Thursday, May 7, 2009

Getting my swimming under way

So I have started my swimming training. It's good to be back in the water and it's also the recommended activity for my back problems.

I'm fairly happy that I haven't lost too much of my technique but all of the strength has gone from my shoulders so I am pleased that I am finally working them out. Swimming is great for overall fitness but one of the things that I like is that with the use of swimming aids such as fins and paddles, you can easily introduce resistance training that works towards strength training.

At the moment, I am getting brief moments when I can really feel the water but then it goes and I feel that my technique gets a little messy. When I say that I can feel the water, I don't mean that I am getting cold and wet, I mean that I can feel that I am connecting and anchoring well to the water and pulling through strongly. Because of this, I feel that my body is long and sleek in the water and that I am gliding well between strokes. Everything just feels effortless. This is where you really want to be.

My task is to get this feeling throughout my swims. Most novice swimmers have never felt this before so it is often hard to portray what it is that I am describing. One way to find out is to use fins. Fins allow you to move through the water faster and to balance your body towards the waters surface. You need to be fairly good with your technique for this as the fins are there to help you get the last percentage correct. If it all happens well, you will feel a rush of water around your body. You will feel like you are locked into the water with your hands and just climbing over them.

Keep your head low in the water so that your forehead is just breaking the surface. Look at the bottom of the pool just in front of you and let your body rotate as you reach forward. For the best position in the water, try ti make sure your buttock and feet just breaks the surface while you swim. If you are too low in the water, try pushing your face lower in the water and you bottom up towards the surface. This may feel awkward at first but you will soon get the hang of it and as your speed through the water increases, you will naturally find the right position.

As for breathing. When you rotate your body to the side in order to reach forward, instead of looking at the bottom of the pool, allow your head to rotate with your body without lifting your chin. You will naturally be able to breath in this position as your mouth finds a pocket of air that is made by the bow wave made by your head breaking the waters surface in front of you. Give it a try, you will be surprised how little you need to raise your head.

To make breathing easier, breathe out steadily through your nose during your stroke and breathe in to the side through your mouth as it breaks the surface.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Santa Monica Classic 5K - Race report

So I did my first event of the year on Sunday. It was a 5K run on the roads of Santa Monica. I have only recently started my running training so this race was going to be interesting. I don't think my base training would have had time to show any improvements yet and I haven't really been working on speed work at this stage so the race would give me a base line for where I am at and what I need to do to improve.

Two friends of mine, Geo and Bruce, were also doing the event. Bruce, I know is a great runner and Geo is a bit like me, just trying to get a reading of where he is. I decided to run with Geo as we had similar targets. We plucked a very ambitious time of 20 minutes out of the air and arranged to meet at the start line.

The warm up went well. I had already cycled about 7 miles to the start line so this got my core temperature up. I followed this with some stretching and then went for a 1 mile warm up run. I never normally do enough warm up so this was definitely an improvement. I still think I can do a lot better though.

Geo found me just before the race start. We positioned ourselves towards the front but with the really fast runners ahead of us. This was to avoid having to pass too many slow runners on a tight start.

The gun went off and the race was on. It took us all of about 10 seconds to work out that we were going to start our run considerably below our target race pace. We allowed this as we intended to increase the pace as the race went on.

The course took us up Barnard Way and onto Main street. Our heart rates were already in the high 160's so we knew there was no hope of any aerobic running that day. As we approached Santa Monica we continued to lift the pace. After turning onto Ocean Avenue and passing the 2 mile marker the leaders passed us on their return to the finish. My friend Bruce, then passed us running back towards the finish. He was doing really well.

Just before the turn Geo raised the pace a little more. At first I went with him, but he slowly broke away. I held him to about a 20 meter gap but I couldn't pull him back in.

I finished in a respectable 21:13.1 and Geo finished ahead of me in a time of 20:59.9.
My friend Bruce finished with an great time of 18:10.1 placing him 30th overall.

Geo finished 92nd out of 1173 with me finishing 10 places behind him just outside the top 100.

My average pace was 00:06:51 minute miles. Not bad as a starting point. I need to try to get comfortable with a 00:06:30 pace by Malibu.