Active Blu - Open Water Venue.

Active Blu - Open Water Venue.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Chasing your dream.

Active Blu Training Day.
Since arriving in Perth I have been surrounded by a core of very committed Open Water Swimmers and Triathletes, training in the pools, ocean and rivers. Swimming in Australia is a way of life and you find very few people that do not hold a passion for the sport.

One of the largest swim events held in Western Australia is the Rottnest Channel Swim, this is a 20km swim from Cottoesloe Beach and finishes in Thompson Bay, Rottnest Island. This event can be taken part in as a team, duo or solo, but which ever you decide to do takes commitment, training and courage.

Cottesloe Beach - The Start of the Rottnest Swim.
Swimming in some of the most Shark infested waters in Australia, the event crosses the channel where these big fish are most prevalent. The depth of the channel only reaches a little over 20 meters and due to the waters remaining warm, it also attracts all sorts of interesting marine life.

The motivations behind why people partake in such an event are vast, few are out to win, determined to beat the rest of the field, while others are driven by the challenge and want to just make it across the divide of water.

What ever the driving force, each and every individual shows amazing dedication to training. Swimmers are up at all times putting in the hours, maybe a 10km river swim before work, or a technique session with the squad after dropping the kids at school. These guys are inspirational, making time for their passion around their normal day to day life.

Now although the swim itself is of interest to me, my real curiosity lies in the reasons behind why some people choose to swim the event and others don't. There are the obvious answers to this question, such as: 'Can not swim', 'injury', 'Scared of the sharks', but if all things are equal, what makes one person say yes to such a challenge while the other decline.

Now this is true of everything in life, you probably know people that always take the new challenge and say yes to every new experience or opportunity. Maybe you are that person or maybe you wish you could have the courage to 'step up' next time. So ask your self what is holding you back, be honest.

If  in the answer the word 'fear' appears (or similar) welcome to what holds back most of our population. Often we are stifled or hampered by fear, whether it is the fear of not achieving your goal and dream or in fact the complete opposite, the fear of achieving and being successful in your ambitions.

It all comes down to risk taking, are we prepared to move out of our comfort zones and take that risk? When what we know is comfortable, reliable and secure why would we chance taking on the unknown, for insecurity, possible embarrassment and apprehension. But what if it all leads to success and by making that decision, you improve your life, you become happier, your self worth increases, along with your pride and sense of accomplishment. Is that then worth it?

Mandurah 70.3 2012
So ask yourself what you would like to do this year, set a target, challenge or think about your dream. Now consider all the ways you can achieve this, not all the reasons you can't. Then think about the support, advice and training you may need and go find the people who will encourage, support and help you through this process.

Now voice your dream, make the commitment and revel in the success of taking that first step. Good luck, I would be really interested in hearing any plans.

"If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got"
(Tony, Robbins)

Friday, 4 January 2013

CSS your New Year.

It is 2013, time for a new start and to get back into the pool. 
Many of us may have already made resolutions this year, now it’s time to make one to improve your swimming?
Perth - Claremont Pool
Let’s start with working out exactly where you are with your swimming by performing a Critical Swim Speed (CSS) Time Trial. Now try not to worry, we are just testing your current maintainable swim pace over 1500m.

Basically we are going to get you to swim two timed swims, 1 x 400m and 1x 200m. The 400m swim approximately assesses your current aerobic or endurance capacity whereas the shorter 200m swim looks more closely at your anaerobic or sprint ability. Some people by way of physiology or type of training they have been doing perform better at sprint-based events, however, to be truly proficient in endurance events it is your aerobic capacity that we trying to target and develop with CSS training.

The maths used to calculate your CSS pace are actually very simple and just look at the drop-off between your 200m and 400m times. Those athletes with the ability to sustain a pace over a long period will see relatively little difference between the two times, whereas those with more of an affinity for sprinting will see a greater drop-off. By calculating your CSS you have a very simple benchmark from which to develop. These tests serve as a useful guidance and training tool and can be retested every 4 to 6 weeks to show improvements gained. (Find out more about CSS)

Case Study
After coaching in Perth for the last three months I got my chance to join the squad in the water, today focused on re testing the squads CSS. We got straight into the 4.8km set and incorporated the two timed swims 1 x 400m TT, followed shortly after by 1 x 200m TT. 
4.8km CSS Set
My times:

400m TT = 5m 46sec

200m TT = 2m 48Sec

This works out my CSS = 1m29sec / 100m

When compared to the previous test taken 12 weeks ago, the results show an improvement of 13 sec over the 12 week period. Working out to be an improvement of  1.083 sec per week.

The results also show a very small drop off between the 400m and 200m TT, indicating that as a swimmer I would go better over longer distances. This is expected as my training is currently focused towards swimming a 20km open water swim to Rottnest Island, Perth.

Now these results are not what we would expect to see, on average we would like to see an approximate improvement of 4/5% or 4/5 secs over a 10 week period.
So why such an improvement?
  • I had done little swim training in the 2 months before test 1.
  • I became more consistent with my training before test 2.
  • I had increased the number of swim sessions per week after test 1.
  • Training sessions consisted of strength, threshold, open water and technique. not think too long about this, get down the pool, record your times and work out your current CSS. All the maths can be worked out on the SwimSmooth website or using the iphone app.

To all my squad members both Active Blu and Kendal Triathlon Club, please jump in the pool for testing and email your CSS in preparation for some of the sessions I will be sending through to you. This will also help towards planning the sessions for you in March on my return. email: