Please accept my apologies for two mistakes I made last week – for mucking up my blog post and for giving lane 4 too short a session.  Well done, however, for coping with my mistakes (as all good triathletes cope with mishaps) and all of your excellent efforts during the very high intensity USRPT set we did.  I saw some of the most tired triathletes after that session that I have seen so far this year.  What was even more pleasing, though, was that most people did the set as intended – swimming at 5s intervals and missing out 2 or 3 50s when their time dropped off – rather than doing the “I’m a tough triathlete thing” of ploughing all the way through the set without missing any out.  Given I hadn’t got my blog post published to remind you that was great to see!

My post last week was all about patience, which you can see here, and I want to continue the theme this week with the drills we will be doing before the main set.  We will be doing hip-connector drill again as well as reverse catch-up to give you the chance to practise being patient with the catch.  When doing hip connector drill aim to only practise the timing of the catch and not to get any propulsion whatsoever (that will all come from your legs).  Do the same with reverse catch-up and focus on getting all of your propulsion from the push at the end of your stroke.  Then transfer that into the full stroke as well.

The main set is the revised version of the Brownlee main set we tried in the late Summer last year with progressively-paced 100s of progressively shorter turnaround times.  As you do this main set please try to keep your patience with the catch and focus on getting the extra speed all from the back-end push part of your stroke and faster stroke rate.

 

See you Saturday!

Rob

 

Photo by Chris Coe on Unsplash

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It was really interesting to see people doing hip-connector drill last week.  The most common issue it highlighted was many of you rushing the catch of the stroke and trying to apply some power too soon in your stroke so being inefficient by pressing the water downwards rather than backwards.  Although the hip-connector drill is really designed to think about timing rotation with your catch it did show up a rushed catch for many of you, which I was pleased to see you corrected when I asked you to be a bit more patient.

This week we will be doing some Unco and reverse catch-up drills before the main set and I’d like you to think about being patient with the catch by counting 1-2-3 with each stroke.  1 is when your hand enters the water, 2 is taking your hand to the catch or early-vertical-forearm position and 3 is for the push.  Take a slight pause after 1, 2 and 3 to focus on the next phase.  Having a bit more patience, especially after 2, is a good way to make sure your forearm is completely vertical before starting the real power phase of the stroke with a push.

For the main set we will be doing our first set of USRPT 50s for 2018.  This is a great set of high-intensity interval training and I have written several times before about how to tackle this set (in this post for example.)  Every time we do this set I am amazed by the number of people who do this set without missing out any 50s.  You do get a good workout by doing this but it is not the way to get the most benefit from the set.  This set is all about swimming faster than is sustainable so your times will inevitably drop off and when they do you should miss out the next 50 to give you the additional recovery to swim faster again.  So if you are tempted to try and go all the way through without missing any out then please try and swim a bit faster!

See you Saturday,

Rob

 

Good work last week on our tough set of the prime 100s.  That was the longest main set we have done so far in 2018 and with some of the shortest turnaround times.  If you didn’t manage the vary the pace of CSS +/- 2 s through all of the set don’t worry – it takes a few attempts to be able to pace that sort of set correctly all the way throughout the set.  Something to work on next time we do it!

I want to continue the theme this week of searching for “easy speed” by working on your core rotation.  Your core provides great power to your stroke, for little effort, when you get the timing right.  So we will be doing some of the “hip-connector” and “power rotation” drills we have done before (see here for a reminder).  Then we will go into the ratchet set as the main set, with shortening turnaround times, to give you a chance to practise your core rotation in search of the “easy speed” to help make all of the turnaround times.

See you Saturday!

Rob

Well done for all of your efforts over the last couple of weeks while I was away.  Chrissie tells me you have all been working hard and enjoying the faster-paced efforts.

Whilst the short faster-paced swims are fun to do, and a good workout, most of our aims for racing this season require us to swim quickly over much longer distances and for that we need efficiency as well as speed.  That is what I call “easy speed“, which will be the focus of the session this week.  The turnaround times will be short though, and I’d like you to vary the pace around your Critical Swim Speed (CSS), so really try and relax and focus on whichever aspect of your stroke helps you do this best.  I know some of you find focusing on the back-end of your stroke – the push past the EVF position – is a great way to keep your speed while staying relaxed.

For those who need a reminder about CSS, your CSS is your lactate threshold swim speed, which is usually the pace you can sustain for a 1,500m swim.  We estimated your current CSS using your 400m and 100m time trial results.  If you didn’t do the time trials then you may know your CSS already but if not the average CSS for lane 1 is about 1m 26s/100m, for lane 2 is about 1m 37s, for lane 3 about 1m 44s and for lane 4 about 1m 55s.

The main set this week is return of the prime numbers set of 100s where prime numbered 100s (i.e. 2, 3, 5, 7, …) are swum on a slightly shorter turnaround than non-prime numbered 100s (i.e. 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, …)  I would like you to swim the shorter turnaround 100s slightly faster than the others.  Aim for a 4s difference between the faster and slower 100s with faster 100s at 2s faster than your CSS and slower 100s at 2s slower than your CSS. This is a good long set and should help work on improving your CSS.

See you Saturday,

Rob

I will be away on holiday for the next two weeks so will be leaving the sessions in the Tri Club box at the pool.  Chrissie had kindly offered to coach the 7am session but then has to leave to coach the Juniors.  So please do take advantage of Chrissie’s excellent coaching and I hope you enjoy the sessions.

We will be continuing the theme of picking up the pace with some speed-endurance 100s this week followed by the Will Clarke set of fast/steady 50s next week.  The drills will all be around working on your stroke rate as we started to do last week.

