<![CDATA[ReadySetSweat! - Blog]]>Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:50:35 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[There is No "I" In Team, But There Is an "M" and an "E," and That's Me! And I'm In Team Rocket!]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 19:12:02 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/there-is-no-i-in-team-but-there-is-an-m-and-an-e-and-thats-me-and-im-in-team-rocket
I've lived in a lot of places, and every place I've gone, I've always found a friend or two who has become a friend or at least an acquaintance. I randomly meet people on vacation that I stay friends with after we all go home. At home, I'm friends with the checker at the grocery store, the lady behind the lunch counter, and the neighbors next door. I guess it's habit, or maybe it's just fun to meet people. 

So I want to tell you about a group of people I've met here in Huntsville who are a pretty amazing bunch; it's a triathlon group called Team Rocket Tri Club. On paper, it is a triathlon club that puts on races and training events for people in our region. We have several sprint distance races, an Olympic distance race, an open water swim race, and even a reverse trail triathlon.  Every one of our races supports one or more charities, and after we pay our bills and give back to the club and the equipment fund, a gajillion dollars goes to these charities to help all kinds of random things, from medical research to food banks to everything you can imagine. So with regard to being a functioning athletic club, I guess you could say we're pretty stout.

But in reality, we also do things you wouldn't expect from a tri club. We get together for potlucks and exchange dessert recipes. We have pool parties at our friend Tony's house. We shop at our local bike and run shops together and empty our bank accounts on the newest Hoka shoe that we soooooo don't need. We have White Elephant Christmas parties where we argue about who gets the ginormous box of chocolates and the whiskey. We share our extra helmet when some doofus forgets theirs (me!). We have a kickoff party every spring and a season ending party in the fall, where we give out our charity checks and feast upon tacos and queso dip. We lend each other Garmin watches and anti-fog wipes for our goggles when we forgot them (also me!). We welcome new people and we get to know old ones. And we have a lot of old ones! VERRRY VERRY OLD ONES! Ha ha!

We have our trials. This past year, we lost one of our own unexpectedly and it was like losing a family member to many of us. We mourned together and comforted one another in remembrance.

We've also had people take on amazing challenges together. One of our members rode his bike all the way from Alabama to Colorado a few years ago and we sat and watched slides together at one of the local bike shops. Many of our members have traveled across the country together to do Ironmans or Age Group Championship races at a time when their own family members either could not go or didn't really have interest in going. Sometimes a group of families have gone together and piled in cars with their southern accents and bikes like some wild Beverly Hillbillies contraption. Some of our members spend time raising awareness for veterans who have served our country, and wear matching Red-White-Blue shirts and fist bump each other every time they see each other. 

When we do put on a race, it's like a huge family reunion where everyone brings bikes and running shoes instead of food. Oh, who am I kidding, we bring food too! And this club really supports our races; you end up seeing the same families and people volunteering and we more often than not have way more volunteers than we need.

And you know with most clubs where it's super hard to get anyone to volunteer to do anything and then when they do, they don't really want to do it or do it well? Not this group. This group is jumping up and down to help and do things like get up at 4 in the morning in the freezing cold to drive boats, set buoys, set up parking lanes, and cut up bananas. Crazy? Yeah, probably. But this group is more than some people to wave at and someone to talk to when you're nervous before a race.

You might be thinking... I could never join a triathlon club; I don't even know how to do a triathlon! Well, then, you're in the right place. This is where beginners get started and find friends to explore the sport with. You should join us!

If you're a veteran to the sport, you should join us too, because we need your experience and your insane stories like that one time you broke a pedal and kept on riding all the way to the finish on one leg. Also that one where you got locked in the port-o-potty accidentally and had to bang on the door till someone let you out. And especially the one where your suit ripped right up the hiney right before the swim started.

Come join the crazies. You'll fit right in.

<![CDATA[Fell on Black (Training) Days...]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 14:26:04 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/fell-on-black-training-days
(((Editor's note: We are SO PUMPED to have a GUEST BLOG from Coach Tom Longino this week! Read and enjoy!)))

A little ode in the title to the recently departed Chris Cornell (RIP) and Soundgarden, one of my favorites 90’s rock groups.  If you do not know the song or the group, that just proves I am getting to be much older than I act.  Anyway, a few weeks ago, Ali asked if I might want to write a blog or two, my choice on the subject. As I started thinking about it, many random ideas blew up in my head.  So many topics in triathlon and endurance sports in general interest me.  Moreover, since our conversation I have had a couple of sessions in my training that have not gone so well.  In fact, they have been terrible to the point where I hit no measureable thresholds, goals, or planned times!  Since this is my fourth season in triathlon, I have gained a little experience and perspective.  Hence, I just walked those off (so to speak) and moved on to the next training in my plan.  It did get me thinking, though, about the difference in how I deal with bad training sessions now versus when I first started my triathlon journey. 

