Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Swim Tip: Coordinate Your Breathing With Your Stroke

Swim Tip: Coordinate Your Breathing With Your Stroke:
When a triathlete has difficulties with breathing during freestyle, the problem is usually starting the breath too late in the stroke cycle. This degrades the swimmer’s ability to breathe, ultimately limiting performance in the water.
Coordinating your breathing movement to your stroke can be tricky to master, but with practice, it can make you more efficient in the water.
A great way to learn how to better coordinate your breath is with the Early Breath Drill. This drill establishes an easy-to-follow progression of movement for your breath and stroke.

How to do it

Step 1: Begin by swimming the freestyle Catchup Drill holding a kickboard extended in front of you. Insert a pause into your stroke each time your hands “catch up” to each other on the board.
Step 2: Start your breathing movement during the “pause” between strokes, before your hand leaves the kickboard. By initiating your breath early, you give yourself extra time to both inhale and get your head down before your hand begins moving forward into the recovery phase of the stroke.
Step 3: Ditch the kickboard and continue the drill, focusing on keeping the same progression of movement for your stroke and breath as in step 2.
Practice Set: 8x25s

Early Breath Drill (with or without kickboard)

Regular freestyle
Focus on getting an early breath and then quickly returning your head into the water. Follow this set with an easy 100, focusing on a controlled, coordinated breathing movement.
Jonathan Cain is a coach at Denver-based swim school SwimLabs (Swimlabs.com).
RELATED – Swim Tip: Maximize Efficiency While Breathing

Saturday, July 28, 2012



I thought this was a good read,a different perspective on swimming that I get from the local coaches or Swim Smooth. I picked up one of the TI videos to begin with... I think it has some good points but I am not sold on it really.


How Our Brains Stop Us From Achieving Our Goals (and How to Fight Back) [Goals]

How Our Brains Stop Us From Achieving Our Goals (and How to Fight Back) [Goals]:
How Our Brains Stop Us From Achieving Our Goals (and How to Fight Back)As admittedly wonderful and fascinating as the human brain is, it can also feel like the brain is out to get us sometimes. In some circumstances, our brain's natural reaction actually does more to sabotage than help. Here, Sparring Mind founder Gregory Ciotti explains how to combat your brain's own brilliance, overcoming the instinctual reactions which often have devastating effects on your long-term goals.

Your brain can hurt your goals by fantasizing too much

Would you believe that fantasizing is the #1 way your brain unintentionally ruins your goals? It seems unlikely, right? The thing is, the proof is in the pudding (or in this case, the research): psychologists have found that while positive thinking about the future is broadly beneficial, too much fantasy can have disastrous results on achieving goals. Researchers tracked the progress of how people cope with four different types of challenges.
As an example, in one of those challenges (trying to find a fulfilling job), those who had spent the most time fantasizing performed the worst in a variety of critical data points:
  • they had applied for fewer jobs
  • they had been offered fewer jobs
  • if they were able to find work, they had lower salaries.

  • Why? Why could fantasizing about a positive end take a turn for the worse?
    Jeremy Dean, a psychological researcher at UCL London and the owner of PsyBlog had this to say about the researcher's conclusions:
    The problem with positive fantasies is that they allow us to anticipate success in the here and now. However, they don't alert us to the problems we are likely to face along the way and can leave us with less motivation—after all, it feels like we've already reached our goal.
    It's one way in which our mind's own brilliance lets us down. Because it's so amazing at simulating our achievement of future events, it can actually undermine our attempts to achieve those goals in reality. Our poor brain is thus a victim of itself.
    Again, this is not to say that visualizing goals is necessarily a haphazard strategy for achieving them, it's just that we need to be aware of the dangers of excessive fantasy. Instead of being entranced with what the future may bring, we need to learn to love the work here and now. Enjoying our day by day progress and realistic ‘checkpoints' is a much more practical way to create our future; getting lost in grandiose dreams that focus on the ultimate end is not. As they say, don't give up on your dreams, but don't fall under their spell either.

