Archive for February, 2009

Finding the Bryan Brent Center in Coronado, CA was pretty easy. Found the facility to be very accommodating. They have the classroom next to the pool, so coming from class to the swim portion was convenient. And the pool is a salt-water pool, making my chlorine-induced sinusitis concerns moot.

As I write this short entry, I’m surprised how many new concepts were introduced today. Two of the coaches came from masters programs (late TI converts), and one coach came from collegiate swimming. So we had a great mix of experiences coming from all angles. Plenty of pros and cons from the variety of swimming methods out there today.

In the class, we have a number of marathoners who are dabbling in triathlons (they got the sequence right). We also have a few seasoned triathletes who were turning to TI for a way to get better at swimming. The rest were new to swimming.

What’s surprising to me is how attending the seminar is quite different from just reading the books and watching the video. First of all, there is no interaction with books and DVDs. Plus, you don’t get the right feedback. You almost have to have a TI coach to know for sure that you are doing the right thing.

We did do the video for our pre-instruction swim forms. I looked fine as to my body on the horizontal plane. Even my kicks looked fine. The TI coach did show how I was making plenty of bubbles with my arms, which is an evidence of the windmill effect. I do have a strong upper body, and I guess I can power through any swim if I wanted to. (Which is the reason why I don’t power through, am not slugging through more of the same thousand meter sessions, and am at the TI seminar instead.) My swim form definitely shows signs of good coaching (Thanks to my first swim coach who emphasized good form over endurance). What I need now is to make my hips and arms learn the TI way to propel myself forward.

We studied each other’s swim forms. The swim form from a guy coming from a masters program was solid. His stroke rate was around 14 for 25 meters. Two long-time triathletes came in at 18 for 25 meters; the one thing that was common to both was the lack of glide and the urgency of getting to the catch. I’m not really saying the masters guy got this right or is better. He seemed to struggle through the TI concepts like everyone else. I think the videos helped me visualize what good swimming looks like and is like.

My stroke rate was 24 for 25 meters. Yeah, windmill. It also means I’m totally relying on my arms to propel me forward. Knowing I don’t rely on my legs is actually good; I don’t know how losing the propulsive force of their kicks will burden those who are already being asked to let go of it in favor of longer arm strokes.

We mainly worked on TI concepts like: a) the skate, b) the underswitch, c) and Zen skate. We worked on the superman position to find balance. We then proceeded to the skate to get the relationship between the body plane and how to reduce drag. I learned how to breathe through the nose to make getting up to air easier; it prevents the blow-hole experience (gasping for air, and needing to swallow air), and makes the transition much smoother. I learned the relationship between the hanging/marionnette arm, the leading hip, piercing the water, and inserting the hand into the slot.

Another surprise was we didn’t start with “sweet spot“, “the fish“, or any of the other concepts related to being comfortable in the water. These are what defines TI the most. One coach said that “the fish” is actually very hard to teach; and so in the interest of moving things along, at least this concept was no longer part of the schedule.

We did touch on concepts like: lengthening the vessel, hands on pocket (front, not side), the laser beam from your chest cavity through the neck and out of the top of the head, and piercing the water like a fish (don’t swim flat, and have a more pronounced hip switch).

I found the concepts taught to be quite logical. Not the easiest things to learn, but I did okay. My coach-related feedback were mainly to correct tendencies (head position, arm position, extending the arm forward for recovery, and blowing bubbles). A few guys were having a fun time all day trying to find their balance; not me!

Wow–I guess I got more out of Day 1 than I thought I did. Can’t wait for Day 2!

I thought I would do a run today, but was content with taking a power nap after. I feel great! Schedule the run after Day 2 then. Check!

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I don’t advertise it much, but that’s my one quality that makes me perfect for endurance sports. I can take a lot of pain.

Take tonight for example. Doing some speed work, and then doing a short MP run soon after. Since I’m such a lazy bum, I tend to have a lot of inertia to overcome. The start of this night’s workout is always brutal, but then it gets easier when the system starts moving.