First off, everyone has bad training sessions.  If someone tells you they don’t, they are either not really putting in the training, telling a fib, or you have just met one of those few athletes I label as X-MEN, who are super natural.  So, when I first started, if I had a bad training session, I would carry that ‘black day’ around mentally beating myself up for days.  I would then try to push even harder at the next training even if the plan called for going easy.  At times that worked, but more times than not, it lead to injuries, over training, exhaustion, or sometimes more frustration as I did not see myself as progressing how I thought I should.  Pay attention here, particularly those new to endurance sports. This does not typically happen just once, but becomes a repetitive cycle. 

“You Start. You Finish. Don’t let the numbers determine the success of a workout!” – Brett Sutton

Now that I’m coaching, paying attention to more athletes, and I train among you, I can see the same angst of ‘mental gears’ grinding that I have had in the past.  You think it does not show, but when I see some of you on the back end of a session at the pool or on the road, it’s there.  Sometimes I do not even have to ask how it went, as your body language gives it away.  

Now you are saying, "Well, ok, what can do I do about those ‘Black Days’!?"  

Here are some things to think about, and it is not an all-inclusive list:
  • Realize ‘Black Days’ (training sessions)  happen to everyone. Accept it, recognize it, and maybe even embrace it a little.
  • You are not hitting your numbers (yes, I’m obsessed with data too), so stop looking at your gadgets or just turn them off and proceed based on feel.
  • Learn your body! There is a difference between hurting in training and being really hurt. Everyone’s thresholds are different. 
  • There are times to push through and make yourself mentally and physically stronger,  and other times where its smarter to either reduce your training load and or the expectations of the session.
  • Consistency tends to limit the number of ‘Black Days’ you will experience.
  • Account for your conditions (for example: if you have been training in the cool of the early morning and switch to the heat of the afternoon, adjust your expectations either in pace, time, or distance). 
  • It is not blasphemous to learn how to recover properly. Really learn what a recovery run, bike spin, or swim means. Contact me I’ll send you a whole slew of articles and discussion points.
“I spent many years learning how to train and suffer correctly to become a great triathlete.” - Torbjørn Sindballe (3rd Ironman World Championship 2007, ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Champion 2004/2006)”

I love the above statement.  How many ‘Black Days’ do you think Thunder Bear (that is what Torbjorn in Danish translates to) suffered getting to the top of the sport?  Or how many athletes has Brett Sutton (if you don’t know who he is, watch his athlete Daniela Ryf in Oct at Kona this year) changed their sessions on the fly because he observed they just didn’t have it that day? 

With the above said, do not forget you have CHOSEN to partake in endurance sports and that includes some level of suffering and discomfort.

As the saying goes, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Be smart in your journey.  

-Coach Tom Longino
<![CDATA[If It's Working, It's Right!]]>Wed, 02 Aug 2017 19:33:45 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/if-its-working-its-right
Someone learning to swim might say, is this the right way to move my arms? Is this how the breathing works?  The answer depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to have a perfect technique stroke for speed, then there definitely is a correct way to do things to go fast. If you are learning to be safe in deep water, then the answer is, "If it's working, it's right!" 

What this means is that no matter what you do with your arms and legs, the most important thing in learning to be safe in deep water is that you are calm. From that calm, your body naturally moves in ways that propel it through the water. In the Miracle Swimming class that I teach, time and time again, people discover how to propel forward without me showing them how to do it. 

Calm begats coordination, one might say! With the triathletes and fitness swimmers I work with, when they are calm, the coordination comes with it. 

But everyone's body is different and every person does things slightly differently, as the folks at the swim schools Total Immersion and Swim Smooth have said time and time again. There are right ways to do things, but the number one way to find out what is right is that it works! 

Far back in swimming history, the butterfly stroke evolved from the breaststroke because the underwater recovery part of breaststroke was deemed too slow by some, and so they started swinging the arms above the water to gain speed. The frog kick evolved to a dolphin kick, and a new stroke was born! But you don't have to look that far back to see swimmers doing things that work.

Just this past year, Olympian Ryan Lochte was inventive with his underwater kicking in such a way that a new rule had to be put into place (unsurprisingly referred to as "the Lochte rule") which says that no swimmer can kick on the back during the freestyle turn part of the individual medley race. This is because Ryan's amazing underwater kick propelled him so fast and so far that it became an unfair advantage since the freestyle leg of the race is supposed to be swum on the belly, not the back. 

