From Coach

Turnout for practice was a little larger today so maybe a few are starting their resolutions early. A few notes regarding the practice. As I do every once in awhile, I pulled out an old practice and recycled parts of it. When I got to the pool I realized that the main set had us swimming the first half of each repeat at race pace and the second half of each repeat sprinting. This is not the time of the year to be doing 2400 yards of fast swimming. This is the time to be doing maintenance type of swimming that is not physically and mentally challenging. It's the time of year to be doing sets that allow you to take it relatively easy and to recharge your batteries. For the next month we should be doing more aerobic type sets that keep our level of conditioning at a point that when we pick things up after the first of the year, we are mentally and physically ready to get after it.

So the main set ended up being what I call "junk yardage". A nice distance set but not a lot of quality work. And that's pretty much what I would recommend doing right now. Keeping in line with the junk yardage we did what I would call a social kick set. I rearranged the lanes so that each lane had a mixed ability. Then we kicked 500 yards with fins and a board going the pace of the slowest one in the lane. The idea was to do an easy kick set and spend some time talking to people that you don't usually swim with.

Podium spots go to Vince and Ray. While everyone was doing the easy swimming I had them doing something different. You can try this if you head to the pool with a friend and one is faster than the other but you want to train together. Vince, the slower of the two, would lead the repeat and Ray would give him almost a pool's length lead. Then Ray would try and chase Vince down and Vince would try to keep from getting caught. Then we switched it up and Vince would draft off of Ray for the entire repeat. I think they had fun doing this and it was a quality workout. Have a great week.

I hope everyone had a nice relaxing Thanksgiving. A few brave or guilty people came in to work off those 4,000 calories from their turkey day meal. We tried to get a lot of bilateral work in today including the drill. We also combined our main set with some fins so we work the legs a little more than just a regular swim.

We tried a new drill today that I will call the 10-10 drill. This is very similar to the 6-3-6 drill in which you kick on one side for six seconds and then take three strokes and then kick on the opposite side for six seconds. In this drill you kick on one side for 10 seconds then take one stroke and a breath and kick on the other side for 10 seconds. Remember after you take the breath, to get your head back into a normal position with face in and eyes looking about 45 degrees ahead. On the next 25 do the same thing and count 9 seconds. Keep lowering the time each 25 until you are rotating every second. Make sure that your hips are perpendicular to the bottom of the pool while counting. You should be deriving most of your force from your core and hips and this is a good drill for concentrating on that.

Podium spot goes to Sandy for doing an excellent job demonstrating the drill and Stephanie for moving up a lane. Have a great week.

We did a set of short distance repeats alternating fast and slow. When doing a set like this focus on not shortening up the stroke just because your turnover on the sprint repeats is faster. It's a good idea to count strokes on some of the slow and some of the fast repeats to make sure you aren't shortening up your stroke.

On the 3 x 300 for time we took a lot of rest between each repeat until everyone had completely recovered. Monitor your heart rate to determine whether you have recovered. Heart rate is also a good gauge as to your level of fitness. The quicker you recover, the better shape you are in.

This is the time of the year to reduce total yardage and concentrate on maintenance and mechanics. Notice we only did 3,000 yards this practice so we could take the extra time on the 300's and still have time for drill work. With the holidays and end of the tri season,  it's a good time to dial back on workouts and reconnect with family and friends who put up with your crazy training. One or two good workouts a week is enough to maintain a base level of fitness and be ready to ramp up after the new year.

It is also a good time to come out to a Saturday practice if you've been thinking about it but haven't made the leap. Turnout is typically low this time of year so we have the room. Podium spots go to all the veterans on the Dawgs. Thank you for your service. Have a great week.

Nice to be back to practice after being away for three weeks though I have to say I would rather be back in Kona. Ironman Hawaii is such an incredible experience as is being surrounded by so many talented triathletes. These are the best in the world and it sure shows. The best experience was the last two hours before the midnight cutoff which turns into a huge block party and celebration.

Not much to say about today's practice. The main set we tried to push the pace a little which is hard to do for 2400 yards. If done right this is an exhausting set especially trying to sprint 200's. Podium spots go to Marianne and Mike who only a week from competing in Kona were back in the pool. Might explain why they both qualified for world championships. Have a great week.

We had a very different kind of practice today. We did 48 x 75 with sets of four and each set of four focused on a different drill for the first 25. So we actually did 1200 yards worth of drills or about 1/3 of the practice. You can never get too much drill work and it's something that is often neglected and overlooked. And it was a good practice to review the different drills we do. I identified key words for each drill so that you knew what the purpose of the drill is.

One of the drills was swimming with the head up to make sure hand entry is not crossing over the centerline of the body. Everyone was working way harder to swim a 25 with the head up which reinforces the importance of good head and body position. As soon as the head comes up even a little the legs drop and it feels like you are dragging an anchor through the water.

Podium spot goes to Steve for his hard work in trying to keep up with a challenging lane. You have to love his never give up spirit. No doubt comes from his days as a Marine! Have a great week.

The main set was strictly an aerobic set where the HR should be 60-70% or in about zone 2. You should be able to swim in this zone for long periods. This was a straight 1500 yard set with no breaks. The base pace was race pace or what your average pace would be for an international distance or 1.5k. Add the + seconds to get your interval. On the 500 for time we focused on splitting that negatively. That is the second 250 should be faster than the first 250. HR zones should be 3 for the first half and 4 for the second half with HR close to 90% for the second half.

The kick set was 1000 yards on either side. When you are kicking on your side your legs must work harder than kicking on the front or back. Make sure that between breaths you are keeping your head in the normal swimming position.

Podium spot goes to Brian. I've been very impressed with how well he is doing in one of the faster lanes. I think a lot of this has to do with his ability to give maximum effort during an entire practice. I think you can see his wrestling background coming out. Have a great week.

I hope everyone is enjoying a restful and safe holiday weekend. Hard to believe how fast summer flew by and the end of another tri season is quickly appoaching. After a fairly slow summer turnout for Saturday practices we had a good turnout this past Saturday. We focused on building sets. That is increasing your pace within each repeat. This can be good practice for negative splitting a race which is never a bad idea. I never hear too many people say they started a race too slow and paid for it later but I hear many say they went out to fast and paid the price on the back end. Learn to throttle things back a little at the start and build your pace as the race goes on. It can make for a more enjoyable race.

I saw some ugly kicking during practice and decided to change the drill to focus on that. Three things you can focus on in the kick is to kick from the hips (not the knees), keep your legs in a streamlined position and flex your feet so your toes are pointed to the end of the pool. The drill we did to practice this was to make sure that you lightly brushed your feet past each other when you are kicking.

Podium spot goes to Marco and Jocelyn who showed up for practice less than a week after completing an IM. That's some kind of dedication. Have a great week.

As you can see it's been a month since I have written anything. In the meantime I decided I would once again venture into the multisport world as a participant. First step was to buy a bike which I wrote about in one of the recent newsletters. Second step was to pick a race and that was the Lums Pond du. I got in two rides of less than 10 miles and two days before the race I installed a set of aerobars that Dave gave me so I had no practice with them. I just relied on my tri experience and my last tri was 25 years ago. Sounds like a plan for disaster. Anyway everything went well and I am looking forward to doing some more races.

A few words about the practice. We did something I'm not sure we have done lately and that was swim a 3600 yard main set. The practice has some suggested intervals but the goal was to swim at slower than race pace or an aerobic pace with about :15 seconds rest each repeat. Think of this set as doing a long slow run. So you can adjust the intervals as some lanes did. To try to make it a little less mind numbing I had everyone alternate breathing every 2 stokes and 3 strokes. You end up taking two breaths on one side and then two on the opposite side. It's just a little different than breathing every three strokes and makes you think about your breathing pattern a little more.  The total time to do the set took anywhere from 65 to 80 minutes. You might want to try this on your own and then try it a month later and decrease the intervals :05. There are 64 repeats so shaving :05 seconds off each one would cut your overall time by a little over 5 minutes. That would be a good test to see if your endurance is improving. If you don't feel like you can hold a set interval for that long then just take :15 between each repeat and see what your total time is.

Podium spot goes to Cindy and Amanda for doing a great job with the pratice. Have a great week.

I'm fresh back from IM Lake Placid which is always a fun experience and there is always something new to learn being around so many talented triathletes. One of the amazing things was watching a 36 year old mother of three with a full time job win overall female after turning pro less than a year ago. It was interesting listening to her speech at the awards and how she talked about balancing your life and not listening to those who say you can't do it all.

In practice today we drilled what I call the center line drill. Triathletes' most common mistake is the entry hand crossing over the mid line of the body. In this drill you swim down the center of the lane with the eyes looking 45 degrees ahead and focusing on the line at the bottom of the pool. Make sure the entry hand does not cross that line.

Everyone is focused on the Olympics in general right now and many are tuned into the swimming. When you are looking at swimmers freestyle strokes remember that these are sprinters swimming in a pool. You are a distance swimmer swimming in open water. It should not be the same stroke. Try focusing on the 800 and 1500 meter swimmers for a better look at mechanics suitable for OWS.

Podium spot goes to Lenny who less than a week after turning in an amazing performance at IM Lake Placid was back in the pool and looking great. Have a great week.

The purpose of practice today was working on short bursts of speed or surges in the middle of a long swim. We did this doing a 1000 yard set with 25 sprints mixed in and a 2000 yard swim with 50 sprints. This is good practice for getting away from an annoying swimmer who insists on swimming right next to or on top of you or constantly touching your feet when they are dragging off of you. It is also good practice when you are by yourself and want to catch up to a group ahead to try and draft off them. This should give you the confidence that you can do these bursts periodically during a race without worrying about over extending yourself.

Podium spot goes to someone who wasn't even at practice today. Ryan Lowe did a great job of promoting the Aquathlon in Smyrna Friday night. It was amazing how he was able to get 15 people out on such a short notice and that they dominated the podium and scored 72 points. This is the kind of team camaraderie that I love and that the Tri-Dawgs have a reputation for. Have a great week!

I came across this on the Swim Smooth website and thought it offered some excellent advice on swimming in rough water.

What do you do when you turn up at a race and are faced with conditions like those pictured on the right? Our tips:
Stay calm before the start and back yourself to cope.
- As soon as you're swimming, make sure you exhale smoothly into the water, this will help you relax and stay aerobic.

- Use a slightly straighter arm recovery to give you a greater arm clearance over the surface of the water.

Focus on momentum in your stroke: shorten things a touch and keep a strong rhythm to help punch through waves and chop. This is a little like using a smaller gear on the bike, you turn over quicker but each stroke is easier to keep the effort level the same.

Avoid over-gliding in your stroke at all costs or you will be swamped by waves and chop, and could end up being swept backwards!

