Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: Swim Slower to Get Faster

>> Thursday, November 27, 2014

For today's "Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday," I'll direct you back to Monday's post about "CSS training." I've done a few workouts based on this idea, and I like it. I got confirmation from 2 other speedy swimmers that the theory behind it is sound and makes sense.

So go check out my recent blog post about CSS swimming.


p.s. I wrote about six swim workouts I did 2 weeks ago, and one of them was the 40x50 workout I like to do. (This workout is TOTALLY AGAINST the idea of CSS, but the CSS site talked about incorporating faster swims at times.) When I did this swim a few weeks back, my 8 "all out" 50s averaged 39.13. Two days ago, my 8 "all out" 50s averaged 36.88! PROGRESS! Check out the workout details here - I like this workout!


p.p.s. Regarding my swimming, I'm officially at 17,850 yards for the month. I BELIEVE I've only cracked 20,000 yards once before as Coach Jen was having me swim a lot as no-impact training leading up to my sub-60 TC 10 Mile 4 years ago. I say I "believe" that I've only cracked 20,000 once before because my workout logs were on paper before September of 2009, and I haven't looked through those. (I saw in this post from 2007 that I was proud that I logged 11,500 yards IN ONE WEEK leading up to Ironman, but I was swimming pretty sporadically - I'll have to find my old logs and see what they say).

So in the last 5 years and 3 months of online workout logs, here are the top 4 swimming months:
   - Aug 2010: 25,817 yds (training with Julia and Coach Jen for the TC 10)
   - Sept 2010: 19,825 yds (still training for the TC 10)
   - July 2010: 18,559 yds
   - May 2010: 17,850 yes (that's perfectly tied with this month!)

Notice those were all months in 2010. Pre-Henry. That all added up to my biggest swimming year with 151,806.6 yards. I won't break that this year, but I could get close to 140,000 yards - I was very sporadic in 2010 where some months would be SO TINY, but this year I've just been a little more consistent (well, at least early in the year, and then again after May when my ankle started feeling better).

A friend gave me a 2,250 yard workout that sounds interesting, so I hope to fit that in during these next few days of Thanksgiving meals. That will put my at 21,000 yds for the month!HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!! Stop back tomorrow for some "Friday Funnies!"

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Lance's Failed Beer Mile

>> Tuesday, November 25, 2014

EVERYONE has been sending me these links. It's like people think I've done something like this before. So now I just had to share.

Runner's World reported last week that Lance Armstrong dropped out of his first beer mile. There was video of the event, but it since has been taken down. Lance started the race with a beer, ran a lap, grabbed his 2nd beer, and then dropped out. He said "That was not what I expected." He's right - you don't have any idea how something like this will feel until you're stuck in the middle of it. And it doesn't feel pretty.

There was an article about this on Men's Journal too, and they took it a step further by interviewing elite athletes who have done beer miles. Here's what 3 speedy people had to say:

Nick Symmonds
800-meter Olympian and World Championships silver medalist.
Beer Mile PR: 5:19.

"It’s unlike any pain I’ve ever felt as a pro athlete. You’re constantly fighting nausea and the gag reflex. Your whole stomach is just one giant cramp. Your trying to breathe, chug, burp, and run all at the same time. It’s super hard, but I’ve never puked."


Chris Kimbrough
Multi-time masters national champion. Women’s beer mile world record holder.
Beer Mile PR: 6:28

"The carbonation builds up and feels like a shelf sitting in your diaphragm. You want to keep drinking, but it’s just not going down. The key is burping. I was able to burp while running. And I was still burping well after I finished. My biggest concern was my bladder. That’s a lot of liquid."


Patrick Hitchens
Elite beer mile runner [that's a thing?!?] sponsored by Fitrankings.com.
Beer Mile PR: 6:08

"I went from totally sober to shitfaced in two seconds. It was like zero to one hundred. I puked a few minutes after finishing. I had a slice of margherita pizza about two hours before the race, and this is the first beer mile I didn’t feel like puking while running. I think that’s the ticket, having something bready in your belly to help absorb the alcohol."

