Day 21: Swim/Bike Brick Workout

Today is day 21 on my 16-week training program. I’ve officially hit 3 weeks of training. I don’t count rest days so this is 3 actually weeks worth of days in which I’ve trained. There’s no doubt I feel the effect of my training. While I don’t weigh myself that often (maybe once a week…maybe) I’m sure I’m down a few pounds, but more than that I’m sure my body fat percentage has decreased. Most importantly I feel stronger when I train. For instance cycling at +200 watts used to burn my legs very quickly. Last night I did 215 watts for 5 minutes straight and while I could certainly feel it, it definitely didn’t burn.

Due to time constraints today was a “brick” workout, meaning two different exercises done back-to-back. Brick workouts are essential for triathlon as a way to mimic and prepare for the actual race. Today’s plan didn’t explicitly require a brick workout but looking at my work/home schedule I realized that if I didn’t get it all done at the same time it wasn’t going to happen. The plus side is I’m done for the day!

The Swim: Today’s plan called for an 800 yard recovery swim including 3×100 intervals. Recently I got some valuable advice on how to improve my kick. Basically the kick in swimming only accounts for 10-15% of propulsion, but the kick has a big impact on other things. When done correctly the kick stabilizes the body, and helps you turn when you go to breath. However, when the kick is performed incorrectly–like how I do it– it causes severe drag burns energy rapidly. Swimming, I’m learning, is all about being efficient. A key part of this efficiency is maintaining a streamlined position so that you glide through the water. How you use and position your legs have a lot to do with this. Pushing your legs down as you might do when you’re kicking actually creates an obstacle to the water (think of water pushing against you’re thigh). Similarly, pointing your toes down and kicking water down has a similar effect; it presents an obstacle to water (the top of your foot) and the water you push down creates drag which holds you back. Lastly,¬†because you legs muscles are so large, a strenuous kick will quickly deplete your oxygen and make everything harder. This all means that I’m very focused on streamlining my kick and that was my focus for today. The result? It was better. I kicked more from my hip and less from my knee. I did an okay job of keep my toes pointed back, not down. I could see in my training video that I was still kicking way too much–something like a 6 beat–which is exhausting. I have my next lesson on Sunday morning so hopefully I’ll get some training on how to control my kick count.

The¬†Run: I’m trying very hard to manage my knee so I don’t knock myself out of commission. This means I’m going to spend more time on the treadmill. As boring as treadmills are, they provide more spring so less shock to the knee. I’m also using tape and knee straps to make sure my knee cap tracks correctly when I run. This is what I did today and I was extremely happy with the results. I had no knee pain and ran an 8:48/mile for 4 miles. Even hours later my knee feels fine so hopefully my knee prep work will be effective.

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