Archive for swimming

059: “Slipped Away,” with Special Guests Jean Mellano and Ron Hurtado [Podcast]

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SteveT

I'm honored to have two special guests on the podcast today: Jean Mellano, author of the memoir Slipped Away, and veteran, founding member, and executive director of the Airborne TriTeam, Ron Hurtado.

Some background: I first met Steve Tarpinian in 1996 after deciding to attend his "Swim Power" clinic at the Nassau County Aquatic Center in Long Island, NY.

I was hoping to learn how to overcome my fear of the water and how to swim. If you're thinking that's not exactly an easy task for a 36-year-old having experienced a near drowning as a 10-year-old kid, you'd be right.

I arrived as a anxious newbie, wondering what the day would bring. When I left at the end of the day, I had made a friend for life and also come to know one of the best teachers, coaches and men I'll ever know.

Sadly, on March 15, 2015, that great teacher, coach, mentor...lost his war on depression, and took his own life.

SlippedAwayFast forward a short time later, Steve's soulmate and partner of 35 years, Jean Mellano, after reading all of the heartfelt remembrences of Steve on the popular Slowtwitch.com forum, decided to write a memoir to honor Steve's legacy and bring more awareness to mental illness, specifically depression.  She titled it Slipped Away.

In Jean's words,"there is still so much stigma and embarassment attached to depression, which further adds to the suffering of those afflicted. Mental illness is where Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs, and cancer were many years ago in terms of no one wanting to talk about it."   

In today's podcast, Ron, Jean and I discuss many things including Steve's legacy, such as:

  • Why and how the book, Slipped Away, came to be.
  • Project9linea Long Island based non-profit organization that supports veterans suffering from PTSD and depression, and which receives the majority of the proceeds from the sale of the book.
  • The Airborne TriTeam, another Long Island based non-profit organization started by Ron, specifically created for mentally and physically challenged war veterans. The team has a unique and strong connection to Steve and his legacy.
  • What we can all do to help those suffering from PTSD and other forms of mental illness.
Depression is like an iceberg...

Depression is like an iceberg...

In Jean's words: "To many people who knew him, Steve had it all and appeared to be on top of the world. Hindsight is 20/20; we now know things weren't always as they seemed. In many instances, people who suffer from depression and mental illness hide it very well.  If someone close to you has a pattern of "going dark" (not returning phone calls or emails, etc.), it could be more than just them being busy or forgetful.  When this happens too often, perhaps a little more compassion and understanding for that person may be in order."   

Jean believes Steve's true legacy and how he should be remembered isn't as a great coach, race-director or athlete who took his own life, but rather, as a human being who did his very best to make people feel good about themselves and who inspired them to accomplish things they never thought they could do.  I couldn't agree more.

Thank you Jean and Ron, and everyone who joined to listen in to this podcast.

To learn even more about the memoir and about Steve, or to purchase a copy, visit the website HERE.  It's also available on Amazon.  You might also want to visit the Slipped Away Facebook page HERE.

~Coach Al 

PS: Jean wrote a wonderful article for the online magazine, The Mighty. In it she shares some of what she has learned about grief since Steve's passing. I highly recommend it.

Who Wouldn’t Like To Run Faster Off Of The Bike?

 

"The truth isn't always popular, but it's always the truth."  - unknown


I've got some important (and very different) stuff to share with you today, and I know, because you're busy you may not want to stop what you're doing to read this.

But listen, if you want to KNOW how you can train differently and smarter on the bike, AND learn how to run FASTER off of it (no it isn't about the same old blah blah, brick runs, etc.), then ya gotta keep reading!

Trust me, my advice is NOT going to be the same-old, same-old. It will probably rankle a few folks, too. Especially some of the "experts" out there that are reading.So to get to the heart of what I want to share today, I have to start with a story about swimming. It's a true story.

(I know, I know...I said I was going to help you ride and run faster, and I am!  But...you need a little context - and this story will provide it. Keep reading!)

A few years ago I was sitting around with some swim coaches at an ASCA conference. The topics at the table revolved around two things: the iconic swim coach, James "Doc" Counsilman (who is well known for coaching Mark Spitz, winner of 7 golds at the 72 Olympics), and the "S" curve in swimming. 

Now, I don't know if you're a swimmer or not, but if you are, I'm sure you're familiar with the "S" curve pulling path. This "S" curve is what many coaches believe is the "ideal path" for your hand to follow during the pull phase of the stroke.  Shaped like the letter S, this pulling path has become well known as one hallmark of a fast swimmer.

