Total Immersion Forums

Total Immersion Forums (http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/index.php)
-   How To Swim A Mile (http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=25)
-   -   Mile a day? (http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/showthread.php?t=629)

BradMM 08-04-2009 08:49 PM

Mile a day?
 
First of all, I'm fairly certain that I could go out tomorrow and swim a mile no problem. However, whether it was a "good" mile is another issue and whether I could do it regularly is a big "maybe." ONCE AGAIN, I'm thinking about making swimming my PRIMARY type of exercise and, after reading about the health benefits of longer swims, I was thinking about doing a mile a day. I work out 5x/week during lunch at work so my time is somewhat limited but I can make that part work. I also don't do flip turns so I guess that will slow me down.

I see some of the coaches read here so my question is, should I just go "do it" or should I work on something first or work up to it? I have the open water swim DVD and haven't learned the two beat kick but I don't think the distance would necessitate changing my kick.

This is prompted by (1) blood pressure creeping back up, (2) periodic back problems getting more frequent and (3) I LOVE to be in the water! I think I need more aerobic exercise (less anaerobic) and this just seems more sustainable over time... I'm 55 now.

Thanks,

Brad

terry 08-04-2009 09:10 PM

Brad
Setting any goal will benefit your swimming, as will planning a regular routine. And both will benefit your health.
The key element is that your overarching goal is to tirelessly strive to improve your swimming.

Lately I've thought and wrote a lot about the aspects of swimming for health and happiness that go beyond technique. The thread on The Talent Code gets into this and I expect to devote much more time to these topics. So just by setting this goal -- and voicing it publicly, while also asking for help and support -- you've taken an important step. So before getting into details like whether you should swim long or short, whole stroke or drills, here are a few lessons I've taken from "The Talent Code" and other books like "Flow" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and "Mastery" by George Leonard.

1) You can and should set highly ambitious -- even audacious -- goals;
2) There is an identifiable set of attitudes, behaviors and habits associated with the achievement of excellence or mastery.
3) If you learn and practice these behaviors, improvement is almost inevitable and your chance of achieving the goals you set will be greatly enhanced.
4) Your experience of swimming will be far more satisfying as a result of aspiration, optimism and mindful practice.

The key to improvement is to commit to what some call Deliberate Practice and what we call Examined Swimming. The essence of both is to be continually looking for the weak points in your skill and habit, then to focus on fixing errors and strengthening weaknesses.

Longer repeats of whole-stroke will reveal one set of errors or weaknesses. Shorter repeats of whole-stroke or drill will reveal others.

Can you name the top 3 aspects of longer-distance swimming skill that you feel you could improve right now? The main outcome of improving them is that, when you finish swimming a mile, you feel you could swim another right away. Or even better, to feel more energized after swimming a mile, than before.

shuumai 08-04-2009 11:18 PM

If the mile is so easy for you and you don't do flip turns, I propose setting one of your challenges to doing a mile with flip turns! Break the mile into intervals if you choose to or need to in order to do the turns without running out of air and having your stroke come apart. Work up to doing that for one mile total then one mile straight.

I love setting goals for other people. It's so easy for me. hehe

BradMM 08-05-2009 12:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 4794)
Can you name the top 3 aspects of longer-distance swimming skill that you feel you could improve right now?

(1) My first lap is always so awesome and it feels so smooth (except for the turn) and powerful. Then things go down hill from there. I would like to swim longer with that feeling I get from the first lap and that will only come from swimming a bunch more laps... practice!

(2) As suggested above, I think working on the flip turns would enable me to better achieve #1 and enhance my experience of flow throughout the time I'm swimming. The break at the end of each length seems to disrupt things.

(3) Commit to doing it. In the old forum, you'll find at least two threads I posted about "I think I"m a swimmer." I've struggled with this whole notion of what should I be doing for the best use of my work out time for years. Calorie burn and muscle tone used to be highest on the list but I think aerobic capacity is right up there. With the back issues and the creeping blood pressure, I think my best best may be to focus more on swimming with body weight exercise mixed in for resistance training.

