sessions? Like, Warm-up, drills, main set, cool down?

Maybe time to mix in some different types of workouts. Here are some ideas on changing it up to maximize motivation & performance:

1. Use fins. Put on your fins when practicing drills. They make things so much easier! It’s not cheating! If you feel that is a little easy, alternate drills with and without the fins to perform the skill better.

2. Use a snorkel. This allows you to focus on your stroke without breathing.

3. Do different strokes. You don’t HAVE to do butterfly, and you don’t need to be perfect at backstroke or breaststroke – but just the act of doing them will make you a stronger swimmer; you’ll break up all that freestyle tedium too!

4. Wear different swimsuits. Are you wearing the same suit every time you practice? Why not mix it up? I love the suits from our friends at Blueseventy You can get 20% suits off today with our discount code TRIJOHN at their website: https://www.blueseventy.co.uk/

5. Practice “deck push-ups” in between your sets next time. Good strength training, and dryland workout to help your freestyle pull.

Swim set success

Poolside push ups

6. Swim with a friend. Who cares if you’re not the same speed? It gives you more accountability and makes things fun.

7. Bike or run to the pool. 2 birds, 1 stone.

8. Mix in sprints. You can decrease the distance and increase the intensity once a week or so for a different type of workout.

9. Challenge yourself with different skills – see how far you can swim without breathing, or stay under water. See how straight you can swim with your eyes closed, or even how slowly you can travel with good form…

There are a few ideas to change things up while you improve.

Any more ideas on how change can help with your training? Let’s hear them!

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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