So if your goal is to be super fast swimmer lady or guy, then we need to look for the key technique items that all swimmers are doing and pick the ones that work well for you. But if you are learning to swim for the first time, don't worry about looking around to how everyone else is doing things. If it's working, you've got it right, my friend.

Work work work work work - thanks Rihanna!
<![CDATA[Bringing Sprinting Back...]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2017 17:21:43 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/bringing-sprinting-back
​A first triathlon. Maybe you've never done one. Maybe you have. Either way, you may know that a "sprint distance" triathlon is usually the first distance that most people are drawn to in the sport... a 400ish meter swim, a 12ish mile bike ride, and a 5k run. When you see these distances, you might say, "Hold on, I thought you said, SPRINT!? Running three miles doesn't sound like a sprint to me." And... you would be right.

But COMPARED to the other available triathlon race distances, a sprint is shorter, and so someone who is obviously some sort of comedian gave it that name.

However, what I want to talk about today isn't the name necessarily, but the sense that a sprint is "just" a sprint. When it comes to triathlon distances, after sprint, there is the Olympic distance, the Half Iron distance, and the full Iron distance, and for some brave and slightly insane humans, even the double Iron or triple Iron distances. Either way you attack it, the sprint is at the pointy end of that list.

Some triathletes start out with the sprint and work their way up to the longer distances as they gain experience and fitness, learning to push their endurance further and further as they go. Some people stick with the shorter races and top out at the sprint or Olympic distances, which can be generally friendlier to age-challenged backs and other body parts. Some even ramp up to the longer distances over time, and then scale back to the shorter races due to wear and tear or time commitments of the longer race training. These are all valid ways to experience triathlon racing.

What happens sometimes is that people either do or don't do the longer distance events, and then in describing the sprints, say, "I'm just doing a sprint this summer," or "it's just a sprint."

Hold it right there, compadre, you are talking about a triathlon here. There is nothing "just" about a three sport race that includes Gatorade and potentially sunburn and bike wrecks, regardless of distance.

So today I'd like to propose that we BRING SPRINTING BACK. Bring it back from the brink of being "just" a short race that doesn't have "real" triathlon clout. Bring it back from being something we do just to fill in a blank weekend. And if anyone would like to doubt the difficulty of the sprint, then I heretofore challenge them to sign up for the next sprint in their area and attempt to do just that. Sprint.

The harder you go, the harder any race is. The sprint can be the most sweat inducing, muscle firing, intestine-turning-inside-out-ing race in the full quiver of tri racing. It's all a matter of how hard you go.

There is even a USA Triathlon National Sprint Distance Championship, and the last time I checked, some lucky gal and gent get crowned THE CHAMPION OF SPRINT TRIATHLON FOR THE WHOLE ENTIRE COUNTRY every single year. I haven't gotten to that level yet, have you?

So if you're not into long endurance events, maybe the sprint is your thing. Maybe the sprint is not "just" anything.

Take note, Justin Timberlake, sexy is not the only thing we're bringing back. And maybe they named it right after all.
<![CDATA[WHy Set Race Schedules With a Coach, Even If It's Not Your Coach (aka The Problem of Too- Big-Sushi)]]>Mon, 10 Jul 2017 16:02:47 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/why-set-race-schedules-with-a-coach-aka-the-problem-of-too-big-sushiPicture
Now's the time that we're mid-season with triathlon, a time when we're meeting our goals or at least shooting for them, enjoying what we've set up for ourselves, or cursing ourselves for setting up such an ambitious race schedule for this year. Sound familiar?!

Even though it's mid-season, in not too much time it will be time to think about NEXT season - in fact, the moment most people cross the finish line of their goal race, they start saying something about next season - whether it's - "LET'S DO IT AGAIN!" ... or, "NEVER AGAIN!!" So even though we're still sweating the heat in 2017, I just wanted to talk a little bit today about setting race dreams for 2018 and how helpful it can be to consult a coach in doing so, even if they're not YOUR coach. 

To do that I want to illustrate with a story about a person I met last year... let's call her Wanda. 

I met Wanda because she had just recently learned to swim after a lifetime of being a non-swimmer. I mean, an afraid-of-the-water non-swimmer. We were introduced through a mutual friend at a get-together in the spring. Wanda was around 60 years old and she had learned to swim through a local learn-to-swim program, which is incredible to think about. However, she was still uncomfortable in deep water in the pool and didn't have a workable freestyle. She didn't have a back float that she trusted. On the good side, she was pretty fit and naturally slender, and muscular for her tiny size, about 5'3". 