Apparently all the hoopla about this "S" curve began with Counsilman and Spitz. The story goes, the coach was watching Spitz swim and noticed this "S" curve in his stroke. Since Spitz was swimming faster than anyone else in the world, Counsilman (always the innovator), came to the conclusion that the secret to his speed might be this curve. 

So Counsilman figured, if it was good enough for Spitz, it should be good enough for everyone, and proceeded to instruct every swimmer he coached to start putting this "S" curve into their strokes. What began as a simple way to make his swimmers faster, soon became gospel in the swimming world.

Simply put, many believed that to swim fast, you needed to have an "S" curve in your pull.

 

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  

What I'm talking about here is CAUSE and EFFECT, so the chicken/egg analogy may not really work. But it is sort of a funny cartoon, don't you think?  🙂

Anyway, an odd thing happened as Counsilman's swimmers started adding this "S" curve consciously - something he didn't anticipate.

Despite imploring his swimmers to "S" more, not only did most of them not get any faster, some actually started swimming slower.

What was going on?

To answer that question, let's go back to Spitz for a moment.

Is it possible that the "S" curve emerged as a natural byproduct of both his training and his body's intuitive understanding of how best to create more lift (and thus increase pulling power)?

Based on my own experience, I'd have to say the answer is an absolute, YES.

Spitz, like most great swimmers, could "grip" and hold on to the water, making the water more "solid" as his arm traveled past his rotating body.

He didn't consciously try to create that letter S.

It happened as a function of what his body did naturally, AND what he learned via tens of thousands of hours of mindful, consistent swimming.
  

Should you scrape mud off of your cycling shoes?   

I'm betting a very similar kind of story could be told when it comes to riding a bike efficiently and powerfully.  And THEN..running efficiently AND fast after the ride.

How so you ask?

Have you heard that popular advice, made famous by legendary cyclist Greg Lemond, to "pedal like you're scraping mud off of the bottom of your shoe"?

Like Counsilman's advice to articially integrate an "S" curve, trying to artificially change how you pedal a bike is not going to help you, and it may even HURT you.

And that "hurt" might not be limited to riding, but could also negatively impact how you run OFF of the bike. And increase your risk of injury, too.

In fact, I'm here to tell you that for the most part, ANY drill, tool, or technique that you've read about or heard was designed to improve your pedaling technique, is probably a complete waste of your time. 

How about Spin-Scan on a Computrainer? Or those fancy charts that show you exactly where you should apply pressure to the pedal as you go around? All of it, a waste of your time.

...except for one, that is.

One, very different and important, approach.

That one approach is the topic of a 12-minute video I prepared for you, that you've GOT to watch.

Authentic Cycling Video is here.So when it comes to riding faster,

I have to ask...Do the best cyclists have a great "spin" because they consciously "scrape mud" at the bottom of the pedal stroke?

Or (like Spitz in the water), are their pedal strokes and nervous systems more finely tuned and coordinated because of natural ability and perhaps more importantly, thousands of hours in the saddle?

Whenever we start incorporating something into our training because we heard the pros do it, or our friends said they read it in a book or online in a forum, OR we think we can outsmart our nervous system with "better" technology (such as clipless pedal systems), bad things can happen.

That was true for Counsilman's swimmers, it is true despite LeMond's advice, and it's true for running and just about every other activity, too.

There are a few other "truisms" that can be gleaned from all of this, such as...

  • getting faster isn't just about training "hard," it has a lot more to do with our nervous system than most realize.
  • mountain bikers, I think, have known a lot of this for a while. They 'get it.'
  • all of us are learning more every day - no one has all of the answers.

As for how ALL of this specifically impacts YOUR running off of the bike...well you'll have to watch and listen to the video for the answer to that.

When you do, please let me know what you think, ok?

Happy trails!
~Coach Al 

PS: A few minutes into the video, I refer to an article I wrote for Active.com, called: What Kenyans Can Teach Us About Running Economy and Efficiency.  To read it, CLICK HERE.

PSS: Just so y'all know, I have tremendous respect and admiration for Greg Lemond, a true champion and legendary cyclist. My belief is that at one time, he probably made an observation and drew a conclusion from it.  I've done that many times and am always learning. I've also changed my mind on things as a result of having a better understanding of "cause and effect" with certain things.

Do Your Calves Ever Cramp When Swimming? Here’s Why!