Enjoy the challenge and repeat to yourself a positive mantra that works for you, e.g. when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Cheesy but effective!

Remember that everyone finds swimming in rough conditions hard and swims slower than in flat conditions, even professional athletes. But cope well using the tips above and you will doing better than 90% of the field and will put a lot of time and distance into your competitors.

Whilst you may not be planning to be swimming in rough open water conditions, even a mirror flat lake will be churned into a lumpy, choppy mess by other swimmers in your race. For that reason a super-long pool stroke is rarely effective in open water.

Practice was all about pacing. There is no pace clock in the open water so it's important to have a feel for what pace you are on when you are competing. And you might have a variety of paces. Your first 200-400 yards might be a much quicker pace than your race pace just due to the fact that you are rested and have the adrenaline flowing at the start plus getting caught up in the heat of the competition. You then slow down to a race pace for the bulk of the distance but then you might want to put on a 100 yard surge to catch up to a group or get away from that annoying person who is constantly tapping on your heels. Then you might want to give it one last burst to the finish.

With all this in mind we practiced swimming 100's with no interval but varying the pace on each 100 and trying to see how close we were coming into the finish on pace. It's important to pay very close attention to the pace clock for feedback.  If you work at this enough you can tell in the open water exactly how fast you are swimming by getting feedback from your heart rate or perceived effort.

Podium spot goes to Steve who jumped about three lanes up to the fastest lane. Now that was getting out of his comfort zone and he survived. I wouldn't recommend this on a regular basis but I think it's a great idea to try every 4-6 weeks even if it is just for one set. Have a great week.

I did not realize that it has been almost a month since I wrote anything. Not sure how that happened other than May has been a very busy month. We had a nice mix at practice today including three new people and a couple others who we have missed for awhile. It was nice to see Jocelyn back in the pool though she is no longer competing as a pro. I was happy to hear her say she just wanted to have fun. Isn't that what it really should be about?

If training and competing is not fun for you anymore than it's time to re-evaluate what you're doing. Sure there are days when you are training for a special race and you just don't feel like you have the energy to get out and do a workout on a given day. That happens to everyone but if it's happening more and more than it's a problem. It could be just a matter of over training or lack of enough rest built into your training program. Or maybe you just need to step back and take a break for awhile.

Sometimes signing up for a race that is different than you usually do will give you new life. Triathlons getting to you? Switch to a duathlon or aquavelo race. Trying something different might re-invigorate your workouts. Also finding training partners and training groups can bring new enthusiasm and is a way to meet new people. It's amazing the number of new and close friends I have made through the Tri-Dawgs and it is many of those same people who give me the support we all need.

I haven't gven a podium spot for practice in a long time. Today was easy. Peggy gets the podium spot today for working so hard to keep up with the rest of her lane. And she travels a long way to get to practice. It is people like her that inspire me to try and bring my best effort to practice. Have a great week!

Due to the Devilman Tri Saturday I missed practice so I don't have any comments about that except thanks to Ray for offering to run practice. I do have some thoughts about Devilman besides the results you can find on the newsletter.

First tri of the season is always interesting listening to all the comments. First there is a lot of excitement and anticipation with the first race of the season for most. A lot of unanswered questions are about to be answered regarding training to date. Most realize that they definitely are not where they thought they were training wise and there is always a lot to learn from that initial race no matter if you are a veteran or a novice.

It's important to assess your race afterwards. Lets start with the swim. How well did you adapt going from an off season in the pool to the open water where visibiity is zero and the water is cold? Were you smart on the start and ease into the race or did you try to go from zero to all out with no warm up possible? Did you feel comfortable with your wetsuit or do you need more practice with that? How were your drafting skills? The questions are endless but you get the point. Go back and assess everything from your prerace routine to your finish. I focused here on the swim but do the same thing with the bike and run as well as the transition. The first race can be your most important if you take the time to learn from it.
Have a great week!

The first set we did something a little different with the bilateral breathing. Remember we are doing bilateral for many reasons but the most important is developing a sense of balance on both sides of the stroke. With the 75's we breathed only right side the first 25, only left side the 2nd 25 and every three strokes the last 25. This is another way of practicing your bilateral breathing.

With the broken 200's I was trying to do something that simulates the Yasso 800's in running. With the Yasso's you are running at an anaerobic pace for 800 meters and then doing an easy aerobic paced 400 meters betweeen each 800. We were swimming a hard 150 yards with an easy 50 yards between each 150.

Those doing Devilman next Saturday should focus on breathing as soon as they get in the water. It will be cold and it's important to make sure you are exhaling as fully as you can. There is no warm up period but you will have time as you wait for the start to get your face in the water and practice your breathing. Cold water can cause you to breathe quickly and shallowly which will give you a feeling of anxiety and even a sense of panic. Avoid that by practicing a few long slow exhalations.

Poduim spot goes to Dave for giving it his all every practice and bringing a positive attitude to the pool. Have a great week.

When I coached at McKean High School the freestyle events were 50, 100, 200 and 500 yards.I always thought the 200 was the hardest to swim of the four events since it ends up being a long sprint. Lately we've been doing something I have been calling 3 x 200 challenge sets. The idea is to go all out on each repeat with only :20 rest between repeats. This is a very hard thing to do and by the time you get to the third repeat you are exhausted. But it's a good set for getting you our of your comfort zone. We did this set three times throughout practice today and I doubt if we could have done another one.

We talked about the importance of head position for a triathlete. One thing to remember is that you are always practicing without a wetsuit. When you compete with a wetsuit your legs are going to ride higher in the water which will tend to push your head down. Try looking a little bit more foreward to get your head up to compensate with the legs coming up. It aso gets your head in a good position for sighting.

Podium spots go to Bill and Vince. I moved Bill into a lane that might have been just a little too fast for him but he hung in there and gave it all he had. It's amazing how much stronger Vince looks in the pool and he was holding his own in the fastest lane. This improvement is no doubt from him swimming in the Masters program. Have a great week.

I left practice right after I got it started to get my long run in so I will have to give a podium spot to Dave based on the fact that he got the Puzzler and 3 out of 4 This Day In History questions right before we got started. I think he's the new Paul.

We did  set of 7 x 4 x 50 on varying intervals just to get a little speed work in with not much rest time. The purpose of the 3 x 200's was a continuation of last week in trying to swim out of the comfort zone. This was a much shorter duration though. You should take no more than :20 rest between repeats and push the pace the entire 200.  Have a great week.

I didn't write anything after last practice. Just couldn't think of anything to write about that I hadn't covered on the weekly newsletter. This week's practice we worked on swimming out of our comfort zones. The comfort zone is where you are getting a good workout in maybe the 5-7 scale of perceived effort. We were trying to push to that 8-9 range. (A score of 10 would be the point at which you just crap out in the middle of the set.) It's hard to get out of the comfort zone by yourself and it's also difficult to do it very often. The idea was to have 30-40 minutes of pain. The only "rest" was 50 yards of active recovery. I think we did a good job of hitting our exertion target. During the 50's we concentrated on good mechanics because when you are doing a set like this mechanics can break down real quick making the swims even more difficult.

We worked again on exhaling fully during the breathing drill. We're getting ready for those first triathlons of the season when the water is cold and you're a little anxious with you first race. It is hugely important that you concentrate even more on your breathing. Short quick breaths will tend to increase your anxiety level and in some cases a feeling of panic. In this drill inhale fully, push off the wall and slowly exhale the full length of the pool until you have no air left at the end.

Podium spots go to Brenden and Bill who were really strong during the comfort zone set. Nice work by all but especially those two. Have a great week.

We continued doing long sets from last week though not as long. It's a good time in your training cycle to get used to these kinds of sets to build a good base for your races. The main set today was 2500 yards and it was done at about race pace somewhere between aerobic and anaerobic. We also did a few sprints just to train another energy system. There isn't much in the way of sprinting in tri's but it's fun just to see how fast you can swim and to race the person in the next lane. Not something you get to do at your local pool during lap swimming.

Podium spot goes to Sandy who always has an upbeat positve attitude and a great smile and she did a great job swimming with Marco today. Speaking of Marco, I wonder if he has figured out the movie question today. Have a great week.

Practice was very simple. Swim 100's the entire parctice setting a pace that is slighly slower than race pace and an interval that allows about 10-15 rest. This set would be equivalent to running long slow distance. Groups set paces from 1:40-2:00 and the goal was to get 40 repeats in or 4,000 yards. About half of the group hit 40 just before the end of practice so I had them do two 100's more which would be the equivalent of an IM swimming distance (2.4 miles). Everyone did at least 35 repeats.  I was really pleased at how everyone handled this workout. It takes a lot of concentration to keep swimming for 75 minutes straight. We also practiced drafting during the entire set.

Podium spots go to Peggy who moved over a lane to pull Diane along and to Steve who did the same for the lane next to him and to Marco who stepped up to swim with Ryan who would have been swimming alone. Real class teamwork by all. Have a great week.

Less yardage today because we spent more time on drills. It's not always about how much yardage or miles you do. Be careful not to sacrifice quality in the name of quantity. Today we did the golf drill before and after a 1500 yard set to see what effect it would have on stroke efficiency. Remember the golf drill is when you are adding your stroke count and time for a 50. Most found that the after the main set their stroke count was up. The point was that when you are are tired, that is when you need to concentrate the most on good mechanics. If you are faiqued and your mechanics starts to fall apart, then you will become even more fatiqued because you are working less efficiently. Be sure that when you are competing that you are always going through a mental check list with your stroke technique.

During he main set we focused on picking up the middle 100 of each repeat. Usually during the first and third part of a race you are more focused on what you are doing. It's the middle third when you start to lose your focus. Take the time to practice picking up the middle third of anything you do regarding your training whether it be swimming, biking or running.

Podium spot goes to me for stumping everyone on the puzzler today despite numerous clues. Hey, I have to win a podium spot every once in a while. Have a great week.

The most important part of practice this week was the sets of 100's we did. The goal was to red line the first two repeats and get into that highest training zone with a maximum heart rate. The third 100 was an active recovery swim and then a 2:00 complete recovery rest so we could go all out again. Half the group actually did an extra set of these. It's not likely you can get into this range for as long a period of time by yourself. This is when you need someone else or a group to keep pushing you. To get maximum benefits out of your training time make sure you are doing a couple workouts a week with others to push yourself beyond what you would do by yourself. This is important whether it be swimming, biking or running. Just be careful you don't overdo this to the point of risking injury.

Podium spot goes to Terri. She had a great day at practice and it was good to see her back in one of the faster lanes. Have a great week.

The main set was basically broken 1000's with the breaks after varying distances instead of a set distance. A broken swim means you are swimming a longer distance with breaks of very short duration along the way. Usually but not always it is more of an aerobic set since the is often longer than usual. It can also be a way of swimming longer repeats and take some of the monotony out of it.

