Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reaping (early) benefits

Progress is definitely happening.  My torn tendon is feeling better (most days...) and I should be out of my boot cast in a few weeks.  Hopefully that will be followed by a short stint in physical therapy and then I can get back to spinning and cardio.  Not being allowed to work out on the elliptical and the spin bike has really been a bummer and I can't wait to reunite with the pain.  (Is that weird?  Whatever)

I've been fairly pleased with my swimming progress as well.  I have continued with my usual regimen of weight training and swimming on my own, as well as working with my coach every week.  We've been working on turns lately and after lots of hard work (and hundreds - no, make that thousands - of flips and somersaults and handsprings in the pool) I've finally been able to add effective (read: legal) flip turns into my workouts.  This is a major victory - and a huge step forward in the battle of cutting my 50 yd free time in half.  Yes, in half.  Yes, it's that bad.  If nothing else, my coach thinks I can do it - and hey, she's the pro right?  I'll side with her.

As long as I'm putting my all into each practice and each workout, I'm happy.  I may not be the fastest or the most powerful or the most experienced swimmer out there - but I will work harder than I think I can and I will continue to make sacrifices to keep my goals in focus.  The rewards have already been worth it.  I'm getting so much stronger, thanks to weight training, which is not only giving me lots more power in the water, but it's also paying off with stroke technique and being able to hold a proper body position.  I've also lost about 13% of my body weight in the process - a nice little bonus.  Besides spending inordinate amounts of time in the gym, a healthier and more effective diet has been extremely beneficial.  Olympian and all-around cooking bad ass Garrett Weber-Gale has lots of fab recipes and nutrition info on his site that have been super helpful.  (check it:

I'm planning to do another race-pace time trial in a week or two, so I'll update when I have that time.  Hopefully I'll be able to shave a few (or ten) seconds off.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Update and New Tunes

Happy Wednesday my dearest readers!  I've just been pluggin along, working out like crazy and really focusing on fine tuning my stroke technique.  Lately I've been hitting the weight room hard and using my Swimming Anatomy book for guidance based on the muscle groups I need to build for increased power and precision in the water.  I'm very happy with the results - I have a lot more power in the water and my body position is significantly more streamlined.  I had a super productive practice the other day with my coach, working on turn technique and I'm feeling more confident that when I get my ankle rehabbed I'll be happy with my racing times.  For a few days before that particular practice I was getting really frustrated.  I just didn't feel right in the water - I know my swimmer readers can relate.  Sometimes you just have those days.  I learned that all it takes is one practice that seems to hit the right 'note' to put everything back on track and instill enormous amounts of confidence.  Friday I'll see another specialist for my injured ankle - fingers crossed for a positive outlook!

Since I've been in the weight room so much lately, I've added to my workout playlist - check out my newest tunes:
1.  One Day (DJ X-Change)
2.  Real People (Common)
3.  Open Your Eyes (Snow Patrol)
4.  Unstoppable (Rascal Flatts)
5.  Universal Mind Control (Common)
6.  Warrior's Anthem (Wyclef Jean)
7.  Shots (LMFAO & Lil Jon)
8.  Hard (Rihanna f. Jeezy)
9.  How Low (Ludacris)
10.  I Got 5 On It (Luniz) 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Set and a Setback

Happy Groundhog Day to all of my dear readers - a 'holiday' that means diddly here in Cleveland since it will be winter well into May.  Anyway, here's today's set:

Warm up (repeat x2):
1 x 25 Free
1 x 25 Back

Build up (repeat x4):
1 x 25 Streamline kick
1 x 25 Free push & glide

Core (repeat x2):
8 x 25 Back
1 x 100 Free

Warm down:
2 x 50 Free push & glide

Total yards: 1000

I kept it short today, mostly due to the injury that I've been nursing for a while now.  For those who've been out of the loop - I've been dealing with a super sore ankle for a few weeks.  I finally had an ultrasound on it today to see if there is any soft tissue damage.  Unfortunately, I do have a torn tendon in my left ankle, which means no starts and using only my right foot on turns.  I'll see my ortho doc next week for the game plan - keeping my fingers crossed that this can be repaired with a minimal amount of downtime.

