Thursday, May 12, 2011

Endurance swim test

This week I am in California on a Business Trip.  Yesterday I managed to get back to my hotel early enough to complete a decent workout.  The hotel that I stayed at provides free access to the club sport gym next door, which has 2 outdoor heated pools.  The other bonus is that it is open from 5am to 11pm, so I don’t really have any excuse for not at least trying to work out.  I was able to swim outside, under the sun for the first time in a long time!
Since I was traveling and couldn’t complete my usual Masters session, I wanted to attempt a long endurance swim.  Given that I had some free time, I figured it might be a good idea to attempt a 2.4mile swim continuous swim, the same length for an ironman.  Looking at the unit conversion app on my phone, 2.4 miles measures 4223.9 yards – I figured I would round that out to 4,250 – so I would finish on the same end that I started.  I have completed 2 1hr continuous swims in the past 6 months I was confident that I could make the extra time/distance – hoping for something in the 1:16-1:20 time frame (9min/500y).
I ended up finishing in 1:14:54.  I am very happy with that.  I started conservatively and kept a pretty good rhythm throughout the whole swim.  I never felt out of breath, but wasn’t sitting back going too slow either.  I have only been swimming laps for 2 years and am still doing open turns, so there is plenty of room for improvement.  This speed is my current “sweet spot”, exerting enough energy to move at a good pace, but not pushing so hard that I would fatigue early.  My average ended up being 1:46/100y.  Often on shorter efforts I am in the 1:35-1:40 range, so for a long endurance effort I am satisfied with that.  I think I could go a lot faster, but I’m not really training for a swim-only event, I still need to be fresh for the bike/run segments for Triathlons.
I am terrible at counting laps.  I find that my thoughts drift in many directions, and  would often find myself trying to remember how many laps or how far I have gone.  Counting is not so hard for 200/300/400 yards.  2450yards is 170 laps of a 25y pool, that would be too hard.  I’ve been using the Finis Swimsense for a while now.  It is a fantastic tool for keeping track of laps, time, strokes per lap and even stroke type.  After the session I can upload the workout and analyze everything in detail – here are some examples from yesterday’s swim:-
swimsense-1
swimsense-3
the view above shows the specifics of each lap (25y) – you can click on each one and get the details of that lap.
swimsense-2
the stroke count is interesting – what it tells me is that I stayed within a reasonable range of strokes per lap.  I often find that when I am pushing hard, or getting tired, I take more strokes for each lap.  An average of 10 strokes per lap over 170 laps is good for me.  (note:  strokes are counted for a single arm).  Even though my stroke is really not that great (I’m working on it), I can clearly see that I managed to maintain my stroke through the whole effort, exactly what I would want to do for a long course triathlon race.
Having the swimsense is just like having a power meter for the bike or gps for running, you get a lot of detail that can be helpful to analyze your performance, and compare that over time to see improvement, and see where you can improve.
It will be interesting to see how this session matches up to the 2 events I have coming up:-
  • Reston 1 mile open water swim  (May 29)
  • Eagleman 70.3 – 1.2 miles  (June 12)

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