Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Training Update: Swim Lessons and Power Tests:

Dang I’ve been slipping.  It’s already been about a month since my last blog entry, so sorry about the delay.  It’s been a busy few weeks, not only with training, but trying to finalize the logistics of my first races as well as all the other “normal” stuff that needs to happen.  Typical of the winter so far, my 2 kids have been swapping illnesses over the past 4-6 weeks.  Once one is better, a few days later the other comes down with something.  Basically sick, get healthy, repeat.  Last week everything seemed to peak, when BOTH came down with double ear infections and the flu.  Luckily the flu ran it’s course and they are getting just about back to normal.  Now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that neither my wife nor myself come down with the flu.  Oh well, so it goes with 2 kids in daycare and winter that won’t quit.

Back to my training…
As the season creeps up, I have been focusing on quality and consistency over the past 8 weeks, and I’ve seen promising results.  Even though it is technically Spring, winter is still firmly holding on to Michigan.  As a result, my outdoor training has still been somewhat limited besides running (i.e. 1 outside bike ride so far!).  As good as it’s been to get outside, Spring and warmer temps cannot come soon enough…the snow and ice just doesn’t seem to end!

Besides my typical training plan, I had 2 other interesting events as well.  The first was a swim lesson and the other was the Fraser Bicycle Indoor TT Race #4 on March 15.

Still Learning to Swim!
Ah yes….still spending extra time in the pool and trying to learn the fastest and most efficient way to get from the Start line to T1.  The extra time in the pool has been great not only for my swim fitness, but I have a new understanding and awareness of my swim form.  The extra time has simply given me a better feel for the water and sense of my catch, pull and body rotation.  I still have many things to improve to get where I would like to be, but I’m seeing progress and that is what counts.

Given where I was in my training plan, this was also the perfect time to have another swim lesson.  Over the past 2 seasons, Coach Bonne Karas (, has evaluated my swim technique and helped me to knock minutes off my Ironman swim split.  This was my first lesson in over 6 months, and her feedback was eye opening (again!)  The funny part about swimming is that you THINK you are doing it all right and in reality you are not even close.  Having another set of eyes to break down your technique is essential to improve swim form.   Similar to the past, here are the highlights:
  1. Widen arm entry:  I still have a tendency to enter the water in line with my head, which leads to a slight cross-over and snaking in the water.
  2. Improve Catch: I enter the water thumb first and continue that hand position through the pull phase.  The result is a hand that slips through the water due to an ineffective and weak catch.
  3. Head position:  I still keep my head high, causing hips to drop. 
  4. Turnover:  Typical of many triathletes, I still have a relatively low turnover rate. 
Unfortunately, these comments are nothing that I haven’t heard before, but now I know the key areas where I need to focus first.

Power Testing:
Once again, it was race time for the Fraser Bicycle Indoor TT Series.  Race #4 was held on March 14 and 15, and this time it was a longer course of 21.87 miles over a popular local training route called Hines Drive.  The course was a series of many short, steep rollers that often put me right between the gears I wanted.  I was often pushing 20 watts over or under than target, but that’s part of racing and it was good variability to practice before the outdoor riding season begins.  The ride was very similar to the others:  painful, yet rewarding.  Most FTP testing protocols are variations of either a 20 or 40 minute estimations, instead of an hour of all out riding.  Rarely do I ever do an all-out 60-minute test, which is the most accurate way to estimate your FTP, and this is the perfect way to have that extra motivation for 60 HARD minutes on the trainer.

So what happened?  My final time was about 54 minutes and given how I felt, it was a great validation of my FTP power and pacing, with the added bonus of winning of the stage.

That’s it for now, happy training!

For more information on swim or coaching services by Bonnie Karas please see


  1. Hello Tom,
    Just a quick message to ask if you would be interested in a ‘mutual’ following on twitter. I am currently following you now and am awaiting for your follow-back. (#FYI I do RT’s ‘anytime’ for all #Triathletes #Cyclists #UltraRunners #Marathoners #FitnessProfessionals who follow me on Twitter and have something important they want mentioned for support…)

    All the very best to you & your family for 2013 & beyond Tom. Look forward to hearing from you…


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