Please work on your stroke rate and search for some “easy speed”.  Often I find “easy speed” can come when trying to swim fast off a short turnaround – so knowing you need to keep some energy back for the next swim as the rest between swims won’t provide enough.  A higher stroke rate, without dropping too much length in your stroke, is often the result of this focus so enjoy practising over the next two weeks.

See you soon!

Rob

Well done for all of your efforts last week at the time trials and for the feedback on what you learnt.  It is interesting to get your thoughts on how you did and what to improve for next time.  Generally I would say most of you are rather more self-critical than is necessarily helpful so please do be kind to yourselves even if you didn’t get the time you wanted.  The most important thing for me is that you enjoy it as that is what will make you come back for more and consistency of good training is the best way I know to improve.

We will now start the build-up to the racing season in earnest so will be doing some faster-paced swimming.  For most of us this means getting used to the faster stroke rates that generate faster speeds but while maintaining your stroke length as much as possible.  And faster stroke rates are usually better for open water swimming in a wetsuit, too, as 220 Triathlon magazine reminded us about this week in this article by Chrissie Wellington.

This week we will be doing some head-up front crawl and straight-arm recovery drills to help you focus on a higher stroke rate.  Then we will be going into some golf stroke 50s to help you practice a faster stroke rate with full stroke.  As a reminder, your golf stroke is the total of your stroke count and your time in seconds for each 50m (e.g. if it takes you 40s and 44 strokes for the 50m then your golf stroke is 88).  The aim is to progressively reduce your golf stroke and to do this I’d like you to focus on keeping your stroke count the same and swimming faster to reduce your time for each 50.  You will find it easier to swim faster by breathing quicker and kicking faster as this will naturally increase your stroke rate without trying to force it with a faster pull that can often mean you end up increasing the number of strokes it takes you.

To finish we will be doing some pursuit swims to give you a bit of practice of drafting and reacting to a change of pace by swimmers ahead and behind you.

See you Saturday,

Rob

It is time for our second set of time trials this Winter.  Normally for these second set of time trials we would have started some speed work during January but I’ve delayed the start of speed work this year to give us more time on technique – mainly on the breathing and kick.  So this set of time trials is the ideal one to really focus on making it technically as good as possible and seeing what that does for your time, stroke length and stroke count.

I am a firm believer in only focusing on one thing at a time so suggest thinking about just one key thing per length, such as:

  • Good early vertical forearm on the first length
  • Quick breathing on the second length
  • Good legs on the third (continuous but not too fast or too much effort)
  • Fast turns with good streamlining on the fourth
  • Repeat 4 times to complete the 400

See you Saturday!

Rob

Well done for all of you efforts last week with the quicker breathing.  I saw some excellent improvements in stroke tempo and heard that some of you also felt the increase in power in the stroke.  This week we will be doing a little bit more on the quicker breathing as well as done some work on the legs.  Using your legs well has a similar benefit to good breathing and really helps with the rythm of your stroke (as well as removing the brakes if your kick is poor and affecting your body position).

In the kick set this week I’d like you to think about the following:

  • When kicking try and keep your legs straight, with toes pointed, and kick from the hips. Your knees will naturally flex a bit when you do this but you should resist letting this happen as it almost always results in excessive bending of the knee which just increases drag and slows you down.
  • A great way to check your legs is when kicking on your back without a float, but always remember:
    • Never, ever, kick on your back with your arms by your sides – always keep your arms above your head in a streamlined position
    • Keep your knees under the water at all time – the only part of your legs to break the surface should be your feet
  • When doing full stroke your legs set the tempo for your arms. Hence, a great way to avoid over-reaching on your pull is to focus on keeping a steady tempo with your legs which will make it impossible to pause on your arms stroke.  A pause in your arm stroke is almost always accompanied by a pause in your leg kick.

We will also be doing some sprints at the end of the session this week and this is another great opportunity to work on your legs.  Again, the legs set the tempo for your stroke so focusing on a really fast, hard leg kick will naturally increase your stroke rate without you feeling the need to rip your arms through the water and start slipping water.

See you Saturday!

Rob

This week we will be doing some new drills to focus on breathing and especially the timing of the breathing.  This is really important to try and get right as it really affects the quality of your EVF catch every time you breathe, which is one of the improvements that many of us could make.  Please watch the following video for details of some of the drills we will be doing this week:

This is one of my favourite videos that Chloe has done as it is so packed full of excellent drills and some great examples of both what it looks like when you get the timing wrong and what it should look like when you get the timing right.  I see quite a few examples of the errors in the catch caused by slow breathing on Saturday mornings week so please do play close attention to this video and especially the drills demonstrated on breath timing as we will be doing them this week.

See you Saturday,

Rob

 

Well done for all of your efforts in the pool leading over the last few weeks.  I know many of you found some of the front crawl drills and different strokes challenging but I have seen some excellent improvements from many of you with the hard work you have put in.

Normally in January we start the build-up to the new season by starting some speed work.  This year, however, I plan to delay the start of the speed work until February to give us a bit more time to to focus on the technique improvements we’ve been working on over the Winter.  We will do a bit more work practising an early vertical forearm – since this is the one thing most of us could do more of to improve our speed and efficiency – but also do a bit of work on other aspects like head and body position.

We will stick with the usual pattern of doing time trials every 2 months – on the last Saturday of the month – and the next time trials will be at the end of January.  We won’t be doing any speed work before then so any improvement in your performance is most likely to come from technique. So please focus on your technique over the next few weeks by getting a good lever, with an early vertical forearm, to push yourself forward from a strong core rotation.

See you Saturday,

Rob

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