November 2006 Archives



Back in October, I stated that one of my goals for this swim season was to break 1:20 in the 100m freestyle. Last season, my goal was sub-1:30, which I managed at the Winterlude meet. Since then, I've gone under 1:30 a few more times, including one swim around 1:25. Still, the faster you go, the harder the seconds are to shed.

After the timed 400m on Tuesday, we were told we'd be doing a timed 100m today. I was looking forward to it, as it would be an excellent gauge of how far I've come this year. So far, the workouts have mostly been about stroke improvement. We really haven't done a lot of speed work yet. That said, I needed some technical work, and I think my freestyle is more technically sound than it was last year.

In the warmup, I focused on getting a good quick catch, and on pulling right away rather than lazily gliding for a second or so first. It felt fast. It seemed fast. I felt good.

The first set involved 4x50 free, 4x50 back and 4x50 fly, descending. I focused on both catch and kick during the free, trying to stay within myself. Back was a writeoff. I worked hard on fly, getting down to 40 seconds, but I paid the price for it.

After an easy 100m, we were out of the water, and waiting our turns for the 100m free. I needed the wait, as I'd probably gone a little too hard on my last 50 fly.

When my turn finally came up, I was paired with the fastest guy in the pool. So much for being able to pull myself up to someone just in front of me. I did a dive start, tried to be a bit conservative the first half, but by 25m the guy was way in front of me. I was on my own.

I tried to focus on the feeling I'd had in warmup, but somehow everything is more urgent when it's for real. My kick was quick, and probably not very good. I breathed every third stroke. I tried to keep my cadence quick and my catch strong at the start of the pull. My turns lacked their usual strong push, as I was quickly finding myself rather winded.

Inside my last 25, I tried to breathe every 5th pull, really hammering on the front half of my pull, and keeping my turnover quick. My lungs screamed for air, but I was able to deny them all the way to the wall.

After I finished, I felt pretty beat, which was a good sign. I'd put in a good effort, but had I held my swim together? How fast had I been?


Obviously, I was pretty happy with this. With no string to tie to someone in front of me, with no frame of reference, I'd managed to take several seconds off my old PB. I was also, already, most of the way to my seasonal goal. Thinking about it, I started getting excited about the Winterlude meet in February.

The coach mentioned that we would start doing speed work in December (which starts tomorrow!). He figured that, if I chose to focus on freestyle, I would probably see further improvements in my time.

Needless to say, I'm pretty excited and happy. As with any kind of a race, even an unofficial one like this, I'm also motivated. If all the work I've done is helping that much, I can't wait to work even harder!

How NOT to Swim a Timed 400

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As a reprieve from backstroke work, we did a timed 400m swim today. The buildup involved 5x100 free, aiming to descend to and hold your 400m pace. Next (after a short rest) came the 400m timed swim, where hopefully we would continue with our established pace.

I had swam my 100s fairly conservatively, aware that my 400 times aren't really all that fast. I figured I might be able to do it in 6:40, which requires 1:40/100m.

Off the start, I tried to recapture the feeling of the pace from my 100s. It wasn't quite as easy as I'd hoped. As I was settling in on what might have been my second home turn, I took a peak at the clock. It showed +x:10 seconds. Surely I hadn't just done 100m in 2:10?

Of course, I hadn't been counting laps.

Longer swims can be like that. It's hard to stay mentally focused on counting laps. I usually struggle at the start, where it's always "a long way to go". As if that makes knowing how far less important!

At first, I decided I was at 150m, and that was fine. As I mulled it over, though, I wasn't concentrating on my pace, or on counting laps. I looked at the clock on my open turns, but it wasn't giving away any secrets.

I ended up deciding that, since I wasn't leading anyways, I'd swim until the other lanes were done. Whlie this was an excellent plan, and helped greatly in actually swimming the right distance, it made pacing a real problem. I ended up going too hard on the second last 50, thinking it was the last. I then had to find another gear for the last 50.

In the end, I took 13 seconds off my previous timed 400, and swam very close to an even split. I can't be happy with it, though, because there were some basic things that I flubbed rather badly.

Beyond Ten Miles

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Sunday was my first run over 10 miles in rather a long time. I wanted to run 19km, but I actually had to sit down with GMap Pedometer and fiddle for a while to find a route of suitable distance. I ended up opting for a route which was more like 19.5, but covered a lot of familiar ground.

The weather was decent, cool, but not cold. There was little in the way of wind. I zoned out mentally, and the miles just flowed by. It wasn't until I was done, and stretching, that my right ITB let it be known that it was unhappy. I tried to stretch it out extra well, but time will tell whether it's going to be an issue or not.

I have yet to decide whether I will up my mileage again this week, or whether this week should be a rest week, with reduced mileage. (I'll either rest this week or next). The IT discomfort might be a hint that my body would like more time to adjust to the added mileage.

Grey Day

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There was no rain on Sunday morning, but no blue skies either.

I did the same local 16km loop that I've been running for weeks now. It's going to be nice to mix it up next weekend. The wind was from the north, which made it cold, but also meant that it was at my back coming home. That always helps.

When I was running into the wind along Greenbank, into the wind, I was startled by a sudden movement from the cornfield. There, just ahead of me, on the opposite side of the fence, was a deer. The buck was running away from me, tail up high. Doubtless I had startled it more than it had startled me. There was perhaps 12-15 feet of cleared land between the fence beside me and the corn stalks. I'd been too absorbed in my own thoughts and the roar of the wind to notice it until I was almost on top of it. It made good time getting far away from me, though.

When I finally got the wind at my back, my pace picked up of its own accord. (Honest officer, it wasn't my fault!) I actually felt pretty strong the whole way home. My slow start probably helped a bit, but mostly I'll credit the wind.

