Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Surprisingly Amount About Hips

Swim (Thursday)
1 x 200- warm-up
2 x 500
1 x ?- Stroke check

Ride (Sunday)
time- 3:38
distance- 53.05

First, don't ask me where Thursday's run went. I don't know either. Somewhere between school and the couch it completely disappeared. And there is a Saturday run. 
Thursday was a test swim. I found an article is this month's Inside Triathlon about a coach who slows his athletes down in the water and focuses nearly exclusively on stroke technique for huge amounts of training time. And these athletes, as you would expect if you've been following along here, get faster anyway. Swimming IS NOT ABOUT VOLUME. It's about smoothness and proper technique. To steal from The Fit Life, "more is not better. Better is better." And one of the drills this coach uses on his swimmers to isolate their hips is a kickboard drill. But not in the way you think. He has them tuck the board between their legs so half sticks up out of the water like a fin and half down into the water like a rudder. Then they swim and the submerged part of the board give immediate feedback and resistance straight into the hip/core area. Brilliant! I must steal use this.
And so I did. I first tried it on the Grey, but that didn't work well because I hadn't done it myself first. So he threw the board away and Thursday's ? set was my experimenting. I have no idea how many laps I did. I would do a 25 with one board one way. Stop, readjust, do another 25, and so on. There are two different types of boards at my pool and after I settled on the right one I needed to figure out seating. But once I figured it out it is really great. Swimming with the board like a rudder, not too deep but not so you've got a big waving tail, communicates directly into your core exactly what your stroke is doing. Its a workout, because there is oblique torsion happening, and its also a drill because you can feel how much of your stroke is being driven through your hips. Good stuff.
Today's ride was good, pretty much the same course Diesel and I normally ride. Felt a little slow up Pupukea, got rained on headed down Pupukea and all the way back to Haleiwa, but both directions of Dillingham felt strong and Pineapple went well. Saturday's trail run was pretty tough and my hips today, especially on the left, are sore. Doesn't impact the riding too much, until I swing my leg over the bike. Then it's all kinds of joy joy.


  1. Wow, that kickboard thing is brilliant. I probably won't do it only because I would need supervision and coaching. However, it makes great sense. So, about that article... slow down and don't worry so much about speed. Just keep working on technique. Okay, I kind of understand (emphasis on "kind of"). Is this for every workout or should intervals and speed sets still be part of the weekly swim workout? As a newbie to competitive swimming, you have convinced me that technique outweighs speed right now, but I just wanted to get more info. Also, does that mean my 2000 yard sessions are not really helping at this point in my training? So much to learn and too stupid to get it all in!!!

    1. Kepa, the coach's name is Darren Smith, the article is in the March/April issue of Inside Triathlon.
      I would always say slow down and don't worry about speed. Think about when you've learned anything- you learn it better when you're trying to go fast, or when you're taking your time? Exactly. Intervals and speed work have a place, of course, but I would say you should be doing 65-70% drill and technique work. Call it three workouts a week, one is only technique, one is a mix of technique and drill, and one is a speed work day. The only different between that plan and mine is I do one day of drill, one of speed/drill, and one distance.
      Too much speed work and you start hammering in bad habits. So you might be faster, but you're ugly faster and you're putting a ceiling on your eventual top speed, especially over a distance. In high school I had friends who could muscle a great 50 or 100, but they would die in anything longer because their technique was non-existent so their strength failed them and they had nothing to fall back on.
      You should be doing 2000 yard workouts, that's fine. But do research, find drills that look good and experiment. normally has some decent stuff, YouTube probably does too, and the Google knows all. Learn to feel the water. And if you have a friend who can video a few laps that might help you visualize in the water.
      When I'm working with a swimmer I spend the first lesson telling them to slow down., this should have been another post. We really ought to find time to swim.

  2. Doug... I really appreciate your reply. To be honest, any, no all, of my recent improvements has been because of your advice. Your explanation was super... I get it. I am going to dedicate myself to doing technique and form with drills without regard to speed. I will keep intervals to about 25-30% of my training max.