    Your brain procrastinates on big projects by visualizing the worst parts

    Procrastination, of all of the things on this list, is likely the most recognizable: everybody realizes that they procrastinate from time to time, and it's something we are forced to battle with every day. How can we fight this persistent opponent?
    Interesting research from Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik (of whom the Zeigarnik Effect is named after) reveals to us an interesting tidbit about the human mind: we are better at remembering things that are partially done. Ms. Zeigarnik came to this conclusion by testing the memory of folks doing simple "brain" tasks like puzzles or crafts. She then interrupted them and asked them to recall (with specific detail) the tasks that they were doing or had completed. She found that people were twice as likely to recall more detail about the tasks they had been interrupted in than in the tasks they had completed.
    What does this have to do with procrastination?
    Before we get to that, know this: in a study by Kenneth McGraw, participants were given a very tricky puzzle to solve with an "unlimited" amount of time. The thing is, all of the participants were interrupted before they could finish, and then told that the study was over. Despite being told they were done, nearly 90% of participants continued working on the puzzle anyway.
    What both of these studies teach us is that when people finally manage to start something, they are much more inclined to remember the task and finish it. The Zeigarnik Effect and the subsequent McGraw study assure us that the best way to beat procrastination is to start somewhere…anywhere. Our brain has the habit of envisioning the impending huge workload of an upcoming task. It also tends to focus on the most difficult parts or sections, and this is where procrastination begins to set in: as we try to avoid the "hard work," we find ways to skate around it and trick ourselves into thinking that we're busy.
    Just starting though, triggers our brain in a different way. It's the same way that cliffhangers are utilized to keep us coming back to our favorite TV shows; we're primed to remember the last episode because the story was interrupted, and our brain wants a conclusion. It's the same with your tasks: start, and your brain will overcome the first hurdle.
    This seemingly small milestone appears to be the most important one to overcome if you wish to defeat procrastination. After starting a task, your brain will be more enticed to finish it to it's "conclusion." You also tend to see that it's not as big a mountain as you initially imagined, and that the work involved in completing this task won't be so terrifying after all.

    Your brain will "abandon ship" at the first sign of distress

    Anyone who's fought the good fight with dieting will likely recognize this phenomenon. Envision this:
    You're on a diet, and have been doing well for about 2 1/2 weeks, but you know your defenses are at risk. To make matters work, you're having dinner with friends tonight. Instead of the healthy meal you could have made at home, you're forced to use a restaurant menu.
    The problem is this: At the bar before dinner, you had a little "cheat" moment by ordering snacks and drinks, after all, you're with your pals tonight, right? You know that those drinks and snacks, combined with the bread you had before dinner, leave you with one option to stay a bit over your caloric intake goals: you must eat a salad. The thing is, your brain is yelling out "BURGER!". Instead of finishing the day a tad over your 2000 calorie goal, you order the burger with fries and don't look back.
    The crazy thing about this scenario?
    It's much more than a momentary act of weakness: psychologists have observed that this is much more likely to happen as a result of you missing a previously set goal. Specifically, in research by Janet Polivy and her colleagues, people who were actually on diets were tested with pizza and cookies. In the study, two groups of participants (those on diets and those not dieting) were told not to eat beforehand and then served exactly the same slice of pizza when they arrived to the lab. Afterwards, they were then asked to taste and rate some cookies.
    The thing was, the experimenters didn't really care about the cookie's rating, they just wanted to see how many people ate. This is because they tricked some of the participants into thinking that they had recieved a larger slice than the others (using framing and false information). This was to make them believe that they had most certainly "ruined" their diet goals for the day.
    The result?
    When the cookies were weighed, it turned out that those who were on a diet and thought they'd blown their limit ate more of the cookies than those who weren't on a diet. This doesn't paint the true picture though: they ate over 50% more! On the flipside, the dieters that did think that they were in their caloric limit ate the same amount of cookies as those who weren't on a diet at all. Truly, our brain is geared towards a call of "Abandon ship!", whenever we come short of our goals.
    Don't let this happen to you!
    The best way to combat your brain from signaling ‘Mission Abort!' after you've missed a short-term goal is to re-frame what just happened. Yes, you did fall short or maybe mess up this time, but remember the progress that you've made. With the diet example, you could look at all of the "good days" you've accumulated thus far: even if you fell after only a few days of starting your new diet, it's still an accomplishment to have started one and to have set long-term goals for yourself.
    Short-term lapses in your end-goal are not like a bad apple spoiling the bunch: you have gotten things accomplished so far and you need to stay focused on the long-term, not become distraught by a single mishap. Research tells us that this is the best mindset to take for misfortune and failure in general: your progress and achievements go so much farther than that slip-up; don't let your brain convince you that all is lost!