But you know, no matter how bad it may be–it is usually over soon after it starts. I’m thinking that brief and intense workouts like this are the best way to introduce my body and mind to the rigors of speed in running.

I know there is an upper limit out there based on my genetic makeup. Am having fun exploring right now, so naysayers just be quiet until I’m done, okay? Believe me, I will know when I’ve reached that proverbial ceiling beyond which only gods can venture pass.

So I’m making myself line up for the weekly flogging that speed work requires. I’m hoping that at some point, my body will get used to the effort at this higher level so that I won’t have to work as hard going to whatever level is still open to me after this periodization.

We’ll all just have to wait and see.

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This article “Heart rate discrepancies in cycling versus running” can be found here.

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We did the following:

8 X 800 with 400 recovery in between (Z4)-– my paces were: 5:13 5:20 5:26 4:36.  Wall times were: 2:58 3:05 3:11 3:11.  My average pace was 5:09.

5 X 400 with :20 sec rest in between (Z3) — my paces were: 5:05 5:24 6:11 6:38 5:56.  Wall times were: 1:22 1:20 1:29 1:29 1:32.  My average pace was 5:51.

If you extrapolate the wall times to 1600 meters, you can see that the wall times average is 6 minute mile.  There seems to be a slight disconnect between paces and wall times–that’s what got recorded on my GPS.  The numbers look consistent though.

Yeah, plenty of numbers being thrown at you here.  The one take-away that I got tonight is that many of the faster people are coming to talk to me–surprised that I’ve suddenly decided to run fast!  Of course I don’t mind talking to them, because I can find out about little tweaks on running form.  I even got info on Newtons and where to find it from S and C.  Cool!

Oh, I ran in my Zoot Energy shoes with no socks!  It felt great.  My foot was firmly held in place by the lacing system, and my toes were free to wiggle around.  No friction burns anywhere.  A number of teammates did notice that I was running without socks, but it isn’t that uncommon–I counted about 4 people doing it tonight.

It was a weird workout, having to deal with something new but still getting good numbers.   I still have the endurance edge, in that I will get faster as others get slower with effort.  It’s just the marathoner in me that does that; you got so much potential energy, and it does take a while to warm up.  I’m getting better in the short speed plays, but having that extra edge in the latter sets makes for one interesting dynamic!

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Kinda shooting the breeze with C, who is easily the best athlete in the group.

Me: Ready for CA? (Ironman 70.3 California)
C: Yeah.
Me: Closing in isn’t it? Isn’t it in 4 weeks?
C: After thist week, maybe 4-5. It’s in early April.
Me: Have you been into the ocean?
C: Yeah right. Just been doing the pool. Got to get on that.
Me: You got about a month to get the water thing situated.
C: Yep (looking concerned).
Me: Are you ready? Doing a sub-4:30?
C: Aiming for 4:20.
Me: I’m sure you’ll do great. Anyway, I get to watch.
C: It’s a great thing to watch or volunteer.
Me: Yeah. I conveniently forgot to sign up for CA.
C: Hey, you’ve been to Kona. Now you should do the next best thing. Just show up and qualify! (He smiles…)
Me: Sure. I wish I was as talented as you guys!

The last exchange has been stuck in my head like a broken record. Do I actually seem like I could qualify? He he. My biggest obstacle is me, myself, and I. It’s easily a motivation issue. Not to worry–my head plays back interesting conversations like this for a long time. Maybe a seed of motivation was being planted in my head tonight!

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Here it is:  PloS ONE

The research title shows:

How Do Humans Control Physiological Strain during Strenuous Endurance Exercise?

Jonathan Esteve-Lanao1, Alejandro Lucia1*, Jos J. deKoning2, Carl Foster3

Please look at the article link for details.

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I got a message from him today.  He had wanted me to sign up for the OC Curtain 50K, but I was on the fence until it was too late.  He did a good job.  4:45 for 30 miles.  Around a 9:15 pace.  He wants to join the Marathon Maniacs, so he is doing the necessary counts to get in.  He qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon in 2008; interesting that he didn’t race this 50K.