1794548_678702325506808_505115595_nThere's nothing like a painful calf cramp to ruin an otherwise enjoyable swim, ya know? 🙁  They seem to happen at the worst times and very often, they'll happen in our most important races. Frustrating!

So what's going on? Why do so many triathletes struggle with this issue during swimming?

Ridding yourself of the cramping calves will often lead to exactly what you want when you swim, which is a nice compact kicking motion which is both streamlined and also relaxed.

Here's a question I received from one of our athletes, that might sound familiar?:

"Sometimes I get a cramp in one of my calves while swimming. It can happen in the beginning, middle, or near the end of a workout, and only occasionally - not every time I swim. It may happen just after pushing off the wall, or it may start in the middle of a lap. I don't feel like I'm kicking very hard when I'm swimming. It has never happened in a race, just while training in a pool. I figure I swallow enough pool water during my swims that hydration shouldn't be the issue. Any suggestions on how to prevent them?"

Calf cramps while swimming can be quite common actually, especially for triathletes in particular...and there's a very good reason why....and its got nothing to do with hydration or electrolytes....

The reasons usually come from two things:

1. Trying to point the toes during kicking, which is active "plantar flexion" and creates tension in the calves. DON'T do this!* DO NOT try to point the toes while you kick.

2. The other thing which is somewhat related, is that there is OFTEN simply too much TENSION in the lower legs, period. [Remember what a cramp is: its simply a "hyper"chronic contraction of a muscle. That is, activity within the muscle (tension) is heightened and rises to the point where the contraction hits overdrive - and then, bingo, cramp!]

Why all that tension? (this relates to why it happens to triathletes more than swimmers).

You're running, and with all of that running is more tension in the calves, simply because they're so active during running (and walking), etc.

What can add to the tension is the often colder temperatures you'll find in some competitive pools. With colder temps, tension rises. (which is why I love jacuzzis!) 

So, what to do?** Two things:

1. First, the most important thing: RELAX YOUR FEET AND LEGS.

The term I use to describe how to kick correctly (while reducing the risk of cramping in the process) is FLOPPY ANKLES. *

More: Really good "kickers" have very mobile,*floppy ankles. In fact, great backstrokers can lie on their backs on the floor and easily touch their toes to the floor as they point their ankle. Most triathletes can't come close to doing that. Limited ankle mobility means tension when kicking.

So what we must do as we are swimming down the lane: think and visualize FLOPPY ANKLES. That's right, just let the feet just flop at the ankle. Relax and release them completely.

As you relax your feet and JUST LET THEM FLOP, you'll reduce all of that tension in the calves that leads to cramping.

Now, of course, relaxing the feet and letting them flop, DOES NOT give you permission to also flop your knees or relax them.

In fact, what I've found works best is if you keep that knee straight and at the same time, flop the ankles, you'll get exactly what you're looking for, which is a nice compact kicking motion which is both streamlined and also relaxed.

When I say "straight knee," I am really saying to keep it straight - locked out. What will most likely happen is that your knees won't actually "lock," but they will bend less....which is a good thing.

From my experience videotaping dozens of triathletes: those with the worst kicks will bend their knees a LOT, and their ankles a little. That looks ugly on video.

Great kicking comes primarily from floppy ankles. Just check any backstroker (where kicking makes up a great majority of their propulsion).

2. Second, and really importantly: make sure you keep those calves stretched out and nice and long. They will tighten up from running and over time, shortness in that area raises risk of running injury, and also leads to increased risk of cramping.

To avoid cramping in the calves while swimming, keep the calves LONG, and relax those feet and think: FLOPPY ANKLES.

And lastly, do all of your swimming in the JACUZZI!

Happy Swimming!

~Coach Al

ps: got additional swimming questions or anything training related? Jump onto our FACEBOOK page and ask away!

Triathletes: Swim Technique – The Two MOST Common Mistakes…

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

- Albert Einstein


Coach Al along with elite swim coach and Masters World Champion, Karlyn Pipes

Coach Al along with elite swim coach and Masters World Champion, Karlyn Pipes

Hi Everyone! Coach Al here. I've got a quickie for you today, talking swim technique and common mistakes I see in developing triathletes.

As many of you know, for novices (and even for those who have experience) the swim portion of a triathlon is often THE segment of the race that creates the most amount of anxiety and nervousness. As a result, many triathletes spend countless hours doing drills up and down the pool to improve their technique, hoping that the changes they learn and practice WILL make the swim portion of the race easier come race day.