Two things about committing.

One, motivation is not an issue but payoff is. I need to be convinced that what I'm doing will provide me the benefits I seek or I'll go elsewhere which is why I've gone away and come back so much. Same with Chi Running but I'm pretty convinced that's out now for me.

Two is related to one. If part of the payoff is that I can be GOOD at something, that's a big motivator. At 55, I pretty much suck at all the things I used to be good at. I played basketball for many years and that ended with a medal in the Senior Olympics (regional) but I knew that was it. My body could no longer do what the mind knew needed to be done. I have friends who still "play" but they aren't really playing, they are just participating which is fine but not for me. I would like to actually be somewhat GOOD at something still. It really pisses me off to go to the gym (I work on a college campus) and feel that I'm some how "less than" the others around me. I guess the ego doesn't go away even when the body falls apart. However, I think that swimming might be the one area where I could at least hold my own. I had a 1 1/2 x body weight dead lift and a 1 x body weight squat three years ago but that's all gone and I don't think those are sustainable anyway (may even be part of the problem now!) but swimming is!

There is no Masters program close (enough) by but I can still do this on my own or at least make progress. So, Terry, the obvious reason for calling me out on the "three things" was to create a plan. I have the beginnings of one and I will find one of the books you mentioned as well because I'm also interested in the mental aspect as well.

Thanks,

Brad

BradMM 08-05-2009 01:23 AM

Oh, yeah, then there's the problem with FOCUS. I have a full time job but I also teach college classes as my part time job and I have a side business but it's also teaching so I control the hours. I've been working on improving my digital photography skills (gave away my 35mm), relearning chemistry (mostly organic), and have a stack of books next to the bed about topics related to plant physiology. My wife is undergoing chemotherapy the rest of 2009 and I spend a lot of time with her both when she's undergoing treatment and when we're home. We work for the same university so we're never very far apart.

I can definitely stay focused on her and her needs but, beyond that, I may get distracted too easily and jump from one thing to another which prevents me from getting very much better at any one.

shuumai 08-05-2009 02:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BradMM (Post 4816)
(1) My first lap is always so awesome and it feels so smooth (except for the turn) and powerful. Then things go down hill from there. I would like to swim longer with that feeling I get from the first lap and that will only come from swimming a bunch more laps... practice!

Perhaps you are applying too much power during the first lap?

The turns could very well be breaking your flow. There are basically two turns for every lap so you need to make them good. Whichever turn you decide to do, learn to do it well. A poor flip turn will not be better than a good open turn.

OK, how about doing intervals of only 2 laps at a time? That would give you multiple opportunities to duplicate the feeling of the first lap during the second lap. Once you can maintain the feeling for 2 laps, increase to 3 lap, and so on.

Use the pauses between intervals to "reset" your body and think about the experience you just had and the focal point(s) you will use during your next interval.

Doing short intervals might also allow you to maintain a higher pace, which would partially compensate for the pauses between intervals. On second thought, it might be best to keep your pace slower with the whole mile in mind.

terry 08-05-2009 11:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BradMM (Post 4816)
If part of the payoff is that I can be GOOD at something, that's a big motivator. At 55, I pretty much suck at all the things I used to be good at.

Brad
This motivation is the most elemental and powerful, and the one with the greatest potential to spark a sustained interest -- even passion as time goes on.

I think I can confidently assert that no personal-mastery quest will prove to be more appropriate, nor offer more opportunity for satisfaction, than swimming.

That's because:
1) As humans we're SO NOT WIRED by evolution to be good at swimming, that the opportunity to improve is virtually universal, nearly limitless and highly accessible. It is literally possible to have an experience in your first 5 minutes that suggests a world of unrealized potential -- mainly by doing Superman Glide.
2) While we may not be wired by evolution to swim well, humans are wired to be "problem-solving machines," and the TI approach is designed to guide you through a logically-sequenced problem-solving process.

