Saturday 31 October 2015

October 2015 Week 3 Session 3

After a resting Friday this morning I made sure that I was at the pool for 08:00 so that I could fit the routine in before the lanes were reorganised for classes. Today's plan was for 1/2 length fast and slow but the problem with that is that I can't see what I've done. In a week or the plan calls for alternate lengths so I started today with that rhythm.

As shown the beginning went pretty well. The warm up shows a nice graduation (after the initial rush) and the first 2 sets illustrate my effort fairly well. The next 2 sets weren't as good as I was tiring, and for the final set I had to change lanes as ropes were moved. I am please to see that, in the early sets at least, the stroke/length was pretty constant which means that I was covering same distance per stroke and had increased my stroke rate. Over the last few weeks it does look as though I've been able to gain a few strokes per minute

Although the pattern is good the pace itself isn't great although the last length of set one was at 2:10 min/100m pace; which is great. The average pace declined across the session, as is expected I suppose, from 2:27 to 3:01 per set. The last one shows that I really was flagging considering that this set was with the pull buoy. By then my 'fast' lengths were no faster than my earlier slow ones!

Thursday 29 October 2015

Beginning of week 3 swimming

I've now done the first 2 sessions on week 3 and these have revealed my ongoing problems with pacing. On Tuesday I did 7 sets of 300m (well that was the plan but some shorter and some longer) and despite trying to start gently my pace gradually declined. The first set was done in 6:56 the last in 7:44. By the end I felt really tired and found the waves and buffeting from adjacent swimmers hard work.

Today I was supposed to be increasing the effort within 500m sets so that the pace increased a by  few seconds every 100m. I started gently to give myself a chance and then ramped it up, or so I thought! The first 2 steps I tried to use more power and improve the feel and to a degree that worked. Then for the 4th and 5th blocks I tried to increase stroke rate too.That didn't work and I was simply tiring myself out. Notably, as on Tuesday my performance fell across the sets.

At least trying to increase pace meant that I did maintain it within a set showing that effort has to increase and an apparently slow start is essential. There were't any fast lengths at all today, the best being just under 44s.

Saturday 24 October 2015

A wet autumn morning

Autumn is here very clearly now, in the woods the paths are strewn with orange leaves and on the moors there is  a biting wind! After yesterday's introductory hill session I ran 20km this morning at a very leisurely pace. I felt the occasional twinge from my ankle, mostly as my foot landed awkwardly but overall it wasn't a problem. I think that it is happier in smaller shoes even though they squeeze my toes. Before the run I tried standing on a variety of footbeds from my shoes and on that basis  really none of them are wide enough.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Physio check up

Kim seems certain that there's no damage in my ankle now (after all it's done a couple of events) and that most of the pain is due to over sensitisation of nerves.  She recommended that I try to run as naturally as possible and keep on with the strengthening exercises. It was pretty sore after she'd massaged my feet and calf muscles.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

October 2015 Week 2 session 2

Yesterday I was demonstrably still struggling from the Edale event. I was aching and my resting pulse raised by 10% and so opted to take a rest day. I did heel raises and rollering at home but don't think that counts as much. Importantly by this morning my heart rate was close to normal.

This evening I couldn't postpone a swim for any longer and completed the progressive sets where I should increase pace across 500m. The first set wasn't too bad as I increased from 2:26 to 2:15. In the second set I went out too fast at 2:19 and managed a 2:03 length in the middle before finishing at 2:23. I think the fast length wore me out! The third set was very poor with all 5 100m sets hovering around 2:30. I recall that these felt hard work and I knew I wasn't moving quickly. The pool had developed quite swell and I don't know if that was slowing me down or if it was perceived due to tiredness.

On the positive side there was more progression than I managed a week ago. Looking back at my training programme I seem to have been too eager to restart sets and should be taking longer rests between sets. I'll have to try following instructions next week!

Sunday 18 October 2015

Peak Raid 3 Round 1 Edale 2015

This morning I competed in a mini-mountain marathon out of Edale. It was Round 1 of the Peak Raid 3 series and had been suggested to me by Kim, the runners' physio. The format was a straightforward treasure hunt for points with a maximum time of 3 hours.

My route of 18km
The map was only revealed at starting and so there was little opportunity to weigh up options. The west of the map seemed to involve a lot of points on fells and the east had a high scoring point on a path. That made the decision clear for starting as I'm faster on paths and navigation is easier. I'd achieved 100 points in an under an hour and so had two hours to loop back past as many controls as possible.

