Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dr Noakes, Spreading the Word on LCHF

Viking has made it pretty clear he is a Dr Noakes groupie over the course of writing the Manifesto and beyond.  I stumbled across a couple of videos of his that I thought were worth sharing with anyone who checks in at the Brief because they are considering the low-carb/high-fat lifestyle.  I had to at least make a few people pay attention, right?

Take a look and let me know what you think...  It was nice that he mentioned Cameron VanDerBurgh.  Now I am waiting for a world class distance swimmer to admit they do this, you know, because us breaststrokers are freaks and whatnot.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Play the cards you are dealt

Lately, circumstances have been standing in the way of my training, and I am not sure it is going to get any better in the foreseeable future. The Viking Experiment just may come to an end if something doesn't change.

First, summer is just plain busy.  I was looking forward to the summer practice schedule getting into full swing because I knew that I could get more swims in but it didn’t work out that way.  I typically swim the warm up and one USRPT set with my team before getting out of the water to coach the rest of the practice.  The deal from day one though, was that if my swimming became perceived as a negative for my team I would stop.  After over a year of swimming with the kids I had my first parent complaint about it, so that part of my swimming comeback is officially over.  If I am going to keep training, I will have to fit it into the nooks and cranny’s between duties.  That is pretty darn hard for a teacher/HS coach/USA coach and administrator whose in-water groups tend to overlap for 12-15 hours straight every day.  I still hold fast to the rule that my swimming will not take away from my family time, so that leaves me very little options.  I plan to plug away the best I can, but I am not sure this is an obstacle I can overcome.  My swims have been reduced to usually less than twenty minutes each and have become fewer and further between. Also struggling to get more than five hours of sleep at night which certainly doesn't help.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How to Be A Great Swim Parent

I find myself thinking about my mom a lot lately. She's currently battling cancer and I spent last weekend with her while she was undergoing chemotherapy. In my previous work as a college swim coach, I didn't have a lot of interaction with parents- besides some polite conversation when they showed up to cheer. In my current job as a club coach, I have a much closer interaction with parents.

When I look back at my upbringing, I won't say my parents were perfect, but on swimming they pretty much nailed it. My mom was leading the charge of course, she did the bulk of bringing me to meets and practices when I was young. So, I know there are plenty of articles out there telling parents what they should and shouldn't do, I'll just speak from my own life experience and give my opinion on how my mom was a great swimming parent.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Michael Andrew Adidas Deal

I had been wondering for quite a while why no swim gear brands had signed Michael Andrew yet. Of course, he is young and nobody knows what the future holds, but in marketing one would assume that world class speed is not the only thing that matters. Ideally, if you want to sell swim suits you want your brand to be talked about and that is something Michael Andrew has in spades. Plus, his age makes him more marketable for youth.  As a matter of fact, if I were in the marketing department for these companies I would find some athletes living the dream in Masters swimming and sign them too, because if there is anything we can learn from triathlon it is that adult fitness is booming and we need to get creative to capitalize on that. (I mean, come on... If they sponsored me I could help them sell some serious suits to the older crowd, right?  Everyone at masters meets would want to wear Adidas and horned helmets if I were their mascot. Masters swimmers don't care what the fast 25 year-old wears; they care what the kind of fast for his age guy having more fun than everybody else wears.)

Perhaps the big brands were afraid of the vitriol associated with the flaming comment wars on all the swim sites, but that doesn't seem right to me.  I would think they would welcome it.  It gets their product noticed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


One of the reasons I really like USRPT is because it gets straight to the point with each swimmer and asks the most important question "Are you motivated to improve your swimming?". A frequent criticism of the training is that it's the "same sets over and over again". Must be boring, right?

Wrong! In my three weeks of training I have never had more fun training for swimming. Far from boring, every set has my mind working at 100% capacity, as I try to improve my technique, hit my paces and manage the start times (and keep count). USRPT, and the question it begs, has brought quickly into focus for me what I want to accomplish and why I am motivated for it. In talking through motivation with my swimmers, I have cited Deci and Ryan's self determination theory which I find particularly strong in outlining motivation.

For Deci and Ryan, the highest point in the hierarchy of motivation is intrinsic motivation, which is defined as "the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfactions rather than for some separable consequences". I enjoy the challenge of coming to the pool and trying to work on my swimming, and although I do have a goal of how fast I want to swim, I hardly think about it. My focus is on what I can do each day to improve myself, and then whatever comes from that is a bonus.

Ok, on to the workouts:

Wednesday, June 3rd

The workout
3x100 Warmup
8x25m turns
30x25 Freestyle, Pace 15

How it went: By far the worst workout I have had to date. I was anxious after the nearly week long lay off necessitated by my trip to Bergen, Norway for a competition. I showed up at a time I don't typically swim, but one at which I figured would be relatively empty. Instead, the lap lanes were surrounded by loud schoolkids and there were probably 7-8 lap swimmers in each of the 50m lanes. Training in public swimming time can be a problem with this type of training- everyone around me is going much slower, and just swimming continuously. I finished my warmup fine and managed to negotiate my turns alright. When I started the set, I found it completely impossible to do it. On each of the 25s I attempted, I either swam right up on somebody and was unable to pass, or I got a fist in my back while resting for the next repetition. There was simply no room to do the practice, and no time to wait the situation out. I completed maybe 6x25, but without any idea what my pace or time was. I was frustrated and a bit anxious that my great work from last week would be squandered.

