Friday, May 29, 2015

Viking's new routine is starting to flow...

Lately I have been finding a groove with my minimal modifications to the full USRPT method.  I don't really feel like I am breaking away from it at all, but I have tried a few hacks to make up for my lack of ability to consistently train.  For example, last week, my Friday workout time was hijacked by extra work duties, and this week I was only able to get in the water on Tuesday morning for 1000 yards and Friday for 1400 yards.  Seriously... 2400 yards of training over 8 days.  That is just something I had to accept from day one of this comeback adventure. I make the most of what I have and don't stress about the rest.

Here is where I try to make up for some of it, beyond my USRPT sets for 100 and 200 breast:

  • I still run because it is easy to fit those in. I run early but it isn't hard to get going.  I can put in anywhere from 3-6 miles, and can be anywhere from 7:10-8:40 per mile pace depending on my mood.  Later I plan to alternate in a lot of short sprints and jogs rather than just steady state runs because that is when I see improvement.  Right now I just run out of guilt. 
  • After almost every USRPT set I do, I give myself a couple minutes to recover and then push a fast 100 or 200 for time.  This started because on days I didn't make a good score on my targets I wanted to redeem myself.  What I found was that actually doing the race has helped me to apply race strategies in a new way and I have been able to use it as an additional gauge for improvement. Plus, I think that it takes me to that "point of failure" that we seek in USRPT and helps me focus on keeping race technique. As a matter of fact, I still have not mastered 20x50 on 50sec at 32 high, even though my recent shaved times would put my target at 31 high... But my practice runs of the push 200 have improved from 2:28 to 2:15.  
  • I like to pull parachutes. There is something about breaststroke with a chute that helps me get my timing where I want it. I don't like using tools much but this one I kept. I also bought a pocket drag suit and when I am feeling lazy (just don't have the mental will to hit USRPT hard) I will work breaststroke kick with a board wearing it.
  • Mini-Max: after warm up, before my USRPT set, I like to do a mini-max or two.  If you are not familiar with this, it is like an efficiency game where a lower score is an improvement.  Your score is your time for a 50 plus the number of strokes it took you to complete it.  I feel like this also helps my timing and keeps me from rushing.  I started with a couple different combinations of 45, like 29+8+8 and 31+6+8... but I have since worked my way to a few 43's that were 30+6+7 and 31+6+6. (And yes, the pullout counts as one stroke.) 
One thing I have found is that my morning swims aren't always as good, so I keep track of my best scores and times in the morning versus the afternoon.  Also, I finally get to try long course next week, and I intend to start at my paces based on where my sets landed at the end of the summer rather than jumping in with targets based on my new best shaved times. 

And oh yeah, one more big thing... Running seems to kick my butt and often my next workout or two can be lousy. I plan to cut that out about three weeks before my biggest meet. I think it hurts breast a little more than the other strokes simply because stiff legs interfere with the whip kick more than the others. 

If you are out there giving USRPT or LCHF a try, please drop a note and let us hear how it is going!  I feel like we are taking a ship into uncharted territory here, to places where the good old boy network is afraid to tread! I am pumped that Chris is on board now too!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Once More Back Into The Fray

Relationships are the most important thing in life. That simple sentence explains exactly why I'm here, writing this blog. The nature of each relationship is quite different, and the ones that brought me here couldn't be more different. Today I'm starting up writing again with a simple goal: to document my own journey back to competitive swimming. Depending on how you count, there are at least four relationships that led me to this point, which I'll explain briefly.

The first is my wife, who has always been the one to gently (or not so gently) push me in the direction I need to go. In the past few years, my swimming has fallen by the wayside, put on the backburner of being a first time dad while trying to cope with being the head coach of a swim club in a (sort of) foreign country. As the two of us emerge from the dramatic shift of being parents, she's started to push me back to two things that make me happy: writing and swimming.

The second is my blogging mate, Shawn Klosterman, who has really inspired me to give it another go. Watching him crush it at Pro-Ams at 40 years old reminds me that my tender 31 years is far too young to give up on doing something awesome in this sport. Shawn and I have still never met in real life, yet his encouragement, guidance and motivation definitely brought me back.

The third is actually a group, the swimmers I coach. Recently I have shifted to training a USRPT (Ultra Short Race Pace Training) training program. Some swimmers are thriving! Others are struggling a bit with the change, but slowly finding their way. In my own comeback, I intend to train pure USRPT, and I want to show them how I handle the various challenges and problems I encounter along the way, hopefully it will help them to figure out things for themselves as well.

The last one is my daughter, who I'd like to set a good example for, and not give up my most important goals because "it's hard".

Without further ado, here's my workout blog:

Monday, May 18th- The First Attempt

The workout:
3x100 warmup
6x15m breakout
30x25, 100 freestyle pace (16 sec, determined from a few weeks prior recording a 1:03 relay split 100m free, SCM).

How it went: I completed 14x25. Initial thing I had to get over was my embarassment at the pace. I was never an amazing swimmer, still my old "personal best" would have me starting with a pace of 14 seconds, so 16 felt terribly slow. I am glad I started with 16s though, because after 8 I felt a wash of lactic acid and had to stop. I was able to complete four more in a row before getting the same feeling, and after that only two more.

Wednesday, May 20th- Breaststroke

The workout:
3x100 warmup
8x25m breaststroke turns
30x25, 100 breaststroke pace (19 sec, made up because I haven't swum 100 SCM breaststroke ever and haven't done 100y for over three years)

How it went: This was rough. I was only able to do 8x25. Overwhelmed with lactic acid after 4x25, then only able to squeeze off two in a row after following the additional rest protocol. I spent a lot of time thinking, and came up with two theories that I intend to test out. One is that 19 was too fast, and I will try 20 next time. The other is that I have never really done anything close to breastroke race pace capacity work in my whole swimmer career, so maybe this will be a slow way up. I am determined to work from wherever I am and work my way up. Also, my turns felt very uncomfortable and I need to start stretching again as my flexibility is bad!

Thursday, May 21st- Freestyle

The workout:
3x100 warmup
10x15m breakout
30x25, 100 pace freestyle (16 sec)

How it went: Progress! I was able to do 22x25. Again I was limited not by the pace but by lactic acid, but it came on much later this time. I swam 12x25, needed a break, then 6x25, a break, then 4x25. I felt encouraged by my progress, and could feel that I was in something resembling a rhythm. I am going to wait until I have a couple practices where I swim 30x25 on pace, and then hopefully set my pace up.