Friday, June 15, 2012

After 5 weeks of swimming 15k/week

After swimming very sporadically with almost no quality swims and low volume for 4 months,  I decided that something really needs to be done about my swimming! First step was to swim more. I commited to do 15,000m/week for now and see what that gives.

So what have I learnt in those five weeks? Did I improve? Do I smell like chlorine all the time? What’s next?
Find the answers below.

1, For the first cca 3 weeks my arms felt like multi-ton lead blocks all the time. I was not feeling tired from all that swimming, just my poor arms. Then it got better and better. Arm muscles have finally adjusted to a new workload. 

2, I see that I am developing muscles on my arms. And hopefully also on the back. And shoulders. And everywhere else where muscles are needed for faster swimming.

3, Now as I swim more I am getting much better about being able to push myself while swimming. I know that I am not the only person who did not grow up swimming that has a problem to work hard in pool. Real swimmers might not get it but I swear it is true. And it is not that we do not want to push hard out of our comfort zone. It is just weird.
I have been brainstorming about the issue and I have nailed it down to 2 possible causes:
->no feel for swimming paces- since I did not grow up swimming and started swimming and timing myself only at the end of 2010 I have no feel for swimming paces. When I swim I have no idea whether I am going 1:20 or 2:00 pace. Seriously. No clue.
When I swam 5-6x/week at the end of last year I got the feeling for paces. I was able to distinguish between 1:40, 1:30 and 1:20 paces fairly well. And I knew how hard I need to push to hit the interval.
I lost the feeling in last 5 months but now I am getting it back. I did some descending 100s on Tuesday and that is a great type of workout for that. I did 5x3x100 @2:20 desc 1-3. 1st in 1:58ish, 2nd in 1:54-55, 3rd 1:50-52. I could experience how different paces feel and it was great. After the first set of three I got the feeling what it should feel like and I was able to “recreate” the same effort for remaining sets and I hit my paces right.
I think I will do more of these changing paces intervals just to work on getting the feel for it.
->pool- I switched pools (25yards in MI, then 25m with CH, to 50m now) and now when I swim I have no idea where I am during the interval. Have I just swam 10m or was it 40m already? And it is even worse in 50m because it is sooo long and there is no 25m marker.
But I am getting a better feel for this pool so I am not like a blind person and I know where I am.

4, I improved a little bit. I did 4x5x100 @ 2min few weeks ago and it was not easy. I did 2x10x100 + 5x100 @ 2min today (I wanted to do 4x6x100 but had to adjust because a senior citizen decided to start swimming right in my path after the 6th interval and if I did not start the next 100 right then she would think that she can stay there and so I had to go to “claim” my space) and it was much easier than those 100s I did before. I was able to hold faster pace and it felt easier. So yes, that’s the improvement.

5, I had swimming revelation yesterday! My catch and pull are not great and I let a lot of water slip. Yesterday I read a few articles about improving catch and pull and there was stated that you need to pull/push water behind you and not downwards. It makes sense but I somehow did not pay much attention to that, though I knew that I am pushing down as I get tired. So today I concentrated a lot on never pushing water downwards in the first phase of my stroke and just push it back/behind me. I felt that I held the elbow high all the time and maybe it was also the reason why I did those 100s faster today. 

6, I am somehow able to point out what the problems with my technique are as I swim more. I think that I might cross the centerline with my left arm, and I do not glide enough, do not rotate enough and rotate back to flat position too fast when I breathe on the right side and I do not push all the way to my hips. And my legs sink more and more as I get tired.  I think that these are the main issues I need to address for now. Plus pushing water behind me.

7, I do not think that I smell like chlorine as much as I used to after swimming at the Y in Michigan. I think that it has something to do with swimming in an outdoor pool now. Or maybe we just use let chlorine in Europe.

8, My whole upper body felt kind of trashed at the beginning of this week so I have decided to make this a down week for swimming. Michelle told me that the key for me would be to swim consistently higher volume week after week for months/years and not to go under 10k/week. So I did not want to decrease the “metrage” too much, so I will be at around 12,500m this week.

9, I think that after this recovery week I am going to commit to 17k/week for couple weeks. Would that make sense? Or maybe I should stay at 15k? I need to think about it more.

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