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Category Archives: Swimming

Swimming paddles… whats the point?!

A bugbear of mine whilst swimming at my pool is people who use hand or finger paddles! Personally I just don’t see the point of them, and the use of them by swimmers on a Sunday morning lane swimming session really annoys me…!

I understand what they are used for, swimmers can increase their (stroke) strength by using them. However I strongly feel that they are counter productive (especially for a Sunday morning swimmer, who judging by their body-type does not undertake any other form of strength or conditioning training!).

  • Firstly, you will never be able to use them during any event or race
  • The sudden added resistance could potentially cause an injury in the very complex shoulder joint
  • Your technique changes when wearing/using them, but will that really benefit your stroke when you don’t have them on? (I can see people just slipping back to their usual technique when not using them!)
  • It could mask (and even promote) a poor technique because your times are good due to the extra force they create…

Personally I feel that casual swimmers simply use them as an ego boost at the pool, and it really bugs me when lane swimming in a busy pools’ fast lane that those users don’t space themselves, insisting on banging into my feet for the few lengths (at a time) they wear these things for. It doesn’t prove anything, and for the rest of the swim I simply adjust my stroke or starting space accordingly so as not to impact on their swim (as generally I am faster than them over a sustained swimming distance).

For me it is far more important and sensible to work on several stroke techniques, one for powerful strokes to sprint or create extra lift when you need to, and one for endurance and efficiency, keeping energy in the arms whilst maintaining a decent pace over distance. To enable me to develop my power I have been supplementing my swimming with a varied strength and flexibility training program, which is seeing real positive gains in the pool/lake/sea whilst greatly restricting any injury issues…

I’m no expert, but I’m starting to dread my pool sessions because of these people… I hope they aren’t out in force tomorrow morning!

Rant over… 😉

Paul.

P.S. I would love to hear what swimmers reading this think, please leave a comment… do you use paddles? 🙂

 
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Posted by on 31 August, 2013 in Injury, Swimming, Triathlon

 

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July Mileage

July was an interesting month for us, both started new jobs and I saw the end of my old 12 hour shift pattern which included regular nights. These were definitely having a negative impact on my training goals, and since the change to good old Mon-Fri 9-5 working I have been able to significantly increase my strength and conditioning training, which I’m very happy about! 😀
I’m working on some way to collate those workouts and present data on how much both of us do aside from running, cycling and swimming (as much to keep for our own records as to share with you!).

Irina ran the very hilly and hot Frome Half Marathon this month and posted a very impressive time of 1:57! Her mileage last month with the training for that is seriously impressive!! Her dreams of running a marathon must surely be set to come true next year…

Paul’s July Running: 26.5 Miles
Paul’s July Cycling: 77.5 Miles
Paul’s July Swimming: 4 Miles

Irina’s July Running: 85.3 Miles!!
Irina’s July Cycling: 7.8 Miles

We’re off camping for a long weekend this weekend, where I hope to do some sea swimming in my new (and first ever) Triathlon wetsuit. Can’t wait to experience the major difference in swimming in a wetsuit having never done this before… I’m also doing a basic Mountain Leading Navigation Course in August, which will hopefully pave the way (pun intended! ;)) for some solo hiking/camping expeditions and more exciting hikes for TeamPI in the future.

Here’s to new jobs, more training and seeing better results! Bring on August… 8)

Paul.

 

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June Mileage

Well June has been one hell of a month for TeamPI!! We went on holiday to Scotland and did lots of mountain walks including some quality scrambling and bouldering. On our return we both started in brand new jobs as well! Knackered doesn’t even describe how tired we were at the end of the month, lol!

Anyway, we still managed to get some mileage in around all this, and have measured and included our hikes from Scotland too (although not including lots of shorter days all spent on the feet and sightseeing).

These next weeks will be very trying, Paul is  moving from 12 hour day and night shift patterns back into a busy office / management role and Irina is taking on a LOT more management responsibility in her new position, so we have a new life/work/fitness balance to strike, which will no doubt be testing, but we are very determined to not let our great progress and fitness goals slip…

We firmly believe that excellent nutrition, good training plans, and realistic (but challenging) goals are the key to success, and that there is no real reason that a busy job or lifestyle should stop you! (People seem all to happy to make excuses or procrastinate their way out of their ideals). Not TeamPI! 😉

Paul & Irina’s Joint Hiking Mileage in June: 40.7

Paul’s June Running: 14 Miles
Paul’s June Cycling: 10.9 Miles
Paul’s June Swimming: 0.6 Miles

Irina’s June Running: 47.1 Miles
Irina’s June Cycling: 7.7 Miles

Due to financial constraints, Paul’s summer Triathlon plans have to take a back seat for now, but Irina is running the Frome Half Marathon in a few weeks, which looks like it will be a great new experience and a tough hilly run!

Time to ramp up that training…

Paul. 🙂

 

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April Mileage

Firstly, apologies for the lack of blogging this past month from Team Pi, it’s been a weird month!! We’ll get back on it in May…

It’s been an odd month with a few niggling injuries each and Paul had a weird heart scare at the start of the month after a viral chest infection! In fact the start of the year hasn’t gone to plan at all… but we’re positive and pushing on to get things back on track, with lots of plans this year.

Irina jumped on the bike this month (cycling to the pool for her weekly Aqua Running session) and enjoyed it, so is planning some more cycling this summer. (She had the nice surprise of newbie saddle-bum! 😉 )

Paul’s April Running: 19.9 Miles
Paul’s April Cycling: 12 Miles
Paul’s April Swimming: 0.8 Miles

Irina’s April Running: 45.5 Miles
Irina’s April Cycling: 7.7 Miles
Irina’s April Aqua-Running / Pool workouts: 1.5 Hours Approx.

