Winter Swim Routine Circling the Drain? Time to Rock the Boat

It has been 4 months since the last frigid open water swims here in Seattle and they feel like a very distance memory. Are you missing the “big pool” as much as we are? Sometimes its just hard to motivate yourself to go swim indoors, especially if you are already tired or have had a tough training week. But don’t skip that swim, your open water skills will really thank you come spring for keeping in shark shape. Use this time to hone your skills and utilize some great training tools.

Winter is a great time to hit the pool and work on technique in the water. Swimming is one of those sports where technique really matters…it is all about efficiency in the water. Give yourself a job in the pool. Go in with the mind set that you are there to accomplish a specific task. This will help break up the boredom of repetitive laps.

One of the most common mistakes made in swim technique is  fighting the water. Water is denser than air, the more you fight the more you increase drag churning your arms. This really just stirring up the water and wearing you out. Instead focus on quality long pulls, propelling yourself further forward with each smooth movement.

As runners and cyclists you learn to go faster by moving your legs faster. This is not the case with swimming. Let your upper body do a good share of the work here and focus on your body rotation. Your legs are best for helping your rotate your body in the water so that as you stroke with your arm it is timed to create a motion that you can pull against creating greater force. Think about trying hit a tennis ball with a racquet while in the deep end of the pool vs while standing on dry land. The force of your swing is greater as you push against the ground. The same idea is happening here- your body’s counter rotation to your stroke allows you to maximize your pull. It takes a great deal of core strength to achieve good body rotation – don’t skip those dry land days!

A fun tool to try out to help you with your body rotation is the TechToc from Finis. It is a waist belt that makes a noise as you rotate side to side. If you are not rotating well you will not hear the belt.

 

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Always consider body balance as you are swimming. Is every part of you working together in a positive motion? On one of your swims don’t focus on trying to fix things just take an over all inventory of what motions you are making, how you are breathing, how you are feeling. Tune in and take stock. Think about what someone else would see if they were watching you from the deck. Take that back to your training journal and your coach to help formulate the game plan for improvement.

Water toys can be a fun addition to a workout but remember should be used as tools not as a crutch. Here are a few ideas you could work with:

  • Use your Pull Buoy to take your legs out of the equation and be able to focus on your stroke.

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  • Use zoomers for more than just practicing your kick. Use them with your kickboard to practice kicking but rather than thinking about the kick think about your core and your glutes and making your kick come from those places.
  • Use your zoomers for a few laps of swimming and see if they help you connect your arms to your legs via your core.

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  • Use paddles (sparingly and as shoulders tolerate) to help work on the catch and finding your lats.Unknown
  • The Tempo Trainer can help you work on your cadence in the water.

 

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Other ways to make your workout fun could be meeting up with a friend or teammate. Sometimes just knowing someone else is working hard too helps you stick to your game plan. Take music along for the day but remember that if it distracts from your mental focus it may not be the best choice depending on what your goal in the pool is that day.

Also reward yourself for winter indoor. Consider buying a fun new swim cap or a new suit. There are new SIM swim shorts from Roka that are supposed to mimic wetsuit body position in the pool without overheating.

 

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To swim like Michael Phelps don’t forget to work on your mental strategy and that can be done both in and out of the pool. In his book The Power of Habit Charles Duhigg gives us an inside to Phelps mental strategy. Phelps coach Bob Bowman taught him to make a record breaking swim simply a habit – how he reacted to his surroundings and circumstances was so practiced he didn’t need to think he simply reacted. Bowman taught him the “watch the videotape” – to visualize the perfect race every night and every morning . Then in practice Bowman would tell him to “Put in the videotape!”. This would insight Phelps to work as hard as he could and instead of being intimidated by it he simply executed the jobs as habit. Once this and a few other key habits were formed the habits spilled over into other aspects of training forming good training practices. Duhigg refers to these as “small wins”. He writes “a huge body of research has shown that small wins have enormous power, an influence disproportionate to the accomplishments of the victories themselves”.

So sleep well tonight, “watch the videotape”, build your small wins and winter swimming will payoff in more ways than you may have initially thought!

