Monday, September 14, 2015

Tri Training Log: 9/7 - 9/13 (Week 2)

I've called this a "triathlon" training log, but my main goal these days is to get comfortable swimming further at an easier pace as I try to transition to an emphasis on long distance open water swimming and away from a balanced, "triathlon" approach to physical fitness.

I only swam twice this week, but as you'll see, I feel like I'm getting there--finally.  It's just proving to be a longer, tougher road than I might have hoped.

As I said, I only swam twice this week, but they were both pretty good swims.  I wrote about Monday's swim after I did it and then decided to take Tuesday as a rest day even though it's a day that I usually swim.  This threw me off a bit, though, and it wasn't until Saturday that I got back into the pool.  However, when I got back in the water on Saturday, I had a goal.

Warm Up
5 x 100 @ 1:30 easy
200 kick 

Main Set: Reverse Ladder
1 x 500 @ 7:05
2 x 400 @ 5:40
3 x 300 @ 4:15
 -- 2:00 rest --
4 x 200 @ 3:00
5 x 100 @ 1:30

200 kick
5 x 100 pull @ 1:30 (tempo)
50 drill (fly)
2 x (4 x 50) @ :45
 -- 1 x 50 fly (hard)
 -- 3 x 50 freestyle (easy)

50 cool down


That totalled 5400 yards and felt like a Hell of a lot of swimming.  

I considered giving myself a minute's rest between the various steps of that 3500 yard main set but ultimately decided not to.  This was a mistake, though, and I realized it a little more than halfway through the main set.  I felt my stroke starting to fall apart towards the end of the 300s, and while I don't think I was in any real danger of missing the interval, I knew that if I finished the set as-written, I wouldn't leave myself enough in the tank to finish the entire workout.  The goal for the day was to swim 5000 yards with a stretch goal of putting in more than three miles in a single session.  I therefore rested and changed the interval, and if I didn't exactly finish that main set strong, I did at least manage to finish with enough left to continue swimming.

After 200 kick, I felt better.  The 100s pull (tempo) went really well.  I held a consistent 1:15/100, which isn't bad.  The butterfly afterwards was a bit of an impulse, a reminder for an old guy what swim practice used to involve.

Swimming Total: 2 x swims (3250, 5400); 86.5 pts

We had a four-day work week in which I rode my commute twice.  Then we had two days of rain, but I confess that I didn't really mind.

Cycling Total: 2 x commute rides (10.7 mi. each); 21.4 pts

That's basically just maintenance work, but it makes my commute go by a little easier.

I ran twice.  The first time wasn't until Friday, and it went so badly that I had to go back to my log to see how long it had been since I'd run.  It turns out that I've not run since August 15th, and although that was an easy five-miler, it's the only run I've done since the last week of July.  That is one run in five full weeks.


I put in 2.5 miles at a 10:00/mile pace on Friday, and I felt like I was pushing even to do that.  Part of the problem was that it was a lunchtime run, so I didn't have much time to warm-up, and who knows?  If I'd kept running, maybe I'd have eventually settled into a groove.  Even as a maintenance run, though, I felt like this was a poor showing.

I decided to run again on Sunday even though I'd initially planned to swim.  Part of this was just to give my shoulders some rest.  Coming off that long swim Saturday, it didn't seem particularly wise to immediately go back and swim again.  If I'd wanted to swim three times, I should have gone on Thursday night after work, but I was too lazy for that.  Sunday I felt like I needed to do something different.  Considering the way Friday's run came out, running seemed the obvious choice.

I warmed up and stretched for a long time after church, and though it was hot, I wound up going almost four-and-a-half miles at a shade over 9:00/mile pace.  Granted, this is according to MapMyRun on my phone, which tends to be a bit more generous in terms of distance and pacing than my watch usually is, but still...  Sunday's run was a substantial improvement.

Running Total: 1 x lunchtime run, 1 x weekend run (2.5 mi., 4.43 mi.); 27.8 pts

Triathlon Total: 135.7 pts

The differences between Saturday's swim and Sunday's run go a long way towards explaining what kind of athlete I am.  Some people are naturally runners (my wife Sally), and some people are natural swimmers (me).  There are very few, however, who can do both with truly equal proficiency.  I think it's mostly an issue of genetics and biomechanics, but what do I know?  Regardless, Saturday's swim lasted a touch over ninety minutes and netted me 54 points.  A straight translation using the points system yields an equivalent run of 13.5 miles.  Yeah, well, that was a very long swim, and I was tired afterwards.  I don't know that I could have run a half-marathon with a literally equal amount of effort, but in general, that swim did indeed remind me of a few of my long training sessions last time I ran the Hartford Half.  Biomechanically, though, I swim much easier than I run, and no way am ever I finishing a half in 90 minutes--and certainly not in a simple practice session.  Maybe I could go 1:45 in the right weather conditions, but that would definitely be race pace.

By comparison, Sunday's run lasted almost exactly 40 minutes, and my goal during the session was to work with the same overall effort I'd used the day before in the pool.  So 40 mintes at a heartrate between 140 and 150; I wasn't out there killing myself, but that's about in line with what a lot of my shorter swims turn out to be.  Except that Sunday's run netted me all of 17 points, even though it was almost half as long as Saturday's swim.  Now, you may say that this proves that the points system doesn't work, but as a matter of reality, I've been putting in more points since I've been swimming more, and as a consequence, I've been losing weight.  I'm down to 190 lbs for the first time in eighteen months, and that's with only a handful of long swims in the books.  I think it's just easier for me to put in the kinds of exercise I grew up doing, and that's why I'm able to add yardage at a rate that I'd never successfully be able to add mileage.  This may mean that swimming is a better overall use of my time, but just swimming strikes me as a lonely way to stay in shape.


  1. I would suggest that maybe you are thinking the wrong way round. You would benefit much more from doing the sports that you are bad at. You are obviously a very efficient swimmer. I would kill for your swim times even if converted yards to meters. Adding distance here probably does very little for you. Even doubling it, you are still going to be in a comfortable place. Meanwhile your running is (apologies for being blunt) quite poor by comparison.

    The basic rule for improving, fitness or speed is to work outside your comfort zone, and it really doesn't look like swimming does that for you.

    So having basically argued that you should do more running instead I am going to take half a step backwards and say. If you don't enjoy the running, maybe you should stick to the majority swimming as the other key to improving is to enjoy yourself enough that you keep doing it and maybe running doesn't do that for you.

    1. Thanks for the note, Kevin. I usually do exactly what you're suggesting, but recently I've begun training for--or at least thinking about--trying to swim solo across Long Island Sound. That's a 15.5 mile open water swim... and an interesting challenge for me, personally. This is why I've been emphasizing swimming so much lately.

      Btw, I agree that I am no prize as a runner. I like running but have No particular talent for it and gave struggled with knee problems for almost 20 years. I'm substantially better on the bike, too, but real runners often catch me about halfway through most run-legs of my triathlons. My one saving grace is that I run off the bike comparatively well. But I've been a triathlete since 2007, which is why I started looking for new challenges.