Bristol 10k to look forward to this Sunday, and we’re both raring to go. Sadly I don’t think Paul will be hitting the time he wanted due to the preparation being hit, but should still be comfortably under the hour mark. Our blog on the event will follow Monday or Tuesday. 🙂

Paul.

 

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Aqua running

Through my injury and time-off running I had to re-think my plan, focus, training, and nutrition. And in that time I discovered a new passion which I haven’t even considered.

I am not a big fan of swimming so I wasn’t particularly excited (and perhaps a little bit sceptical) when my physio told me to do aqua running. I learned to swim very late in my life and was (still am) scared of water. But maybe I just respect it too much? …

Aqua running – what is this new fancy exercise? Apparently some of the elite athletes train in the pool only for their big races such as marathon or ultras. I wasn’t quite sold on that but thought I’d give it a go. Aqua running (Water running) as the name suggest is running/jogging in the water. You pretty much run as you would run on the road/treadmill the only difference is that you have more resistance (water) and you have to push harder but without putting much pressure on your joints, bones. This is particularly excellent for rehabilitation after injury but I also found some other benefits (see below).

First phase I started running in the pool at about 1.20m which means I was still running but with less weight which meant not too much pressure on my injury. It was going quite well but still I felt I was putting too much strain on my hip. I did swimming the first 2 weeks (2-3 times a week for about 1 hour) which help with my cardio. But I wanted to run!

Second phase: after few weeks I still very much enjoyed being in the pool so I decided to buy a aqua running belt – investment! I bought one of the simplest and most inexpensive aqua running belts (www.physioroom.co.uk, £20). It does the job for me. It is comfortable to wear and good quality. I am sure it will last me for years. With the belt I am now able to do all the exercises and running in deep water which means I don’t touch the bottom of the pool at all = less pressure, strain, and weight on the hip area. But this also allows me to push more intensive and faster. It does look a little bit silly as all I do is floating with only my head sticking out of water (you do get occasional odd looks but who cares…)

The benefits of aqua running I discovered:

1. You develop an incredible strong core. Oh yes, there is no doubt about it, my core is stronger than ever. So strong that I am unable to eat big portions as I will feel very uncomfortable. See blog.

2. You boost your cardio. As you have to push harder to run (water resistance) you do get very out of breath.

3. Good for developing breathing. As you are in the water which somehow restricts the normal breathing, when you are wearing the belt (which you have to wear it tight abound your waist) it restricts normal breathing even more. This results in body getting very efficient in using every little oxygen it gets. I found that during runs (on the road) my breathing is much more shallow and relaxed and my body doesn’t scream for more oxygen when I run up the hill.

4. Incredible strength in the thighs/buttocks. (Nice one ladies!)

5. Body toning

6. Develop good posture which benefits during running

7. Improve biomechanics for running.You can run in slow motion and pay attention to your arms, posture, how you move your legs. This helps you to develop better biomechanics for running. Once you are on the road you will feel the difference and the benefits.

8. Strengthen calf muscles – I have to wear calf compression after every session for recovery.

9. You burn more calories (well I find it). I have small breakfast (50grams natural probiotoc yogurt with one medium banana and few berries plus fruit tea) 1.5 hours before exercise which gives me enough energy for a 1 hour session in the pool. But I do feel very shaky and hungry afterwards and in desperate need for 2nd breakfast (which usually contains eggs and grapefruit). I do refuel as soon as possible for quick recovery. That way I am able to do long(ish) run in the afternoon.

10. This is something I found absolutely helps me too, flexibility in my hips before log runs. As I am also doing dynamic moves in the pool, this helps my hips to become flexible. I do aqua running/swim early morning and long run in the early afternoon and I find the run much more relaxed, freer and almost easy. (but maybe is just me who cannot wait to be on the road fully again)

11. It is pure fun! Trust me on this one. You going to love it. Especially when you start seeing/feeling the results. It might take you few weeks to get the right technique, timing etc., but you get there. Stay strong and focused!

In addition to aqua running I included few exercises which I do while in the water like:

– Sprints which “thrust” my heart rate up and muscles scream for oxygen (but just keep pushing).
– Scissors exercise.
– Dynamic moves for improving hip mobility and flexibility: donkey kicks, donkey whips, fire hydrant etc.
– Lunges. (Without a belt, starting at about 1m and walk to shallow end) do as you would do lunges in the dry.

You can see something that doesn’t sound very hard is actually an amazing workout for all-round-body with so many benefits. And you do all this in one hour! Result! All you need to do now is to find a local swimming pool. Check out if they offer a free-swimming area. Our local leisure centre offers lane swim 1/2 pool and the other half is for “swim for all”.

Irina

Aqua Belt

 
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Posted by on 15 March, 2013 in Health & Wellbeing, Recovery, Swimming

 

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February Mileage

February was another tough month, Irina still coming back gently from the stress fractured hip and Paul working hard to overcome the tight muscular pain in the hip / buttock area. (It’s now loosened up enough to take up my entry into the Bath Half Marathon tomorrow!) 🙂

Paul’s February Running: 24.4 Miles
Paul’s February Cycling: 9.4 Miles
Paul’s February Swimming: 1.6 Miles

Irina’s February Running: 9.8 Miles

Looking forward to the Bath Half Marathon tomorrow, and the following rest period! (Although I am working busy 12 hour shifts from Tuesday and will be on the feet most of those days! 😕 )

Paul.

 
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Posted by on 2 March, 2013 in Cycling, Mileage & Stats, Running, Swimming

 

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