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Shiny New Goals: Highlight Nutrition

Admit it, it’s exciting to plan out the new year with race and fitness goals.
While you are working on your goals for 2015, don’t forget to put some consideration into your nutrition goals for 2015. For athletes at any level, nutrition issues can sabotage all their other hard work.
Has this ever happened to you?
You bail on a planned workout because you’ve skipped a meal and are too hungry to attempt said workout or don’t make it very far because of flagging energy.
  •  Planning your workouts should go hand in hand with planning your meals and snacks.
  • Try to keep balanced healthy snacks always available.
  • If you are cooking a meal, plan to cook extra to freeze for an easy meal to reheat.
You get distracted and busy after a workout and find that hours have gone by before you’ve gotten a chance to have a real meal. You weren’t that hungry anyway. The next workout is much, much harder than it should be.
  • Plan and pack your post workout snacks.
  • Use this opportunity to try some different snacks – appealing sounding energy bars, fruit, nuts, flavored nut butters or try making your own.
  • If the thought of food is unappealing, try drinking your calories in a smoothie or shelf stable milk or milk substitute.
Work and life has been so crazy that you find yourself thinking you’ll just bail on the whole week.
  • Make getting in some time to workout a priority even if it’s a short amount of time.
  • Have easy healthy meals planned for when life gets too busy
  • Remember that there is always tomorrow to get back on track!
Consistency with your planned workouts and your planned nutrition leads to the best outcomes at every level. To make it to the start line of a goal race requires commitment on many levels including nutrition. What will YOU work on this year?

Making an Iron Rebound: 2015 is the Year of Renewal and Redemption

2015 is the year of renewal and redemption. 2014 didn’t particularly go to plan, although there were still new highs and new milestones reached. Some milestones had to be postponed, but that’s OK because any foundation designed to weather the storms of life has to be built slowly and brick by brick. Injuries may happen, and setbacks may happen, but forward progress is forward progress.
The dual mantras for this year are:
Victory is not measured in medals, but in the courage and heart shown with every step.
Citius, Altius, Fortius
The goals for this year … finish my first solo 70.3, collect a set of coast to coast run Disney medals, stay healthy, and get ready for Ironman New Zealand 2016.

SkiGirl: Saying goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015!

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is drawing to a close, only a few short hours to go! 2014 was a mixed bag for me…it had some big accomplishments and some big disappointments. The good news is the lessons learned will serve me well as we roll into 2015 and on into 2016!

As I look back at the past year it is hard not to be proud of everything that I accomplished, disappointments and all. I can honestly say I swam, biked and ran more miles this past year than any other time in my life! It all seems a bit surreal and at times feels like it was all a dream…the good news for me is it was real and I am in a good place going forward. The hardest decision for me coming into 2015 was to hold off on making another run at getting that IM finish. It was something that I agonized over and after talking with Coach we decided that 2016 would be an optimal time to make that run. The decision allows me to train hard in 2015 and gives me time to some big changes mentally and physically!

2015 is a transition year for me and one that will require a lot of dedication and commitment. I have some lofty goals that will serve as building blocks as we move toward another IM. Most of the year will be focused on making big gains running and swimming. Mostly running, however! Lots of miles will be logged this year – 2 half marathons, 1 trail half and 1 full marathon! I would expect the season will also include 1 Olympic distance tri, maybe a long-course tri, hopefully a return to RAPSody and lots of swimming.

2015 will see a return to being a volunteer ski patroller and instructor up at Summit West – assuming we get some snow! So, come up, join me, play and get in a decent workout while you are at it!

It’s hard to look back at 2014 with mixed feelings. It wasn’t a bad year; it just wasn’t the year I had planned. It is with great anticipation and excitement that I look forward to 2015. There are no guarantees that things will go smoothly or as expected; however, I do anticipate learning lots, having fun and rolling with whatever life brings!

I will wrap this up with one of my favorite quotes –

“Dreams don’t happen because we dream them…they happen because we do something about them.”

Find your dream and do something about it! Here’s to an amazing and wonderful 2015!

-SkiGirl

2015 Goal Setting!

As the holidays roll to a close and 2015 is fast approaching, this is a perfect time to start thinking about what your fitness goals are for next year.

Here are some helpful tips to consider when approaching goals.