4 thoughts regarding these quotes:

I 100% agree with everything Nick says.
And I agree with Chris' points about the "shelf" and burping - it helps a TON if you can get it out.
Patrick and I share similar sentiments about feeling the effects QUICKLY. I'm not much of a drinker, so it usually takes me about 10-20 minutes post-race before I'm in the bag.
"Elite beer mile runner" is a thing? I've raced a handful of people that have posted a better time than him, so I'm still feeling pretty good about finishing 3rd last month.


From my bee... er... my "kitten mile" last month.   Click the link for
more horrible awesome photos like this one.

In yet another article, he said he wasn't going to try this again. "One and done" Armstrong said.

Well, now I can say I have as many Tour de France victories as Lance Armstrong, AND that I can out race him in a beer mile. It's a good day to be me.

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Swimming/Training Advice: Drills and CSS

>> Monday, November 24, 2014

Last week, I posted about 6 new swim workouts I had done, and I was a little concerned about just swimming hard. Did I need to be working on my form too? Instead of ONLY trying to "muscle" my way through the pool?

So I shared my concern with some fast swimming buds:



Coach Jen sent me a lot of tweets back. She's urging me to join a Master's group. (It hasn't been able to fit in my schedule, but it's looking more likely as the boys get bigger.) A big point of hers was this:



Pete voted NO to drills:



Devon texted me, and he felt the same way about drills. So the best advice seems to be easy and make the most sense: just hit the pool often!

Fast swimming buddy (sub-60 IM swimmer) Robby B saw my post last week and told me my workouts looked boring and that he had some thoughts for me. He turned me on to Swim Smooth and some of their ideas of swim training:

To improve your lactate threshold you want to do your quality swim sets at your current threshold pace or just below it. Many athletes make the mistake of training above lactate threshold in short sharp swim sets - that isn't nearly as effective.

Well, that's what I've been doing for the last 5 weeks: hard interval swims. So what's your "best" pace to train at? Your "CSS" pace. They go on to explain what that is:

CSS is an acronym for Critical Swim Speed. It's an approximation of your lactate threshold speed and you can find it by doing a couple of swimming tests (no blood involved - just a stopwatch!). It's not precisely the same as lactate threshold but it will be within a couple of seconds per 100m, which is plenty accurate enough to guide your training.

They say to swim an all-out 400, rest and swim easy a bit after that, and then do an all-out 200. Find the difference between your time in the 400 and 200, and then divide that by 2 to get your CSS pace / 100.

For example, here are my numbers: I swam my 400 in 6:10. Then I did my 200 in 3:00. The difference between those is 2 times is 3:10. Divide that by 2, and my CSS training pace should be 1:35.

The idea is to NOT go "all out" for every interval swim, because that's less beneficial. But instead, swim your CSS pace and then take less rest. That way (supposedly), you're swimming at a pace that will help you become faster and build your endurance. Their website gives a few workouts to do based on your CSS number, so check it out here.

Robby suggested a 3x400 / 3x200 workout using my CSS numbers, so I did that right after doing my CSS test. He suggested breaking the intervals up into 400/2x200/4x100 and 200/2x100/4x50. So that's what I did. I was just over my CSS pace for the first 400, a bit over for the 200s, and then held the right pace for the rest of the workout. Here's what I wrote in my training log:

Did these as 25 sec between "major" sets, 15 between shorter sets. Would PROBABLY do 20 and 10 in the future (to beat me up more).

400: 1:36, 1:39, 1:39, 1:38
2x200: (1:34, 1:38), 15 sec rest, (1:37, 1:37)
4x100: 1:33, 1:35, 1:32, 1:32 (again, 15 secs between all of those)

30 sec rest

200: 1:34, 1:36
2x100: 1:35, 1:33
4x50: 43, 44, 43, 43

Doing that workout after the CSS test was a pretty non-boring way to get in 2600 yards! (I did a warm up 100 before the CSS test, and I did an easy 100 between the 400 and 200 in the CSS test.) That was my longest swim in over 4 years! My eye sockets hurt because I wasn't used to my goggles being on for that long.