Speaking of long make sure at least once every other week you are getting a long slow swim in. Remember to do these at a "conversational" pace. When you are doing these long swims break it up every 500 yards or about 10:00 with  50 yards or 1:00 of drills. Do this without stopping your swim. This is especially important as you get tired and your mechanics start to get a little sloppy. This can serve as a reminder to keep your stroke as perfect as possible. I often recommend even doing this during the swim portion on a half or full IM.

The breathing drill we did today was swimming an easy 25 and slowly exhaling as you swim. When you have fully exhaled try imagining that you are pressing your belly button back to your spine. This is a good ab exercise as well as a good breathing exercise.

Podium spot goes to Marco who helped me interpret the club's cleaning person's list of needed supplies. We have so many talents on our team. Thanks Marco. Have a great week.

Light turnout with iffy weather but still a good hard practice especially the 200's. We worked hard on pushing those. I think 200 repeats is a nice distance for triathletes. You know how much easier it is to push yourself when you are training with others? That's one of the things that makes a group practice so beneficial especially when you have people in your own lane that are working together. You can take this a step farther by swimming with people in adjacent lanes. At practice for the last 5 x 200 I took three lanes and split them evenly ability wise into two lanes. I then matched up people in the two lanes. The idea was to work together side by side to push each other a little harder. It's a great way to get an even better quality workout especially when you can feed off the energy of each other. Becki and Marianne get the podium spot for pushing their lanes the best.

If you have not already done so, you should swim 1500 yards for time or do a 30:00 minute swim for distance. Calculate your 100 pace and record it where you won't lose it. The first one will be your baseline. Do this every 3-4 weeks, record it  and see if you are improving. This 100 pace is probably the most important number you should memorize so you can build your practices around that pace. Have a great week.

Without a doubt this was the most intense and hardest practice we have had in months. It's a prelude of things to come. Coach Bruce reminded me of a set that I can't remember doing with the Dawgs but is an excellent idea. Basically I picked a 3:00 interval and each lane had to decide what distance to swim those intervals. The pace was race pace and I suggested making sure you had a rest of :10 per 100 yards. For example if you thought you could do 200 yards you needed to make sure you could come in around 2:40 which allowed for :20 rest. If you were doing 150's you would be coming in around 2:45 with :15 rest. Repeats ranged from 150-225 yards. The cool part is every lane has the same send off time. Thanks for the remnder, Bruce. We will be doing some more of these.

A comment I have heard from those swimming in the Masters program is how fast they are getting. I don't want to state the obvious but the more you swim organized practices with others the faster you will get. If you have thought about joining up with the Masters but are still unsure talk to those who are doing it and find out the results they are getting.

We had a little Sesame Street thing going on in one of the lanes. Which one of these don't belong with the others:  Eric, Lenny, Brendan, Dave, and Henry

Podium spot goes the Steph K who hung in with the top lane as long as possible and then dropped down a lane. She felt bad about having to move down but I thought it was great because by hanging as long as possible in the faster lane she was able to push herself to the breaking point. We never get to that point enough. How do you know how fast you can go if you never go to the point that you drop? Great job Steph!
Have a great week.

Big turnout and a lot of energy in the pool today. We did a lot of different pacing today. 50's went from slow to sprint, 100's we pushed the pace hard, 200's was race pace for an Olympic distance tri and the 400 simulated a sprint triathlon. We also worked on getting our 100 intervals established and using that to figure out 200 intervals. Start remembering optimum intervals for a variety of distances and paces. Start with 100's and fool around with pacing and resting times and then move on to longer distances.

Podium spot goes to the youngest person in the pool today. Have to give it to Kris for sacrificing her Friday night to show up for her first Saturday practice. I suspect she will make up for it in AC this weekend. Henry was right on the verge of getting another podium spot with some great swims today but then I saw him walk out of the locker room with a Cowboys sweater on and that blew it for him. He needs to step up his attire. I hope everyone has a great week.

Sixteen people braved the snow and ice to come out to practice. We worked on sprinting the first 25 of  the 10 x 100's to simulate the start of our race. Then the last 75 we settled into a comfortable race pace. Each lane changed the lane leader after each repeat so everyone got practice leading and drafting. I found it interesting that most lanes changed their intervals after the first repeat. We just got a little out of practice doing setting intevals so it will take a few practices to get an idea of what interval to set. The important thing was that if the interval was too slow or too fast that you change it and not go through an entire set with the wrong interval.

On the drill we did bilateral breathing with a 3-5-7-3 pattern but what we did differently was focus on exhaling the entire time between breaths. There are several reasons for making sure you exhale fully on each breathing cycle. The most important is if you are doing a shallow exhalation you run the risk of experiencing a feeling of panic in the beginning of a race. The second is that air in your lungs will cause the chest to rise and the legs to drop which makes it more difficult to swim. Never hold your breath between breathing cycles. Always begin to exhale as soon as your head goes back into the water.

Podium spots go to Ray, Ryan, Sandy, Dave, Lenny, Eric, Carl, Henry, Marianne, Terrie, Bill, Brendan, Holly, Cindy, Amanda and Trish for coming out to practice on a miserable morning. Have a great week. Coach

I idn't realize it has been three weeks since I posted anything here. Things got a little hectic around the New Year since I was race director for the Resolution Classic 5K which was a huge success. So I didn't post anything that weekend and then last weekend Marianne and I spent a great weekend in NYC. Thanks to Kathy for running practice. So hopefully I am back in the groove as you should be.

Most of our repeats for the last six weeks have been with no set time, just a set rest period. The idea was to go easy on the training after a hard season of competing. Now it's time to gear up again. Today we went back to doing repeats with a set interval. I think everyone immediately saw the difference in intensity. Your lanes need to start getting familiar again with setting appropriate intervals based on what we are trying to accomplish.

The third set was an adaptation of one I saw Coach Sean doing with his Delaware Swim Team national group. Coaches are always copying good ideas off of other coaches and I think almost all coaches view it as a compliment. It's fun as a coach to learn something new. Take a look at the set and see if you can figure it out. There is only one interval for 50's and one for 100's regardless of the pace. Don't forget race pace for us is the fastest pace you can swim  1500 yards in.

I'm going to try and start using my iPhone to video certain people in practice. With the proliferation of smart phones it should be relatively easy to get someone to video you. It's a great learning tool.

Podium spots go to Lenny who could have easily blown off practice when he was confronted with a dead battery this morning and to Stephanie who came to his rescue. Teamwork never ends! Have a great week.

A great turnout at practice but I shouldn't be surprised since that always seems to be the case on a holiday weekend. Everyone was in a festive mood and we had a little pre-practice fun with 21 Christmas trivia questions. I think the gang got 18 out of 21 which wasn't too bad. The practice was my traditional 12 Days of Christmas practice. I think I confused some people because I said start with Day 1, then Day 1/Day 2, then Day 1/Day 2/Day 3, etc. which is not the same order as the song which goes Day 1, Day 2/Day 1, Day3/Day 2/Day 1, etc. Some chose to ignore me and do it the same as the song which was OK since it is the same yardage. Of course there was one lane that will go nameless except for me calling them the Dope Lane because they could not agree on which way to do it. Reason finally prevailed and they figured it out and everyone finally let go of all the built up Christmas stress and had a good time. If you have about an hour and a half try this set as a continuous 3900 yard set with some long slow swimming with drill work mixed in.

Podium spot goes to CT's wife who let him come to practice. Not sure what penance he will have to do for that but I'm sure it will be a good one. Merry Christmas to everyone. Have a great holiday week.

Really nice turn out at practice. Getting to a hectic time of the year so it's easy to blow off a Saturday morning practice. We had fun with a little trivia that I guess showed my age since I'm about 25-30 years older than the average Tri-Dawg. I had a list of 32 famous people who died in 2011. Since most of them were my age or older our younger Dawgs had a little difficulty with the older ones. I think there were about a dozen no one even recognized after I told them the answer. Of course these puzzles, history questions and trivia have nothing to do with swimming but I always think it gives swimmers something to think about (when they are not thinking about their stroke) while you have you head in the water staring at the bottom of the pool.

Podium spot goes to Becki who made a great leap up to the second fastest lane. She had asked me about trying this and I'm glad she took a shot at it. You never have to wait to be told to move to a faster lane if you want to give it a try. The worse that can happen is you challenge yourself and have to move back.  Sometimes you can move up for just part of a practice if you want. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Have a great week.

We again did a main set that stuck with our maintenance type practices. No set intervals. Only set rest times for each repeat with an easy pace of about 75% effort. Drill was catch up with focus on keeping the elbow high during the catch phase. Sometimes when trying to reach to far with the hand entry the elbow tends to drop and your hand enters with the fingers pointed forward or worse yet upward. Keep the elbows high and enter the hand with fingers pointed towards the bottom of the pool and get a deep catch.

Vince shared an excellent out of season training plan which is posted on the Training page. The only issue I have with it is that they recommend no swimming during this period. Read for yourself their thoughts about that. I can think of a lot of reasons why I disagree but I will keep it to three. First is that your lower body has taken a pounding during the tri season. Now is the time to let all those aches and pains heal up with some lighter training. What better way than to do some cross training in the pool that will maintain your conditioning while resting your lower body. Second is that swimming is very technical and muscle memory is huge to being a competent swimmer. Take this time to work on drills that will help maintain and improve your muscle memory. Third is that swimming is the most difficult of the three legs of the triathlon for most. This is a good time to get in the pool and do some easy relaxed swimming and work on developing your comfort level in the water.

Podium spot goes to Michelle for the nice post on the News page about her experience with the Masters program as a "newbie". It's great to see her getting more comfortable in the water and enjoying the workouts. You can really see the improvement. Have a great week.

We continued with our maintenance type practices and the extra time spent on drills. Since last week was a new drill we practiced that again but without fins this time. We also focused on the side with the arm down to the side and making sure we were getting a good rotation on both sides. The main set was one you might find for a high school or younger age group practice because of the shorter distance and emphasis on sprinting. We alternated easy (E) and hard (H) repeats with :05 rest between each repeat so that we could focus on the different paces. Kudos to Marco and Dave and Lenny and Sandy who were racing each other in adjacent lanes on the hard repeats. This is how you get faster and it makes practice more fun.

Podium spot goes to Peggy who has been all over the trivia questions plus she does a great job of leading her lane like a true teacher. Unfortunately The Puzzler has been MIA lately and the word on the street was that he was seen last Friday night with Katy Perry which might explain things. Have a great week.