    Your brain loves mindless busy work disguised as progress

    One of the ways in which your brain continues it's trickery is through busy work: work that gets "something" done, but not something that produces any measurable results.
    In fact, research by John Bargh and colleagues reveals that our brain loves to become robotic and to mimic people out of habit. I shouldn't have to tell you that this is disastrous to achieving long term goals! This busy work is often a mechanism our brain uses in cohesion with avoiding big projects (mentioned above): instead of diving into the difficult tasks we KNOW we should get done, we'll instead float around doing semi-related (read: barely related) menial tasks to make ourselves feel productive without actually getting anything done.
    Here's the thing: you're not going to build a thriving business or a successful blog with that kind of busy work. It takes doing the hard work and it takes deliberate practice, there's no way around it. The thing is, your brain knows this, that's why you have to remind it that the challenging stuff is often the stuff that produces the results you desire. Also remember that you can fight that procrastination by just getting started.
    When you look back at what you've gotten done by the end of the day, make sure you're proud of what you got accomplished, don't let your brain ruin your goals by diverting you from what needs to be done!

    Your brain is not good at "winging it" when it comes to planning...ever!

    Every night before I go to sleep, I like to write a simple to-do list that I group into two categories. I put some in category ‘A' (must be done tomorrow) and some in category ‘B' (must be worked on or done in 2-3 days). I do this because when I sit down at the computer without a plan, I tend to fall flat on my face. My so-called "work time" turns into the not-so-productive "check email time" or "browse Reddit" time; nothing of any importance gets done. It seems that I'm not alone!
    In research by Gollwitzer and colleagues, the subject of "if-then" plans was discussed in relation to how we set and stay consistent with out goals, and the results are not surprising but reveal a lot of insight into how our brain reacts to planning (and even some great tips). The thing is, researchers found that not only do well-laid plans seem to get accomplished more often, but planning for failures along the way ("In case of emergency…") helps people stay on task under duress.
    Let's continue our diet example from above.
    Say you did have that lapse and go over your calories for the day. Instead of "winging it" and letting your brain crumble to it's likely response (discussed above), you should have a backup plan ready to know what to do when failure strikes. This could be something like: "If I go over 2000 calories in a day, I'll finish the day as close to 2000 as I can, and then the next morning, I'll go for a 15 minute run as a ‘penance,' make sure I eat an extra healthy breakfast, and then continue the rest of my day as normal." You are likely no stranger to feeling ashamed about getting off track; we've all been there.
    Having those "In case of emergency…" plans help us to have a gameplan in case we do falter, and including a small ‘penance' like I discussed above can help us get over it quicker. If you failed on your diet for a day and then ‘punish' (again, just with a quick run) yourself by running in the morning, you can go about your day knowing that you got what you deserved, instead of sliding down the slippery slope of guilt through the rest of the day.
    So remember to include an "if-then" plan for your next big goal—you'll be able to beat back your brain's guilt over slipping up now and then and you won't have to ever "wing it" in case something goes wrong!
    How our brains stop us from achieving our goals (and how to fight back) | Buffer Blog

    Gregory Ciotti is the founder of Sparring Mind, the blog that takes psychology and persuasive marketing and makes them play nice together. Download his free e-book on ‘Conversion Psychology' for more research or follow Greg on Twitter.
    Buffer makes your life easier with a smarter way to schedule the great content you find. Fill up your Buffer at one time in the day and Buffer automagically posts them for you through the day. Simply keep that Buffer topped up to have a consistent social media presence all day round, all week long.
    Image remixed from Ioannis Pantzi and Leremy.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Overtraining Can Kill You: The 3 Stages of Overtraining, Part 1

Overtraining Can Kill You: The 3 Stages of Overtraining, Part 1:
People joke about workouts that "nearly killed" them. But what does overtraining REALLY look like? And how deadly is it? In this series we take a look at the three stages of overtraining.
Overtraining can kill you.

read more

Friday, July 20, 2012

Moments of Greatness

Yet another swim workout with the swim smooth program! Well, really I am still working on the same one. It just focuses on better breathing and rotation, both of which I am definitely in need of. Today it felt tough to begin with, but I finally took off on a lap or two where I finally felt like I was making some progress. I just need more of those moments of greatness to happen in a row!

I am happy to see some amount of progress in really such a short time, so this its looking promising so far.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


My swimming sucks. So I just don't like doing it.I think there is a chicken and egg problem there. I think I would like it better if I didn't suck so bad, but I just hate working at it.the main issue for me is just the struggle to breathe.

