Monthly Archives: October 2009

Coaches and Remembering What It Was Like Just Starting Out

I was going through my last TI training session and recalled an important moment. I remarked to my coach that many swim coaches tell you what to do, or describe something to you, but it never seems to work. I never seemed to improve enough with what advice I get from them. However, in the 3 lessons that I’ve had with my TI coach, I’ve improved so much, probably more so than in the years I’ve had going to Masters swimming.
He said something very insightful in reply, which was that a lot of coaches forget what it was like to be a beginner. They only know the present, which is at a high level of mastery of the skills and they attempt to describe that mastered state to us beginners, but we miss what it took to get to this state. Thus, we have little knowledge on how to get there, but only a description of the end result.
Total Immersion attempts to capture and teach the journey to mastery of swimming, and thus we do a lot of drills and exercises which may seem to be ridiculous to many, but there is a purpose behind doing these drills, and practicing and isolating the various elements of swimming mastery.
I find this to be true for coaches in all aspects of triathlon as well. I had a friend who was training with a pro-level coach, and he gave the whole group a training program that was based on HIS level of mastery of cycling and running. It was a program that was too advanced and assumed a level of skill and fitness which was not necessarily everyone’s level. This is bad because you may push someone to do something that they’re not ready for, and ultimately dissatisfaction for the sport and injury can result.
The best coaches are those who remember what it was like when they were just starting out. They remember AND can bring newbies on the journey to mastery of the essential skills of swimming, cycling, and running. Stay away from those who are insensitive to your current skill level, and treat all of their athletes like pro-level athletes. Working with these coaches puts yourself in danger of hurting yourself and inevitably cutting yourself short of the physical achievement you might get working with someone who is more sensitive to your individual needs.

Total Immersion: 13 Strokes for 25 Yards Baby Yeah

On Thursday, I practiced swimming efficiency and tried to maintain as low a stroke count as possible for as many 25 yard lengths as possible. Amazingly, I was hitting 13 strokes for the majority of the lengths, one 12 stroke length, and one 14 when I was getting tired.
Some notes:
1. Must be as relaxed as possible. But I can’t be so relaxed that when I initiate a roll to one side, I start rotating too far and become unstable. So I must rotate and then maintain stable position after I finish the rotation.
2. The stroking arm must move forward as fast as possible after hitting the end of the stroke. It must get to the cocked position fast, with slightly hunched shoulder, which drags my hips up in the water, and stops it from dropping too much and slowing me down.
3. The cocked arm must shoot forward fast into the water, which helps me go faster forward. This is in combination with the stroking arm pulling back with the hip roll.
4. The two beat kick really helps. I do a quick, hard snap on the foot that is on the same side as the stroking arm. This helps my hip roll snap over to the other side with great force, which lends force to the pulling arm.
5. Breathing is still an issue. Taking breaths slows me down and adds at least one stroke to the 25 yard length. In order to make 13 strokes, I usually only breathe once down the length. I need to practice breathing more, and when my coach gets back from Japan we will go through this.
Practice, practice, practice…in combination with tempo training, Total Immersion is working great!

RFID Timing Chips for my 5K!

I’m running my first 5K tomorrow and noticed they were using RFID embedded plastic timing chips! They’re pretty cool:

They sealed an RFID chip into this plastic strip, and there is adhesive on one end to attach it to your running shoe:

I wonder if they will start using these for triathlons. They look like they would be waterproof, but the strap would have to be longer and different to go around your ankle. But definitely they should work for run races.
Looks like they’re powered by RFID chips from Impinj.