Yesterday, I did a workout suggested on the Swim Smooth website talking about CSS. It was 8x200 with 20 sec rest. The pace would be easier than I was used to being I just did 8x200 under 2 weeks ago starting at 3:07 and dropping down to 3:02. (Remember, my CSS pace is 1:35, so that'd be 3:10/200.) BUT that workout 2 weeks ago had 30 seconds rest, and yesterday's was to just have 20 secs rest - again, that's the point of CSS: don't cross over threshold pace, but then only take short rests so you're really working just below threshold without ever really recovering. The workout came with a warning that you'd really have to hold back at the beginning (emphasizing pacing), but near the end it'd start to feel "relentless" because you'll be tired and not getting quite enough rest.

Well, I swam 3:10, 3:10, 3:08, 3:10, 3:09, 3:11, 3:10, 3:09, and 3:08. Not bad. And it didn't get as horrible as I thought it would, but that's probably because I've been used to swimming hard the last 5 weeks. (Oh, and notice there are 9 splits in there - I did an extra one because I was feeling OK.)

So check out Swim Smooth and consider figuring out (and then working out according to) your CSS pace. BTW, they don't say to give up on all threshold swims, so I'll still be doing my 40x50 swim that I like every now-and-then. Thanks for telling me about this Robby B!

p.s. I posted last weekend that if I kept up my trips to the pool, I could possibly break 20,000 yards in a month for only the 2nd time 7 years (and maybe only the 2nd time EVER). That's not much swimming for a "swimmer," but that's a lot for me. Well, I'm at 15,750, so I need 2 more 2,000+ swims to get there over a busy holiday week. We'll see.

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TC in Motion Goodies!

>> Saturday, November 22, 2014

Yesterday, I got a package in the mail:




Shirt, zipper lunch bag, certificate, and window cling (not pictured).

Two weeks ago, I posted that TC in Motion was planning on sending me some goodies. Thanks Twin Cities in Motion! I seriously need a new lunch bag for class. Thanks!

Links from the "Loony" weekend:
- Race report from the first 2 races: the 10K and 5K
- My TC 10 Mile race report
- Final Loony Challenge results
- Thoughts on the Loony Challenge
- Stills from the TC 10 finisher's video

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Friday Funny 830: How NOT to Cheer at a Marathon

>> Friday, November 21, 2014

Last month was the Baltimore Marathon. Their website urged spectators to be careful using cheers relating to how much distance is left in the race. Their website states:

Unless you are at the Stadium near the finish line, please DO NOT cheer ‘Almost there,’ ‘Not far to go,’ etc. After running 26 miles, ‘almost there’ is a few hundred feet from the finish line.

Thank GOD someone said that!

This inspired Mark Remy from Runner's World to share some GOOD and BAD CHEERS. He caught some flack for this, but you know this is the kind of thing I like:

The Remy's World Guide to Marathon Cheers: the Good and the Bad

Good: "If a Marathon Were Easy, It'd Be Called Your Mom"
Bad: "Your Mother Is Sexually Indiscriminate"

Good: "I'm an Athletic Supporter"
Bad: "Your Mom Is an Athletic Supporter"

Good: "In Our Minds, You're All Kenyans"
Bad: "In My Mind, Your Mom and I Are Doing Unspeakable Things. In Your Old Bedroom."

Good: "Your Feet Are Hurting Because You're Kicking So Much Butt!"
Bad: "Seriously. Your Mom Is a Dirty, Dirty Bird"

Good: "Pain Is Temporary. Pride Is Forever"
Bad: "Pain Is Temporary. Pride Is Forever. Which, Coincidentally, Is How Long I Can Last With Your Mom."

