Sunday, December 27, 2009

Can You Believe?

It is 2010 - well in 5 days. Yikes. We must be having a ton of fun 'cause time sure is flying! And at this time of year we always think about what we have learned and what we can improve upon. Fortunately there are many items in each category.

When thinking about your swimming we will wager that one of the most significant things you can do to improve your fitness, speed and effectiveness is to become a stronger kicker. So early in the New Year - say by the 10th - after your legs are really warmed up, grab a kick board (or certainly you can do this on your back, or on your stomach with your hands at your side breathing through your snorkel) and kick a 100 yard/meter effort for time. Record that time.

Now three times a week grab a board and do a set of 500 to 800 yards of kicking. Set your intervals so that you are getting about 20 to 30 seconds of rest after each repeat. One month from the date of your January test repeat the effort. We are willing to bet that your time will be faster and that the amount of improvement will impress you.

Kicking takes no talent. It matters not your genetic make-up. All kicking requires is will power and that is in ample supply presuming you are motivated. You will also notice that your swimming repeat times in practice will improve as a result of more leg power. As your legs get in shape you have better control over the lower 2/3rds of your body and its position in the water relative to resistance. You will find that your legs stay more directly behind your hips which reduce drag and make you more efficient and therefore faster.

Even if you have no desire to become a faster swimmer simply by building your leg power you can become a smoother swimmer. This will make your exercise sessions all the more enjoyable.

Have a great start to 2010 and let us know how we can help!

Oh more thing. We mentioned use of the snorkel. If you don't have one do yourself a big favor and purchase one. It is the single best tool for improving your swimming. More on its use coming your way shortly.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Importance of Self-Talk

We have always been interested in how our athletes treat themselves. One of the easiest ways to monitor this is to listen to how they talk to themselves and others. We know that "put ups" vs. "put downs" make a huge difference in how a swimmer feels about what she/he is doing and how it contributes to their success. The real value is what each individual says to him/her self and then to a lessor extent (but still significant) what others to whom we assign value, have to say. We like the exercise offered below. Keep your ears open. You might just grab an insightful moment! Have a great week in and out of the pool!!

Excerpt from Secrets of the World Class, by Steve Siebold

Self-talk is what we say to ourselves all day long and also how we say it. For years, philosophers, psychologists and performance experts worldwide have known about the impact self-talk has on us. That being said, average performers
are oblivious to what they are saying to themselves and how it's affecting the quality of their lives. The pros have always been aware of the power of language in programming and reprogramming the human computer.

Dr. Shad Helmstetter, in his magnificent book, What to Say When You Talk to Yourself, writes that up to 77% of the average person's self-talk is negative. According to Dr. Helmstetter, we spend our lives talking ourselves into and out of things.

Champions believe and embrace this idea. As a matter of fact, the easiest way to know you're in the presence of champions is to listen to them. The world-class has spent years overcoming prior programming, and this process usually begins with the use of language, both with themselves and others. The great ones believe almost anything is possible, simply because they have repeated that idea - and others like it - to themselves for years.

To quote Dr. Helmstetter, "Repetition is a convincing argument." Developing world-class self-talk may be the most powerful of all the mental toughness secrets of the world-class. Like most of the habits, traits and philosophies in this book, it's so simple that it's often overlooked. As a result, amateur performers continue to perpetuate amateur language with themselves and others. Meanwhile, the great ones create ideas out of thin air, convince themselves achievement is possible, and then go out and make it happen.

Action Step for Today:

Begin monitoring everything you say to yourself and others. Ask this critical thinking question:

"Is the way I use language programming me for success or failure?"

Next, begin listening to the way people around you use language.

Ask yourself the same question about them. This is an eye-opening experiment.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One More Set for Masters

As the holidays draw near we are in the training mode for our Masters group with the intent of giving them something they can hang their hat on before the various obligations take hold turning the best intentions into dust.

We laugh at practices, noting how little we are doing and how much the rest of our lives intrude...but we seem to embrace the intrusions while taking a certain amount of personal pride in our training efforts.

Today is Saturday and we begin at 7:15 vs. the normal 5:45 during the work week. So, all of us, coaches included, are a little more rested, (or not depending upon Friday evening's activities! - such is the life of adults!!) ready for what the day portends.

Here is our set. The goal is to have some aerobic work wrapped around some ever increasing intensity with a touch of speed work. We believe the lactic levels were rising throughout the set.

After a 25 or so minute warm up of 1000 + or - yards we did the following:

5x100 negative split with about 20 seconds rest - first lap fly
4x50/1 all at 75% - in a perfect world all the times are the same

4x100 neg split as above with 20 seconds rest - 2nd lap back
4x50/1 all at 80%

3x100 neg split, 20 seconds rest - 3rd lap breast
4x50/1 all at 85%

2x100 the 2nd one a little faster than the first, again, about 20 seconds rest
4x50/1:10 the first 3 at 90%, number 4 at 95%

1x100 cruise

This set is 2300 yards. Afterwards we loosened down with about 400 yards of easy swimming. Several folks did less. Our belief is that Masters swimmers seem to do less loosening than the younger swimmers and this is not so good...but then, adults are off to the next thing in their day and are not thinking too much about the next workout or on balance, life is good!

If you give this one a try, let us know how it goes for you! If you have a favorite workout for the holidays please tell us and we can share it with the world via the www. See you in a week!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Two Different Sets

We had some good response to the ideas generated by the set for 200's last week so here are two different new ones designed for the 500 swimmer. They will of course work in various modifications for any type of endurance swim.

This first set is designed to push aerobic thresholds while dealing with some lactic acid tolerance. You of course can adjust the intervals; these are for our Senior Training group.

5x100/1:30 progressive 1-5
4x100/1:25 pro 1-4
3x100/1:20 pro 1-3
2x100/1:15 pro 1-2
1x100/ be under 1:10 (most were under a minute)

1x250 snorkel recovery swim pulling your stroke back together

4x100/1:25 pro 1-4
3x100/1:20 pro 1-3
2x100/1:15 pro 1-2
1x100/ be under 1:10

1x250 snorkel recovery as above

3x100/1:20 pro 1-3
2x100/1:15 pro 1-2
1x100/ sub 1:10

1x250 snorkel recovery as above

2x100/1:15 pro 1-2
1x100/ sub 1:10

1x250 snorkel recovery as above

1x100/sub 1:10...we actually had all guys and girls under a minute here, tongues hanging

This set is 3500 yards at effort plus 1000 yards recovery based stroke work

The second set is designed to get the swimmer to feel the intensity of the 500 yard swim, to make the commitment to dealing with the discomfort...or put another way, to get comfortable being uncomfortable. In every swim, perhaps except the 50, there comes a moment where the swimmer needs to push through the barrier caused by the exertion level. We believe that if they do that in workout occasionally they will have the confidence to make the positive decision in the meet: confidence is, after all, the most important muscle in the one's and swimmer alike.

Again this is for our Senior Training group. We establish race pace for the 500 for each swimmer. Those working around 5:00 for the swim go the 100's on the 1:15; those working on 4:30's go the 100's on the 1:10. All the 50's are on the .40 and everything is foot touch except the last 50. We do the first 50 from the blocks. All swims at race pace or at the bare minimum at race pace effort.

1x100/1:10 or 1:15
1x100/1:10 or 1:15
1x100/1:10 or 1:15

We did this set last Tuesday which is 17 days from our December shave meet. We will let you know how our 500's go at Sectionals in Long Beach!

Got something similar to share? Please send it our way and we will include it in a future posting. Have a great week at the pool!