I just realized that I didn't post anything from last practice and I'm late on this one. I'll blame it on the Thanksgiving holiday. I can't blame it on Black Friday since I wouldn't venture out in that jungle for anything. I introduced a new drill that worked on balance and body rotation. We have a number of these drills because they are such important elements in swimming as in most athletic endeavors. We broke the drill down into 4 x 25's with the first 25 keeping the left arm at the side and pulling with the right arm and breathing on the right side. The second 25 do the same thing but breathe on the left side. On the third 25 keep the right arm at the side and pull with the left arm and breathe on the left side. On the last 25 do the same as the third but breathe on the right side. Make sure you use fins the first time you try this drill to make it a little easier. Breathing on the same side as the arm that is at your side can be a little tricky in terms of timing.

Eric dropped off an article that talked about the importance of high intensity workouts and it had some sample workouts including swimming workouts. The article is in the December issue of Triathlete magazine and I'm not going to go over what they said here. But the interesting thing is that I read an article this past weekend about swimming that discouraged these same kind of workouts for distance swimmers which included short anaerobic repeats with long rest periods. My point here is not to say whether you should be doing these workouts or not but to listen to all sides of an issue and then pick a plan that works best for you. There are many ways to train and one of the most important things you can do is to plan your work and work your plan. That is probably more important than the plan that you choose. Personally I think you should be training all the energy systems regardless of whether you are a sprinter or an endurance athlete.

Podium spot goes to Bill this week. I moved him up to yet another faster lane and he did well again. Plus he's such a great guy who makes fantastic wine. Hint, hint! Have a great week.

Nice turnout today and the extra lane has really helped out with the ability groups. It seems like everyone can now find a lane that they can hang with. Practices will be a little different from now until the first of the year. One change today was having drills at the beginning and end of practice and both drills were the same except for fins at the end. For the next two months we are focusing more on technique and just maintaining a base level of conditioning. I usually like to do drills at the end of practice because it makes you concentrate on mechanics when you are tired which is when your mechanics tend to break down. Also since we have limited time each week, we can combine the drill with a cool down. Other coaches like to do drills at the beginning of practice as a warm up. Also some think it best to do drills when you are not tired since you will be more likely to do them with better form. Since we are concentrating on mechanics right now, we'll take the time to do them at the beginning and end of practice.

When we did the 6-3-6 drill special emphasis was on the head position during the drill. The main set was like a broken mile swim. We did the set straight through with only short rest between each repeat.

One swimmer was complaining about a sore shoulder today and when I took a close look at her stroke, I picked up a flaw that may be contributing to that soreness. Shoulder injuries are the most common injury in swimming. If you are experiencing discomfort, make sure you are using the best form possible especially focusing on good hip and shoulder rotation so you are not putting most of the stress on the shoulder.

It was good to see Sam back at practice today. Right now he is well positioned to get another Olympic berth in the pentathlon. Podium spot goes to Sandy who went to Florida to cheer Stephanie on in Ironman Florida. Now that is a great teammate. Plus Sandy is now inspired to do an IM in the future. Have a great week.

Usually we do drills at the end of practice so that gives us a cool down at the same time. The problem with that is sometimes we cut the drills short because of time. Today we did the drill first which served as a warm up. We again did the Golf drill which we have done the last couple weeks but this time we experimented around with it. We did a couple with no extra instruction to get a baseline. Then we did some at faster speeds with an attempt to hold the stroke count. We also did some bilaterally, 3/4 catch up and one arm as well as focusing on acceleration during the stroke. The idea was to do this drill and experiment with your stroke.

Yardage was low today as it will be until after the first of the year. Our goals now are to maintain a base level of conditioning and focus on mechanics as well as having some fun which we did with some goofy relays at the end of practice. Sara gets a podium spot for holding off Marco in the google relay. Have a great week.

First bad weather practice since last winter yet it is only October. What is that all about? It would have been easy to hit the snooze button this morning but but we had about 20 who braved the elements. I correctly predicted The Puzzler would stump everyone. It's beauty was it's simplicity and I'm not sure Paul would have gotten it had he been there.

We have now entered into the maintenance part of our training which means more emphasis on drill and stroke technique and less anaerobic sets. The main set was to be done at race pace or in other words a pace that you could swim 1000 yards with a slightly elevated heart rate. We threw in a drill element as the first 50 of each repeat was to be bilateral. This is the type of sets we will be doing more of until the first of the year when we enter our heavy training period. We did a set of the golf drill for the second week in a row. This takes a little time so I never seem to get as many repeats in as I would like. The idea is to swim a 50 and add the number of strokes you take with your time. A good score is anything below 72 just like golf. If you are above 72 your goal is to work on your stroke to get that average down.

Podium spot goes to Frank who is back in the pool after months of intense studying for the bar and successfully passing it. Congratulations, Frank!

Have a great week!

It was great to be back at practice after almost a month away though I have to say it was very nice being  in Kona for two weeks. Marianne pretty much covered that trip in her race report that she sent out so I'll just say here that it was the best vacation we have ever been on. The Ironman experience was over the top. So many talented triathletes in one place! Even the three men in the 80+ age group were incredible.

Light turnout at practice. I'm guessing since the tri season locally is finished that many are taking time off which isn't a bad idea. We'll probably ease off in intensity until the first of the year and spend more time on drills and just maintaining a base. This time of the year is always a good time to spend more time with your famlies who have sacrificed while you were training and competing. I often kid about not letting anything interfere with your training but in all seriousness it is important to maintain balance in your life and in your relationships or your training and races will suffer in the long run.

Today I had each lane set their intervals for the main set just to see what they would come up with. Just as I suspected every single lane set their intervals at least :10 slower than they were capable of. This is why I have the second and fourth sets :10 faster though I did not have this written on the practice sheet so they did not know what I was up to.

Podium spots go to Val, Michelle, and Diana and not because they all had the exact same swim caps on. They did a great job of working as hard as anyone else in the pool and I love their never say quit attitude and determination. Have a great week.

Light turnout for practice. Maybe people thought I was away already. Not yet. Marianne and I leave early Saturday morning and I won't be back to practice until 10/22. Eric and Kathy have volunteered to cover two of the practices. Still need one more volunteer.  Send me an e-mail if you would like to give it a try.

The Puzzler has been out of his mind since returning from his holiday. Unbelievably great puzzles but he can't get another podium spot. That goes to Jocelyn Wong who spent long hours in El Salvador fitting children with prosthetics recently and then competed in Chesapeakeman and had an outstanding race. No doubt had to do with sleeping in Natasha Badmann's bed.

I like the sets we were doing because they are odd distances and you have to think a little about setting your intervals. The 4 x 175's we did with complete recovery. It's good to do this every once in awhile so that you can really push your repeats. Give it a try and see how it works for you.

See everyone in a month. Have a great week.

Everyone was a little disoriented when they got in the pool Saturday. We reconfigured the pool making it a seven lane pool instead of a six lane pool. The difference in lane width is only about 6" but it does make things a little tighter. Not bad practice for triathletes who have to be used to swimming in close quarters. Plus you really have to focus on keeping hands close to the body with high elbows during the recovery part of the stroke. The most disorienting thing was that the lines down the middle of the pool are now no longer in the middle. So much for our drill that used the center line.

During the practice we did a quick 300 yard swim for time and used that to base the intervals and repeats for the main set. For example, if your time for the 300 was 4:00 (240 seconds) then you divide that by three to get your 100 time. In this case it would be 1:20 (80 seconds). We set our interval for the whole set using that time plus 15 seconds or 1:35 for the example. We then worked on swimming each set of 100's slightly faster than the previous set keeping the interval the same. We call this negative or descending splits. Negative splits can be a challenge because as you become more fatigued you have to swim faster repeats.

Pacing is so important in the open water because you don't have set distances and pace clocks out there with you. When you are doing different paces pay close attention to your heart rate. I don't mean taking your pulse. I mean how it feels to you. Much like when you run, noticing how hard or easy it is to breathe depending on your pace.

Podium spot goes to Peggy for her great leadership in her lane. She does a great job keeping everyone organized and on pace. I guess that comes from having to do the same with Marco. Have a great week.

We had an easy practice since so many are doing Diamondman Sunday. We treated the 5 x 200 like a broken 1000 yard open water swim. The first 200 is a sprint to simulate the fact that you are fresh at the start and the adrenalin gets you going faster than race pace. The next 3 x 200 are done at race pace to simulate the middle of the race. The last 200 is a sprint as you work hard to get to the finish.

The 10 x 50 "no touch" was something new we tried. You tread water at one end before starting the first 50. When you finished the 50 you do not touch the wall at the finish  but you tread water until the 2:00 interval was up and then you repeated the same thing. You are not touching anything for 20:00. We ended up not doing all 10 since someone got the correct answer to a history question.  It was funny. I wasn't getting any guesses on the question until I said we could stop the 50's when someone got the right answer. Then everyone seemed to have a guess.

A couple of the open water drills had to do with clearing your googles. The first one you put your goggles on filled with water and half way down the lane you had to clear the water out without touching the bottom of the pool. The second one you put your googles around your neck and half way down the pool you put them on again without touching bottom. Another drill we did was starting everyone in one lane and each person drafted off the other. Three-fourths down the lane you swam under the lane line and then came up the next lane. We kept repeating that until we worked our way across the pool. I wouldn't recommend trying this at your local pool unless you want to annoy everyone else in the pool.

We also got some practice swimming in cool water since the heater for the pool was not working much to Kathy's dismay. Podium spot goes to Ryan who overcame his concerns about working out the day before a race and came to practice today. Looking forward to watching a record number of Tri-Dawgs compete at Diamondman. Have a great week.

As usual we had a large turnout for a holiday practice. Not sure why that happens but it's fun having lots of people in the pool. We did a straight 2000 yard set with no rest but the active recovery we were doing. Vince had moved up to the fastest lane and part way through missed one repeat. I told him that was a really good thing. If you never are so tired that you can't go on, how will you ever know what your limits are? Next week's practice will include a short main set and lots of drill work since many will have the Diamondman the next day. Don't skip practice because you think you need to rest for the race. Nothing we do on Saturday will affect you on Sunday.

On the 6-3-6 drill we talked about proper head position during the drill. Make sure anytime you are drilling that you do everything 100% correctly. Speaking of head position many coaches like to tell swimmers to look straight down. I think as triathletes you need to be looking ahead at about a 45 degree angle. This makes sighting a little easier and might prevent you from catching a foot in the head.

