Thursday, July 08, 2010

The TI Experiment

and not, that doesn't mean Texas Instruments :-)

I have two years worth of swim workouts, courtesy of Coach, and she always was a an expert at dreaming up interesting ways to kick one's arse in the pool. However, repeating the same workouts over and over again gets rather droll, and I am always on the look out for some fun time in the pool.

The two books, I just finished reading, reminded me that excellent swimming is seventy percent technique and thirty percent strength, give or take a few percentage points. Thus, my refocus in the pool on technique. I'm pretty sure I can bang out sub 1:30 100s any time now. I need to unlock the secret to 1:20s and 1:15s.

One of the recommended techniques is swimming slower to race faster, kind of like long slow runs, no? The other technique is a single minded focus on stroke count (which translates into distance per stroke). With that thought in mind, I set off to the pool at lunch yesterday to get in my 2100 yard workout.

I warmed up with 300 yards easy, focusing on keeping my head down. I have a habit of looking to far in front when I swim. I then did 8x25 drill, and 1x50 swim golf, to establish my score and stroke count. I managed a score of 74, coming in with 28 strokes for fifty yards. With 14 strokes per length of the pool, I then did 8x100 with the goal of keeping my strokes within a range of 14-16, and my time within 3 seconds of 0:49. My stroke count started off at 14, then 15, then towards the end, I was trying not slip past 16. I noticed that the higher my stroke count went, the slower I was going. I realized that this is a great technique for maintaining a consistent effort across the workout. I wrapped up the session at 8x50 hard (stroke count 18, or +4), 8x25 kick (I hate kick!), and a 300 yard cool down.

Yesterday was also my first double in a long time. I waited until almost 8:15 to run, and it was still 90 degrees out! At least the sun wasn't out, and it really wasn't that bad till the end. Running on legs that also swam is so different from "just running". It was a good reminder, both of my past races AND where I need to be going forward.



Jess said...

Great job in both the pool and on the run! These temps are making for hot and sticky runs.

teacherwoman said...

Very interesting abou the swim strokes. Great work. A good swim is always nice!

Jess said...

It's this time of year that I wish I were a swimmer. Alas, I am more of a floater ;)

Tea said...

What changes do you think you need to make in the pool?

I am asking because I have been thinking about technique while I've been swimming lately. I've been trying to focus on different aspects each time I'm in the pool.

Also, when you're stroke count is lower, do you feel more efficient? Do you feel your pull is stronger? (I'm not sure if that makes sense).

EK said...

I get the best results when I focus on swimming as slow as I can. Like cycling, swimming becomes more difficult with a lack speed. You will find that your legs drop when you slow down, unless you roll into the most efficient position. Also, making a fist is a great drill, as you can't wildly move your hands around to correct a sloppy position. I find that when I get it right, I have a good timing of stroke and kick (I kick once per stroke), and a good focus on my forward movement as opposed to pushing water backwards. Most of my workouts are 30-50 50-meter intervals at around 1:10 minutes, which is a bit faster than half my maximum speed. With each interval I try to focus on one aspect of the stroke (kick, stroke, shoulder, elbow, hand, head, breath, etc.). I have a 20 sec break inbetween intervals that I use to re-focus rather than recover. Training is so easy that there is no need to warm up or cool down. No need for kicks either. You will find that the TI kick is about timing and helping you roll your body, not about giving you thrust. You can't practice that in a legs-only drill.
TI workouts are great after a long run or long ride, as it loosens up your muscles. This doesn't sound much like a workout, but it helped me to improve my 5k time from 1:40 to 1:25 inside 5 months.

Stuart said...

Interesting what you say about looking up, I find I am a better swimmer when I follow the black line at the bottom