This course was flat, a 6 mile out-and-back on a secondary access road.  It runs through several county parks, so bathrooms are accessible at least every two miles.  I heard it’s boring to some, but it’s just perfect if you are new to ultra running.

It’s incredibly hard not to get sucked in into racing again.  I’ve been approached a number of times with invites to do  50K-100K races in California.  I know ultras don’t hurt me speed-wise since the focus is different (complete rather than race), but it still requires a time investment that is best used in training.  Maybe I’ll open my schedule up in the second half of this year.

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As a long-time marathoner, I’ve always been able to rely on my lungs to carry me through a stretch effort.  What I mean is that if I aimed for sub-3:40, it’s usually my lungs that are leading the work. With track practice and more focused run training, I can say lately that it’s been my leg muscles that are taking charge.  It seems like my lungs are not taxed and are just along for the ride.

I’m thinking that more focused training is helping me identify how well I can keep a pace.  Right now, it’s likely that I’ll be able to hold a pace 10 seconds faster than my median speed  at Disneyworld.  Yeah, I weighted that marathon with a half marathon the day before; so today, I still don’t know how much faster that run would have been if it was done as as a single race.

One thing that has worked for me is that you normally run races much faster than training.  I don’t know why it is, but you can sustain this increased effort over the same distances you did in training at a lower pace.  So when I ratchet up the floor speed of my usual efforts, I’m guaranteed a new baseline speed in racing.  No effort will go below this.  As with everything, training for speed requires careful planning.  You can actually get hurt if you’re body is not ready.

Also, running is at most mechanical.  You get out of it what you put in.  If you do the work and you can be brutally honest with yourself, come race day things will just fall into place.  Being honest is necessary, because self-delusion will make you think you can do better.  It’s more prudent to let the facts speak.

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I planned to do a 21 miler–18 miles at a designated pace, and then 3 miles recovery. Same route as last Saturday (around Mission Bay).

I dialed in to do my LR workout at 8:00 minute mile pace. Was happy to see I got 8:04. For the same 18 miles last week, I had done 8:15. Of course, I was looking for 8:15 last week. So the time difference should not be looked at as some kind of improvement. Just different goals, that’s all.

I kinda repeated the look I had on last week. Same type of weather, but a little warmer. Kept the gloves off for the most part until I ran through Sea World. The winds blowing through seems to be cooler.

There was a sprint tri at Fiesta Island, so it was dicey keeping my pace up with people on the road and cars pulling out everywhere. A woman ran around the island (4.1 miles) with her dog; the dog was loving it. A hippie kept riding in the middle of the road on a cruiser bike, but the motorists were nice. He didn’t have a helmet of course.

The FI loop is mainly flat, but there are slight rises and dips. I found it best to take the speed the parts of the course gave me. For example, I easily did a 7:30 in one section at the same effort a 7:50 would take in another. Last week, I was focused on regulating pace whereas this time things were more natural; and my total effort didn’t suffer. At the part where it heads south, the headwinds are strong. We do a lot of bike practice there for that reason. I’m finding that I can go faster there by discounting the effect of the wind and letting my legs carry me through that stretch.

Did do a better job at hydrating (at least every mile after the first 6) and feeding (every 40 minutes). Those sports beans don’t work well, because body heat makes the beans clump together. It’s a lot of work to take the clumped pieces out of the packet. Back to GU’s!

When I got to 18, I started my 3 mile recovery run. I think the progression is good. I’ll bump up the LR workout to 19, 20, and 21 using the balance as recovery. At least a one mile recovery is built in. So at 21, I’ll finish at 22 total.

My legs are tired-happy.  But my eyes seem to be telling me the pollen count was heavy today.  Allergies are acting up.

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I learned my lesson tonight. I shouldn’t.

Did speed play (cruise intervals) at 6 minute miles for 3 miles.  I then did a short 2 mile marathon pace run at 6:40 minute mile.  Brutal combination.

I guess I need to split these up into 2 different days.  I do have the fitness to mix it up, but it might become debilitating at some point.  Want improvement rather than a slow crawl to breakdown.

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