Anyway, enough background. Wanda had become interested in triathlon because her son had done several Ironmans. Her son, who was in his mid-30s, had convinced her to sign up for Ironman Florida, which is in early November.

Ya with me here? 

Here is a person who has just paid about $800 for a race that is an open water swim IN SALT WATER that can have lots of snotty, choppy water, plus swells. It has a long, hot 112 mile bike ride - and this is someone who has never really ridden a bike much. The run is a marathon, 26.2 miles after biking and swimming, and I think Wanda had maybe done a 5k or 10k before this. 

Do you see what a huge chunk this was to bite off? It's not even a chunk, you guys, this was like when you eat a piece of sushi that you kind of knew was way too big, and yet you ate it anyway, and it's basically falling out of your mouth and choking you at the same time. That's what this was like.

At the moment she told me about this plan, I knew eventually she would want a tri coach and I knew this was a BFHG - a BIG FAT HAIRY GOAL, and not in a good way like a big fat hairy Labrador. This was like a big fat hairy Sasquatch.  So as tactfully as I could, let her know that, even though she hadn't asked me to, I would not be able to coach her unless she wanted to commit to a 5 year plan to get to Ironman. I told her that Ironman was a BIG BIG BIG BIG (my voice getting louder and louder as I said BIG) deal, and that I really wanted to impress upon her the seriousness of the situation. 

She said that 5 years was more than she wanted to give to this goal, and regardless, she was lighthearted after I said that, and still said that she wanted me to help her on her swimming. Sighing and thinking that it was reasonable to help her at least get a workable freestyle and a back float, I agreed to do a set of swim lessons, but stated clearly that I would not be able to help her meet her Ironman swim goal.

Throughout the season, she did two sprint triathlons which she was quite proud of, and I was proud with her, but she experienced some crippling fear and anxiety in the swim of a third sprint race that she did not finish. I knew this panic attack had happened because she had set a deadline on overcoming her fear by needing to do these swim races prior to really being ready for them. I actually had considered calling the race director of one of the races and asking for a kayak to specifically watch her because I was worried about her safety. But then I thought ... this is a grown adult. This is not my job. She is not my athlete. If she does not feel ready, she will not do the race. That's what I told myself in order to sleep at night.

In addition to anxiety, there was the matter of swim time. All season every time we chatted at our swim sessions, I encouraged her to start taking splits of her swims so that she would see what I had always known, which was that she would unfortunately never even be remotely close to making the swim cutoff. I did at one point actually (tactfully as always) tell her that there was no real point in doing any bike or running training because I knew that she would never get to that part of the race. She said that she understood but that she had to at least try. This is when I knew that my job was just to keep stating truth and keep stepping back.

In late summer, she eventually had back trouble and called me to let me know that she was bailing on Ironman. I was so relieved for her that she had given herself this out, as I was genuinely worried that she would try the Florida swim and something icky would happen.

It's a difficult thing as a coach - as a person - even if you're not someone's coach - to watch them pursue something that they have already signed up for that you know is too-big sushi. 

Here's what I hope: I have a dream that everyone would bounce their season plans off of a coach they know BEFORE they sign up for races, just to have a quick discussion about the previous season and the one to come. I hope that through my business we can help people see a local coach as a resource to them and the tri community. I hope we help them set race goals SO THAT they eventually reach them, WHETHER OR NOT THEY ACTUALLY HIRE US. I wish that Wanda had talked to a coach before she set this goal so that she could have achieved it in the right amount of time AND enjoyed the journey. 

Here at ReadySetSweat, advice is free and we're happy to give it. Let us know, at www.readysetsweat.net.

<![CDATA[The Answer to Open Water Fear Is Different Than You Think]]>Wed, 05 Jul 2017 19:49:10 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/the-answer-to-open-water-fear-is-different-than-you-thinkPicture
Hoooo boy, this is a goodie, isn't it!? How to conquer your open water fear!? If you're reading this blog post, you've probably read a quadzillion articles about open water fear and experienced it a time or two yourself. 

So today, to open this Pandora's box, we're going to do a respectful discussion of a recent Triathlete.com article that is indicative of the types of help that are being offered to people with fear in open water events. 

I'm a huge fan of the author Sara McLarty. She's an incredible athlete and coach and the work she has contributed to triathlon both as an athlete and a coach has been, frankly, fantastic. She's an enthusiastic contributor and ambassador for the sport. So I'm not picking on Sara per se since she has, like, approximately a million more credentials than I have, I'm just choosing this article as an example of the types of advice that appears in books and magazines on the topic of conquering open water fear, and it happened to be the most recent writeup that ran across my desk. 