The problem becomes, what if you're not working on the right skills or worse, grooving less-than-optimal form, in your attempts to improve?

In my experience, there are two mistakes that I see over and over again, that are arguably the most common mistakes. Today I shot a quick video so you can see for yourself.

Ironically, the 2nd mistake I point out is very likely one of the reasons why the 1st mistake is often happening and therefore difficult to correct.

To summarize, if you roll excessively to the side, not much else matters! Why? Because there really is no way you can get into a good catch from an "all-of-the-way-onto-your-side" position, without first returning or rolling back to a more prone position.  And, rather than feeling fast or stable, you may actually feel the exact opposite.

Want to learn more? Check out this great video from Vasa (and elite swim coach Karlyn Pipes) on Better Freestyle Body Rotation. 

And here's another: In this video, Karlyn discusses fingertip orientation. Check it out.

Go other questions? Hit me up on our Pursuit Athletic Performance Facebook page!

Happy Swimming!

~Coach Al

ps: if you'd like to learn more about Karlyn and the services she offers designed to help you improve, go to her website here!

pss: we are HUGE fans of the Vasa Ergometer here at Pursuit Athletic Performance. Very few swim training tools offer a larger bang-for-your-buck than the Vasa. Check them out if you want to take your swim to the next level.

048: Listener Questions: Becoming a Better Runner, Swim Training and More! [Podcast]

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Team PURSUIT triathlete Megan Pennington, on her way to the OVERALL WIN at the Litchfield Hills Triathlon!

Team PURSUIT triathlete Megan Pennington, on her way to the OVERALL WIN at the Litchfield Hills Triathlon!

Today we dig into some great questions sent in to us from listeners.  The first has to do with becoming a BETTER runner, something nearly every triathlete and pure runner has thought about at one time or another (or a few thousand times!) 🙂

Whether it's right here in our Pursuit Athletic Performance lab during a gait analysis, or out on the trail or road OR over a beer at the local pub, we always relish the opportunity to talk to anyone about running.  (Anyone who knows Coach, KNOWS how much he can talk, talk, and talk some more about this topic!). No apologies necessary though - running has been a passion of Coach Al's since first running "Boston" in 1983.

Every so often though, a conversation with a frustrated triathlete turns to a sort of self depricating exchange where they end up telling us (trying to convince us, or themselves, perhaps?) why they CAN'T be as good a runner as they really would "like" to be.  Whether this self-doubt stems from a long period of training struggle or chronic running-related injury, the bottom line is that most triathletes have much more running ability inside of them waiting to get out than they realize! They just don't know how to GET it out!  In the podcast, we offer some real and practical suggestions to take your running to a new level.

In case you're one of those who is impatient and curious and can't wait to listen, here are some hints:

  1. No! It isn't necessarily about planking, more of it, or doing it differently.
  2. No, it won't necessarily be "easy."  While we offer some practical suggestions that you CAN implement tomorrow in your training, the truth is that it generally takes a long time to "get good" as a runner, all things being equal.

Also, we jump in on some questions about all things swim training for the triathlete.

  • Is it REALLY worthwhile to spend time doing kicking sets if I am racing in a wetsuit and generally never kick in a race?
  • Why is the coach writing "hypoxic" sets for us anyway? Is it really valuable, and if so, why?
  • And more!

Thanks for joining us! Make it a great day!

~Coach Al and Dr. Strecker

Coach Al on the Swim: Calf Cramps

pursuit athletic performance

As many of you well know, calf cramps while swimming can be quite common, especially for triathletes...and there's a very good reason why. Some athletes think it has to do with hydration or an electrolyte imbalance. It's neither.

So why do these occur?

The reasons usually come from two things:

1. Trying to point the toes during kicking, which is active "plantar flexion" that creates tension in the calves. DON'T do this! DO NOT try to point the toes while you kick.

2. The other thing, which is somewhat related, is that there is OFTEN simply too much TENSION in the lower legs, period.

(Remember what a cramp is: it is simply a "hyper"chronic contraction of a muscle. That is, activity within the muscle (tension) is heightened and rises to the point where the contraction hits overdrive -- and then, bingo, cramp!)

Why all that tension? (This relates to why it happens to triathletes more than swimmers).

Triathletes run. And with all of that running there is tension in the calves, as they are so active during that endeavor.

Often, what adds to the tension is the colder temps you find in some competitive pools. With colder temps, tension rises (which is why I love jacuzzis! 🙂 ).

