Sunday, February 18, 2018

Pushing Limits

Craig Carson, Brentwood Seawolves, sent us a WSJ article from the Sat/Sun Feb 3-4 edition in the Review Section titled Head Games (if you want the full storycheck it out). The article chronicled the history of our understanding of human limits, how we test for them and how we might overcome previously interpreted limitations.

A loose summary is that the brain physiologically is wired to keep us from killing ourselves, literally. When it perceives we are doing damage to ourselves through feedback it receives during exertion, it “makes” us ease off. But the science today tells us that “the feeling that you can go no further is just that – a feeling.”
In a 2014 experiment researchers “showed cyclists images of smiling faces in imperceptible 16-millisecond flashes. The exposure boosted cycling performance by 12% over the level recorded with frowning faces projected in the same way. The sight of the smile didn’t lower the subjects’ heartrates or lactate levels. Instead it subtly altered how their brains interpreted those signals, evoking feelings of ease that bled into their perception of how hard they were pedaling.”
That is very powerful science and armed with this knowledge we believe that our athletes can do more work at higher levels of discomfort thus achieving better physiological adaptation…and correspondingly find higher levels of confidence that ultimately fuel performance.
The simplest and perhaps most effective tool is the ability to train yourself using motivational self-talk. There are many who will poo-hoo this calling it hokey. However, there is an ever growing body of scientific research that shows it is very real. It is pretty simple; you replace negative self-talk “man I am cooked” with “keep pushing, you’re doing well.”
Thanks Craig for the eye opener!

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Closer Look at the Sprint 500

We came back from Iowa (Winter Juniors) frustrated with our 500 swims. We either got out and were unable to bring it home, or we went out too slow and looked good at the end but were out of the race. Ken took the time (huge help!) to provide the stats below. The 250 is the split for the first 10 laps, the 500 the time for the total and the delta is the difference. The fastest swim was Zane Grothe’s 4:07.2…out in a 2:03.1 back in a 2:04.1 – a 1.0 delta. In that swim 2nd place was out in 2:03.5 and finished with a 2:07.2 for a 3.7 delta.

The one common denominator in all 1st place swims was the get out speed. This coupled with an ability to get home made the difference. So that much is obvious after looking at the data. The stopwatch never lies.

The question is what goes into the make-up of a swim like that? Our thinking today is fairly simple. You must have enough speed to be at the front or very close to the front. Then you must be able to finish faster than your competition. Duh...

How do you train for that?  The 500 is a long sprint. You must have the physiology to do both the front and back halves. You must train for speed and plain old fashioned toughness. You must be able to withstand the agony (real and imagined) caused by early speed and the accompanying buildup of fatigue; physiologically, mentally, and emotionally.

Everyone has their own interpretation of how to do that. There are no shortcuts around the preparation for this extended effort. Anyone who is unable or unwilling (two different things) to put forth the effort is just kidding him/herself about a top level 500.