Anyway, the reason I think a re-think of how we think about conquering open water fear is necessary is for the simple reason that the messages we see out there plain 'ol don't work (eek, I said it). Articles are being written and read all the time, and yet we still have seasoned athletes as well as newbies going around all the time with open water issues. The fact that this is the case is the strongest argument to me that clearly there is a missing link in the information, wouldn't you agree? If it was a simple case of knowing the stuff and following the tips, we'd be home free, right? 

So let's see what it said: 

"Anxiety is normal among athletes at all experience levels."
"Mimic the chaos of open water by swimming with a large group in the pool. Share a lane with other swimmers where you’ll be forced to make contact, and swim side-by-side to become more comfortable.
Practice in open water as often as possible. Gather a group of training partners for a trip to the beach and attend any open water clinics in your area. Take advantage of every opportunity to swim in your wetsuit to get accustomed to constriction around your neck, shoulders and torso.
Use visualization to mentally prepare. Imagine stressful situations that can occur and think about staying calm, controlling your breathing and continuing to swim forward.
Compose a personal race-day strategy that helps you maintain confidence. Cut out all negative self-talk, use calm and deep yoga breaths when you feel anxious, familiarize yourself with the race course and positions of safety personnel, and position yourself at the back or outside of your start wave."
"You might still suffer a panic attack during the race. If that happens, just move away from other swimmers, roll on your back and focus on breathing and lowering your heart rate."

Ok. So first of all, I'm going to start by suggesting that ANXIETY IS NOT NORMAL. It is typical, but it is NOT NORMAL. We do not have to live in this space where anxiety is just something we have to deal with in triathlon. We CAN heal it so that it goes away and never comes back. If we know how to prevent panic we will absolutely NOT suffer a panic attack during a race. 

Second, I do want to say that these are great tips for NAVIGATING THE CHAOS of an open water race. Swimming with others, practicing, visualizing, and knowing your strategy are excellent ways to help you get used to acclimating to swimming with others and/or in a wetsuit. The problem is that these have nothing to do with HEALING OR CALMING the deep seated fear or anxiety that is based in the fear that you might not live. 

So what can heal this fear?

Knowing how the your body works in the water and how to prevent panic. 

So how do those things work, then?

Taken in their raw muscle, blood, organ, and bone format, human bodies are 98ish percent water and generally if that was all they were made of, would not float. However, enter fat: a substance less dense than water, and what happens to a body? It floats. The more fat you have, the better you float. If you have low body fat (bless you, my child), you don't float very well UNLESS...(drumroll please) enter AIR. Having air in your lungs helps your body float in the same way that a beach ball floats on top of the water. The air inside the ball holds it up in the water. If the ball was covered by a super wet beach towel, it would still float, but not very high in the water. That's you - that's your body. You're a beach ball covered by a super wet beach towel. Sorry.

(There is a super tiny percentage of the population for whom this is not true and who sink even with a lungful of air; these people are rare and are mostly extremely lean like Olympic swimmers, ironically. However, sinkers can still remain near the water's surface by an easy, gentle sculling motion with the hands. It's just that floaters do not have to do this because their float holds them up instead of the lift from sculling).

Back to the floaters, which is most of us. If you are a floater in in the water with your face in, doing nothing else but hanging out like a tranquilized elephant, you will float but you can't breathe. A small downward press of your hands, and you can come up for air and breathe and go back to a restful front float while holding your breath. If you flip to your back, you can float there if you don't try to hold your legs up. Letting your legs dangle down like a jellyfish allows your face to stay clear of the water and you can hold the breath and take intermittent breaths whenever you want, or breathe freely, depending on your bone density and fat amount. I have to take intermittent breaths since I'm fairly slender, but some people I know can breathe as freely as a bird in their back floats.

The advice the article gives at the end about rolling over onto your back and focusing on breathing and heart rate is heading the right direction, but if you don't have a restful back float that you understand is part of the key to your own body being your own safety, then back floating is just another way to navigate and manage through an inevitable panic.

Preventing panic is done by remaining calm and only doing the things you know you can stay calm for. By doing things that you know you can stay calm for, you build confidence and the desire to do new fun things, much like a child is curious about the world around them and thirsts to know and do more. Knowing that you can get air whenever you want it using restful floats underpins this confidence and allows your goals to come to you with no pushing or stress. 

Moreover, signing up for a race you know will cause you anxiety is not the way to conquer fear. The way to conquer it is to practice calm and do swims that make you feel more calm and confident in your floats and your ability to get air. Once you practice this and understand how the water works with your body, it will not matter how many people are around you or what the race course looks like because you will always know that you are safe.

Using these floats and this approach to calm is the key to open water swimming because YOU become YOUR OWN safety and do not have to rely on your freestyle stroke that will eventually tire, a kayak, or the bottom always being there. You are safe regardless (ok, unless a great white shark comes up, but that's a whole 'nuther article, people). 

This is the Cliffs Notes version of a book that I have written on open water fear in triathlon and which is now currently in review with my co-author Melon Dash, author of Conquer Your Fear of Water.  I'm a certified instructor in Melon's program called Miracle Swimming for adults afraid in water. I'd be happy to talk about these topics and teach them at every opportunity at swim lessons or clinics. 

Questions? You know where I am!


<![CDATA[IN WHICH WE DISCUSS turnover (swim stroke RATE)]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2017 18:54:48 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/in-which-we-discuss-turnover-swim-stroke-ratePicture
Dearly beloved, we are here today to briefly chat about one of the hallmarks of fast swimming: turnover (aka stroke rate). This is the rate of arm turnover when you are swimming at your most economical pace for long swims. It's no secret that turnover affects your pace, but how fast is too fast and how slow is too slow? And more importantly, how many articles do we have to read on this to figure it out? Don't fret. It can be easier than you think.

Renowned swim coach Gerry Rodrigues has discussed at length the impact that stroke rate has on open water swimming in many podcasts and presentations, but I like it best when he sums it up like this on one blog: "Don't have a low stroke rate."  I love the beauty and simplicity of that statement because it reminds me of what we used to say about safety at a former job I had: "Don't get hurt." Coach Gerry is saying that without attention to stroke rate, we're going to go slow. We need a rate that's not too low and that works for us. So how do we find out what a good stroke rate is?

It is generally accepted that 60 strokes per minute (spm; or 60 arm hits on the water) is considered a "low" stroke rate for triathletes, so we want to be above that for sure. If we have a stroke rate this low, we're probably gliding out too far on each arm and decelerating as we do so. Oh, deceleration, the bane of swimming existence! However, if we ramp your stroke rate up so high that we're spinning our arms and slipping through the water like the roadrunner cartoon (MEEP MEEP), then we're wasting precious energy and we're going to go slow eventually out of exhaustion. Fast doesn't equal fast, as it were. 

If you want to dial in your stroke rate, the cool people at SwimSmooth have posted this nifty ramp test that you can use to find out a good stroke rate for you, using a friend and the Tempo Trainer Pro device. If you don't have a Tempo Trainer, or any friends, then first, you will want to go to counseling so that you can get that friend thing sorted out. Next, you can approximate the test somewhat by just swimming a set of timed 8 x 50 (down and back in most pools) after a nice 500 or so warmup. To do the set, start at a super slow stroke rate which feels slower than your normal stroke rate, and slowly increase your stroke rate and record your times. Give yourself adequate rest between each one. If you have a feel for your normal distance swimming stroke rate, you will soon be able to see whether your normal stroke rate ends up giving you a time that's slower or faster than the others. The ideal stroke rate that's most efficient for you for long swims is going to be the one that has the fastest time while still maintaining a comfortable effort. There will be 50s at which you have faster times than this ideal rate, but you didn't feel sustainable or comfortable. 

This is the low-tech way to do it. Of course it's not going to give you exact data, and you don't get to see whether you're above or below 60, but at least you get a feel for what you are doing. 

If you want to find and recruit a friend to count your stroke rate during warmup, you will then know whether you are above or below that 60 "low" stroke rate. 

See what you get!

Hint: what you get will be the stroke rate that will help you swim economically at longer distance events without (a) going bananas or (b) gliding too long.

Let us know how it works for ya!

<![CDATA[what is the miracle of miracle swimming?]]>Fri, 23 Jun 2017 20:52:18 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/what-is-the-miracle-of-miracle-swimmingPicture
"It would definitely be a miracle if I were swimming." Does this sound like you? You wouldn't be alone. Not by a long shot. Forty-six percent of American adults are afraid of deep water in pools, and sixty-four percent are afraid of deep open water. Nonswimmers are a bigger "pool" of people than you would think. 

The most common response I hear to these statistics is, "That's ridiculous! How does anyone not know how to swim?" That kind of thinking drives me COMPLETELY NUTS, because there are a ton of completely valid reasons that people become adults that do not know how to swim. And not one of them is ridiculous. 

Not one.

Here. See for yourself.

One of the key reasons that adults choose not to learn is that they are embarrassed and feel a bit shameful about how they have never learned to swim. And honestly, there is no reason they would want to learn to swim when all that swimming has ever had for them is fear. Why would someone want to learn to do something that sounds terrifying and scary? Well, sure, there are some people for whom doing scary things is a fun challenge (people who like say platitudes like "do something that scares you every day," to which I respond, "oh ok, yeah right, man, I'll get right on that; meanwhile you go ahead and order your different drink from Starbucks as your item for the day"). However, for most of us go-to-work-take-care-of-the-kids-pay-your-bills normal people, spending precious free time purposely scaring themselves doesn't sound like a whole heckuva lot of fun. 