So, what to do? Two things:

1. First, the MOST IMPORTANT thing: RELAX YOUR FEET AND LOWER LEGS.

The term I use to describe how to kick correctly (while reducing the risk of cramping in the process) is FLOPPY ANKLES. Really good "kickers" have very mobile, floppy ankles. In fact, great backstrokers can lie on their backs on the floor and easily touch their toes to the floor as they point their ankle. Most triathletes can't come close to doing that. Limited ankle mobility means tension when kicking.

So what we must do as we are swimming down the lane? It's simple. Think: FLOPPY ANKLES. Let the feet just flop. Relax and release them completely.

As you relax your feet and JUST LET THEM FLOP, you'll reduce all of that tension in the calves that leads to cramping.

Of course, relaxing the feet and letting them flop DOES NOT give you permission to also flop your knees or relax them.

In fact, what I've found works best is if you keep that knee straight, and, at the same time, flop the ankles, you'll get exactly what you're looking for, which is a nice compact kicking motion. The bonus is this motion is, at once, streamlined and relaxed.

When I say "straight knee," I am really saying to keep it straight--locked out. What will most likely happen is that your knees won't actually "lock," but they will bend less, which is a good thing. From my experience videotaping dozens of triathletes, those with the worst kicks will bend their knees a LOT, and their ankles a little. That looks ugly on video.

2. Second, make sure you keep those calves nice and long. Stretch. They will tighten up from running and, over time, shortness in that area raises risk of running injury. It also leads to increased risk of cramping.

To avoid cramping in the calves while swimming, keep the calves LONG, and relax those feet and think: FLOPPY ANKLES.

Of course, all of this could be solved by simply doing all of your swimming in the JACUZZI! 😉

~Coach Al

Every Breath You Take, Part 2: Three Steps to Deep, Power-Filled Breathing

pursuit athletic performanceAs runners, swimmers, cyclists, and triathletes we're always talking about the next workout, paces we strive to achieve, upcoming races on the calendar. Sometimes we need to, literally, take a breath and think about some very fundamental ways our bodies are working. It's why we are taking the time to write about our most involuntary of actions--breathing--and how it can be trained to help maximize your athletic pursuits.

Many cultures believe the simple process of breathing is the essence of being. As many of you know, in yoga the breath is known as prana, or a universal energy. In our previous post we talked about how sport training should absolutely include work on diaphragmatic breathing techniques. Today, let's talk about the idea of doing more to integrate this "universal energy" with athletic movement.

Isn't it amazing how "hard" some movements are when our breathing isn't connected to that movement? Conversely, how much easier do things feel when we connect and integrate our breathing into all we do?

We believe the integration of the breath with athletic movement may be the most under appreciated and underutilized aspect of moving better and getting stronger. And it's all so simple. The key to utilizing this powerful tool? It begins with AWARENESS. Simple awareness.

Think about the relaxed rhythm you need when swimming to generate efficient and powerful strokes. Integrating the breath is a central component, is it not? Mess up the breath when swimming, and efficiency and smooth easy speed go out the window.

Runners who breathe deeply and diaphragmatically can run at a faster pace with less effort. Breathing deeply, in and out through the nose and mouth not only gets more air into the lower lobes of your lungs, it also helps you maintain better posture and a relaxed composure. The next time you watch a good cyclist climb powerfully yet relaxed, you can be sure proper, rhythmic, deep breathing is part of that easy-seeming form.

How to work on your breathing?

Step One
The first step is to simply become mindful and aware of what you are doing and how you're doing it, by integrating the diaphragmatic inhalation/exhalation exercise into your daily routine. It is deceptively simple, but it takes focus and practice.

To begin, lie on your back on the floor. This position creates an enhanced postural awareness. Be sure your pelvis is in a neutral position, and your shoulders are relaxed down and back with palms facing up. Put one hand on the stomach area and the other on the mid chest area. Relax as much as possible, allowing your body to "sink" into the floor. This position of lying on your back creates enhanced postural awareness; however, this exercise can be practiced in other positions.

Start by recognizing (awareness) where the breathing movement is taking place at that moment. Do you recognize which area is moving? Can you feel the movement more under the hand which is on your stomach, or under the one on your chest? Don't make judgments at this point about what is "good" or "bad," or even try to change what you are doing, just observe and become aware of what you are doing, however subtle it might be.