There is virtually nothing in the physical arena that I can do as well or easily or feel as good doing as I felt 40 years ago at 18. But in swimming I feel exponentially more capable, skilled, tuned-in, and comprehending than I did at 18. This is a major source of personal satisfaction.

Swim on,
Terry

terry 08-05-2009 11:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shuumai (Post 4821)
OK, how about doing intervals of only 2 laps at a time? That would give you multiple opportunities to duplicate the feeling of the first lap during the second lap. Once you can maintain the feeling for 2 laps, increase to 3 lap, and so on.

Use the pauses between intervals to "reset" your body and think about the experience you just had and the focal point(s) you will use during your next interval.

Shuumai is offering the best advice here. I'll take it a bit farther.
One of the best ways to discover the leading edge of any swimming skill is a ladder set. My two favorites when working on a skill that is particularly exacting or subtle enough to require my full attention are:
25 + 50 + 75 + 100, or
4 x 25 + 3 x 50 + 2 x 75 + 1 x 100

Whether it's an SPL, or a new skill, or a deeper perception, I try to establish it on the 25, then test whether I can maintain it reasonably close to the same level for a 50. If that goes well, I venture on to the 75, etc.

The first version is a simple test. The second version offers me a bit more opportunity to deepen my awareness, or the imprint, before trying to stretch my capability.

If I reach a point where I'm no longer satisfied with my expression of the new skill, I have two choices:
1) Back down the ladder -- I.E. If I lose it on the 75, return to the 50; or
2) Start at the bottom again.
In fact, when doing a ladder like this, I usually plan from the beginning to do at least 3 rounds. I've found that, as a rule of thumb, 3 rounds of any task or set works well as a way of understanding the task (round 1), puzzling out the solution (round 2), and neurally and kinesthetically imprinting the solution (round 3).
A 4th round may or may not be additive. In some cases, yes. In others you no longer sense improvement, or may feel yourself slip back a degree or two.

The key thing is to keep yourself balanced on the fine edge between the challenge of the task you set and your current level of skill.

The other questions are: (1) how much rest and (2) what to do while pausing between repeats.
The answers are:
1) Just enough, but not too much. Enough that fatigue or inattention do not become factors in your ability to do the task well. You want to feel equally fresh, physically and mentally, on subsequent repeats. Initially that will be challenging. As you practice -- and can master the task more efficiently -- you'll find you regenerate more quickly and your rest interval will naturally decrease. The main idea here on rest intervals is not to use random intervals suggested in some book or article. Set your own intervals attuned to your own sense of readiness to do the task well.
2) Keep swimming mentally. Learn to visualize so vividly that your brain never stops working on the problem during the entire duration of the set. The great thing about swimming mentally is it can always be perfect. And the same electrical signals from brain via neural fibers to muscle motor units get sent while swimming mentally as while doing it physically.

BradMM 08-05-2009 04:21 PM

This is a great discussion and I love the advice!

One point I wanted to make to follow up my previous comments. Although focus is a concern, I do have a very sound set of priorities so the distractions are mainly an issue farther out from higher priorities. For example, my wife is always at the top of the list. Work in all forms is second because that's essential for supporting everything else. I got a master's in parks & recreation so we discussed a lot about how people identify themselves and I'd like to identify myself more as an accomplished swimmer and less as whatever I do at work so I want that to become third. I'm ordering The Talent Code from Amazon today, am excited about receiving it and I think that would help support solidifying priority #3.

So, in the short term, I don't want to reduce my calorie expenditure during exercise. Do you think I can follow your guidelines and still get a good workout or should I break it up into ladder set session first followed by "just swimming"? Can I get the same workout intensity by just keeping the breaks short but maintain mindfulness?

Thanks for all your support... I'm excited!

Brad

shuumai 08-05-2009 06:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 4826)
One of the best ways to discover the leading edge of any swimming skill is a ladder set. My two favorites when working on a skill that is particularly exacting or subtle enough to require my full attention are:
25 + 50 + 75 + 100, or
4 x 25 + 3 x 50 + 2 x 75 + 1 x 100

Nice... I like it!

The ladder set also seems like a good way to adjust to the water and warm up a bit. (I'm not the type that drives straight in a goes a few hundreds yards immediately. More like, inch in, paddle around, prime the aquatic breathing, then begin to get my swim on 10 minutes later.)

terry 08-05-2009 06:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BradMM (Post 4830)
Do you think I can follow your guidelines and still get a good workout or should I break it up into ladder set session first followed by "just swimming"? Can I get the same workout intensity by just keeping the breaks short but maintain mindfulness?

Brad
I'm not an expert on calorie burn and always counsel people to be clear on whether their priority is to "get a good workout" or "improve your swimming." I can give plenty of sound advice on the latter, but for the former advise that any physical activity, even if mindless can suffice.

However I've heard reports of quite a few people who've lost significant weight through regular practice of TI drills and skills, perhaps 3 to 4 hours a week.

However, mindful myself of an earlier comment of yours >>If part of the payoff is that I can be GOOD at something, that's a big motivator.>> then I'd say practice is far more likely to produce that outcome than workout.

BradMM 08-05-2009 08:21 PM

Yes, you are right that I may have at least two separate goals here but I don't think they have to be mutually exclusive. I know I, personally, need to greatly increase my aerobic capacity and that requires aerobic exercise so the anaerobic resistance training won't help me. I think I went too far to the other end of the spectrum but now my health (blood pressure) requires me to swing back the other way. I don't have to be 100% with either but higher intensity aerobic work is good for calorie burn, too.

I think I may alternate days, one work on technique and one work on improving my mile time. I agree that practicing technique is very important and I hope that it will all work together to help me reach my goal but I just hate to drop either. I'll certainly monitor things as I go and tweak as needed if there's no progress in one area.

I'll throw other stuff in on the side. Lately, I've been trying to nurse a pulled tendon in my forearm from eight sets, five reps ea, of chinups but I can still do a lot of body weight exercises such as push ups, air squats, lunges, etc. I'm laying off the weights for now.

Because of my initial statement on this thread, I swam 37 laps today (standard 25 yd pool)... added the extra one just in case I miscounted along the way some where. It took me 40 minutes. Because I want aerobic conditioning, lately I have been swimming with a snorkel in my teeth and I do basically Yoga breaths the entire time so breathing doesn't slow me down any. I think that swimming without the snorkel would cause me to be more anoxic/hypoxic and that's not the effect I want even if it might help be swim better sans snorkel. I know the snorkel causes drag - I can feel the difference - but I like this approach for now.

Question: using the snorkel kind of precludes flip turns so what do I want to be shooting for in good open turns? I tried crunching up tight(er) today before turning and that seemed to make them more smooth.

Thanks again for all the great feedback!!!

Brad

madvet 08-05-2009 09:19 PM

Lately I have been excited about trying out the Tempo Trainer, and for the past week I have been just diving in and starting work at a regular tempo, starting at 1.3 seconds per armstroke and then working at gradually faster paces. I noticed that at the end of 45 minutes I wasn't necessarily tired but I just didn't feel like swimming any longer I just felt like it was drudgery.

Today, after looking at Terry's sample workout with the tempo trainer I made sure to have a nice 20 minute warmup including 12 minutes of drills and 8 minutes of slow tempo swimming. Then I swam with the same plan as I had doing before and I swam for an hour and a half -- I was enthusiastic, instead of drudged out, and could have gone for another 30 to 60 minutes if I didn't have to go back to work.

My point being --- you can aim to have an aerobic workout, but don't skimp on the warmup. Your attitude and ability to maintain focused and productive will benefit greatly.

BradMM 08-05-2009 09:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by madvet (Post 4835)
My point being --- you can aim to have an aerobic workout, but don't skimp on the warmup. Your attitude and ability to maintain focused and productive will benefit greatly.

Warm up...????

:o

shuumai 08-06-2009 03:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BradMM (Post 4834)
Question: using the snorkel kind of precludes flip turns so what do I want to be shooting for in good open turns?

You can flip with a snorkel on, but the results might vary with the snorkel design and your skill level.

As with everything else in swimming, your first objective should be learning to reduce drag. It's no different for turns.

BradMM 08-06-2009 04:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shuumai (Post 4850)
You can flip with a snorkel on, but the results might vary with the snorkel design and your skill level.

I figured that it was possible but more difficult. Until I get the flip turn under my belt better, I'll stick with open turns. ;)

Brad

BradMM 08-06-2009 04:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 4825)
Brad
This motivation is the most elemental and powerful, and the one with the greatest potential to spark a sustained interest -- even passion as time goes on.

I think I can confidently assert that no personal-mastery quest will prove to be more appropriate, nor offer more opportunity for satisfaction, than swimming.

That's because:
1) As humans we're SO NOT WIRED by evolution to be good at swimming, that the opportunity to improve is virtually universal, nearly limitless and highly accessible. It is literally possible to have an experience in your first 5 minutes that suggests a world of unrealized potential -- mainly by doing Superman Glide.
2) While we may not be wired by evolution to swim well, humans are wired to be "problem-solving machines," and the TI approach is designed to guide you through a logically-sequenced problem-solving process.

There is virtually nothing in the physical arena that I can do as well or easily or feel as good doing as I felt 40 years ago at 18. But in swimming I feel exponentially more capable, skilled, tuned-in, and comprehending than I did at 18. This is a major source of personal satisfaction.

Swim on,
Terry

I may have to print that and keep it in my swim bag! That in itself is motivational to me!

Thanks,

Brad

terry 08-07-2009 02:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by madvet (Post 4835)
I have been just diving in and starting work at a regular tempo, starting at 1.3 seconds per armstroke and then working at gradually faster paces. I noticed that at the end of 45 minutes I wasn't necessarily tired but I just didn't feel like swimming any longer I just felt like it was drudgery.

Today, after looking at Terry's sample workout with the tempo trainer I made sure to have a nice 20 minute warmup including 12 minutes of drills and 8 minutes of slow tempo swimming.

My point being --- you can aim to have an aerobic workout, but don't skimp on the warmup. Your attitude and ability to maintain focused and productive will benefit greatly.

John
Actually having an aerobic workout is relatively low on my priority list. It's just a natural consequence of swimming for an hour or so. The real priority for me is to swim better than I ever have before, in perhaps some small way. And by so doing to leave the highest-value neural imprint that I can.
I understand what you're saying though, because your final sentence above makes the point.
From the standpoint of a focus that never wavers from creating the highest quality neural imprint, I think of the first 300 to 600 meters as a tuneup, more than a warmup -- i.e. the focus is on tuning my electrical circuits, rather than on increasing the flow rate in my cardiovascular plumbing. The latter happens, and thus can accommodate the greater metabolic demands the body incurs as my nervous system rises to the task of incrementally more exacting combinations of SPL, tempo and duration.
But the phenomenon I now experience most profoundly is the increasing efficiency of my nervous system at performing almost any task, as I increase the number of repetitions.

Thus I seldom turn on the TT until I've swum at least five minutes or so accompanied only by my own thoughts.

terry 08-07-2009 02:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BradMM (Post 4834)
Because I want aerobic conditioning, lately I have been swimming with a snorkel in my teeth and I do basically Yoga breaths the entire time so breathing doesn't slow me down any. I think that swimming without the snorkel would cause me to be more anoxic/hypoxic and that's not the effect I want even if it might help be swim better sans snorkel.

I'll keep making a quiet point, in response to all posts that include some reference to aspects of aerobic conditioning that yes aerobic conditioning happens, but apart from the health benefits (which are inarguable, but if you're a devoted swimmer you needn't worry much about that), swimmers who are truly improvement-oriented, should keep their focus relentlessly on nervous-system training.

When you do that, you'll have a stronger framework for answering questions which arise about the utility of things like snorkels or other such swim aids.

BradMM 08-07-2009 01:25 PM

This thread has been most beneficial to me!

Thanks to all!

Brad

BradMM 08-15-2009 09:48 PM

I swam an hour today and, if my admittedly slow pace was constant, that would be about 1.5 miles. I wasn't tired much at all. Maybe all those TI practice sessions paid off!

Brad

BradMM 08-30-2009 11:00 PM

Have been doing at least a mile, M-F, and enjoying it immensely!

A mile a day wasn't too much of a challenge. Wish I had more time during "lunch", I'd swim longer/farther.

shuumai 08-31-2009 01:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BradMM (Post 5600)
Have been doing at least a mile, M-F, and enjoying it immensely!

A mile a day wasn't too much of a challenge. Wish I had more time during "lunch", I'd swim longer/farther.

Yea! Now swim faster! hehe

BradMM 08-31-2009 02:49 PM

I go by time because of time limitations and simplicity but I assume that my pace will pick up over time.

Jean Bury 08-31-2009 05:30 PM

Back problems and sig. other being "#1"
 
Hello,

I just swam 1.5 miles yesterday in open water--felt awesome, though I felt my stroke coming apart the last 3/4 mile--I just picked one thing to focus on, as fatigue from the cold (should have worn a wetsuit) was a player in it coming apart.

Anyway, I also suffer from chronic back issues--I have four slipped discs, one of then is badly herniated. I found that by not extending my underwater arm to its max, I felt less strain on my back. I have NO idea if this is good advice or proper, but I can relate to having back pain, even while swimming. I also have to focus on my core being engaged and strong. For whatever reason, slightly holding back on that underwater, forward arm has helped. For what it's worth....


Also, I can relate to your needing to be there first for your wife. I have two children with multiple disabilities, and I have to be there for them first, too. This means I can't work out the way I'd like and/or workouts get cancelled or cut short. It's hard, when you can see yourself improving and then must cut back for a while. So, that being said, you are definitely not alone in those issues.

Swim on--when you can

Jean

BradMM 08-31-2009 06:19 PM

Thanks, Jean!

BradMM 04-07-2012 12:05 AM

WOW, THREE YEARS LATER and my post is still on the FIRST PAGE!!!

I regularly swim at least a mile but I now have glass beads at the edge of the pool to help me count. I'm doing this because I'm participating in a swimming challenge thing so I want to he honest about my number of laps.

I reread the entire thread and the tempo trainer was mentioned. I think I'm going to buy one tonight but I'm not 100% confident it is right for me. A small issue is how to wear it. I read that it works best under your cap but I don't wear one. I want to clip it to my goggles.

I swim at one of two pools on our university campus and most of the young people are much faster than me. Part of me doesn't care because I'm doing my own thing but the other part wonders if this is simply a function of my age (about 3x greater than most of them!) or my technique! I thought the tempo trainer would help improve my time.

I also bought the "Turn the TI Way" but haven't used it much yet. I do think that would be helpful but I have to get over that initial hump. :-)

Brad

BradMM 06-21-2017 09:17 PM

Enjoyed rereading... swim a mile every time I swim now.

dk2943 06-22-2017 03:50 AM

Join the club
 
Welcome to the mile club. I have not been able to do it every day, but I do it 4 to 5 times per week. I started out doing a quarter mile and thought I was going to die, but I kept it up and kept on adding laps. I have been doing a mile for over a year.
My goal is to maintain a steady pace, and simply work on improving my form, style and speed. I
I feel terrific when I get out of the pool! For me, swimming boosts endorphins to the point that I almost feel high. Also, there is a true sense of accomplishment. I always have lots of energy.
By the way, I am 66 (67 this summer).

BradMM 06-22-2017 04:05 PM

Welcome to the mile club? I posted that in 2009! :-) I just rereading. Oh, and I'm only 63.


All times are GMT. The time now is 03:36 PM.

Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.