Another reason that people don't know how to swim as adults is that, for many people who grew up from childhood not swimming, there is a legacy of non-swimming in their families or culture. Sometimes this legacy is due to an incident that may have happened to them or an older family member that led to fear of water in general in the family. Sometimes it is cultural, meaning that their entire culture or family did not swim, and so swimming is a strange thing to be pursuing. Sometimes it is practical, meaning that they do not like to get their nice hair style wet, which is completely normal and understandable. If I spent sixty bucks on something lovely that I was proud of and that made me look awesome, I would not want to feel like I was wasting my money either.

Another key reason that people choose not to pursue learning to swim as an adult is that to do so means that they are exposed in a swimsuit in front of others. Not everyone loves how they look in a swimsuit. People at pools are often lounging around with nothing to do but look at other people walk by. It can feel a little like a fish bowl in there. It takes a whole re-frame of mind to want to swim bad enough that you can not care what people think about how you look. And not everyone is ready to go there.

What I am saying is that it takes a LOT of chutzpah and guts to decide as an adult that you are ready to learn to swim. It sometimes comes at the cost of a lot of comment from one's family, friends, and neighbors. It comes as a commitment to try something new.

The miracle of Miracle Swimming is that it is NOT scary, we do not push, we do not shame, and we do not care what you look like in a swimsuit. You only do what you want to do, as the easiest path to your learning is, as it turns out, you having fun.

And when you or someone you know is ready, we're here. 

<![CDATA[EXPECTING the AWESOME]]>Tue, 21 Mar 2017 19:25:30 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/expecting-people-to-be-awesomePicture
Recently, I had the chance to talk to some really neat people from my past... people that I worked with during the summers of my college years. This place we worked, Philmont Scout Ranch, is sort of a camp meets national park, that employed (and still employs) over 800 seasonal staff every year. Some of these people are still close friends even now. This picture to the left is in 1994, the year that I worked with a small group called a work crew.

I remember thinking that these were basically the coolest people in the world, and that every person that I met there was just fascinating. I would go back to college so pumped and excited that I knew such amazing humans. 

Then, a few summers after I was done working there, I was looking at the pictures and reminiscing about them, and I was thinking, THAT GIRL WAS AMAZING! THAT GUY WAS SO AWESOME! I LOVED THAT GUY! OH! REMEMBER HER? SHE WAS SO INCREDIBLE! RIGHT? REMEMBER THAT? 

As I looked through those pictures, I remember being a little bummed because I was missing these awesome people. Well, I mean, I did have friends. It wasn't like I was bereft of happiness. But I thought, WHERE ARE THESE REALLY REALLY AWESOME PEOPLE in my life? Why didn't everyone else in the world have that special sparkle that these friends had? Couldn't we all just get in touch again and start a neighborhood together somewhere and just live next door to each other and..... and... 

...and then I realized it. 

I realized that when we went to that camp, we went there EXPECTING PEOPLE TO BE AWESOME. 

We went there absolutely certain that we were going to meet and hang out with amazing people. We didn't expect people to be boring, or superficial, or strange, or anything. We expected awesomeness unabated.

It was right then with the photo album in my lap that I realized that, in fact, awesome people were all around. I realized that by expecting them to be so, by looking for and thinking about and pondering on the great things about them, they became even more awesome. I realized that, back at our camp, by telling people how awesome they were and by talking about them to others in this way, we unwittingly built a culture of people who loved to be together. 

See, this is real community. Sure, every one of these people were imperfect, and they still are (chief of them, me). Some of them were annoying (me?), some of them were a little crazy (also me?), some of them didn't make the wisest decisions (definitely me). But by choosing the awesome parts to simmer on and live within, we smothered the little, petty, divisive criticisms of one another until they almost weren't even there anymore. 

So I put the photo album down and started living this way and expecting awesomeness in the people I knew. Becoming fascinated with them. Learning their story. Reveling in their little details. Glossing over their little idiosyncrasies. And not surprisingly, awesome people popped up left and right.

But up until recently, I had allowed some selfishness to overtake the awesome. A good friend reminded me, "Ali, if you're going to be continually critical of this person and that person and this gal and that guy in these little regards, pretty soon there aren't going to be any perfect people left." Whoa, humility, hello and welcome.

