Back in from a productive session in the pool. After reading my Swim Smooth book and following advice from ATHelite sessions I am no longer following the more lengths in pool = better training doctrine. Instead I have much more focus on technique...
As a scientist I love analysing data, trying to figure out what factors are making the greatest changes. I'd noticed that since I began serious training (March 2012) my swimming had progressively slowed even though I was massively improving my land based fitness. How could that be? My endurance fitness, strength and speed had all improved, yet my swimming resembled an extra from a Godfather movie wearing concrete shoes, 'sleeping with' rather than swimming with the fishes…
I've been paying particular attention to what is known in swimming circles as the catch - the movement of your outstretched arm back towards your hips. I'd been pushing down on the water with straight arms. Now as Isaac Newton would tell you "every action has an equal and opposite reaction" - so when I push down on the water, the water pushes back up on me. This in turn pushes my chest back towards the surface of the water (it's pretty buoyant given my lungs are full of air!!) and as I'm outstretched, I pivot about my hips and my legs sink in the water… Try to think of this as a see-saw… push up one end and the other end drops down. When your legs sink in the water they massively increase the drag (water resistance) so despite putting more effort into my swimming I was slowing down the harder I tried! Doh!!!
Cue changes in the stroke. Now as I've mentioned earlier my prioproception (body control) could be improved… I'll never make it onto BBC's strictly come dancing (thankfully), so I suspect these changes may take a while to refine. I'm starting to keep my elbows higher in the water and pull back my hands towards my hips (essentially parallel to the bottom of the pool). This means I'm trying to pull the water behind me which in turn means the water is trying to push me forwards! That's a bonus!!! My 100 m times have dropped from around 2:05 - 2:10 per 100m to around 1:45 - 1:50 over the last month or so. Over 3800 m (2.4 miles) this would be a 12-13 minute saving if I could keep that going :-)
I spent 90 minutes on my TT bike last night trying to get used to the new aerodynamic position. Let's just say it's not 100% comfortable yet. I think another bike fitting session will be on the cards in the none too distant future so that I get used to the correct position well in advance of the race next year.
Tomorrow I'm off on a chi running course in an attempt to learn how to run more efficiently… I'll report back on my findings in later posts.
Some much to learn - so little time… Every day really is a school-day - even if you're not a Physics teacher!