Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Few Good Things

by Cameron Diaz
I hope these past weeks have been filled with things like sand between your toes, sunsets, mint lemonade, and ice cold watermelon.  Our family has been surviving the heat by leaving the hot oven known as Arizona, for cooler temps in California and the beautiful mountains of Park City, Utah.  

During my travels, I have discovered some treasures and tips I thought I'd pass along to you!

1.  The Body Book by Cameron Diaz
If you judge a book by a cover, you'd give this book a 10.  But there's so much more to this read than the model shot of the nearly naked Cameron Diaz on it's cover.  This book has so much great information on nutrition, health and how to take care of one's body.  What I like about this book, is that Diaz confesses that despite being thin her entire life, she was not always the model of healthy living.  She was a drive-thru junkie and ate fast-food daily.  When she did change her nutrition, her skin began to glow and her overall well-being improved.  She writes like she was talking to you as a friend.  It's important to be strong, to eat a variety and fruits and vegetables, to drink lots of water, and to get those endorphins that come from exercise and sweat!  Kudos, Cameron, your book is spot on!

2.  Knowledge: Nutritionist versus Licensed Dietician
As an associate coach at Sigma Human Performance, I am able provide coaching packages that include personalized training plans that can be paired with nutritional food plans.  Katie Rhodes is on staff at Sigma as the Licensed Dietician.  Katie recently explained to our staff that she IS NOT a nutritionist, and we should not confuse the two.  While Licensed Dieticians have a degree from a university, anyone who is interested or has looked into nutrition can call themselves a nutritionist.   If you want solid advice from a credentialed authority, you should consult the expertise from a LD, not someone who likes recipes and shares tips and
ideas which may or may not be accurate.  Good to know, Katie, and thanks for clearing that up.

3.  Small Town Races
Spudman fun, it's a tradition 

Over the past month, I've participated in three races that were set in small town locations.  First, the American Fork Half Marathon, which winds through AF Canyon and finishes at the local high school. This race was absolutely beautiful with the canyon as it's backdrop.  The weather was perfect and they offered Kneader's french toast at the finish line!  Delicious.  

Second, was the Deseret News Half Marathon.  While not quite so small town, this race followed a course down a canyon and through a parade route for the state's Pioneer Day festivities.  I love a parade!   It was nice to finish in a big tree-lined park with Utah Creamies (another state treasure) at the finish line.  Utah in the summer is devine.

And finally, the Spudman Triathlon in Burley, Idaho.  The thing about this race is it is all about family, friends and fun.  Those triathletes with TT bikes and aero helmets are out of place here.  This is a perfect race for first timers, or those with a fear of swimming.  A current in the river allows for non-swimmers to float on their back to T1 and still get out of the water in about 35 minutes.  

The local Lions Club has hosted this race for 28 years.  Everyone gets a Idaho spud in their swag bags as well as at the pre-race meal.  The course travels through bucolic farmlands with neighbors aiming their hose and sprinklers onto the streets for a little cool refreshment.  An occasional buzz from the crop dusters above is the only sound you'll hear on this quiet, happy course.  I'm sure most of the entrants would never stop in Burley, Idaho.  But this town should be proud of the event they host.  They do it right and I'm sure most entrants plan a yearly trek to this small town just for this race.  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Gliding Versus Extension

by Sheila Taormina

In freestyle swimming, gliding is holding your leading arm out in front of your body for too long. Gliding makes you slower (see this post The Swimming Equation). Some swimmers, particularly triathletes, glide simply because it feels easier, but when you glide, you are missing the opportunity to take more strokes that will propel you forward faster. Gliding feels easier because it’s slower, just like soft-pedaling your bike or walking up a hill instead of running. Both are easier, both are much slower than racing.

So “How long is too long to hold your arm out in front?” When does arm extension become gliding?

During her career as a Olympic swimmer and world cup triathlete, Sheila Taormina reviewed archival video of the world’s top swimmers to analyze their swimming technique, stroke counts, and stroke rates. What she found makes answering this reader simple:

Extension becomes gliding at 1.7 seconds or longer.

Many gliders have stroke rates of 2 to 3 seconds per arm cycle. Since they are taking fewer strokes to cross the pool, these swimmers have low stroke counts, but they are also taking a lot longer to do it. (In this post, Sheila explains The Swimming Equation, showing why gliding slows swimmers down.)

In Chapter 7 of Swim Speed Secrets, Sheila includes a table that shows the stroke rates of the world’s fastest swimmers. Top swimmers swim with a stroke rate between 1.15 and 1.6 seconds. Any longer is gliding instead of swimming fast. The most common stroke rate among top swimmers is 1.3-1.4 seconds per cycle.

This may sound like a quicker cadence than you’d expect. When watching the summer Olympics, for example, some of the big guys look like they are hardly moving their arms as they set new world records. Even the elites who extend the most, like Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe, simply appear as if they are moving their arms slowly. If you got a stopwatch and counted the time from one arm’s entry to its re-entry, you’d find that Phelps and Thorpe have stroke rates of 1.5-1.6 seconds per full arm cycle. Female elites swim on the faster end of the range. Sprinters in the 50m and 100m distances stroke even faster, between 1 and 1.2 seconds per cycle.

How to Time Your Freestyle Swimming Stroke Rate Swimming CadenceAre you a glider? Here’s a simple test to find your stroke rate:

Get a friend, a stopwatch, a clipboard, paper, pencil, and head to the pool.
Warm up.
Swim a series of 100s at your goal race pace.
During these, your friend should time one full arm cycle. That is, start the stopwatch as soon as your leading arm hits the water and then stop it when that same arm hits the water surface in front of you again. (It doesn’t matter which arm.)
Your friendly assistant should time your stroke several times during each 100. She should also occasionally time two full cycles (right arm then left arm) and divide that time by two to minimize error from reaction time.
Now you have some data! Review the stroke rates your friend wrote down. You should now know your current stroke rate. If your rate is over 1.6 seconds, then you are presented with a wonderful opportunity: speed up your cadence and you’ll instantly swim faster!

Turning TV Time into Tube Time

Reader Beth, who has been writing about her progress with the Swim Speed Workouts program through comments on the Test Team reports, makes an excellent suggestion for comparing your stroke rate to the pros: Watch them race on TV or via online video and move your arms along. If their stroke rate feels fast, you probably need to speed up your arm cycles. You can also turn tube time into Tube Time: get your swim tubing and do a tubing set that matches the cadence of the pros on screen.

Swim Speed Workouts includes drills and speed sets designed to improve your stroke rate. If you own the book already, take a look at the green toolkit cards for a discussion of stroke rate and the swimming equation. Workout 5-1 includes sets that help swimmers find that perfect middle ground of short, powerful strokes and proper arm extension.

For a complete discussion of freestyle stroke count and stroke rate, take a look at Swim Speed Secrets.

Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True