As I went along the route became clear in my mind and the key goals were  to find the spots without too much circling and to keep up a solid pace. There was light fog on the edge of the Kinder plateau which made navigation a little harder, although the route I'd chosen was pretty fool proof. The mist did make spotting features a bit tougher than it might have been on a clear day but these damp conditions would favour the precise navigators. a small pond...
I was very pleased at finding the controls as planned and set off to contour from a crag back on to the the path for the final descent. This is where things became very hard. The bracken was chest high, dripping wet and the only respite was boggy streams. I became very wet and my calves started to cramp. After twice the expected time I reached the path with legs that just didn't want to perform. Within few hundred metres both calves cramped solid and I fell to the ground. Luckily I wasn't going very fast and after catching my breath and a quick stretch I was back on my way. Amazingly the legs behaved nearly all the way back to Edale although I had to keep my heels down more than I like to and I think I had a very mincing gait.

With only just over 8 minutes to spare I checked in with a very respectable 230 points. I certainly needed the coffee and ginger biscuits before changing into dry clothes and shoes to head home. Once cleaned up, the wounds from the fall were trivial although the tight muscles haven't relaxed even after roller work and stretching. I'll have to do more as soon as I've finished typing.

The results were released a little while ago and I was very pleased to place in the top third overall. The winner of this Round with over 400 points must have really gone for it! There was a punitive penalty system in place whereby 50 points were deducted for every minute over the 3 hours and a number of runners clearly misjudged their progress and paid dearly, in a few cases losing all of their points.

Explorer Events and the Edale marshals did a great job. This was my first try at something like this and I've now got my eye on the other rounds. The event had simple administration and the volunteers and other competitors were friendly and helpful. The entry fee was pretty reasonable too.

Saturday 17 October 2015

October Week 2 Session 1

I've managed to complete the first week of the October routine and have found that I can go a little faster if I try. For some reason today's 300m sets didn't record at all well but the general pace was good and I even achieved a 40second length which equates to 2:00min/100m although I didn't sustain it for the requisite 3 lengths. I think I have been a bit lazy in terms of effort while I have been focussing on technique. As the technique detail isn't working out I think Julian is trying to get my effort greater.

The lesson at the moment seems to be that a bit more effort can result in more speed over a few weeks. This makes sense, tempo and tartlet sessions work for running so why not in the water?

Friday 9 October 2015

October 2015 Week 1 Session 1

For a change I entered the pool with just the pull buoy and no other aids. Notably there was someone else with fins so there is a bit of a trend developing.

Today's session was 7x300m juts trying to keep a regular relaxed pace. As time went on they became harder and I found I was struggling with waves. Whether the pool really was getting rougher or I was just finding it harder to cope is unclear. It was evident however that my pace slackened across the sets from around 2:30min/100m to over 2:40min/100m. That's perhaps not too surprising as it is over 2km and that's quite a bit for me still.

I've found that the watch has missed a few lengths in the last couple of sessions and assume this must be where I turn very promptly, without a pause but don't manage a decent push off. That tends to happen when there's congestion at the end of the pool. It is good though that I'm not pausing; although in general I'm not finding the arms-only approach aerobically intense.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

October 2015 SwimSmooth

This morning I had my third session with Julian in Acton and received mixed feedback. My pacing and rhythm were reported to be good although perhaps the cadence could increase for more speed. The major disappointment was that I thought that I had made good progress on my high elbow & bent arm pull but I hadn't. I wonder if Julian was a little annoyed?

Arm bent but elbow is low, also sinking even with pull buoy
The video showed quite clearly that I was leading with my elbow rather than my hand. Yes, a bend did occur but not in the right direction! We tried a few drills but somehow they all made it worse. In the end it seems as though I might have to accept a straighter arm than is currently fashionable but basically should go with what works. The good thing from the video is that my front quadrant action seems much improved and I am managing to keep my lead arm fairly high.

When I aimed for a straight-ish reach and catch actually it looked better. I did a few lengths after the formal session and thought that I could even feel the bend better if I largely ignored it; we'll see.

The time trial went fairly well. I have taken 20 seconds off my October time which isn't bad going and achieved 400m in 8:40mins. My pacing was poor as each 100m was progressively slower even though I thought I was working harder. Julian was a little disappointed with my inability to get even or negative splits but overall I am satisfied with the total outcome and that my first 100m was 2:03mins/100m. Sub-two minutes is beckoning.

I've now got a 12week plan focussing on a relaxed rhythmic stroke and aiming to get the pacing better under control. No training aids are needed so I've a bit more flexibility on the pool I go to should the need arise.

Incidentally, Julian thought I had lost weight. I was a bit surprised as I've been eating at least as much as usual, and not running much. A quick jump on the bathroom scales shows that he's right! Not good for power gain.

Friday 2 October 2015

August 2015 Week 7 Session 3

After a busy week of work today's swim was hard work. It was record, being over 2500m, but not fast. I was doing sets of increasing intensity which together with the distance is tiring. I've not completed the 5 supersets previously. On the first 'hard' set I did manage a length below 45s but the subsequent ones were far slower. I'm looking forwards to when I can mange that for 3 lengths and record 100m at 2:15min. On the plus side I am improving my 'feel for the water' and am far more aware of pushing against resistance rather than just wafting my arms around.