Podium spot goes to The Puzzler who was just back from a month long holiday. He gave us one of the all time great puzzles that needed quite a few clues to solve. Have a great week.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados oh my!  Nature's triathlon was in full force this week. Hope everyone made it through the weekend safely. We did manage to get practice in before the storm. Thanks to CT for adding a new drill for us. It was a sculling type drill. Start with both arms extended and do three sculling motions with the right hand. On the third scull complete the full stroke and then do the same with the left.
I was asked a great question by Terri who is doing her first half. She wanted to know what kind of time to expect in her swim. I encouraged her not to think in terms of time. It is more important to get into a relaxed, comfortable pace and perhaps look for someone to draft off of. Getting wrapped up in time for your first of anything is never a good idea. The few minutes you might lose by going at a comfortable pace you will more than make up on the bike and swim because you did not expend a lot of needless energy in the swim. As you get towards the last third of the swim and you feel good then you can pick the pace up slightly if you want. It's all about having a successful first experience. Nothing worse than trying a new distance and ruining the experience because you were too agressive in your swim.
The rumor is true that there was a sighting of me swimming at Pike Creek. I really can swim albeit very slowly. I got tired of nursing a hamstring so I took the month of August off from running and have been doing some crosstraining. I have to say I haven't swum laps in years and it wasn't too bad. Nice thing about triathletes is that if they are having issues with one part of their training, it is a good time to focus on the other two parts.  Podium spot goes to assistant coach Ian who helped out with the sighting part of practice. It's nice that he lets me hang out with him. Have a great and hopefully less eventful week.
Thanks to Eric practice included some boot camp type training. I have personal training with Eric on Mondays and Fridays and he always gives me an ass kicking on Mondays which I assume is paybacks for a hard Saturday practice. Fridays are a little easier because I suspect he knows I will be making up practice for Saturday later in the day. Well, he gave me a good beat down on Friday so this was fresh in my mind when I made up practice. And of course I made sure everyone knew this at practice today. By the way, I can't say enough about the benefits of personal training. For me, it has lowered my chlolesterol, blood pressure, and weight and I am able to run faster than I have in the last 5-10 years.

When we did the 75's the first set was to be on a best 100 time which each lane decided on. After the first set I made the interval time faster for three of the lanes. I made it even faster after the second set. Everyone handled the faster times very well. It went to show the people in those lanes they can do a little bit more than they thought.

I like the kicking set wth fly on your back which is a good core strengthening workout. Give it a shot if you haven't tried it and see how it works for you. If you are new to fly kick it is similar to free kick but with both feet together. I doesn't take much practice to master.

One of my favorite websites is the Swim Smooth site. Check out the link to get some valuable tips on open water swimming. It is also interesting that they talk about anxiety before the swim. Sometimes you think you are the only one freaking out, but it's happening to most everyone.

Podium spot goes to Sandy who I left out of last weeks results for North East. She did the swimming part of a relay that got second and was one of the top women out of the water. But the real reason she got the podium is I think it was her very first practice on time.

With about 3/4 of those at practice doing a race the next day I decided to do just a1600 yard main set and then spend about 45 minutes doing drills. We probably should do that more often so we can spend time sharpening our drills. Plus it's fun and since I mix the lanes up it gives people time to interact with those who they don't usually get chance to spend lane time with.

We added a new drill today called the reverse catch up drill. I think as a coach if you think you know everything then the sport has passed you by. I've been reading a book on open water swimming and I picked up this drill which in 35 years of coaching I had not heard of. As the name implies you sort of do the opposite of the regular catch up. Instead on both arms being extended in front of you, both arms are at the side and you pull one arm and then the other. You should try this with fins as it is a little difficult to do at first. I asked Kathy and CT to try it during the week and it took them awhile to learn it. Thanks to Kathy for demonstrating it today which made up for her and Steve's lane violation.

We have a record 36 signed up for the triathlon tomorrow and the biggest concern is the weather. You can not control the weather so don't waste time worrying about it. Worry about the things you can control like what do you need to bring to cope with the weather and what your  strategy is if the swim is cancelled and it turns into a duathlon. Think carefully about how weather changes what you need to do to prepare.

Recently the world and national swimming championships have been on television. If you are watching these races make sure you are distinquishing between the sprinters' strokes and the distance swimmers' strokes. They are radically different and you are a distance swimmer not a sprinter.

Podium spot goes to Valerie S. Last week was the first practice that she bravely showed up for and she was right back this week swimming even better. Good to have her join us. I look forward to seeing so many Dawgs compete tomorrow. Have a great week.

We had what you might call a sprint practice today with 50 x 50's. The idea was to establish a base average time for each lane by doing 10 x 50 on 2:00. We then used this average time and added a set time to create an interval. For example, if after the first set of 50's a lane's average was :40 and the second set of 50's said to add :20 then the interval would be 1:00. I had not tried this with the team before and it worked well for the first time.

I changed the 6-3-6 drill to a 3-3-3 drill since we were using fins. I wanted to make sure that everyone was using the correct head position when the body was on the side. The head should still be facing forward and looking about 45 degrees ahead. The practice took longer than expected so we didn't get to the kick set.

Several people asked about swimming practice next week before doing the Lums Pond race. Everyone is in good enough condition to do a 3000 yard set the day before doing what amounts to a sprint triathlon. Since you might not be biking or running a day or two before the race, swimming is an easy way to get a workout in that will keep you primed and ready for race day. It would be impossible to wear yourself out swimming the day before having to swim 800 meters.  I'll plan on doing a lot of drill work next Saturday with no kicking sets.

Podium spot goes to Andy. I challenged him several months ago with a goal and he is doing well  working towards it. Much thank goes to his wife. Plus he did a great job leading his lane today. I also managed to find a picture of Margaret (above) at Cape May circa 1990.

Have a great week.

I missed practice last week since we were up at Lake Placid Ironman. It was another super time there. Great race and in a most beautiful setting. Thanks again to Kathy for running practice last week.

Practice today mixed three different paces. We started out doing race pace repeats and then went to alternating sprints and long slow distance. The sprint intervals were to be with very short rest and as I told everyone it should be ten minutes of pain. The slow distance should be almost a walking pace that allows for active recovery. On the Practice Archive page I did change the number that we actually did in practice. Try adjusting your repeats and time on the slow swim according to how much time you have.

The start at LPIM is a mass start of about 2500. Click here to see a video of this years start. Your first concern just minutes before the start is "Am I going to drown?" and after you get yourself together and realize you probably won't your next thought is "How do I keep from getting kicked in the head?" If you ever get caught in a large group like that I would suggest trying to start out with a 3/4 catch-up type stroke so that you always have one hand and arm in front of you to protect your face. There are few things worse in swimming than getting kicked right in the goggles. It's a good chance it will end your race before you get going. If you are doing some open water swimming try getting a group together to practice swimming in tight quarters and see how the 3/4 catch-up works for you.

Podium spot goes to someone who wasn't even at practice today and never is. Patricia lives too far away to swim with us but you can always count on seeing her at a race hanging with the Dawgs. She is special person who is always encouraging others and is another one of our wonderful Dawgs. Have a great week.

Light turnout to practice today. It's impossible to predict how many we will have each time. It would be easier to design practices knowing if we had few or many to a lane. Sometimes you just have to adapt on the fly much like you have to do when race conditions throw you a curve.

As many are aware the catch-up is one of my favorite drills. And most know I am a retired history teacher. Let me combine those two things to tell a short story. In the 1820's and 1830's there was a heightened interest in building faster clipper ships. Obviously the companies that had the fastest fleets could make the most money. An English engineer and naval architect named William Froude proved that with all things being equal, a longer ship would be faster than a shorter ship. They were all sailing ships so there was no option to increase the size of the motor to make  faster ships. So it made sense to redesign the hulls to make them faster according to Froude's research. (Have you ever seen short boats in sculling races?)

With your arm outstretched you add about two feet to your length. If you can maintain this length through most of your stroke you will be faster. The catch up and 3/4 catch up help you focus on being long in the water. A simple experiment you can do on your own is to push off the wall with your arms at your sides. Mark how far you can glide. Now repeat with your arms stretched overhead in a streamlined position. In which way did you glide the farthest? Think about how this can help improve your times.

Podium spot goes to Luke who showed off his recent high school graduation skills by knowing that Holden Caulfield was the protagonist in The Catcher in the Rye. That California education is paying off already. I will be at the Lake Placid IM next week so have a great two weeks.

Thanks to Kathy for coaching Saturday while I was at Diamond in the Rough. It was fun hanging out with so many Dawgs and tailgating long after everyone else was gone. It's also nice to see so many cheering for everyone else. I can honestly say no other club supports their members like the Dawgs do. I know it means a lot to those competing to have people along the course lending their support.

Recently I heard  comments from a few people who struggled during the swim and the common denominator seems to be going out too fast at the start. Unlike the run and bike you are going from zero to race pace without a decent warm up. This might be why there are more heart related incidents in the swim then in the other two legs. Plus you lose body heat twenty times faster in cooler water than you do in cooler air which can cause breathing issues. The solution is using the first 200-400 yards (depending on the length of the swim) to warm up. If you are going :30 per hundred slower than race pace until you warm up you are only losing 1-2 minutes on the swim. This is nothing compared to the time you might lose because of  going out too fast. And you will have a more enjoyable experience. Each race focus on your beginning pace on the first quarter of the swim and see if making an adjustment makes a difference over the course of the swim. As you get more experienced and confidence you can ramp up your start a little more.

Podium spot goes to Dave D. and not just because he was on the podium at DITR. I can't tell you how many times this past weekend people commented on what a nice, helpful person he is. It's good to have him as an addition to the Dawgs. Now we just need to get him wearing a team kit. Have a great week.

The Tri-Dawgs sure like to practice on holiday weekends. Another big turnout today just like Memorial Day weekend.  Or maybe it was the fact that today was E's birthday. And what was with Chris nailing most of the trivia questions? Go figure.

I often hear triathletes talk about getting their nervousness under control race day. To be nervous is perfectly normal. It's vital in having a peak performance. The problem is when your level of nervousness impedes your ability to be at your best and it saps your energy level. Once the competition starts, nerves tend to settle down. So how do you control those prerace case of nerves? Here are five suggestions:
1.   Arrive to the transition early. This gives you time to set up your area and reduces the risk of forgetting something that can give you a case of panic. It also allows you to hit the port-a-pots without worrying about getting stuck in a long line.
2.   Avoid crowds.  There can be a lot of negative vibes being exchanged and crowds themselves can heighten anxiety levels. Find a quiet space and seek after friends who you know are relatively relaxed and positive.
3.   Warm up.  The best warm up is an easy swim but many courses are closed to swimmers prior to the race. If that is the case, go for an easy 10-15 minute run. Nothing you do in a warm up will expend too much energy and in fact will help prepare you physically and mentally.
4.   Listen to music.  Find a quiet place, spread out and relax to your favorite tunes. Make a playlist that not only calms you but helps get you ready to compete.
5.   Focus on the things you can control.  For example, you can layout your transition area so that you are efficient in transition but you can't control the weather. No need to worry about the things out of your control and most likely they will effect everyone else as well.

Podium spot today goes to Becki who moved up another lane and is looking very strong in the pool. Plus you can't help but love her enthusiasm as well as her tats! Have a safe holiday weekend.