I realized again that I want to see people in the way that they were created to be seen. I want to speak truth into their lives when invited. I want to point them to their purpose. I want to love them the way that I've been loved by the One who knows me best. 

Because I want more awesome people in my life. Don't you?

And now we know where to start. 

Look left, look right.


<![CDATA[For the joy of food - part 2]]>Wed, 24 Feb 2016 19:02:49 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/for-the-joy-of-food-part-2Picture
Last time on the blog, we talked about what it means to have joy with food, in light of our culture's messages to us on WHAT we SHOULD eat, how MUCH, and WHEN. But we introduced the idea about how it might be possible that the body can be trusted to discern all of that on its own. I promised to give some examples from my own life on how it looks to listen to the body on what it wants and needs.

A typical day for me starts at 5:30 or 6 am, when I roll out of bed to meet clients from 7 to about 9 am. I'm a morning eater (note I did not say morning PERSON, ha ha!) ... meaning I'm really hungry in the mornings from when I wake up until about 11, and then my hunger tapers off some. My usual pre-client breakfast is a big blueberry/banana/PB smoothie, or cereal with granola and a banana, or some eggs if I'm feeling like something salty and savory. But normally, I like sweet things in the morning and I don't really crave protein. I'm not a big fruit-for-breakfast person, except for bananas, or if the fruit is whizzed up in the smoothie. I don't know. Maybe it's because fruit's cold, maybe it's too sour... but it just doesn't sound good to me when I first wake up. I usually fill my huge (and I mean YUUUUGE) Yeti Cup with decaf coffee that I take on the road. I don't do caffeine because it makes me nervy.

When I finish with morning clients, if it's summer, I'm off to teach swim lessons until late morning, and in between I grab some nut/granola bars, water, dried fruit, string cheese, boiled eggs, nuts, as I'm hungry and as I have time. When I'm done with morning lessons, I'm usually really hungry for something salty, like grilled chicken, nuts, egg salad, or salad with honey mustard dressing. I'm not really hungry for bread or pasta much, and I think I don't crave it because I don't digest bread very well, but also because my body gets most of its carbs from fruit which I do really like. If it's winter, I eat the same way, just not as much volume since my hunger isn't as strong from typing at the computer as it is with being in the pool.

Because of my bigger brunch at 10:30 or 11, I'm not usually hungry until around 2. Then, I usually am hungry for more protein, like ham or turkey, or some cottage cheese. Around now I start wanting vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and celery with peanut butter or Ranch (but not PB and Ranch together...eewww!). More handfuls of nuts. 

Most days, I'm teaching in the afternoons and evenings, so I usually get done around 7 or 8, which is later than most folks get off of work since I'm available for lessons after they finish work. After then, I'm hungry for a good meal - we tend to eat soups with rice, and various veggies with various meats. I usually want a plate with some kind of big protein and 2 veggie sides for the hubs since he's a traditional (read: Southern) eater. Sometimes we make cheese grits. We hardly ever have dessert, but not because we shouldn't but because we are usually no longer hungry after eating our dinner. 

I guess I tend to eat every 2-4 hours, but I don't really count - that's just when I can feel my blood sugar dropping and I get hungry. I never eat when I'm not hungry. On top of not sounding good, food when I don't need it gives me heartburn. I always eat in hunger Phase 2, which is as below: 

Phase 1) Hmm, I'm feeling a bit peckish. What do I want? I don't know what. Something. 
Phase 2) I'm hungry and I know what I want. That looks good. 
Phase 3) My stomach is growling and I'm starving! I don't care what it is, give it to me NOW! 

I think that it's important to eat in Phase 2 because THAT is when you can hear what your body wants. I don't look in the fridge to find out. I just think, WHAT DO I WANT? And then I go get it or the closest thing I can get to that thing. 

Here's the rub: I never tell myself that I can't have something or that something is bad for me. If I want something that's not nutritionally optimal, I remember that I'm not eating exclusively THAT all of the time, and I think it's much more OVERALL healthy to eat something that's a nutritional zero than to be mentally unhealthy by holding myself to an unrealistic, untenable, and un-fun eating standard, strategy, or range of foods, whole or not.

So there you have it!
1) I eat in Phase 2, which is always when hungry, not when not.
2) When eating, I stop when I am no longer hungry, not when I am full. Usually this is at the first moment when I sigh, ahhhh I feel better.
3) I don't think about what I "should" eat, I don't eat a specific diet or cut out food types or groups. I eat what I want to eat.
4) My weight stays slim, stable, and my hunger fluctuates according to my activity level.

Hope these examples helped you visualize what it means to me to eat by listening to my body. Next time, we'll explore what it means to stop eating when no longer hungry... what it means to "delay, not deny."