Good: "Keep Going! Keep Going! (That's What She Said!)"
Bad: (I couldn't think of a bad version of this one. -Ed)

Good: "Touch Here for Power" (Text pointing to bullseye, starburst, circle, etc. on sign.)
Bad: "Yeah. You Know Who Else Likes to Touch Here for Power?"

These are the kinds of "your mom" jokes I would have loved to have used on BFFN (best friend for now) Devon Palmer when we were at odds last year. But now we're on good terms. For now. Here's a twitter conversation we had last night:



Stop by steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com for funnies all week long! Have a great weakend!

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Friday Funny 829: Husbands

You can't live with us, you can't live witho... oh who are we kidding? You could totally live without us.



I see no problem with any of these.

Check out lots more funny stuff on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!

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Friday Funny 828: 1st vs 2nd Kid

Our current Parents Magazine had this all-too-true comparison about your first and second kids:



That's all true for us so far, except for Henry's (our first) potty training. He was a CHAMP and just decided one day BEFORE HE WAS TWO that he didn't need diapers. Let's home Charlie (#2) is just as easy!

Lots more funny stuff on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!

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Friday Funny 827: 2 Kinds of People

There are 2 kinds of people, and here are 12 examples:




The 2nd person is SOOOOOO WRONG!




I'm the 2nd kind of person in this case...

















Lots more funny stuff posted all week long on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!

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Winter Running Advice

>> Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I saw something on Tumblr 2 days ago:



It kinda annoyed me. I had to reblog it WITH CORRECTIONS. You can find my post below (or go to it on my Tumblr page to see for yourself):



Two things I'd like to note:

- Sure, there's ice on my facial hair in all of those photos, but I've never frozen or gotten frostbite on any part of my face. That's just moisture getting caught on something and then freezing. It's NOT freezing my skin.

- The reason I'm so against the original image and wearing too many clothes is that it's DANGEROUS when it's that cold. You should never wear TOO LITTLE so that you freeze (duh), but when you wear TOO MUCH you get hot, start to take off layers and expose sweaty skin, and then THAT'S when you can really be in trouble. Sweaty skin hitting freezing temps is a recipe for frostbite.

Oh, and here are 4 of the links from that tumblr post:

Race report (and LOTS of photos) from the 20-25 below 0 10K.
My PSA from 2008 on how to run outside in the winter.
THEE most important layer to have on for winter running!!
That time I got frostbite on my penis. Click it. Thank me later.

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Some Off-Season Swim Workouts

>> Monday, November 17, 2014

So about a month ago, I posed the following question in a forum on BeginnerTriathlete:

I don't swim much (1 or MAYBE 2 times per week), so what's a good workout to keep up my swim fitness throughout the winter? (To maintain Sprint swim speed and POSSIBLY Oly endurance.) 1500 tempo? 100 repeats? An occasional long swim of 2K+?

I had to quiet a few people who were stuck on the fact that I don't swim often. I had to comment back on the forum: "All year, I've only had 3 weeks with MORE than 2 swims, so if I maintain 2 swims all winter, that'd be stellar."

So I was given a lot of good advice and some good workouts (many of which I've since already tried). One of the first main points that people kept repeating was that I shouldn't be doing many (if any) continuous swims. Almost everyone was saying I need to be doing hard, all-out intervals.

So that's what I've been doing for the last month. Here are 5 suggestions that I've tried:

FIRST WORKOUT:

6 x 400 - Each set = 1st 100 @ 85%, 2nd @ 90%, 3rd @ 95%, 4th at puke pace. No rest between 100s, 60 second rest between sets.

You know that you are in good shape when you can do all 6 sets at equal speed....then it's time to add a 7th set!!!