It was about an hour before practice and I still had nothing written up. I dislike going to practice without a written plan. After writing well over a thousand practices, I'm sure I can come up with something off the top of my head but it's not the way I prefer running my practices. Just like I tell you that you should have a plan in mind in any of your workouts and not just swimming. Anyway I decided to look through some old high school practices and pulled out one of my favorites which I have used in some form with the Dawgs in the past.

The pace clock can be the best training aid you use especially if you are training alone. Two basic ways to use the clock are to take a set rest time between each repeat or set an interval time for each repeat. For example, you could do 10 x 100 with :20 rest after each repeat or you could set an interval of 1:30 for each repeat. In other words if it takes you 1:15 to swim the repeat you would have :15 rest. Either way provides you with good feedback as to how you are doing and forces you to stay on a schedule. We used both ways in today's practice.

It was fun to go down to St. Andrews last Sunday and see some new faces competing. I also met some of your friends who have heard good things about the Dawgs and asked about joining us. I think that is a pretty good event for first timers. The distance is manageable, the course is not too difficult, it's relatively inexpensive and it's close. Not to mention it is a beautiful location on the school's campus.

The podium spot goes to Marco. That cat has nine lives. Everytime I think he is down for the count with his neck injury, he somehow manages to come back. I don't know how he does it but it is inspiring to see his never quit attitude. I hope some day he is completely healed because I know how much he loves this sport. Have a great week.

I forgot to post the practice and notes last week when I got back from Eagleman. Will that race ever have a cool day with low humidity? It wasn't as bad as some years but it was still typical Eagleman weather. Anyway the practice from 6/11/11 is now posted as well as this Saturday's. I did make one change in the practice. When we were doing the 125's I made the last 25 sighting every three strokes. Remember when sighting to only barely lift the head to see. Think of an alligator in the water. The more you lift your head the lower the legs drop which slows you down.

During the 125's I was giving 2:00 rest between sets of 4 which may seem a little long. There is no one rule for how long you should rest between sets or repeats. It is a matter of what you are trying to accomplish and what energy systems you are employing. In this case I wanted to come as close to full recovery as possible to get better quality repeats. Another thing we were doing during the 125's was multi-tasking. Not only were we swimming a long main set to work on conditioning but we were concentrating on bilateral breathing and sighting. When you are pressed for time in your workouts try to economize and focus on one or more aspect of mechanics instead of just working on mechanics while drilling.

Podium spot goes to Marianne for qualifying for the Hawaiian Ironman at Eagleman last Sunday. Quite an accomplishment in an age group (55-59) that has some really fast triathletes. Have a great week.

This week's practice was mostly a drill type practice with some hard 10 x 50 sets thrown in. We still ended up swimming over 3000 yards which shows you that you can take the time to do drill work and still get decent yardage in. I added a new drill to our "Drill Toolbox" since we haven't added a new one recently. That is actually on purpose because I would rather have you focus on getting a few drills right then doing a lot of them not so well. The new drill was the sculling drill. Go to YouTube and type in "Sculling Swim Drill" and you should be able to find a clip of the drill. Remember that I always recommend doing new drills with fins until you feel proficient with it. This is a good drill for concentrating on the feel of the water on your hands.

Many of you heard that Margaret was in a bike accident Friday and was rushed to the hospital. I saw her yesterday at home and am happy to report that she is doing well. Damage was a concussion, some serious road rash, smashed sunglasses and a cracked helmet. If you ever feel like being a knucklehead and riding without a helmet, I suggest you talk to either Margaret or Marianne who were spared serious brain injury or worse because they had their helmets on. Podium spot goes to Margaret's helmet for doing the job it was designed for. We have had a number of bike accidents occuring on Friday's lately. Maybe if you are considering riding this Friday you should go to happy hour instead. Just saying. Have a great week.

I was certain we would have a low turnout with the holiday weekend so I planned a practice that would include longer repeats. Much to my surprise we had 32 show up and as many as 8 in a lane. I decided to stick with the practice anyway and it turned out just fine with everyone figuring out how to swim with extra bodies in their lanes.

I think it is useful to swim something like 1500 repeats on ocassion but we did it a little differently. The 1500 was broken into a 500-400-300-200-100 swim with less than :10 rest between each. The goal was to swim each shorter repeat at about a :01-:02 per 100 pace faster than the previous longer repeat. We didn't really time ourselves on this so I'm not sure how close everyone was but if you are doing this on your own, give it a try and see how you do. We took a good 3:00 rest between the repeats so that there was close to full recovery.

Podium spot goes to Becki who was doing a great job leading her lane. I love her enthusiasm as well. Plus she had a very challenging week.  It was nice to see Adam back from the UK and India. He tells me he and Jane will be getting transferred back here in the near future. Also good news from Craig as he is only a week from returning from Afghanistan. We wish him a safe journey home.

Please take a minute at your cookouts and picnics this weekend to remember all the brave men and women who have given their lives for our country. Have a great week.

The triathlon season is now in full bloom with two races this past weekend plus Jocelyn's IM in Texas. Check out the results on the Stats page of the website. I was at Columbia where we had 20 Tri-Dawgs entered. This has become a very popular Olympic distance race and it is well run with a challenging course. Many first timers like to try this distance but it is no piece of cake with a technical bike course and a hilly run course. It's also nice to see so many pros at this race since you don't often see them at this distance. I was very impressed with the swims we had especially so early in the season. It is so nice to see our triathletes not so consumed by the thought of the swim so they can actually be a little more relaxed than the average triathlete at the start.

I mentioned to one person that I am not a stop watch kind of coach when it comes to triathlons. First you never know how accurate the distances are and second I'm not as concerned about time as I am about coming out feeling good and ready to rip on the bike and run.

I'm looking forward to seeing many of the Tri-Dawgs at races that don't get to come to Saturday practices. If I have not met you yet, please come up and introduce yourself.

Podium spot this week goes to Heather who overcame her high anxiety level and completed the Columbia triathlon. I think Heather will tell you that it turned out to be a positive experience and hopefully she can reach out to the next person who is about to do their first and offer some reassuring words. Have a great week.

The purpose of the main set was to swim at an aerobic pace. It is not necessary to swim race pace or faster all the time. Sometimes it is good to just slow things down and swim at a relaxed pace and focus on great mechanics.

If you listen to a variety of coaches you are sure to get differing opinions about the same topic. I have talked about the Swim Smooth website and how helpful it is but they had a recent post that I didn't agree with. Basically they were saying it was not important to swim faster than race pace. They used the analogy that we don't lift more weight than we are capable of so we should not find it necessary to swim faster than race pace. If I am understanding them correctly, I have to say I don't agree with this and that I think the weight concept does not apply to swimming or running. There are  many reasons to practice faster than race pace but that is a topic for another day. The point here is that there are differing coaching philosophies and you have to listen to what they have to say and see what works for you.

We did one set swimming with the head up for the first 25 of each repeat. It's easy to see how important correct head position is when you do this. Too high of a head position can cause the legs to drop and make it feel like you are dragging an anchor behind you. Too low of a head position and you feel like you are plowing through the water. Experiment with the proper head position to see what is the most efficient.

We had a couple of significant happenings on Saturday. First Mike Peterson came back for a visit from Minnesota. It was good to see him again and he looked pretty good in the pool considering I think they don't do much swimming in Minnesota. Also Paul and Elizabeth announced they are expecting in November. And Andy and Becki missed practice to get married Saturday. I think I can excuse them for this. Congratulations to all.

Paul gets the podium spot for running around in the parking lot with nothing on but his orange flowered Speedo not once but twice trying to find his fins. Luckily we had a state police officer at practice so when the neighbors called 911 we were OK! Have a great week.

I wasn't able to make practice Saturday and thanks goes to Kathy for filling in. I heard only a few showed up since many were competing at Devilman. It looks like we had a nice showing at the race. Unfortunately I missed that as well. I do know that out of about 115 teams we are currently in fifth place. Keep signing up for those Piranha events and we're sure to move up. Congratulations to the people that did their first tri. I hear all went very well.

I often mention the importance of doing test sets about once a month. There are many that you can do. Just make sure that you are comparing identical sets. One that I like for triathletes is a straight 1500 yard swim. Try to keep your pace steady. If you have someone timing you, get them to take 100 yard splits. That can give you some useful information as well.  Convert your total time to seconds and divide by 15 to get your 100 yard pace. I like to think of this as a base time for setting your intervals for practice. Suppose you swam the 1500 in 22:30. Convert that to seconds and you get 1,350 seconds. Divide that by 15 and you get 90 seconds or 1:30 per 100 pace. Use that pace as a guide for setting your intervals. If you are doing a set of 200's and you want to allow yourself :20 rest between repeats, your interval time would be 3:20. If you're having trouble with this, drop me an e-mail and I can talk you through it.

Our additional practices at our New Castle facility started this past week and we are off to a good start. We have enough signed up to make this go. Hopefully we will be adding enough people to continue things in the fall. Let me know if you have any questions about this. Also the first open water practice at Lums Pond had a great turnout and the water was fairly warm for this time of the year. Come out and enjoy the fun. Have a great week.

We repeated the second and fifth set from last week and it went so much better. Sometimes you have to practice the practice. You don't always get it right the first time but subsequent times trying a set should get easier. Don't get discouraged if you try a set for the first time and it doesn't go well for you.

The purpose of the third set was to prepare for what I call the "Oh shit" moments in a triathlon. This often happens at the start of the swim. You've been training well, tapered a little and have a lot of adrenaline pumping. You are ready to rip. The gun goes off and after about 200 yards you realize that you made the classic mistake of going out to fast. Happens to all of us. By practicing this set you know that you can overcome this poor judgement and drop back into a pace that allows you to finish comfortably.

We did the drill with fins on this time and this helped tremendously. Don't hesitate to put the fins on when you are working on a drill that you haven't mastered yet. Once you get comfortable with it, then try it without the fins.

The local triathlon season opens up this Saturday with Devilman. I know many of you are looking forward to competing after a long off season. It's time to see where you are with your conditioning. Many of you will be doing your first triathlon. There are so many things to tell a novice triathlete but I'll mention a few here. First, this should not be  a race. Yes, you are competing but the competition is against yourself to see where you are with your training. Try and slow everything down. If you go too fast on the course or the transition area you are bound to make mistakes that will cost you. Make mental notes as you go along as to what is going right and what is going wrong so you can analyze them later. You will make mistakes but don't let that freak you out or feel embarrassed. We've all done the same things. The goal is to finish safely and have fun. Everything in between the start and the finish should be all about that. Regardless of how well you do, it is all about taking part in a healthy lifestyle.