I ran across www.swimsmooth.com and took their 'swim types' test. It says I am a 'Bambino'. An my friend Howard complains about being labeled a'Clydesdale'... LOL

I broke down and bought the stroke correction guide for $20... Hoping that could do me some good.
I tried the first workout on Monday and again today. I'm just using fins and pull buoy so far, working on getting my breathing and rhythm better.I am seeing a little smudge of improvement already...will post more later on my progress as I go.

Sunday, July 1, 2012



We re talking about going to Redman Triathlon in Oklahma City this September. My wife's training buddy 'Hombre' is doing his first 140.6 distance. Last year he was signed up but couldn't race due to an injury. He still came up to cheer on my wife in her 70.3. So, she is going up this year to cheer him on, as well as some of our other club members. This is a popular race for our club.

Just yesterday she asked me if I wanted to do the sprint... they don't usually have a sprint distance, but some years when it is a championship race they do add the sprint for some reason. This is one of those years. The question kind of caught me off guard, as I had not planned on doing a tri this year. I am mainly focusing on running with added lifting... so only run races and duathlons were on my radar. I do like Redman though, it is a nice race to spectate. I am also thinking it would be nice to visit my old boss, who now lives in Oklahoma City.

What was my answer when she asked? "I wouldn't be ready for the swim!" Is that true? Well now that I think about it... it is a wetsuit race... it's in September I could be ready if I wanted to be. Heck, I could be swimming sprint distance in a wetsuit in a matter of weeks... not fast but "get through it" swimming. Saying I couldn't is a crock.

So I think I will plan on going to the race... and start working on swimming in the meantime. We'll see where that takes me. :)  Venom should be ready for some racing by then!


New Bike!: "Venom"

I finally pulled the trigger and bought myself a new bike! Well a frame. It's a 2009 Fuji D6 Matt Reed Edition. Since my wife got her 2009 D6 Pro, I have had bike envy, I admit it. The old Frankenbike has served me well, but it is time I just ponied up and got a decent bike. This one already received its name: "Venom"!

The Purchase

I missed out on one Ebay auction for one of these frames, as it just went higher than I wanted to pay for a bike frame. This one ended up going about the same but after consultation with the wife, she finally placed the winning bid for me and I won it! 

The bike came in packed in a standard bike shipping box from a Trek Madone. Nicely done by the seller! It even has the original manual and bag of small parts packed in there too. This includes an extra rear derailleur hanger and special cable housings and adjuster for the front brake.


More Ebay!  Well not all Ebay, but also Amazon.
Here's my current list for the build.
  • Front Derailleur: SRAM Red in black.
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM Red in Team Liquigas color. This is a takeoff from a Cannondale team Liquigas bike. It is all back with a splotch of lime green. Not quite the color of the bike, but it is small and the color is close. Photos later.
  • Cables: Jagwire cables in Organic Green. This color is pretty close, particularly to the darker section below the seatpost. I ordered the Racer cable kit but that is not nearly enough cable for this bike! I had to order additional rolls of the housing. The rear cable housings run full length inside the bike.
  • Brake Adjusters: Shimano inline. The bike came with one adjuster for the front, but I want them to be the same. There is not room for adjusters at the brake on this bike since the brakes are tucked into and behind the frame, so it has to use inline adjusters.
  • Brake Levers: I have Vision brake levers on the aerobars currently, but I have already run into an issue. These require special cables! I cut the cables when I took them off my old bike, so I think at least one of them will be too short. For future maintenance I am thinking I should go with ones that use the standard cables. I'll figure this one out later, I may have to stick some old ones I have on there for now.
  • Aerobars: Existing Vision fixed aluminum bars. Maybe this will be upgraded to carbon in the future. Maybe sooner if the fixed length bars aren't the right length for me!
  • Stem: Existing aluminum short stem. This one also has a high angle... we'll see if it works. Once I find the right length and angle this might go carbon as well.
  • Crankset: SRAM Red carbon that was original on Donna's bike. This is 172.5mm where I may need a 175mm though. I will find out for sure when I take the bike for a professional fit after I get it together.
  • Bottom Bracket: Another issue here. My new SRAM Red ceramic bearing bottom bracket got scuffed when the tool slipped taking it off my old bike. DOH! But the red color isn't right for this bike anyway. I am thinking I will strip off the anodizing and maybe paint it black. It is SO smooth! For now I had an old black GXP bottom bracket that originally came on Donna's Trek Equinox. Another option would be to upgrade this one with Enduro hybrid ceramic bearings. The holdup here is having to pay $120 for the tool to change the bearings, or come up with my own bearing press. A man can never have enough tools. :)