Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Conquer Your Transition to Open Water Swimming


Summer is finally here and what better way to celebrate than plunging into open water for the first time. If you have never raced or trained in open water fear not, because the more you practice the quicker your fear goes away. Here are our favorite tips and tools for open water swimming.

Prevent a Kick to the Face

Maybe your fear isn’t sharks; it’s getting kicked in the face. It occurs frequently if you are in the water with a ton of other racers who want to set their PR like you do. Practice the Catch-up swim stroke in training so you can execute it during the race when you need to protect yourself from other swimmer’s legs. This stroke positions you to have one arm always in front, which makes a barrier between you and someone else’s foot.

Goggles underneath Cap

Some people prefer to put their goggles over their swim caps, but if your cap falls off mid swim your goggles are going with it too.  Your goggles might also get wrestled off of your face if you get kicked or accidentally grabbed. Wearing your goggles underneath your swim cap will help them stay on for the full length of your swim.

Don’t Catch a Wave

Open Water means waves and waves might spell out danger if you are unsure how to handle them. In most races you will not be subjected to a relatively large wave, but on occasion and without warning they can happen. If you see a large wave coming towards you, remember to dive, grab, and push. Dive underneath the large wave and if you can, or if you feel comfortable enough, grab the sand underneath you. If you hold onto the sand, this makes the wave pass easily over you without you getting dragged with it. Then push off the sand to come back up and continue your swim. You won’t be swept away with the wave and you won’t lose distance.

Swim Straight

This is hard to do for most people who transition to open water swimming, because we are used to breathing on our favorite side and having a strong side. Get comfortable breathing on both sides of your stroke. It will help prevent you from pulling to one side or the other, plus you don’t have to wait for your preferred side to breathe if you are running out of breath. There is not much to help prevent your favored side from pulling you off course, which means you’ll have to rely on markers to reel you back on to the right path. If you look up too much you’ll waste precious time. While you are still training in the pool look up and choose a marker. Train looking up between a few of your strokes. When you are comfortable, increase the difficulty by lowering the amount of times you look up to your marker. This will translate into you swimming straighter and you being more in control of your path.

Drafting is Key

Maybe you have drafted in the pool before, or maybe you’ve only swum by yourself, regardless drafting in open water is an easy way to help you save energy for the other two legs of the triathlon. When you draft someone in open water, you can limit the amount of sighting you do because you can follow their lead.  This saves you the energy you would have to use to look up. Don’t worry if you touch their feet from time to time, but try your best not too.

Cold Water Blues

The ocean can be cold, very cold. It may not be on your first race, but you will experience swimming in cold water if you swim in open water. There are a few ways to prevent you from freezing up when you hit the water. Do a quick warm-up before you enter the water. This will help get your body to increase blood flow, which means you’ll be warmer in the water than if you forgo this step. To help reduce the cold shock to your face, blow bubbles when you hit the water. It sounds a little weird, and you might feel funny doing it, but it’ll prevent the shock of the cold water on your face and the shock you feel in your lungs. 

Whether you’re scared of getting kicked in the face or you absolutely dread cold water, you can overcome the obstacles that open water throws at you. Remember that open water can be dangerous for people who cannot swim well, so train hard in the pool and start easy in the ocean.

Good Luck and Keep Swimming!


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fit From Head to Toe: The Best Upper Body Exercises

Triathletes strive for total body fitness, but achieving it is much harder than setting a goal for it. Upper body workouts can often get overlooked; because they don’t directly exercise the muscles needed to run or cycle, but your upper body is important for total body fitness. These are our favorite upper body workouts to help get your body at its peak performance.

The Push Away

If you are unable to do push-ups in proper form, I recommend you hold off on this exercise. Start in a push up position and make sure your back is straight and your hips parallel to the floor. Slowly reach out with your right arm at a 45-degree angle, while your left arm maintains the push up position and complete the push up. Make sure when your right arm is extended that you don’t lose your form. Repeat on the left arm for a balanced exercise.

Goblet Squat

For this exercise, you will need a dumbbell. Choose a weight you feel comfortable lifting and get ready to do a squat. Hold the dumbbell by placing both hands on one of the weights; the dumbbell will be vertical. You want your hands to cup the weight, like you would hold a goblet. Ease into a squat and aim for 6 squats before resting. If you find that the weight is not heavy enough or too light, switch it out to a weight you feel more comfortable with.

Spider Push-Ups

No spiders are needed to do this challenging push-up. Start in the push-up position. When you bend down to do a normal push-up, slide your right leg out and bend the right knee until it’s at the right side of your body, almost like you are climbing a mountain. You want to keep the right knee pointed out when it is sliding and the right foot should be horizontal. Do your best to keep the right foot off the ground to get the full benefits from this position. When you are pushing up to complete your push-up, slide your right foot back into starting position. Next time you go down for the next push up switch legs.

Flying Dumbbells

As the title suggests, you will need a set of dumbbells for this, although two full water bottles could work as a replacement. It is best to do this exercise in a sitting position. Find a bench or a chair and sit on the edge of the seat. Place your dumbbells behind you, in line with your feet. Bend down to pick up the dumbbells, one in each hand. Your fingers should be pointing to each other and your elbows pointing out. Bend and lift your arms with the dumbbells. Pretend like your arms are wings. Continue to raise your arms until they are shoulder height. Then slowly put your arms back down. Repeat as necessary.

Deadlifts

For these deadlifts, you will need a pair of dumbbells. Choose the weight that challenges you, but is still comfortable. Grab the dumbbells, so that one end of each weight is touching the front of your thigh and keep them horizontal as if they were attached to a bar. Bend forward with the dumbbells as if you were trying to place them back on the ground. Your body will go into a squat position. Make sure you keep your back straight during the lift, because the last thing you want is an injury.

Pull-Ups

Pull-Ups are necessary for upper body strength, but they can pose a challenge if you’ve never done them before, or if it’s been awhile. Find a pull up bar, either in your gym, on a playground, or if you have a pull up bar attachment for a doorframe. When grabbing the bar, make sure your hands are shoulder width apart and grab with your fingers pointing towards you. Do your best to pull yourself up so your chin is just above the bar, and then slowly lower yourself where you are hanging. If you can grab the bar while standing, you will have to bend your knees while doing pull ups. It will take some time to master pull-ups; so don’t lose hope if you are not where you want to be.

The Last Lift

These upper body workouts will help you achieve your goal of total body fitness, while giving you the strength you crave. Add them into your workouts to change up the routine, and to give your legs and core a break for the day.

Happy Lifting!

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