With the C3 swim fast approaching I’ve really needed to increase my weekly swimming distance. For Rottnest I was getting in 20-25km a week, and this past summer it has been any where from 0 to 15km. The last two weeks I’ve managed get in a little over 20km each week by adding in a long workout at BAC on Sunday. As per my last post in the previous week I knocked out a 9km/3hour workout, and this week I managed a 12km/4hour workout.
While doing the long sets I’ve noticed that after about two hours my shoulders start to hurt, and my speed definitely decreases over the duration of the workout. I was able to counteract the pain in my shoulders somewhat on this last workout by concentrating on ‘toning’ (as my coach would say) my butt and core and working on initiating the stroke from my hips.
This tends to suggest that I have a tendency to overuse my shoulders/arms, and it is only when they start to hurt that I notice and am able to actively counteract that tendency.
Definitely the goal for this week during my shorter Masters workouts is try and deemphasize the shoulders from the start (though on the faster intervals it sometime tricky to do anything except concentrate on making the time), and see if I can carry that through to next Sunday’s long set.
One of things I do like about pool workouts versus open water is that sometimes there will be someone either in my lane or the lane over who is near my speed. If my set synchronizes with theirs, then there is a great opportunity to play with technique, as you can then immediately see the impact of small changes on your speed as your position changes relative to theirs.
This past Sunday I had a great opportunity when a guy in the lane over was going a hair faster than me and pushed off the wall at the same time. I managed to pace him for at least 500m (before my 30 minute set break), having to really work at my technique to keep up (I was at the 10km or so mark in the workout so really didn’t have the energy to just power through).
What that set showed me is that I am definitely lazy with my body position when I don’t have an external stimulus (like a pace swimmer). I was able to keep up better when I dropped my head somewhat and increased the ‘tone’ in my core – getting a more horizontal position in the water, and also being a little more aggressive with my kicking.
The level of physical effort involved in keeping up with this other swimmer was not excessive (I considered not stopping at my 30minute break just to take advantage of the opportunity more), but there is definitely a mental effort to keep everything right when there is no visible feedback.
While preventing shoulder pain is my top priority from a technique perspective, there were some pointers this week on how I can ultimately improve my speed.