My goal had been to be swimming with my local Masters team this spring, but I'm a little afraid that this latest development will delay things.  I'm trying not to get discouraged - and hoping that whatever the treatment plan turns out to be, I'll be able to stay in the water as much as possible.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hey who wrote on my clothes?

That would be the signature of 2-time Olympic gold medalist and UT alum Garrett Weber-Gale.  I ordered a tee from his website (, and he signed it before sending it to me.  I'm a huge fan of the healthy lifestyle and food choices that he's an advocate for and, of course, a big fan of his swimming.  It was so nice of him to sign my shirt - thanks GWG!

Here's a quick recap of Monday's set:

Warm up (repeat x 2):
1 x 50 Free, rest :15
1 x 50 Back, rest :15

Build up (repeat x 2):
1 x 25 Streamline kicking, rest :10
1 x 25 Free, rest :10
1 x 25 Single arm free (6 rt, 6 lt, 6 full), rest :10
1 x 25 Free, rest :10

4 x 50 Free on 1:25
4 x 50 Free on 1:20
4 x 50 Free on 1:15
4 x 50 Dolphin kicking on back, rest :15

Warm down:
4 x 25 Breast, rest :10
4 x 25 Back, rest :10

Total yards: 1400

I also worked on turns with my coach on Tuesday.  They're definitely getting better, but it's something that I'm really going to need to focus on in my upcoming practices.  I found a handful of drills on the GoSwim website that I'm going to try tomorrow that I think will help.  Two of the biggest problems I'm having are moving my arms all crazy (which is creating a lot of resistance, naturally) and not getting into a tight enough ball when I flip.  Throwing in a few extra v-ups in my workout routine would probably also be a good idea to build up some additional core strength. 

Hope you're all having a fab week - it's not snowing and the Cavs are winning, so it's good times in Cleveland :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday's Set

Here's today's swim recap...

Warm up:
2 x 100yd Free (kick every 75), rest :20

Build up (repeat x4):
1 x 25yd Single-arm free (6 right, 6 left, 6 full stroke), rest :10
1 x 25yd Free catch-up*, rest :10

6 x 50yd Free pull with pull buoy, rest :15
1 x 300yd Free, rest :60

Warm down (repeat x2):
1 x 50yd Free easy, rest :15
1 x 50yd Breast easy, rest :15

*Freestyle catch-up: Freestyle drill where one arm catches up to the other between stokes. Both arms start stretched out. One arm completes full stoke (both arms return to a stretched out position) then the other arm completes a full stroke. Pull with one arm at a time and touch your hands between each alternating arm stroke.

Total distance: 1200 yards

I must, must, must work on turns this week.  They are really terrible and I need to focus on my push off the wall so that I stop swimming right back into the wake of coming into the wall.  Basically feels like trying to swim up through quicksand.  I'm going to check out some of the drills illustrated on, but if anyone out there has any drills that they'd like to share I'd love to know about them!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Swim Plan

Unlike some of you lucky readers that have coached swim practice daily, I only get my coach 30 minutes per week (sucks, I know).  The rest of the week, it's up to me to put sets together and take the instruction from my coach to improve my swimming.  My coach mentioned a website ( that puts together practice sets - pretty much customized - based on ability, practice time, pool length, strokes, and equipment.  It's actually a pretty cool site and has given me some much needed structure.  I started using the site last week and figured I would post the workouts that it has developed for me.  Since I wasn't sure how it would work, I started it out on a fairly beginner setting.  I have it build plans to incorporate any stroke, as well as a pull buoy and/or kickboard.  These first workouts will be super easy sounding to most of my swimmer readers, but keep in mind that I've only been in training mode for a few months.  I'm still building up endurance and working on breathing, which will come with time.  To start it out, here's my set from yesterday (PS - my pool is 25 yards):

