Watch Me Swim!

One of the things I’ve been itching to do since I have a waterproof (and idiot-proof) camera is get some underwater video of my swim stroke.  I managed to do this a couple of weeks ago, but it’s taken until now to get this thing uploaded and edited.

Compared to the other two disciplines, my swim is strong, but that doesn’t make me a coach or expert of any kind, but I figured I could eyeball my form and evaluate it on a few key measures that I know (or at least, I believe) to be important.  My information is partly from ‘Swim Bike Run’  by Hobson, Campbell and Vickers and the rest from informal chats both on-line and in real life with other triathletes. Key concepts are:

  • Hand Entry – ‘Always enter your hand into the water in a line directly in front of your shoulder… A common mistake among triathletes is “cross-over,” which occurs when the hand is place inside the shoulder line usually in line with the head.’ There’s an interesting parallel with running there, because your hands shouldn’t cross the mid-line of your body then either; it’s all wasted energy.
  • Catch – Once the hand is in the water, you actually complete the extension and reach the rest of the way forward underwater.
  • Body Roll – ‘… once the arm pull is ready to begin, your body has rolled to that side or your hips are facing away from your hand.’   Body roll is key to getting core muscle power involved in your stroke, but I confess I’ve gotten mixed messages on how much is enough. Swim Bike Run seems to indicate the whole body, while others seem to be saying that it should be mostly torso, with everything below the waist being more neutral in the water, which would result in a bit of a ‘twist’ motion.  That’s the ideal I thought I was working toward, but the video might reveal otherwise….

Whether or not my roll below the hips is excessive or not, the asymmetry is a problem.  Watching the video gives me some things to think about the next time I’m in the pool, and it’s cheaper than a coach.

Where’s Your Head At?

I have been struggling, struggling, struggling with being able to focus lately –  in most areas of my life, but fitness and training especially.  I have had too much trouble deciding where and what I want to spend time on, so not only is my training all over the place, but I’m not in headspace to set goals, and as for blogging about it… well…

I’ll try to give you an illustration of the fitness/training part of my brain lately:

This probably plays fast and loose with the laws of the Venn diagram, but it’s the best I can do to sort through the jumble.  Let’s break this down some more:

  • Triathlon, comprised of Swim, Bike and Run.  This is still my biggest love, still a priority.  The temptation to let things slide due to the “off-season” is there, but there are also arguments that there shouldn’t be an off-season (Tridot calls it “Out-Season”) especially if you haven’t had a heavy “On-Season”.  On the other hand, maybe it’s the time of year to work on strength, like say through…

  • Crossfit.  Confessions first: with only a few months left in the year, I realized I’m in danger of the sessions I bought back in January expiring.  I’ve been even worse than sporadic up until that point, but I did manage to step it up in the last month or so, still falling short of the twice a week I wanted. What I like most is that I’m often addressing muscles in the posterior chain; easy to neglect, but very important muscles. 

    Big workouts have given me Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), which for me always sets in 2 days after the workout, which really throws off the idea of getting back in there for a WOD (workout of the day) 2 days later.
Besides that, the other problem I have is that it’s time consuming, which is a weird thing to say given that I’ve seen WODs that are 10 minutes long.  Still, I have to drive there (it’s short, but that’s still more than using the in-house corporate gym or my basement or running.  There’s the warm-up and skills portion (which I’m grateful for), yet they start when everybody is ready and there, not just when I want to get things moving along.  There’s no shower at the box, so after I drive back, I still have to shower and change.  The truth is, where there’s a will there’s a way, so these kinds of excuses shouldn’t be an obstacle if I really love doing it, but I guess I don’t.  I’d love to improve in some of the skills (pull-ups, dead-lifts, pistol squats and handstand push-ups come to mind), but I don’t get to pick what comes up in the WOD.  I recently tried (again) snatches, but I didn’t do so great with them; it just feels like flirting with injury.  Forty-somethings need to play it safe sometimes, which brings us to…

  • Parkour*.  The asterisk is for the fact that I’m forty (did I mention that already) and I don’t have the tolerance for risk that doing head-over-heels flips would entail, but I do like working on jumps, balancing and climbing during Burbathlon. What I’d really like to achieve is the Kong Vault (or at least the Monkey Vault). I just think it might come in handy, especially if I ever try an Obstacle Course race again. What I’ve been working on is getting my legs through with my hands on the ground (or any surface really). It’s an exercise in flexibility and discipline, really.

  • Nordic Skiing. This one is marked as being outside the benefit zone of triathlon, but according to what I’ve written before, maybe it shouldn’t be. At any rate, Nordic skiing is one of my favourite forms of exercise, and as they say on Game of Thrones, Winter is Coming. I got lucky finding a pair of roller-skis at a ski swap, and knowing that the snow hasn’t been reliable in recent years, I snagged them. When I get a chance to practice with them for more than 10 minutes, I’ll write up a little review, but based on my current experience, I won’t feel safe using them to commute to work any time soon.

  • Martial Arts. For reasons I can’t quite understand that myself looking through local places that offer Kung Fu like Wing Chun, and/or San Shou. I also have nostalgia for Jiu-Jitsu. The problem is I’m still in position where I can’t leave the house in the evenings. Most things that I have seen after work are right during the time when I’m helping the kids to bed, and they’re still not really putting themselves to sleep so that stuff it’s probably going to have to wait.
If I take a look at my accomplishments in October (for example) the calendar looks like this:
The Little Standing man is for Circuit Training = Crossfit WOD or Tabata Bootcamp

That could be worse. Some swims, some bikes… too few runs. At the very least, I joined a Govember Bike Challenge hosted by Jamie at From Couch to Ironwoman, and it’s gotten me on the trainer.

Are you madly off in all directions like this? Do you have “Fitness ADD” too?

Why I’m Not Stronger On the Bike

Yesterday: Set alarm for 5AM.  Go to bed at 8:30PM in guest room

Today, 4:47AM – Woken by the Lightning Kid, turn off alarm before it goes off while wife puts him back down

5:05AM – Lightning Kid asleep, head downstairs, grab water bottle, Garmin, iPad and change into bike shorts and tank top.

5:17AM – After taking and posting a pic (natch), hop on bike and start pedalling.  Bring up Netflix and continue watching Taken 2.  Use the car chase scene to motivate myself on more intense pedalling.

5:34AM – I notice the rear wheel keeps slipping, so I figure I might up the tension on the trainer a little.  I get off to make the adjustment but find it makes a funny noise when I pedal.  The tire pressure feels low.  My good pump is in the garage, but I figure I can use the portable one strapped to the frame.

5:44AM – The tire feels flatter than before.  Obviously I’m getting nowhere with the pump so I throw in the towel.  It’s near freezing outside, so I’m not going to the garage dressed as I am, and I don’t want to wake anyone trying to get dressed.  I opt for a little strength/home workout, and try some pull-ups on the bar, Russian twists with the medicine ball, and of course, Roguees.

6:01AM – I hear Shark Boy coughing, and stirring, and the cat seems like he’s using my activity as a an excuse to thump around.  I try moving the cat to the basement with me so he won’t wake the others; as a ‘thank-you’, he sinks his claws into my unprotected chest.  Shark Boy is definitely awake, and will wake the others shortly unless I intervene.  I head upstairs.

So, in conclusion, I got 25 interrupted minutes of workout for having gotten up an hour and a half early…. but at least it got me posting again.