What I liked about that is that usually when I do longer intervals (I do 500s a lot), the first 100 is pretty fast, the middle ones are my slowest, and then the final 100 is a BIT faster. I've never done them trying to up the effort each 100. I didn't do the final 100 of each totally at "puke pace" because I didn't want to die before the workout was finished. Oh, and I was short on time, so I started with 4x400. Here's what I did:

1:27.6, 1:35.8, 1:36.7, 1:34.9 = 6:15.22
1:31.8, 1:36.3, 1:35.5, 1:31.6 = 6:15.23
1:30.9, 1:36.8, 1:34.9, 1:32.8 = 6:15.49
1:31.6, 1:36.5, 1:34.2, 1:31.3 = 6:13.61

How's THAT for consistency! Killer workout. The 4th 400 felt horrible/awesome.


SECOND WORKOUT:

Nothing fancy with this one. I just did 15x100 with 30 rest. Usually, when I do 100s, I do 10, and they tend to get slower. So this time, I tried to keep it a bit easier from the beginning so that I could get through 15. Here were my times:

1:27.22, 1:32.15, 1:29.43, 1:28.88, 1:29.35, 1:29.42, 1:30.16, 1:29.15, 1:28.05, 1:29.53, 1:30.53, 1:30.85, 1:28.36, 1:29.09, 1:28.58

1:29.38 / 100 average

I balanced my effort well to keep the times similar, and felt like I did pretty well with that. I knew by the end of the 2nd one that I'd swam that too easy. And then after that, all 100s were within about 2.5 seconds of each other. Not bad for doing 15.


THIRD WORKOUT:

A ladder / pyramid workout. Oh dear sweet baby Jesus, I HATE ladder workouts. I think this was the first in a few years. I did a simple 100, 200, 300, 400, 300, 200, 100 with 30 seconds rest.

I tweeted about the workout, and 2x Amateur National Triathlon Champ and soon-to-be pro triathlete Heather Lendway tweeted me back:


Her workout suggestion would end up being 6500 of ladders.
So I don't think my final question was too harsh. Right?

But when I do ladders, I do them with the thought that "I hate this, so it must be good for me."


FOURTH WORKOUT:

40x50 in sets of 5. 10 secs rest between 50s, 30 secs rest between sets. Sets of 5 done like this:

• #1: Easy
• #2: Breathe every 3rd stroke
• #3: 25 fast/25 easy
• #4: Breathe every 5th stroke
• #5: FAST!

I first posted about this workout a year ago, and I've done it a few times. I really like this one because it's not too mentally grinding. I could have maybe done another set (so I maybe should have). My final "all out" 50 times to end each set were 40, 39, 39, 40, 38, 39, 39, and 39.


FIFTH WORKOUT:

This was the 2nd suckiest (behind the ladder workout). This was 9x200 with 30 sec rest. I averaged 3:05.24 / 200, with my slowest 200 being my 1st in 3:07, and my fastest being my last in 3:03. (It wasn't a perfect decline, but the times generally got faster.) Not a great range, but not horribly shabby either.


SIXTH WORKOUT:

My first repeating workout: this was the same as my first workout above, but I planned on doing 1 more set. So it was 5x400 with the first 100 at 85%, 2nd at 90%, 3rd at 95%, final all out, with 60 secs break between 400s. These weren't NEARLY as consistent as my 4x400 workout a few weeks before. This time I swam 6:16, 6:17, 6:17, 6:22, and 6:16, which is 3 seconds slower / 400 on average than a few weeks back. Dang.


Here's another workout I have not tried yet, but sounds like something I could be interested in:

I often do a continuous fartlek type swim of 1500-2000m. Something like this (after a warmup): alternate easy/hard (or hard/easy efforts of 25, 50, 75, 100.....up to 200). That gets you 1800m. For longer, go up a bit more, or work back down to 25/25, which is 3200m total. For some reason I find these easier than stop and go repeats and my pace is usually close to my time trial pace for 1500-2000m with a lot lower perceived effort.

