Friday, April 19, 2013

Your support is needed

It has been a tough week. The Boston Marathon bombings hit very close to home for all us in the endurance community. We train together. We race each other. We cheer for everyone. Yeah we might log a ridiculous amount of training hours. And yeah we might spend an obsessive about of time and money on the latest training and racing gear . . . BUT we have all lost our voices cheering at one time or another. We have all suffered blisters from ringing cowbells and shaking noise makers. We have all found ourselves covered in marker and glitter from making creative (and sometimes not so creative) signs to cheer on and support our loved ones, friends, and even strangers. Today I am asking you to support someone who may be a friend to you or she may be a complete stranger but she is one of us. An athlete. A coach. A remarkable person. Nicole Gross and her family were deeply affected by the events in Boston this past Monday. Now is the time to cheer your loudest and show your support any way you can. If you are in a position to please consider making a donation.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Hund-doe

I did a bit more swimming this past week and the theme seemed to be the 100. The 100 - swimming's perfect distance perhaps? You can swim a 100 all out. It will hurt. It will burn. You don't have to think about pacing. You put your head down, shoulders up, kick, breathe, incorporate perfect turns all as you power yourself over the very wave of water you are displacing. It is brutal but its mastery is perfection. Alternatively you can string a series of 100s together. Less glamorous but you can make yourself one helluva of an aerobic/distance set. Being that I am sprint speed challenged, I focused on the latter. 

It all started last Friday when I swam with Bill Davis, the head coach at SwimMac Masters. He warned me in advance of the workout. While some would cringe I got a wee bit excited when he announced we were going to swim 30x 100 as follows: 

10x 100 on 1:30
10x 100 on 1:10
10x 100 on 1:20
no breaks, no extra rest 

The first set of 10x 100 was just a set up for the second 10. The goal for the second 10 was just to make the interval (just make the interval, no big deal). The final set, where all the magic happens, was not a chance to dial in the last 10x 100s, but rather an opportunity to improve as the goal was to hold 1650 pace or faster. For Bill, he was aiming to swim at least 1:05s. I wanted to be sub 1:08s,  or under my goal 2K pace. 

I am at the point where I can swim 100s comfortably on the 1:15 but 100s on 1:10, well that is a new challenge for me. I descended the first 10 so I could slowly get my heart rate up and reduce the shock of the 1:10 interval when it rolled around. To successfully make it through a challenging set like this you must recognize your own pitfalls and prepare to ignore them. The psychology and physiology of doing 100s like this is almost always the same:

  • The first 100 will feel easy and you will end up swimming a little too fast. 
  • #2 will feel ok but you will probably slow down a second to two. 
  • By #3 the lactic acid has started to accumulate and you suddenly don't feel very good. 
  • #4 you are convinced you can't make the rest of the 100s at this interval. You realize you aren't even halfway. 
  • #5 burns. It burns a lot. You are only half way. 
  • If you can hold on by #6 you are going to settle into the pace and rhythm you are going to hold for the rest of the 100s. 
  • Confident you are going to finish the set you might start dropping time again at #9 or #10. 
  • The 21st 100 is a relief until you realize you don't get nearly as must rest as you think you deserve for making the previous 10.
I ended up averaging 1:08s on the middle set of 10. 2 secs of rest was just enough time to get my split and start the next 100. These 100s were more of a struggle than I was expecting but after catching my breath I was able to hold 1:06-1:07s on the 1:20 interval. I have not had an opportunity to swim a set like that so I was pretty excited to make all 10x 100s on the 1:10 without completely falling off the wagon. Progress. 

I must have been feeling inspired because when Thursday rolled around I was eager to try my hand at some long course 100s. I wrote the following main set of 25x 100s to feed my growing demon:

1x 100 - backstroke on 1:45
2x 100 - IM on 1:40
3x 100 - pull on 1:35
4x 100 - free on 1:30
5x 100 - free on 1:25
4x 100 - free on 1:30
3x 100 - pull on 1:35
2x 100 - IM on 1:40
1x 100 - backstroke on 1:45

There is a little less flexibility with long course intervals so I incorporated some stroke and IM to get me ready for the free. The 5x 100s on the 1:25 were probably the equivalent to 100s on 1:15 short course. The interval was challenging but doable. Doing 100s on the 1:20 will probably require about the same effort and result in the same amount of fatigue as the 1:10 short course interval. I will have to work towards this. It is all about making progress.

The next day I was back to short course and was hit with the following main set of 18x 100:

1-3 1:30
4-6 1:25
7-9 1:20
10-12 1:15
13-18 1:10

The set ended with 6x 100s on the 1:10. It actually was supposed to be 3 on the 1:10 and 3 on the 1: 20 but since I had already lost my lanemates I took the opportunity to try my hand at the 1:10 again - the beast I must tame! This time I felt much stronger. I held 1:06s and felt comfortable maintaining that pace. My fastest one was 1:05 (first one) and then my slowest was the second one at 1:08 but then I settled in at a 1:06 pace. Progress. 

Where are you with your 100s? Are you challenging yourself or shying away from what is difficult? For me, I can hold my threshold pace at the 1:15/1:25 interval for at least 10 100s (SC vs LC). 1:10/1:20 is certainly a challenge and takes a lot of focus and attention on my part. I am not at a point in my swimming where I can hold anything on a 1:05/1:15 interval. One day. I encourage you to determine your breaking points. Your swimming will thank you.