Step Two
Now that you are aware of what you are doing, you will begin to change and shape your breath. The first step is to focus on extending each EXHALE. That is, each time you exhale, simply try to lengthen how long you breathe out. Next, can you change that exhalation so that the hand over your stomach sinks inward under your hand? Once you start to feel it moving under that hand, try to increase the depth and intensity of the exhalation.

Now that you are feeling your belly sinking to the floor as you exhale, have you also noticed the movement that occurs naturally during the inhalation that follows? Your stomach, which sank during the exhale, is now bulging outward as you inhale. What is happening? It is simple but profound: the diaphragm is descending caudally (toward the pelvis), causing your belly to move outward.

Step Three
Now that you are breathing diaphragmatically, see if you can both increase and decrease the amplitude of the movements. Remain aware of what is moving. Relax and try to feel the same movements whether you are inhaling a small volume of air, or a larger volume of air. Nice work! Be aware that as you practice, you may find yourself falling back into chest breathing. No worries, pause for a moment and come back to your awareness.

This seemingly simple exercise is the basis for learning a new and powerful way to breathe more deeply and fully. It is a technique that will unleash more powerful athletic movements and performance!

Lastly, for now, as you bring this awareness into your athletic training, be sure to EXHALE on exertion, INHALE on recovery. Be aware when you are holding your breath when you shouldn't be. Breathe deeply.

Take the time to work on your breathing. It's free, you can do it anywhere, and it is the most pleasant of all training exercises.

Every Breath You Take, Part 1: Do You Know How to Breathe? can be found here.

Core Stability and Swimming: What’s The Connection?

Coach Al Lyman, gait analysis and functional movement expert

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

I had a great conversation worth sharing on the issue of core stability and its vital role in swimming. Triathletes, in particular, ask me about this all the time.

In the audio below I discuss what it means to have a stable core, and I explain the purpose of training that stability. Let's just say that consciously trying to "engage the core" when swimming--or doing any other sport for that matter--is NOT the way to generate power. Rather, it's all about building core stability as the foundational element of proper and powerful movement that translates across all sports.

Myths about core strength and core stability are rampant. I talk about a number of these issues in the audio, and you can learn more in our blog post series on the core beginning with What You Don't Know About the Core Can Hurt You.

Train smart, and have a great weekend!

Coach Al

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pursuit athletic performance, gait, gait analysis, online gait analysis, virtual gait analysis, boston marathon, triathlon, cycling

Learn Something New About How You’re Moving!

Coach Al Lyman

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. ~Chinese Proverb

Matt Kredich, the women's swim coach at University of Tennessee, gave an excellent talk at the American Swim Coaches Association convention I attended. There are many things I could expound upon from Matt's talk, but one thing he said about setting goals for dryland training rang especially true for me:

If we move the body through the RIGHT sequence of movement, the body learns something. ~Matt Kredich

That simple statement is a summary of what my partner Dr. Kurt Strecker and I emphasize daily with our Pursuit Athletic Performance athletes and clients in our Gait Analysis Lab. It is what I preach to the athletes I coach in regards to proper, authentic movement in strength training, and in all sport skills. This is how I see it:

  • Moving authentically = quality learning = improving skills = more efficiency, economy and better production of force = more power = more speed!
  • Moving poorly or not correctly = poor learning = less skill development = less power AND increased risk of injury = stagnant or lack of improvement, or worse, injury and burnout, mentally and physically.

I fully believe that my enthusiasm for what I do as a coach and athlete is grounded in the idea of continual LEARNING and growth, NOT in simply training hard and racing.

So I encourage you--this week, go out and LEARN something new about how you're moving! The year is new, and it's great time to do so. Since this post was inspired by a swim coach, let's stick with the sport of swimming. Here are a couple of suggestions that can help you learn about how you're moving in the water:

1. Find a coach in your area who is versed in training on the Vasa swim ergometer. (The Vasa is such a great training tool, and we'll talk more about that in future posts.) Being on the Vasa with someone who can give you appropriate feedback is a great way to LEARN about how you move when you swim. We have no reason when on the Vasa to NOT move correctly. Swimming or any other movement starts with executing some basic proper skills. The Vasa is great for this skills-based learning.

2. Videotape yourself in the water. Video work is essential! How else will you know what you're doing? And if you don't know what you're doing, how can you know what must change to improve? Start videotaping yourself, and do it routinely. Start now.

We spend so many hours training, yet so few of those hours are spent really trying to understand what we should do, vs. what we are actually doing. In my mind, that adds up to a fairly large amount of wasted time and energy.

Think it's time for me to schedule another swim clinic....