My biggest question for all of you is this: what DRILLS should I be doing? I'm afraid that if I just swim hard all the time, my form will start to go and I'll just be trying to "muscle" my way through the water. Any thoughts on this?

p.s. I asked a similar question in the BT forums about 3 years ago, and I posted people's comments on my blog. Click here for that post. It has similar sentiments with a few different ideas.

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Weekend Randomness

>> Saturday, November 15, 2014

Here are 6 quick random updates:

• I'VE BEEN SWIMMING A LOT LATELY, and I have some tips/workouts/questions to share shortly. I'm at almost 10,000 yards for the month so far, and that's HUGE for me. (And 12,600 in the last 3 weeks.) That's more than all of November in 2009, 2010, and 2011 combined. (Can I hit 20,000 by the end of the month? It's maybe been 7+ years since I've swam that much over 30 days.) And they've been decent workouts. I posed some swim workout questions to a forum on Beginner Triathlete last month, and got some great feedback. I think my next post might be about some of these killer workouts. Stay tuned...

• MY BOYS AND I HAVE BEEN SURVIVING (barely) IN THE SNOW. We got a few inches of snow last Monday, and now we've been below freezing for the last 5-6 days, so it feels like winter is here. Here are 2 photos from my Instagram page from Monday:


"At least someone is enjoying this shit." He jumped right in there himself!


"Charlie is 6 months old today. Or in Minnesotan terms: old enough to wield a snow shovel."
(Yes, I'm wearing Charlie in the Baby Bjorn inside my jacket.)

• MY PARENTS VISITED ON THURS NIGHT / FRI MORNING. They played with the boys and gave me a chance to get a little work done in my studio. And then I posted this on Facebook:


"My folks came up this afternoon. And then my Mom started cooking. It's a rough life."
(Those 8 crumb rolls didn't last 24 hours, and the only one eating them was me. Oops.)

• MY BLOG JUST GOT A LITTLE LOCAL RECOGNITION. I was listed in this article as 1 of 5 local running bloggers to follow. Check it out. Thanks for picking me as one of the 5, Jessie!

• WHAT SODA IS YOUR STATE KNOWN FOR? I recently posted a fun article on my Root Beer blog from Thrillist about what soda each state is known for. I'VE NEVER HAD THE ONE THEY LISTED FOR MINNESOTA! The horror! Check out the U.S. map in this post to see what your state is known for.

• SPEAKING OF MY OTHER BLOGS... I've been posting some fun photo-related stuff on my Photo Blog recently. There's an interesting video about how to be happy with your photography, a funny flow chart about making photos, a few photos of mine, etc, etc. Check out my Photo Blog here.

Happy weekend, everyone! Back soon with some swim workouts I've been doing lately...

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Friday Funny 826: Three Gross Words (and some funny links)

>> Friday, November 14, 2014




Like I do every few weeks, here are some of my recent favorite posts from my tumblr page:

Athletic-Related Funnies:

Sweet abs.

T-Rex working out.

Seen in a bike shop.

A vegan crossfitter.

MTB fail.

#DadFail.

[GIF] Teamwork.

This kid is awesome. Thank buddy.

[GIF] Why would you try this on a treadmill?

This athlete with 1 leg has the BEST Halloween costumes.

A bike neatly organized.

[GIF] I'm straight, but if I weren't...

This is me when I eat healthy.

Non-Athletic Funnies:

A Freudian coffee cup.

[GIF] One of my favorite puns.

Awesome Will Ferrell group costume.

Who wants to have a tea party with me this weekend?

Double standards.

Flu "shots."

Here's your horoscope for next week.

Nice.

[GIF] Beware of No Shave November.

No alcohol beyond this point.

This is the sexiest card ever.

Apology accepted.

Men.

2014 is almost over.

Make sure you have some info about what you're having tattooed on your body.

Why we have 2 boys.

[GIF] I don't know if you tricked out this car the right way...

Jimmy John's makes a "penis" joke.

We're kinda weird.

Scariest jack-o-lantern EVER!

Gross.

And as always, swing by steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com for funnies all week long. Happy weekend!!

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