Thursday, June 4th

The workout
3x100 Warmup
8x20m start and breakout
30x25 Freestyle, Pace 15

How it went: By the next day, I decided I just need to shake it off and go after the same practice again. I arrived in good time and with adequate space to do my training. I was able to do 20x25 at my new pace (15 sec), with 12 in a row to start, then 6 and 2 more before I felt my lactic acid spike and shut it down for the day. I felt really good that I hadn't given up on challenging myself despite the layoff. My main focus technically is getting my legs to keep a small amplitude and good frequency, because I am working on the same with my swimmers and it allows me a stable plane to rotate from.

Monday, June 8th

The workout
3x100 Warmup
8x15m breakout
30x25 Freestyle, Pace 15

How it went: As I wrote earlier, i have temporarily set breaststroke aside and I am focusing on freestyle. I have added 15 minutes of stretching to the end of every training, because I know I need to improve my flexibility before I can progress with my breaststroke technique. This workout went great! I made 28x25 on pace 15, with 22 in a row, then a break and 6 more before I felt my lactic acid spike again and decided to shut it down. I feel like if I give myself adequate rest and recovery I will be able to do 30x25 on the next go around, and then possible set my pace down to 14 already. However, I know that might not happen quite so fast so I am going to take improvement as it comes and just focus on each day on it's own.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Highs and Lows

Thank goodness I don't have to start this post with a longwinded introduction. Since writing my last post, I have been to the pool for three swims! I had to cram them in three days in a row, which I didn't feel was ideal, but I knew I was going away to coach in Bergen, Norway over the weekend and wouldn't be able to swim. It is one of the great paradoxes of coaching that you are constantly around a pool but it is hardly ever appropriate for you to be swimming in it.

Tuesday, May 26th:

The workout
3x100 Warmup
8x25m turns
30x25 Freestyle, Pace 16

How it went: Success! I managed to crank out 30x25 at my pace in this one, and damn it felt good. I made 18 in a row to start the set, then rested and did 8, then finished with four. It felt really good to build up to this. On the other hand, I know I am going to progress fast at the outset because I am so "untrained". One thing I noticed about a set where I swam so much continuous was how hot my body got- I was sweating for 15-20 minutes after getting out of the water.

Wednesday, May 27th

The workout:
3x100 warmup
8x20m breaststroke breakouts
30x25 breaststroke, pace 20

How it went: Man, breaststroke is hard. One observation I have is that when you are doing breaststroke your work to rest ratio can be a little off. You are naturally always going to be slower, so I set my time all the way up to :20 rest and pace :20. However, I still really struggled to get anything going. I was still only able to 14x25, with 8 in a row, then 4 and then 2. Everything felt hard- I got some lactic acid, I struggled to hold technique and my pace fell apart. I think that I may have to be really patient in breaststroke, and that also my flexibility is really holding me back at this point, so I need to correct that ASAP.

Thursday, May 28th

The workout:
3x100 warmup
8x15m freestyle finishes
30x25 Freestyle, Pace 16

How it went: 30 in a row! Damn did that feel good. After Tuesday, I told myself I would force the pace up when I made 30 in a row, and now I suppose I will have to. It was really good to get into a rhythm and keep firing. The biggest challenge I had was that I was training in a crowded lap lane, where everyone else just wanted to swim continuously at a much slower pace. Invariably I was swimming around someone, or getting rammed in the back while I was resting, and I had to screw with my rest intervals both up and down to make sure I had space to swim. I didn't let it stress me out- these are the conditions that I GET to train under and I cannot control other people in the lane.

Looking forward: I know that in about three weeks I will be headed to the European Games in Baku. Because of various logistical crazyness, I will be there thirteen days for a five day swim meet. Supposedly there will be a pool at the Athletes Village where we will stay, but already I am preparing myself that training conditions could be rough or non-existent. We shall see!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Viking's new routine is starting to flow...

Lately I have been finding a groove with my minimal modifications to the full USRPT method.  I don't really feel like I am breaking away from it at all, but I have tried a few hacks to make up for my lack of ability to consistently train.  For example, last week, my Friday workout time was hijacked by extra work duties, and this week I was only able to get in the water on Tuesday morning for 1000 yards and Friday for 1400 yards.  Seriously... 2400 yards of training over 8 days.  That is just something I had to accept from day one of this comeback adventure. I make the most of what I have and don't stress about the rest.

Here is where I try to make up for some of it, beyond my USRPT sets for 100 and 200 breast: