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  #1  
Old 03-17-2014
mjensen2k mjensen2k is offline
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mjensen2k
Default I think I can, I think I can...

Hi! My name is Mike, I'm a newbie here and I THINK I can do this. :-)

Quick history: I played speed sports when younger, four sports a year. I never swam though. I was allowed to cry and quit the YMCA swim lessons and never really learned. As an adult (>40yo) I was overweight and not very active.

Over the last couple of years I've begun training for and "competing in" endurance sports. I have a few marathons under my belt, the Dopey challenge, a few Ragnar relays. Clearly running focused. I do so by understanding and training my aerobic threshold and put my race plans together based on fuel consumption and sustainable paces. I'm not fast, but I can keep going and going and I have more fun than anyone on the course!

Last year (age 41) I got a few swim lessons and fought my way through a few sprint triathlons. Now I'm going after an Ironman!

I'm also an engineer. So I think. A lot. One of my very best assets is my ability to assess a situation, tear it down to its essential parts and fix it. Unfortunately, thinking while swimming tends to make me sink.

I've been working on TI for the last month and a half or so and have found great improvements in my balance and stroke. But my comfort/relaxation is very slow to come along.

I am trying to 'solve that problem'. I do drills and switches at such a slow pace that I know my body doesn't need to go anaerobic and need all that air to convert fuel. But I'm still huffing and puffing as many others have struggled with here.

After that long intro, here's some self analysis and ways I am thinking about fixing it. I welcome all feedback!

a) I find that I naturally (out of fear??) want to take a HUGE lung full of air before I start. HUGE. It's not normal breathing. So I'm trying to relax and start my laps with say half or three quarters as much air. Trust that frequent bites will be better for me.

b) I have a tempo trainer on the way and want to find my breath pattern first (how often I normally would breath in and out of the water) and time my stroke to it. If that makes sense. Find a pace where I can find a rhythm and get air before I'm out and know that I'll get there again.

c) when I do have to catch my breath (at every wall still) I just started to try calming myself with bobs and blowing bubbles. To try feel that I can calm down without leaving the water. Does that make sense? At the end of the lane I feel like huffing and puffing, but this morning, I did so with bobs and bubbles to try feel that I can calm down while breathing out under water.

We'll see. I'm glad I found this forum and I thank you for any thoughts you may have.

"Get out of your head!" is something my running coach used to try get me to do. I was able to, finally. I want to get there with swimming!

Mike - aka Overthinker
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  #2  
Old 03-18-2014
Jellybean Jellybean is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjensen2k View Post
Hi! My name is Mike, I'm a newbie here and I THINK I can do this. :-)
I'm also an engineer. So I think. A lot. One of my very best assets is my ability to assess a situation, tear it down to its essential parts and fix it. Unfortunately, thinking while swimming tends to make me sink.
Hi Mike

I can relate very well to what you describe. I came late to swimming, I am also an engineer and in the past have tended to over-think things. However, I've managed to reduce that tendency by approaching things with a bit of faith in the human condition...

1. A tutor/coach will give an explanation of what's happening that doesn't fit pure physics, and I see a some of that in the TI material. However, I've learned that your body does stuff according to what is in your mind. The images and focusses we use are designed to get the right things happening in your body - and they work! - even if they aren't the whole story.

2. Work on one thing at a time (and really imprinting it in muscle memory) - your brain can't do more than that. Trust that each skill will stay with you when you move to the next one. The TI sequence of learning is designed so that skills are built on earlier ones.

With those thoughts in mind, now I don't always need to understand completely how it all works. However, whenever I have tried to get a true understanding of the physics, I can usually see that mental image creates the right physical action.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mjensen2k View Post
a) I find that I naturally (out of fear??) want to take a HUGE lung full of air before I start. HUGE. It's not normal breathing. So I'm trying to relax and start my laps with say half or three quarters as much air. Trust that frequent bites will be better for me.

b) I have a tempo trainer on the way and want to find my breath pattern first (how often I normally would breath in and out of the water) and time my stroke to it. If that makes sense. Find a pace where I can find a rhythm and get air before I'm out and know that I'll get there again.

c) when I do have to catch my breath (at every wall still) I just started to try calming myself with bobs and blowing bubbles. To try feel that I can calm down without leaving the water. Does that make sense? At the end of the lane I feel like huffing and puffing, but this morning, I did so with bobs and bubbles to try feel that I can calm down while breathing out under water.
Make sure you are gently exhaling - small bubbles continuously. Without doing that you will not be able to exchange air even when you do breathe.

Breathing is not one of the earliest skills in the sequence, so I would not be too concerned yet. Still do your whole stroke, but spend as much time as you can on the balance drills (Superman glide, laser lead rotation and skate).

When you are comfortable with them, then learn the breathing skills as taught.

As usual I've prattled on, but I hope it helps. I'm sure you'll enjoy the journey.

Cheers
Tony
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  #3  
Old 03-18-2014
woodwards26 woodwards26 is offline
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Default I went thro same thing

Hi Mike
Feel free to ignore me as it probably cuts through don't practise struggle but this is what happened to me..
I started swimming for pleasure 4 yrs ago and self taught by watching others eventually I could do 1k but alternating between freestyle and crawl. My aim was to just cut out the breaststroke. I bought the TI book and did some drills and slowly got to swimming all freestyle and then went for several lessons with Ian Smith where I found out just how bad I looked .
Like you I am analytical so I went back to lots and lots of drilling during this time sadly Ian passed away so my TI journey stopped there. I continued drilling but after a while found lessons in another endless pool but was horrified that I could no longer swim the non stop 90 secs or so to get a decent video. My style was better but still a lot to learn .
Back to the pool I went back to swimming lengths but 2 was hard 3 worse and 4 impossible . Basically I had become a technique / drill hermit.
My fix was to get back to swimming a decent distance then fix the technique . I discovered Ruth Kaziz's 0 to 1650 programme in 6 weeks on the net.it basically starts with 700m with 25 , 50, and 100s building over six weeks to one 1650 . Three sessions a week.With no thought about technique!!!
So I started first week I had to throw in the odd breaststroke but second week it was all freestyle. I could not ignore technique my chatterbox wouldn't let me but I was able to put it into second place behind the overall goal swim 1650 non stop.
Six weeks later I had done it and then put technique back to the top of the list the six weeks finished last march . I then started timing myself 1000 m took just 25mins so 2m 30s per 100 slow but I could keep going.
Since then I still swim 3 times a week one session mainly drills, one just swim a good distance and the third is pace based.
All except the distance I start with a. 200 or 300 gentle swim thinking about exhaling and stretching out.
I was lucky enough to be able to join a swim squad a few weeks ago so now they give me some sessions and in the last time trial I did 200 in 3 m 59s and 400 in 8 m 15s the 400 would have been 10 mins a year ago.
I am still slow but now on course to improve further but without the six weeks of just concentrating on doing the distance and switching my technique obsessed brain down a few notches I would still be stuck a drill addict.

I can't half ramble but basically swim and drill not just drill.

Woody
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Last edited by woodwards26 : 03-18-2014 at 11:55 AM. Reason: I phone had changed some words
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  #4  
Old 03-18-2014
mjensen2k mjensen2k is offline
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Default Thanks, but...

I'm glad I'm not the only over-thinker... I did read in one of these forum posts that people drawn to TI are intellectually curious. So perhaps we tend toward being analytic?

Tony, you mention slowly exhaling. I'd like to hear more about that and why. It seems to me like perhaps I need to get MORE air out. Here's why I think that (right or wrong):

I have this inkling that I'm doing what I did as a kid. Take in a HUGE gulp of air and then start to swim (to save my life, right?) Like "Hey how long can I swim under water without having to come up?" That's all I knew for 40 years. When If I trickle air out, I wonder if I am giving enough 'room' to allow for a breath when I turn. Does that make sense? Now, to your point, if I don't start with an over-filled set of lungs, then I don't need to push out so much.

Your point about being early in the drills makes sense to me. I'm feeling pressure to get 'swimming' though. I put myself on a ridiculous timeline to get ready for an Ironman and each week in skate and spear switch feels like an eternity. 6 weeks of it and my balance is better and I can move along ok, but it's sort of like a little kid "Yeah, when when do I get to swim!?"

I also liken it to Calculus for those who have been through it. It's like taking weeks and weeks to learn all the hard ways to do the infinite sums of infinitely small things and then you get the quick and dirty way to do integrals and derivatives. I feel like maybe I'm paying some sort of dues with hour on hour of drills.

I have three months to get up to a 2.4 mile swim. It doesn't need to be pretty, but I'd like to feel confident I can do it. I WILL do it. I know I have the propulsion to do so. I have the cardio to do so. I can run for hours and hours. I can bike for hours and hours. I need to figure out how to relax and 'walk in the park'.

BTW, I'm meeting a new coach this afternoon. Knock on wood!
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  #5  
Old 03-20-2014
Jellybean Jellybean is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjensen2k View Post
Tony, you mention slowly exhaling. I'd like to hear more about that and why. It seems to me like perhaps I need to get MORE air out. Here's why I think that (right or wrong):
...
Your point about being early in the drills makes sense to me. I'm feeling pressure to get 'swimming' though.
...
BTW, I'm meeting a new coach this afternoon. Knock on wood!
Hi Mike

On the exhaling...
1. The need to breathe becomes more desparate if you hold your breath. It's not to do with lack of oxygen; it's something to do with your respiartory control system. Try running breathing like that (hold your breath, blow out & gasp in) then compare it with a gentle exhale. You will find it easier to relax if you learn to bubble very slowly (usually from your nose), a bit like a very slow sigh.
2. I find that a big exhale doesn't set me up for a good inhale as well as a steady exhale. Not sure why - perhaps there's just too much tension or perhaps less air is exhaled (as you suspect).

On incessant drills...
I get the "doing your time" thing, but the drills become something that is enjoyable and beneficial even for advanced swimmers. They highlight more and more subtle sensations that can lead to further improvements. I also feel "all drilled out" if I don't include some full stroke in my practices. I also find that my full stroke loses something if I leave it for too long. Now I like practices where I practise a drill followed by full stroke, e.g.
- About 8 drills each side (a few 25 m lengths)
- 4 x 25m drill-2 strokes-drill sequences
- 2 x 25m as 1/2 length drill + 1/2 length whole stroke
- 2 x 25m whole stroke (using the same focus as the drill)
I might do this for a couple of drills and/or focus points, then
Whole stroke as 4 x 25m, 2 x 50m, 2 x 75m, 1 x 100m (using a focus point that worked well from earlier in the practice).

Dont' take this plan literally, it's just to show a way of incorporating whole stroke into the practice in a constructive way.

Keep up the good work. I expect you'll be all fired up after your session with the coach.

Cheers
Tony
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  #6  
Old 03-20-2014
tomoy tomoy is offline
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Hello Overthinker - welcome to the Forum.

I think one can take a big breath and be relaxed, or take a big breath and be stressed. It's a mental thing, so I'm not sure it's right or wrong. I can say though, that your lungs are pretty efficient and will suck the oxygen out pretty quickly, so it's not giving you much more fuel after the first 5 or so seconds. I'm no expert here, just talking out of my fingers. So exhale that CO2, and get new air, frequently. Every 2 or 3 strokes. Huffing and puffing is a symptom of not getting enough oxygen into the bloodstream. That reminds me... I was talking to a friend about swimming and breathing and he highly recommended I see Gravity. Apparently there's a lot to learn about going hypoxic.

Let's see, what else.... Ah, the point of slowly exhaling is primarily to not let all the 'air' out of your lungs too fast because it's an aid in buoyancy. Blow it all out hard or too early and you start sinking sooner than need be. So in addition to relaxation, the gentle or controlled exhale will help.

But I return to my original theory, breathe. And more often. Might help. But to second Jellybean, think of that as a separate whole stroke thing than learning TI: Balance, Streamlining, Propulsion. In that order. Until you get those basics, breathing will only throw you off. So do the drills to get balanced and streamlined. Test your full stroke w/o breathing to get the feel for what it should be like. Then do laps where you try to work in breathing and getting plenty of air. A little bit of everything.
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  #7  
Old 03-20-2014
mjensen2k mjensen2k is offline
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mjensen2k
Default Thanks and followup from my new coach eval

Thanks for the responses and warm welcome to the forum!

I hear what you are saying about the easy breathing out. Air helps with balance. I'll try work on that, or mention my thoughts to my coach and see what he observes from outside the pool.

Here's how my initial swim eval went:

I walk into the training center and there is an 'endless pool' aka swimming treadmill? I've never been in one and my anxiety jumped. I was nervous showing my new coach what I knew but then with that pool... Well, it wasn't pretty.

All the balance that I had been learning (but clearly not engrained) went out the window. I didn't have a pool to do some SGs and then some skate and then to some switches. I went to full stroke at his request and it was a mess. Total bad balance, head popping up to breath, lead arm straight down for 'balance' and timing completely wrong.

Yep, good times. I took solace in the fact that at least I recognized that it was a mess! He seemed confident that there was plenty of good to work with and he described his philosophy of taking the TI principles and working on additional propulsion.

I have a sprint triathlon on Saturday and my goal is to simply try relax and be as balanced as I can.

I THINK I can do it! :-)
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  #8  
Old 03-20-2014
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjensen2k View Post
Thanks for the responses and warm welcome to the forum!

I hear what you are saying about the easy breathing out. Air helps with balance. I'll try work on that, or mention my thoughts to my coach and see what he observes from outside the pool.

Here's how my initial swim eval went:

I walk into the training center and there is an 'endless pool' aka swimming treadmill? I've never been in one and my anxiety jumped. I was nervous showing my new coach what I knew but then with that pool... Well, it wasn't pretty.

All the balance that I had been learning (but clearly not engrained) went out the window. I didn't have a pool to do some SGs and then some skate and then to some switches. I went to full stroke at his request and it was a mess. Total bad balance, head popping up to breath, lead arm straight down for 'balance' and timing completely wrong.

Yep, good times. I took solace in the fact that at least I recognized that it was a mess! He seemed confident that there was plenty of good to work with and he described his philosophy of taking the TI principles and working on additional propulsion.

I have a sprint triathlon on Saturday and my goal is to simply try relax and be as balanced as I can.

I THINK I can do it! :-)

Do your thing...do SG in the endless pool to calm and relax yourself. You are paying for the lesson, you can direct it's flow. : )

Good luck
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  #9  
Old 03-21-2014
mjensen2k mjensen2k is offline
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I think I'll mention that to my coach. I already explained that while I'm an engineer and love to understand and think things through, that when I did my evaluation for him, I was more like a scared 4yo at the YMCA :-). That starting with SG, etc. would help calm me down.

I am going to do drills tonight and put a plan in place for my first Sprint of the season tomorrow morning. It's only 300yds (meters?). Tonight I'll find that one single thought that I want to focus on for tomorrow.

Keep it simple. :-)
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  #10  
Old 07-18-2014
mjensen2k mjensen2k is offline
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mjensen2k
Default Quick update - I was right...

3.20.14 I was anxious about a sprint triathlon. I remember it well. It was 600yards and it took me 11 minutes and I was in a state of panic the whole time. I was kicked in the chest, I about freaked out, but I finished it. My bike and run were solid.

New coach took me under his wing. I worked on relaxing, breathing, balance, etc. etc.

6.7.14 I did a half Ironman completely comfortably in 55 minutes out of the water. With a smile.

6.29.14 I did a full Ironman, 2.4 mile swim absolutely comfortably in 1:52 with a huge smile on my face at the finish.

Just over 3 months from OMG to OMG! :-) I was right. I thought I could. And I did. :-) Woohoo!
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