  • Goals are set but not permanent. They should be evaluated often and able to change. A lot can happen in the course of a year and where you are in January may look very different by July.
  • Goals should not be expectations. The idea is to set a goal that is a stretch but not impossible. Sometimes goals are not reached and that is okay! All the trying in the middle counts for a heck of a lot.
  • Make sure goals are attainable and appropriate. It is good to have a stretch goal but make sure to have attainable goals along the way. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Consider including smaller goals on the path to a bigger one.
  • Consider performance vs. outcome. There are so many things that can go wrong in a goal race, weather, illness, and the list goes on. When setting your goal have it be based on your performance that day rather than on the outcome. You may not hit a time goal but you could still have raced your best strategically and mentally.
  • It’s good to be eyes on the prize but make sure to mix in fun workouts to keep things fresh and motivating. This could look a class, social workout, or fun themed race.
A few questions to ask about the goal you want to set..
  • What do you want to accomplish? This is the meat of the goal.
  • Why do you want to accomplish this? What motivates you? What is going to keep you going when it gets hard?
  • What will help you get there? What actions do you need to take to reach your goal? Who might support you in reaching your goal?
  • What might get in your way? What potential obstacles could you encounter?
  • Who is your support team? Who will cheer you on when you can’t cheer yourself?
Goals can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses and what you might be able to work on to overcome the weaknesses to reach your goals.
Remember we don’t ever chase our dreams alone, so once you know your 2015 goals put them out there to your team and support crew. Many hands make for lighter work. They will all be there to help see you through.
Cheers to a New Year!

 

Keep Your Running Routine on Track: Tips from Shalane Flanagan

US Olympic Marathoner Shalane Flanagan shared with Shape Magazine 9 tips to keep your winter running on track.

We are big fans of Number 5! “Make Your Mantra Super Specific”

From the article 9 Smart Running Tips From Shalane Flanagan:

“‘I use inspirational words that apply to each specific race I run (rather that simply having a go-to mantra that applies to running in general),’ says Flanagan. ‘When I was preparing for the Olympic Trials for the marathon, it was so emotional. I used the mantra ‘cold execution’ to help me to be really calculated and not let emotions get the best of me,’ she says. Think about why a race or run is important to you and make that your mantra.”

What’s your mantra this winter?

Captain Ogre’s Energy Bars

These bars have both low and high glycemic carbs that make them awesome for training or post workout! Thanks for the treat Captain Ogre. 

Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Bar w/ pecans and dried cherries

1.25 cups (6.25 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1.5 tsp table salt (or 1 tsp)

1.25 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, chopped in food processor.

1 cup (4 oz) pecans, roasted and coarsely chopped in food processor and salted. A mixed salted nut mixture also works, but peanuts overpower the taste and almonds are too bland.

1 cup dried sour cherries, chopped coarse in food processor (can also use cranberries or raisins although I’ve not tried it)

3 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped into chunks about the size of chocolate chips (3/4 of a 4 oz bar of chocolate found in baker’s aisle) or 3 oz semi sweet chocolate chips.

4 tbs softened butter, salted or unsalted (I always have salted and use that)

0.25 cup applesauce

1.25 cups packed brown sugar, preferably dark

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Measure flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into small bowl and whisk together. In second bowl, stir together oats, pecans and cherries.
  3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until no sugar lumps remain, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl; with mixer running at low speed; add half of flour mixture until just combined. Add applesauce and then the rest of the flour until just combined. With mixer still running on low, gradually add oat/nut mixture; mix until just incorporated. Put in chocolate chips or chunks and give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that flour is incorporated and ingredients are evenly distributed. (We have a mixer and use it. If you do not, just use fork to cream butter and sugar together, add egg and vanilla and mix. Add some flour and mix, then applesauce and the rest of the ingredients. It is a fairly thick batter.)
  4. Dump batter into a pyrex 13x9x2 pan. The batter will have to be pushed into the corners with spatula and smoothed out. Bake for 15 minutes then rotate. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until edges are slightly browning and the rest of it looks set. Run knife around the edges.
  5. Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes. Cut 5 x 4 with knife or pizza cutter at this time. I usually pull them out onto the wire rack to cool more completely and get a lot of the moisture out. Store out of the fridge for a week. Otherwise can be frozen.

Nutritional analysis:

Calories   221
Calories from fat 85
Total Fat (g)   9
Saturated Fat (g) 3
Cholesterol (mg) 17
Sodium (mg)   160
Total Carbohydrate (g) 33
Dietary Fiber (g) 3
Sugars (g)   15
Protein (g)   4
* Vitamin A (% Daily Value) 4
* Vitamin C (% Daily Value) 3
* Calcium (% Daily Value) 3
* Iron (% Daily Value) 10

Tips from the Captain:

Based on “Ultimate Oatmeal Cookie” from Cook’s Illustrated 5/05 issue. I wanted nuts and dried fruit with a salty/sweet oatmeal base for my sports bar.

I got the salted roasted pecans and dried sour cherries at Trader Joe’s.

Happy Baking Team!