Warm up (repeat 4 times):
1x25yd Free, even pace, rest :10
1x25yd Back, even pace, rest :10

Build up (repeat 4 times):
1x25yd Single arm free, resting arm in front streamline, 6 right/6 left/6 regular stroke
1x25yd Free DPS*, rest :10

12x50yd Free, rest :20

Warm down:
4x25yd Breast, rest :10
4x25yd Back, rest :10

I also did 100 of dolphin kicking (on back in streamline) at the end because I need to work on core strength as well.

*DPS = Distance Per Stroke, a drill to focus on power per pull in an attempt to decrease stroke count on each lap.

I'll try to post future workouts as well.  Again, I'm not in the same league as my 4k/day swimmer readers, but maybe I'll get close one day :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Break to Build

For those of you following my blog and Twitter account, you may be familiar with my breaststroke kick woes.  Breaststroke used to be my stroke - but that was back in the day.  Way back in the day.  When I started working with Kristen, she noticed that my kick was not nearly as powerful or effective as it should be.  For the past few months, we've completely broken it down to get back to the building blocks of the kick in an attempt to rebuild with better form and power.  For months I practiced kick sets of just breaststroke and focused on building adductor strength in the gym, in addition to my regular swim practice and weightroom repertoire.  Friday I went to practice with Kristen and finally saw the fruits of my labor.  As a swimmer, every once in a while, you get the feeling that you're swimming downhill.  Elite swimmers I'm sure get this feeling more often than not - MP probably thinks that water is on an angle.  Jessica Hardy and Rebecca Soni are great examples of breaststrokers that appear to be cutting through the water with absolutely no resistance.  They always looks like they're swimming downhill.  But I digress.  This downhill feeling is flipping awesome and it's as if the water is working with you, rather than you working against it.  For a few brief wonderful minutes, I got this feeling and it was fabulous.  I was pretty psyched that my breaststroke had improved so much - and so was my coach.  The hours, many hours, of hard work in the gym and kick sets in the pool had started to pay off.  There were times, many times, that I got very frustrated.  Hundreds of yards of kick sets where I literally did not move.  Floating in streamline and watching the flags barely inch forward pretty much makes you want to scream.  Anyone that knows me knows that I do not let things go - especially if that thing makes me not-so-happy.  The more I practiced, the more I wanted to own this.  Now I know that I can - eventually - and that practice makes progress.  Next challenge: keeping it up.  Yikes.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Long awaited update

Sorry for the lack of updates kids!  Honestly, there hasn't been too much of anything exciting going on with the swimming.  I've been practicing, both with my coach and on my own, and working hard in the gym.  Lately I have focused on weight training in the hopes of building strength.  While my coach and I are making good progress with fixing up my stroke technique, adding muscle mass will really help with perfecting the details and reducing resistance.  I recently purchased a fantastic new book: Swimming Anatomy by Ian Mcleod.  If you're looking to efficiently build strength and power for your swimming, it's an absolute must-read.  The book is divided into a number of sections (arms, back, legs, full body, etc.) with a number of exercises that will target very specific muscle groups and the stroke/part of stroke that the particular muscles drive.  Each exercise is detailed in a step-by-step format and fully illustrated to help with the proper execution of the movement - as well as to reduce the risk of injury.  All swimmers should take a look at this book, there's something for every athlete - from beginner to elite.

I'm getting a lot stronger and much more confident in my strokes.  I will definitely be ready for a Masters team this spring, if not sooner.  For anyone following my breaststroke kick woes - it's still in the reconstruction phase.  We had to break it down to fix it up, and it's been a long road to rebuilding.  Good news is we tweaked a little bit of my freestyle pull and I was able to get exponentially more power.

I hope all of you fabulous readers had a wonderful holiday!  I'll try to update more regularly...   
promise :)