Saturday, June 29, 2013

HOT week: 14 miles running, 2 hours in the water

Strange weather early this week, warm and humid with rain for two days then HOT.

Yes, HOT. Well, for here....up to about 100+F by days end with bright sun. I only put in 14 miles of running, but that's plenty after the double marathon 10 days ago and with the swim training I'm doing.

The lessons are going well.  I learned one great thing about swimming: no matter how hot it is you don't get hot doing the swimming 8) You also get a nice all over feeling of tiredness rather than all just the legs.

I've had 3 lessons now of 1/2 hour each plus one 1/2 hour session by myself for a grand total of 2 hours. I'm pretty wiped at the end of each...but I can tell my upper body is adapting already.

Front Quadrant Swimming
I seem to have 'clicked' to some extent on the FQS (front quadrant swimming). I kind of get it now, although I don't have the upper body muscles to do it for more than a length at a time...then I rest a bit and do another.  My HR averages probably about 125bpm.  

Swimming is  all about laying down the right muscle memories and getting rid of natural tendencies that are at odds with best efficiency or best ergonomics. The teacher sees your problems and then tries to find ways (using physical drills or mental focus drills) to break out of the bad moves and get you to find the good ones. 

The first thing that was drilled into me was the high elbow return....imagine strings from the point of your elbow (like a puppet) pulling them higher than the rest of your arm on the return. 

Then we worked on some 'catch up' drills where you exaggerate the FQS by having both arms out in front with a tiny pause before stroking again. There was some one-arm swimming drills too...whoa..THEY ARE HARD!  I learned that I have a difficult time extending my left arm out and keeping it STRAIGHT and aimed straight ahead when I am breathing.

Then we worked on getting the hip extension into the stroke...this was all too much for me and hard to get the feel until the key suggestion of breathing every other stroke. That gave me a much better ability to do the stretch and glide part of the swim without the asymmetry of breathing wrecking the feel..and when it clicked it felt great! 

(BTW: In the endless pool last summer I had a hard time keeping my legs from sinking. However in the lap pool I have had no problems. I think this is due to the huge velocity gradient in the endless pool: just 18 inches down there is no current, so if your legs drop even a teeny bit you stall out and they sink further.)

My trainer counted my strokes during one lap (where I kept it together better than ever before).. and it was about 20 per 25 yds, She said this is pretty good for a beginner. Apparently being tall is good in have a longer waterline length...and hence a higher 'hull speed':

Vhull (knots)  ~  1.34 * sqrt(length in feet)

For me this works out to 3.7 mph or about a 16 min/mile:  a fast walking pace. I'm sure I can only hit that pace for about one body length right now 8/. Realistically,  being taller gives a teeny drag reduction that is swamped by flaws in technique and muscle / cardio limitations.

Speaking of cardio, I realized another interesting thing about swimming: once you get some upper body muscle you should be able to do incredible VO2 max intervals without any stress on your joints. That will be a nice compliment to running.

The only downside of swimming is that the view is boring: the bottom of the pool. 

However, like other technique heavy activities: playing a musical instrument, dancing, etc. just the act of nailing it and doing it well requires concentration and when achieved, is satisfying by itself.

Unlike swimming, running and biking can be done without any instruction at all...yes there is some technique to be learned but it's tiny compared to freestyle swimming. 

Open water swimming has it's own issues that require even more technique e.g. learning to sneak peak your target so you swim straight, learning to breath to either side so you can avoid wave chop and wind.

Add in all the other strokes you could learn if you cared to and it's VERY complex indeed.

Have a great July 4th weekend everybody!

1 comment:

  1. My swimming is still bad. It is something to get through so I can do what I like. Good for you for figuring it all out.


Feel free to leave a comment!