Podium spot goes to Dave. Has anyone noticed how well he is swimming lately? We know he is a beast on the bike and run and now that he's getting the swim down, he should have a great season. I think Dave is an example of learning how to train in the pool. It takes a lot of practices to start to understand this. But when it comes together, it is awesome. Have a great week.

It was good to be back to practice but I have to say Marianne and I had a lot of fun last weekend in Boston with Diane, Dave, Vince and Margaret. Anytime hanging out with fellow Dawgs is a good time.

The first mini-set that we did today was 10 x 50's on 2:00 with the goal of descending times for each 50. This means holding back at first and knowing your pace well enough to gradually go faster and faster. There are no pace clocks in open water swimming so you have to have a feel for your own pace. Sometimes you need to pick up and go faster than race pace and sometimes you have to hold back. It is so important to pay attention to the pace clock in practice so you know exactly what various paces feel like.

We did the zipper drill today which is a little different than the plain thumb drag up the side. I tried to find a YouTube video of it but all I got was the thumb drag. The zipper drill we are using is the thumb goes up the side to the arm pit, back down the side, and then back up to the arm pit and following through with three strokes and then repeating the same thing on the opposite side. Try to keep the head in the normal swimming position when doing the drill. Also be slightly on your side. We had a little trouble with this so everyone's homework assignment was to practice it during the week and then we will try it again next week.

Below is a picture I put on the practice today but then forgot to talk about it. This shows a poor hand position for the catch. Notice the dropped elbow as well. You may think you are getting a good catch with the hand in this position because you feel the force of the water but in this case the hand is acting as a brake. Keep the elbows high and the hand pointed downward.

Podium spots go to Josh for moving up a lane and to Amanda for being a good sport and putting up with my sarcasm. I still want whatever she and Eric are on. We are also looking for images of Peggy's brain before she met Marco and after 25 years with him. Have a great week.

I had to change the practice slightly as to what was posted. Instead of 2 x 300 we did another set of 8 x 75. The reason I changed it was because we had 37 at practice so there were at least seven to a lane and it's harder to get any long repeats with that many in a lane. If you do this workout on your own stick with the 300's so you get some longer repeats in. I guess with the tri season quickly approaching more people are gearing up their training which means sticking to shorter repeats at the Saturday practice. That's why it is important to get some distance swims in during the week. Nobody should have trouble handling the distance in tri's given the amount of yardage that we swim in practice. But you should still practice swimming non-stop the distance that you will be doing in a race to get the feel for staying in that prone position for a length of time.

Podium spot goes to Frank. I've been telling him that with him coming consistantly to practice that he was going to start getting his old speed back and sure enough he has moved into the fastest lane and handling it well. No matter what type of training you are doing, consistancy is the the key. I think the quantity of workouts you do is every bit as important as the quantity of work you do in a training session. With our busy lives some days it is hard to get time to train but a rigorous twenty or thirty minute session will help you maintain that level of consistancy. Don't blow off a workout because you don't have much time. Take the time that you do have and get in whatever work you can. Have a great week.

I set Vince up to fail today. He was in the fastest lane with no shot at being able to keep up with the set they were doing. Why would I do this?  Because we learn more from failure than we do from success. A personal example: I ran CR Half last week or I should say I ran the CR Quarter since I had to drop out at the 10K mark. Bad case of my hamstring cramping up. There was a time I would have considered this humiliating but now I only find these experiences humbling and a chance to learn. Did I go out too fast, should I have warmed up some (duh!), was I hydrated enough, was it the grumpy, stiff back or something else that I haven't figured out yet. The point being, I have to look at everything I did or didn't do to see how I can avoid this the next time and in doing so I will learn more about my running. Good news was I ran my fastest 10K in years. Vince will learn what his breaking point is and he will learn how to push that envelope a little more than he thought and he will learn to train outside the comfort zone and as a result he will be better prepared for Lake Placid. Of course Vince gets this week's podium spot.

When I coached at McKean we had a ten year run in which we won 100 straight conference meets and less than 5 of those were even close. My greatest worry was that we weren't learning enough because we needed to experience failure every once in awhile to get even better. I would purposely schedule a non-conference team that I hoped would give us a beat down.  It was amazing how much more focused the team would be after one of those meets. So the next time life hands you a "failing" moment in work, family, or training, embrace it and learn from it. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Have a great week.

Monster turn out to practice with a lot of good energy in the pool. At least everybody is getting practice swimming with a lot of people with a lot of chop. I think the practice is pretty self-explanatory. I like swimming main sets with fins sometimes because it gives your muscles the feel of swimming fast for longer distances. Fins aren't just for kicking. If you have forgotten what the 6-3-6 drill is you are kicking on your side for a 6 count then taking three arm strokes and kicking on your opposite side for a 6 count. This is to help improve shoulder roll. When you swim the even 25's make sure you are breathing every three strokes. During the drill repeats try to keep your head in the normal swimming position and not looking to the side.

I was asked today how one can get faster. That can be a long, long answer but here's a short one. If you want to swim faster, train faster. If you swim the same pace, expect the same results. For example, try swimming a set of 10 x100's at a maximum pace that you can hold pretty close to the same time for each repeat. Set an interval that gives you about :20 rest between 100's. If you are coming in on 1:30 then your interval would be 1:50. Next time add :10 to your interval and see if you can come in :05 faster. This means 10 x 100 on 2:00 and coming in on 1:25 or faster. Each time you do this  play with the interval and the times you are holding always concentrating on increasing your speed.

Podium spot goes to Heather. She was doing a great job over in her lane and she looks like she is getting her swimming mojo back. Only seven weeks until Columbia so I know why she is kicking it up. Just a reminder about Sandy Womer's fundraiser next Saturday. That would be a great social activity for the Dawgs. See the news page for details. Have a great week.

The goal of the main set was to swim quality repeats by allowing a little extra time to recover on the intervals. It's good to focus on one aspect of your stroke during your main sets. I asked everyone to concentrate on high elbow recovery during this set. Sometimes it's hard to maintain that focus on something specific for a whole main set but as you become tired that is when you need to focus either more on good stroke technique. Kind of like listening to the lyrics of a song and by the time you get to the last minute of the song your mind is somewhere else. Try to stay focused.

We did something different than what I published on the kick set. We did 25 kick with fins on the back. Odds were fly and evens were free. Most don't have experience swimming fly but the kick is basically just kicking with both feet together. Doing fly kick on the back can really work the core if you concentrate on trying to push the belly button towards your spine.

I've been seeing a number of people moving up to a faster lane and challenging themselves. It's not as intimidating as you might think and you are not required to stay there. It is good to put yourself to the test every once in a while and we haven't lost anyone yet. Speaking of moving up, the podium spot goes to Ron who I asked to move from lane 1 to 2. This is probably the hardest jump and he handled it will. Good confidence booster.

Don't forget to let others know what races you have planned if it is a first time race for you. You'll be able to pick up some good information from others who might have done the same race. We have a wealth of experience so don't hesitate to tap into it. Have a great week.

I had several conversations with Diane this past week as she had a uniquely challenging week. She had mentioned that she was coming to practice but could not swim. Since one of my goals is to teach each of you how to be your own coach, I thought it would be a great opportunity to let Diane, who has no swim coaching experience, write the practice. And she came through with an outstanding practice. It was basically a long 3,000 yard main set and relays. The main set allowed everyone to get some long continuous swimming in with very little rest. The relays involved predicting swim times. I often talk about knowing your pace for varying distances and effort. This was a fun way to practice it. We only had time to do this three times and the repeats were only 50 yards but it was still interesting to see how each team handled it. And it was also interesting to see how each team got closer to their predicted time with each repeat. This was without the benefit of watches and the pace clock which I turned off. And it was good that Diane reminded me that we need to take some time to just do "fun" things. Podium spot goes to Diane for an outstanding job.

Bruce Gemmel, Delaware Swim Team national senior coach, and I are planning on adding some additional practices which would require those who wish to participate to pay a fee. I will have more information about that as we finalize the details. Have a great week.

With high school championships last weekend I somehow forgot to post any notes which might be a good thing. Speaking of championships, some of our TriDawgs' kids and coaches did quite well. Brittany Lazear (Terrie), Alex Turulski (Michelle), Sam and Jake Minka (Kathy) and Brooke Saunders (Jocelyn) all made it through prelims to championships. Bryan Panaccione, one of our TriDawgs had a great meet and was a state champion in the 100 Fly. Frank's Sallies team won the state championships and had several individual champions, CT's Delaware Military Academy came in third with a couple individual champions, and Brian's A. I. duPont team came in seventh. Let me know if I missed anyone.

The drill we did at practice was the centerline drill. Very simply you swim down the middle of the lane and focus on making sure your hand entry does not cross over the black lane line. The most common mistake that triathletes make is the hand entry swinging past the centerline of the body. This causes your body to swish back and forth and the first phase of the pull will be to the side and not backward. You can help correct this by making sure you are keeping your elbows higher than your hands on the recovery phase. Another drill to correct this is swimming with your head up which is also good practice for sighting.

I often encourage you to watch YouTube to watch others swim. Usually the people that are swimming are world class swimmers. This is a good link ( to watch an average swimmer.

Podium spot goes to Craig Deputy who leaves for his second deployment in Afghanistan. We wish him the best.

We spent some time focusing on breathing in general and bilateral breathing specifically. Incorrect breathing mechanics is the most common problem for triathletes who are relatively new to swimming. It starts with correct head position with keeping the water line at the hair line and looking ahead about 45 degrees. The forward motion creates a natural trough to the side of the head which is where one should take a breath. Too far forward and you end up lifting your head and dropping your legs. To far back towards the arm pit and you start over reaching on the hand entry. It's key to begin exhaling as soon as the face re-enters the water. Take the time to slow down and examine whether you are breathing correctly and see if you need to make adjustments.

I've been coaching swimming since 1978 and I still learn new things all the time. I think once you think you know everything, you begin to lose your edge as a coach. And I have seen a lot of changes over the years. All during the 70's and 80's the S-pull was the big thing especially since Doc Counsilman, the greatest swimming coach ever, was a huge proponent. In the past 5 years some research has been re-evaluating the efficiency of the S-pull. I'm going to be taking a closer look at this research and talk to other coaches about it. As always, experiment with your stroke on your own and see what works for you. A good measure is distance per stroke which means counting your strokes per lap.

Podium spot goes to Michelle. It's good to see her getting back into practicing consistantly and I was happy to hear her say that she has made it a point to get in some extra swimming during the week. It's starting to pay off in our Saturday practices. Have a great week.

Monster turnout at practice but everything went well. We spent more than usual time on drills this practice since we had not gotten to them the last several weeks. Even with all the time we spent on drills we still got in 3000 yards. With more people in the pool we also got a chance to practice drafting. I like swimmers to leave :05 after the person in front of them but if you have seven in a lane and are doing longer repeats you end up with a bottle neck. The solution is to push off the wall one right after another with no wait time. This means getting your head up a little and drafting off the person in front of you. Great skill practice for actual competition.

