triathlon

Why Bananas Don't Belong in the Pool

“Swimming is a sport of centimeters.” This is something my favorite swim coach likes to tell me over and over again, especially when I’m having trouble making a small adjustment to my stroke. This might seem like a depressing thing to focus on, but it’s really not. Think of the Olympics and the famous finish Michael Phelps had when he out-touched Milorad Cavic by only one one-hundredth of a second to win gold. One one-hundredth of a second. It takes ten times that long to blink to put things into perspective.

The small movements you work to correct over and over again, that sometimes make you want to pull your hair out in frustration, are the movements that will put you ahead that one one-hundredth of a second to beat out your competition. And in this case, the movement I want to talk about is keeping your ribs down and closed while you swim. What does that mean? The best way to understand it is to first think of the opposite, what you look like when you swim with your ribs open. Think of when you arch your back, and how it turns your torso into a "U" shape, or - and this one's my favorite - a banana in the water. Swimming like a banana through the water clearly would not be beneficial for your efficiency and power. This body position takes you out of streamline and, unlike a banana, causes your hips and legs to sink downward toward the bottom of the pool. Swimming with your hips and legs not at the surface of the water means you're causing unnecessary drag that you have to fight hard against to propel yourself forward through the water.

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The position you want needs to be driven from your ribs, and is, in actuality, a very small movement. When people tell you to arch your back most people create an extreme exaggeration, forming that “U” shape with their bodies. Here, you want a slight crunch inwards, driven from your ribs, which will result in a flat back. Think of it like the position you make when you exhale. When you blow your air out, your ribs go down and move inwards. Not the exact opposite of an arched back, you don’t want a hunchback either. You want to straighten our your back with this downward movement of your ribs in order to prevent swimming like a banana.

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What does this position do? It brings your hips and legs up to the surface of the water, AND helps to tilt your head into proper position at the same time. Try both of these movements standing up on land before trying them out in the pool. In the beginning, make them as exaggerated as you can. To make your banana, take in a really big breath and hold it. Now watch as your body turns into that “U” shape/banana. To feel the opposite, the position we’re looking for, exhale that really big breath and you’ll feel your body straighten back out, as well as the weight of your body falling back onto your heels. This will show you the extreme differences and help you find what we’re looking for in the water.

I know this probably sounds weird, but this minor change to your posture is one of the centimeters that’s going to help you get that much closer to your goal times. It’s going to improve your streamline, power, and efficiency by allowing you to move through the water with less effort and more smoothly than before. If you want to work on this more intensely make sure to take a look at our Foundational Breathing Method online course!

Maybe One Day I'll Like Running...

Oof, I’m beat. I really don’t know how you guys train for these super long races that take hours to complete, I really don’t. My aquathlon should, in theory, take me no longer than 45 minutes to complete, and my training is still taking over my life. Is this normal? I’m told it is, but still, yeesh. And this is coming from someone who spent her formidable years waking up at 3:45am to jump into an icy cold hole in the ground and swim back and forth in it for two hours, and THEN spend 7 hours at school. Trust me, I’m no stranger to working out, but for some reason this training is really taking it out of me.

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All of our SwimBox clients keep telling me to spread my workouts out throughout the day, but to be honest that sounds like the exact opposite of how I want to spend my time. I enjoy waking up early (sometimes too early, sorry Dominic), getting my workouts in and out of the way, then starting the rest of my day. I hate the feeling of having a training session loom over my head when it’s not the first thing I do when I get out of bed in the morning. If I have to workout after lunch, you better believe I’m going to be complaining about it. After dinner? Forget it, it’s not going to happen. Well, okay no, that’s not true. Back when our gym wasn’t flooded and out of commission (don’t get me started) it never bothered me to walk out of my door, take three steps and go to the gym. But when I have to drive somewhere, it somehow becomes the bane of my existence when the workout isn’t at o’dark thirty in the morning.

RUN WORKOUTS

Anyshways, my run workouts. Not a swimming specific post, I know, but what can you do about it. I’ve been trying my best to run at least 3-4 times a week, but more often than not lately it’s been three runs per week. The heat was my initial enemy, but lately it’s been the rain, and I’m sorry but I’m just not going to run in the rain if it’s more than a mist. Klutz is my middle name and I just know I’d slip on a leaf and break 578493 bones in the process. So, I stay inside. My long runs, which I try to do twice a week, are sitting pretty at about 40 minutes right now. Eventually I’d like to get up to 45 minutes, but for some reason these mentally kill me. It’s not that they’re incredibly taxing in a physical sense - probably on the upper-side of moderate pace - but the words “40 minute run” bury down into the depths of my brain and weasel around in there scaring the donuts out of me. I don’t know why, since my swim practices were always at a minimum 90 minutes long, but those came with built in breaks. I’m having to work very hard to keep my thoughts positive during these runs and not chicken out.

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The other runs I do every week are a mix of fartlek style and walk-sprint combos. The hardest workout I’ve had yet was a 40 minute swim workout (made up of the interval training I wrote about in my first aquathlon post) immediately followed by a 30 minute walk-sprint. The sprint was one minute and the walk was two minutes, repeated over again until the 30 minute mark. My legs were DEAD after that. Completely dead. Thankfully I was treated to a cinnamon roll the size of my head after this, but still, that was a tough one.

I know this post has been a bit complainy, I’m sorry about that, but I’m always going to be honest about these things. And since this has been hard on me, that’s what you’re going to get to read about. And hey, just think, no food jokes this time! Well okay, not no food jokes, but one per post is probably the least you’ll ever get from me.

Come back in a few weeks to read about the progression of my swim workouts and what I’m doing for strength training!

Raise Your Hand if You've Ever heard of UpKick...

Raise Your Hand if You've Ever heard of UpKick...

Your freestyle kick is made up of two parts: your upkick, and your downkick. Both of these parts need to be focused one with the same amount of energy in order to keep your hips and legs from sinking.