I have a friend who firmly believes that running more than 10 miles at once is dangerous. We'll find out next weekend, I guess. ;)

Week in Review

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Well, I meant to be blogging. I blogged the runs in my head as I ran them. I just never got around to writing them down.

Wednesday: I ran in the dark, in a thick fog. It was beautiful. The trees were sweating droplets. The street lights made irridescent cones, all connected, holding back the dark. As poetic as the scenery was, my run was flat. I felt slow, I felt uncomfortable. I ran what I thought was my local 10km route in over 58 minutes. That I found out later it's 10.5 made me feel a little better, but not much.

Thursday: The swim kicked my butt. If one bad workout is a bad day, is two a funk? Maybe it was that I'm working my upper body harder on breast stroke these days. Maybe it was all the kick sets. Maybe I just sucked.

Friday: Same route as Wednesday, but a bit better. Unbelievably warm. It was 13 degrees, and I wore shorts. This late in November, it felt more than a little strange. The stiff wind from the south (undoubtably the carrier of the warmth) slowed me up a bit, but I was still a minute faster than Wednesday.

Saturday: One of "those" runs. Tried to go fast. Never felt fast, but never felt comfortable either. Ended up sub-25, the third time in 4 weeks I've run that route sub-25. The sub-4:40 pace is fairly encouraging. I don't think that I should be in shape to set my 10k PB yet, but my pace over 5+ kilometers was at least comparable. So I'm getting there.



I hit the pool this morning, determined to try the full workout, at full speed. Obviously, I would have to adjust my level of effort as I went along, if I started coughing again.

The warmup was pretty easy. 600 metres of freestyle and drills. Then we did 100m breastroke drills, which involved a lot of explaining and demonstrating from the coach. (Catch breath here.)

Then came the main set.

4x100m free on 2:05
1 minute rest
4x100m I.M. on 2:15
1 minute rest
8x100 free on 1:55

It's basically a long interval set. Your rest time between intervals depends on how fast you went. Like track intervals, the idea is you go faster than you usually do, and teach your body to get by on less rest that it would like.

Basically, this was going to be a real test of how I was feeling.

The first 4 100 free were fairly comfortable. The lane was polishing the distance off in 1:30 to 1:40, so we had lots of rest between sets. The IM set was less comfortable, mostly because IM is tougher than freestyle. I seemed to be holding a consistent 1:45 pace (I blame backstroke), leaving me with ~30 seconds rest between sets.

All that got done with very little, if any, coughing. How about that!

I started out very slowly on the 8x100 free - slower even than for the first set. The idea was to pace myself across all 8 - sure, I'd have less rest each time, but I'd have less that urgently needed to be recovered from. I basically broke the set up into 3 parts - 1-3, 4-6, and 7-8. (From a certain perspective, these sets can be seen as roughly equal in size - the last two are a lot tougher than the first two!) The first three were relaxed/slow. The second three, I tried to work a little harder, but figured I wasn't going any faster than the first 3. For the last two, I opened up a bit, and really worked. Number 7 was done in 1:35, and the last one was done in 1:30.

Which is awesome.

I coughed a bit through the set, but it never quite got the best of me. The combination of my increased speed (I only broke 1:30 for the first time back in February - now I seem to be able to do it at will, even at the end of a long set) and improved health made for an awesome swim.

Now if only my arms and chest didn't ache so much.

Easing Into It

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I ran on Saturday. Rather than the usual tempo run, I ran a longer, slower, easier run. It didn't feel too bad at all.

Sunday I did my usual 10 mile local run. I was completely uninterested in speed, and it showed in my final time. The wind was annoyingly stiff, and running into it was quite chilly. I coughed a lot more that I thought I would, but I made it through ok.

This morning my goal was to swim as much as I could. I still took it pretty easy on myself, trying hard to keep my breathing and pulse fairly slow. I felt much better than last Tuesday. I left after only an hour, but I'm fairly pleased with how it went.

The tempo run tonight could be interesting.


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I woke up Wednesday, all set to go for a run, and generally make the most of the morning. To my surprise, while there was still a large indeterminate animal on my chest, I wasn't coughing. In fact, I was breathing fairly well, despite the pressure.

I felt so good that I cancelled my plans, and decided to take it easy. It sounds like a contradiction, but if I'd been feeling worse, I'd likely have tried to run. Suddenly, though, I was on the mend, and I wanted to give myself every chance to improve.

Today, again, I felt pretty good. Not perfect, but pretty good. So out the door I went.

I spent the first 5 minutes or so coughing a bit, but settled into a rhythm farily quickly. It was a slow rhythm, but it was still a rhythm. The air was cold, below freezing, but the sun was shining. People were out and about, doing their morning routines. It felt great to be out, and to be active again.

As soon as I stopped running, the coughing returned. As I stretched, though, it eased up again.

I think that running rather than swimming this morning was a good idea. I'll probably take tomorrow off, but will hopefully be back on schedule on Saturday.


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Recent Comments

  • Cheryl: Right on Wendy! read more
  • Wendy: That swimming fitness will be back before you know it! read more
  • deene: you have to listen to your body, you probably needed read more
  • Cheryl: The heat, mixed with the humidity were extreme and it read more
  • Wendy: Sorry to hear you were so ill, Warren, but good read more
  • Cheryl: Sounds like a tough go! It's a shame that everyone read more
  • deene: anything timed in seconds and with repeats sound tough to read more
  • jank: Ease comes soon while riding in a group. As long read more
  • warren: Sadly, no. Nor did I delve into the Leguminosae family read more
  • jeff: WOOHOO! did you ever come up with a name for read more

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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