already more than I expected

My third day on Atreyu and it’s feeling exactly how I didn’t want it to – like a project. I’m giving it 2 burns a day so that I have time at the end to work on the new route I’m building at Owl Tor, so I’m sure I could have made better progress on it had I focused. It’s still amazing. That frickin’ throw at the end is spitting me off every time. It’s like rolling the dice every burn.
da routes:

  1. When the Sea Doesn’t Want You (5.12a) – redpoint
  2. Anchor Punch (5.12a) – redpoint
  3. Atreyu (5.13b) – fell after the last clip
  4. Atreyu – fell at the long throw

water, not first

I swam with Bridget and Micah at noon. Bridget made me go faster.

da numbers:

  • 3 x 100m easy free
  • 500m free
  • 100m easy free
  • 4 x 50m free
  • 100m free
    • time: 1:20
    • this was fast for me, and it hurt
  • 100m easy free
  • 100m fly drill
  • 200m fly/back

total distance: 1600m

first water, low and slow – or – efficiency and perspective

There are a bunch of concepts at play when training. Efficiency, for one, is painfully obvious but maybe not so easy to describe. That’s what kinesiologists are for. As a recreational or amateur athlete, I just need to know it when I see it. Like today. Time is always important to me in the pool, so I was a little bummed to see my slowest time ever for a 1000m free. 18:35 is almost 5 seconds slower than the first day I swam it, in years anyway, 4 weeks ago. My goal is to get this time under 17:30. So, I consider the swim – how I felt and what I was focused on. I’m trying to gauge intensity and form. And my intensity was low, significantly lower than any previous swim at this distance. Form felt much better. Four weeks ago my intensity was almost unbearably high. I’ve relaxed a bunch, smoothed out my stroke and slid in to an intensity level I can maintain almost indefinitely. To roughly quantify, I would say I’ve decreased intensity 20% for a decrease in speed less than 2%. Speed is the goal, but efficiency is necessary. As much as I hate to have a slow day, I should be happy with the improved efficiency. I’m confident that on a more intense day I will see a dramatic speed increase.

If you want to change intensity, find a new perspective. Intensity is a psychological concept. While physical efficiency, the result of focused technique, happens unknowingly, intensity is a measure of your conscious effort. And it’s stressful. Most folks avoid high intensity training, and as a result define their performance ceiling at a point far below their physical potential. Those that push themselves above this median pay a psychological toll to see great performance. Accomplishing an athletic goal is rewarding but the day-to-day stress of intense training can make one crazy. I believe this is why many of the athletes I respect seem a little off. The point is, it’s hard work that you have to make sense of in your head. Here’s where the principle of periodized training is most useful, I feel. It forces you to take a new perspective, sneaking in a little more effort than you would have otherwise chosen to exert. The effect is cumulative, resulting in a pronounced increase at the end of the periodized regimen, most likely months. Conversely, if you can show up to the pool or the weight room or whatever, lay it all out every day with little variation to your program and see steady gains, then do that. If you’re like most of us and you inadvertently hit a plateau, change things up. If you’re still stuck, change it more. It impresses me how much variation I need to incorporate in to my routine to see a measurable change. If I’m bench pressing and 315 lbs feels heavy, I might rack 405 lbs and do a negative. I’m telling myself: ‘You think this is heavy? Try this.’ The same principle is useful in the pool. I’m starting to think 1000m is far. It’s probably time to swim a 2000m freestyle. After taking away the intimidation I feel with my goal distance, I will be more comfortable pushing harder for the duration of the event. The thing is, 2000m will massively suck. Whatever – it has to be done because I’m not here to suck for forever.

da numbers:

  • 2 x 100m easy free
  • 1000m free
    • time: 18:35
  • 100m easy free
  • 200m fly kick

total distance: 1500m

first water, 200s galore

I did some 200m freestyle today, on the 4:00, trying to find a good pace for my 1000m free on Monday. My last 200 of the set was good. I’m almost at the point where I’ve pushed hard enough to force my body to adapt to the fatigue with a more efficient stroke. Near the end of this set I concentrated on keeping my leading arm out longer, elbows high, and catching closer to my lead arm. Despite how tired I was it was easier and faster. And that’s the point.
da numbers:

  • 150m easy free
  • 5 x 200m free @ 4:00
    • 1st time: 3:22
    • 2nd time: 3:32
    • 3rd time: 3:32
    • 4th time: 3:32
    • 5th time: 3:25
      • got tired but went faster at the end – good stroke
  • 150m easy free
  • 200m fly kick

total distance: 1500m

first water, finding consistency

There is an art to pacing oneself. My focus in the pool now is to bring my 1000m time under 17:30. That puts my average 100m split at 1:45, a non-trivial time for me at this stage. And this is long course, which is kicking my ass. But that’s good. This is a good opportunity to think about pace. Today’s pool session focused on this set: 10 x 100m @ 2:00. My thinking here was that I would focus on finishing each 100m just under 1:45. And I did, except the fist couple. Something I’ve forgotten since high school swimming seems to be that one should not go out fast. My fist 100m was just under 1:35, the next just under 1:40, and the next five or six 100s at almost 1:45. That’s a fast start, not my trademark, and really not a smart way to race. So the challenge seems to be this: find a pace regardless of energy level. You will feel good at the start, obviously, but know what 1:45 feels like when fresh, when tired, and when dying. I’d actually prefer to go out slow. That’s really the way to race, I feel. Staying behind, keeping other racers close, then running them down near the end is the rad thing to do. And I better get this pace thing under control – my birthday challenge for next year may be a 1000m at 15:00.

da numbers:

  • 150m easy free
  • 10 x 100m @ 2:00
    • coming in between 1:40 – 1:45, except the first couple fast ones, which I’m not counting cuz I’m an idiot
  • 150m easy free
  • 200m fly kick

total distance: 1500m

first water, over easy

1000m swims are kinda hard for me. They hurt and I didn’t really feel like hurting this morning. So, I did my 1000m at a somewhat pedestrian pace. Or so it felt. In reality, my time was 5 seconds slower than last Monday, and almost 25 seconds faster than the previous Monday. Two weeks ago was my fist time in years trying a 1000m for time so maybe that isn’t so significant. What I feel happened is I’m generally in better shape for this distance after a couple weeks, kicked the intensity down maybe 5% today and sacrificed about one-half of 1% in performance. Sure, I would like to have bettered my time this morning but I feel there is something to be gained at varying intensity like this. I concentrated on my stroke and became more comfortable at this, a distance that until now was very much not comfortable. As with all sports, my theory goes anyway, pushing your limit has to be fun. If you’re miserable, you won’t push yourself day after day. It takes tons of time, but finding the limit of your performance envelope and consistently bumping up against it can be meaningful and really is necessary for improvement. To put in the time it takes to see big improvement better be fun for you or there’s gonna be a lot of misery.

da numbers:

  • 200m easy free
  • 1000m free
    • time: 18:17
  • 200m easy free
  • 200m fly kick

total distance: 1600m