With more swimmers it's hard to do real long repeats so try making that a part of your weekday practice. You should do at least one 1500 yard timed swim per month to gauge your cruise interval speed. Figure out your 100 yard pace for that swim and that should be the basis for setting your intervals. For example, if you swam the 1500 in in 25:00 your 100 pace would be about 1:40. If you are swimming 100 yard repeats you would set your intervals based on that time. If you were doing 200 repeats you would set your intervals on twice that time or 3:20 and so on.

Podium spot goes hands down to Vince. He started out the practice by showing his love for me by bringing me a heart shaped donut. Then he moved into the fastest lane voluntarily and topped that off with jumping all over The Puzzler. What a guy! Have a great week.

I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout on such a miserable icy morning. That's triathletes for you. On the 50's set we did today we started out at a fast pace with a short interval. The idea was to make this as challenging as possible to the point that some might not be able to do every repeat on the first set. This is the kind of intense workout that is almost impossible to do on your own. It helps, if that is the right word, to have someone on deck pushing you and to have the rest of the lane supporting your efforts. This is why it is important whether it be swimming, biking, or running that you train as often as possible with a group. The power of the group can help you accomplish far more that what you can do as an individual.

Podium spot goes to Henry for a number of reason. First is that he has improved so much in the pool through sheer effort. Secondly, everytime I mention his name to someone who knows him, the first thing they say is what a great person he is. He's just the kind of person that makes the TriDawgs so special. And lastly, as a police officer he puts his life on the line everyday to help protect us. Also congratulations to Becki and Andrew who are getting married. They are another couple who met through the TriDawgs.

Last two weeks we have run out of time and not gotten to drills. I'll make it a point in the upcoming practices to be sure we get to them. But make sure you are doing your part to work on drills everytime you are in the pool. Have a great week.

We alternated 200's and 50's in practice. I like the aspect of alternating a longer distance with a short sprint distance. You are working two energy systems at the same time and it also forces you to vary your pace if you are setting your intervals correctly. So sometimes instead of doing a set of longer distances and then a set of shorter distances, try doing them together by alternating the repeats.

I paired the 50's up so that you were doing increasing slower and faster 50's with the same total time for all pairs. This means that some of the 50's were pretty slow. Slow swimming can be a very good thing. It's different than running long, slow distance. In swimming, by slowing down you can focus more on your mechanics and on distance per stroke. Try swimming slow repeats but with fewer strokes per lap. Just like drills should be done at a slower pace, you can swim longer distances at a slower pace and get a lot of benefits from it.

Podium spot goes to Bill who has very quietly moved up a lane and is looking very strong in the pool. I also told Carrie that she looks like she has gotten her groove back following child birth. She's rounding into racing form already. Have a great week.

With this extremely cold weather it's hard to imagine doing triathlons but now is the time to to make sure you are maintaining a training base whether it's swimming, running, or biking. Work on building your time that you train as opposed to focusing on speed or distance.  It's also a perfect time to concentrate on good mechanics and form. If you are spinning, I suggest using the Spinnervals DVD's and getting use to spending increased time in the saddle. Or find a spinning class at your local fitness center. If you are like me, you'll be on the treadmill this time of the year. It's good training for being on your feet for longer periods of times and an easy way to take a walking break if needed. And with swimming do your best to add one more training day to your weekly workouts. Even if its only half an hour of mechanics, it is time well spent.

During today's practice (found in the Practice Archives) I was talking to the lane 1 swimmers about the importance of learning to swim a steady, relaxed pace. Too often novice swimmers will swim the first half of a repeat too fast and then will barely be able to finish the repeat or have to stop. Slowing down and swimming relaxed is far better than swimming faster and then having to miss repeats. It's also good practice for your first triathlons as inexperienced triathletes will often start out too fast and waste a lot of nervous energy and then end up with a bad swimming experience. It's not as much about how fast you go in the swim as it is about coming out of the swim feeling good and ready to go fast on the bike and swim.

Podium spot goes to Steve. Not only has he moved up a lane but he was leading that lane. A lot of his progress can be attributed to swimming during the week. Plus it helps that he gets expert extra coaching from Kathy. It's amazing how good his stroke has gotten in such a short period of time. Have a great week.

Awesome turnout for practice which brought a lot of energy to the pool. Even though some lanes had seven in a lane we made it work. A reminder that the practices are posted on the Practice Archive page so go to that page to see what we did. With so many we couldn't do the 500 for time so we did 5 x 100 with a very fast interval. Some could not make all five but that was exactly what I wanted. Sometimes it is good to find your failure point as well as get you out of a comfort zone.

I reminded everyone on the second set to count strokes per lap on the middle 50. Whenever I mention stroke count usually someone will ask what a good count is. I could tell you that an ideal would be 15 or so but it you are doing 25 that doesn't help you much. Instead find out where you are and work on reducing that count by one. When you achieve that than try to reduce it one more. The ultimate goal is to get greater distance per stroke.

Podium spot goes to Brendan who I asked to take a huge jump to the next lane for logistics purposes. He did a great job with it and hopefully found he can push a little bit harder than what he was doing. It's something we should all try periodically. By the way congrats to Brendan and Trish who got engaged Christmas. I think a November wedding is in the plans. Have a great week.

Rough weekend as both Hens and Eagles take it on the chin. Ugh! Anyway decent turnout to practice with snow. Which reminds me if I need to cancel practice because of weather I will send out an e-mail no later than 5:30 AM the day of practice so if you are in doubt check your e-mail before you head out.

Despite Marianne telling women in the locker room that we were doing the dreaded 10 x 100's, we actually repeated the previous week's practice. When I was coaching everyday I would run back to back practices occasionally for several reasons. Sometimes I just didn't like the way we swam the practice first time and I would rerun it to prove a point. Other times I would rerun it to see how we could improve upon it given the experience of doing it once. For example, sometimes you might not be sure how to pace a set or practice and the experience of doing it again gives you a better idea. Also it's a way of challenging yourself to see if you can attack it a little better. So don't hesitate to try doing the same practice on your own back to back.

I liked the way Eric's lane was taking turns leading the repeats. Nothing like taking a turn getting out front to increase the workload plus it gives the lane a sense of unity working as a team. With the other four lanes I was trying to match people up so they were pushing each other in adjacent lanes. Sometimes the way the lanes work out it's possible to set this up and it worked well Saturday. Podium spots go to Marco and Vince who were really getting after it side by side. If you want to get better in competition there is no better way than to compete in practice.

At the end of the second set I asked how many people had done a stroke count during some part of that set. As I correctly predicted the answer was none. Really? This is so important yet it's amazing how often we forget to do this. Every practice you should do a stroke count for a least one repeat. Distance per stroke is the single most important thing to work on improving for distance swimmers. It is a great tool for measuring how well you are improving with your stroke mechanics. Make stroke count a part of every workout without being reminded.

The USAT 2010 official ranking are posted on their website. Top 5% make All American and next 5% make Honorable Mention. If you attained either one of these let Margaret know for her e-mail.

I got about 6 responses back in response to my e-mail regarding Sunday practices. That's not nearly enough to make it work. It's not too late to get back to me about that.

A couple people have come up with some ideas regarding a team website. I'd like to work on moving forward on that. If you have any ideas, please let me know. Have a great week.

We did a later practice and combined it with the Resolution Classic 5K which turned out to be a huge success. I think about 35 Dawgs did the swim practice and the run. Margaret will probably have information on the results but you can go to and check out how well the team did. I designed practice to be a sprint type practice since I was unsure of how many would be there. I had to leave shortly after we started since I was the race director. That was a totally new experience for me but things seemed to go well. We had very close to 200 runners and we had lots of random prizes and great food. The Dawgs did a little "gym-gating" which was a lot of fun.

I had a chance to talk to Neil Semmel from Pirahna sports and he said some changes are in the works that may benefit us. He also said team prize money might not be as much however so we'll just have to shoot for first place. I also got a chance to talk to Randy from the Bike Boutique who would like to do some things with the Dawgs. More about that later.

At practice the team presented me with a very cool sweat shirt and a generous gift certificate to the Delaware Running Company. That is very much appreciated. The Dawgs are such a kind and generous group of people and it is a pleasure to be associated with all of you. I look forward to another successful and fun year. Happy New Year to all.

I made up practice Friday morning and then that night realized it was the last practice before Christmas. I dug up the annual 12 Days of Christmas practice and brought both to  let the group vote on which they wanted. Almost everyone voted not to do the 12 Days even though I think the other practice was more difficult. Go figure. One observation on the main set was how hard everyone pushes themselves despite not having to swim an interval. It's easy to look at faces as you finish and the amount of conversation immediately after repeats to see how hard each person is working. Usually it's the pace clock that pushes your limits but it's interesting to see how many have the ability to push even without the clock. That's the sign of committed athletes.

The practice actually ended up differently than what I had written out. For some unknown reason I decided it might be fun to just do 25 sprints for awhile. Often when we do this I reseed the lanes so that I have a people of various abilities in the same lanes. It's a good way to mix things up and to swim with different teammates and faster people. We even did a relay swim to finish off the practice. The original practice is below. Podium spots go to Sara and Michelle who I asked to move up a lane to even things out. They did a great job in stepping it up. Also a special podium spot goes to Lenny for a spectacular relay swim and for hosting the Tri-Dawgs party Saturday night. Also please send out some special positive thoughts to Becki and Lisa this week.

Of course the new year is a popular time to make resolutions. If you are doing so, try to make ones that are measurable and meaningful. For example, instead of saying you want to lose weight try something like I will increase my weekly running miles from 15 to 20 miles per week. That is measurable and is more meaningful than the weight loss. The extra training will handle the weight factor and is a better measure of your fitness. Of course, if I had to give everyone a resolution, I would make it spending 20 minutes three times a week doing core exercises.

Now that everyone knows the chlorine situation at the pool how about some practice information. I had to leave practice early to enjoy an early Christmas present from my son. We spent a great day tailgating and taking in the spectacle of the Army-Navy game. The new grill I got for the Tri-Dawgs works great and is broken in for a new season of Dawg-gating. Speaking of the game, Peggy gets the podium spot hands down for yelling out "Go Navy-Beat Army" at the beginning of practice.

Now that everyone is buying their new calendars for the 2011 (yikes, what happened to 2010?) it's a great time for mapping out your competitive season. Even if it's only one or two tri's that you are planning on this year, start picking them out and getting them on your calendar. It's a great motivator for getting out the door on those cold winter days to workout. Don't put off signing up either because more and more of these events close out early. Some even close out of the first day of sign ups. If you are unsure of certain events, check with other Dawgs. No doubt someone has tried one that you might be interested in.