The leaves have yet to color and fall, but the outdoor long course meters (LCM) end-of-season signs are already here—pool closures, big taper meets, and worn out equipment (so far I’ve tossed two training suits, a pair of goggles, and a pair of flip-flops.) It must be time to review and assess my summer training and results!
Normally my summer training and goals would be easy to set because they’d revolve around my LCM taper meet events. This summer however, with no planned LCM taper meet, I still needed goals to stay motivated, but they didn’t have to be as time-based as in the past.
By Memorial Day I decided to devote the summer to working on my weaknesses—turns, backstroke, breaststroke, kicking, and maintaining mental focus during the third portion of any race. I also picked two time-based goals: 1) break 1:15:05, my most recent 5K postal time, and 2) make the age group LCM QTs in my “off” events (50/100 free, 50/100/200 back & breast.)
Here’s what happened:
Turns: Definite progress here. Thanks to last year’s surgery, I can now take advantage of being small by getting into a tighter spin position. Although I need to work further on planting my feet wide and tightening my streamline position, I’ve noticed that I’m surfacing further with less effort. I suspect improvement here is due to heightened awareness (“diving” into walls/keeping head down out, tucking as much as I can), and better condition (strength and flexibility are building back, hooray!) Next goal: Add kicking—flutter or dolphin to surface as either would be better than the current “I don’t kick off walls at all.”
Breaststroke: Mixed results, mainly because my mechanics still need a lot of tweaking—I just don’t feel where/when to apply the “oomph.” My repeat times came down a bit this summer, but I think it’s only because I continued to get back in shape. I really need to find a breaststroke whisperer as I’d love to stop falling way behind on this leg in IMs.
Mental focus during the third quarter of a race: I didn’t race much this summer, but when I did, it seemed as if I did a better job of “staying present.” What’s helping here: picking one technique element to focus on and positive self-talk. It was particularly exciting to see my 5K postal splits from this July because my pace remained steady during my personal sticky spot of 3,000-4,000m. I suspect more work is required here though, because in practice my splits and repeats still spike up during the third phase of most sets/distances.
Backstroke: Definite improvement here, reinforced by seeing faster repeat times, often while going on a faster interval. I think my pace has dropped about 5+ seconds since May, which is exciting. Improvement here is hard to pin-point though. My gut feeling is that it’s mostly due to getting back into shape. Although, as I don’t swim as straight outside as I do inside (no ceiling lines to follow!) maybe this stroke is benefiting from the drills I’ve been doing every warm-up.
Kicking: I give myself an “F,” a well-deserved failing mark as I did not focus on kicking at all this summer. Heck, I didn’t even try. Another season passed yet I didn’t do at least one kick set per week…ah well, it’s on the list for the short course yards (SCY) season ahead.
Time Goals: I can check off “swim faster than last 5K” (2013), as I went from 1:15:05.0 to 1:14:10.07. Swimming any event faster one, two, or several years later is always extremely rewarding as you age. I did not make any of my age group “off events” QTs though, which is vexing. Going in, I didn’t think this goal would be that hard, but it proved to be tough. I was closest (less than a second off each) in the 50/100 free, which gives me confidence that I can soon cross off that column of events per QTs. But I am so far off all the back and breast QTs that it’s a bit intimidating. I really liked this particular goal however, so I plan to keep it on the board for the next seasons, both SCY and LCM.
To sum, it was a decent summer for me despite a “demotivated” bouts caused by a combo of post-SCY nationals let down and lack of a LCM taper meet. I’m most pleased about my progress with turns and most frustrated by my lack of breast improvement. I plan to swim through August when and where I can among the pool closures. While not an uber-training phase, it’s an ideal time to learn some new drills and sort out goals for the upcoming SCY season.
Next week: Major Surgery and the Swimmer
Next week: Major Surgery and the Swi