Great blog by a Master TI Coach

This is just one of the principals of Total Immersion that is so important to a great freestyle stroke.  It was written by one of the Master Coaches from my training in California.  I can’t thank him enough for what he taught me about swimming and how to approach life in a new way.

Balance is the most crucial element of efficient swimming.  In freestyle swimming, balance has two components:

1) Fore-aft balance (head-to-toe).

2) Rotational balance (side-to-side). 

Fore-aft balance is continuous and constant.  Regardless of where you are in the stroke or breath cycle, your body is (ideally) horizontal in the water so that only your head and shoulders comprise the leading surface.  As you move forward, the rest of your body remains in the shadow of this leading surface – creating a streamlined hydrodynamic body. 

Rotational balance is dynamic.  By rotating from side to side, you shift your body’s weight forward in the water.  You use gravity as the primary force for propulsion.

When you feel balanced in the water, you can swim as slow as you want!  That may sound ludicrous to a competitive swimmer.  However, the novice expends tremendous energy moving around in the water – disturbing the water – as he/she strives to feel balanced.  Without balance, every other element of swimming is formidable.  Breathing is a scary proposition, streamlining is inconceivable and propulsion is a struggle of sheer will and determination to survive to the other side.

 A swimmer who is comfortably balanced can relax and choose a speed and a breathing rhythm that are sustainable for the chosen distance.  This ability to choose any speed within your capacity to maintain consistent and dynamic balance is one of the most empowering and exhilarating experiences in swimming.

On land or in the water, the most efficient way to move forward is to transform the vertical pull of gravity into horizontal movement.  In physics, this 90-degree transformation of energy is known as precession.  Precession is what enables a moon to orbit around a planet.

Want to run a marathon?  No problem!  Just keeping falling forward for 42 kilometers – without tipping over!  (This is a function of maintaining a tilted head-to-toe balance.  The more you tilt forward – from your ankles, not your hips – the faster you can go.)  Running is a series of short orbits.  If you can keep your touch-and-go-landings (footstrikes) very brief, you stay in the air, with minimal friction.  To effectively transform the pull of gravity by 90 degrees (into horizontal movement) you must maintain both consistent and dynamic balance.  (We could compare/contrast the functions of fore-aft and rotational balance in running versus swimming at length, but not now.)

In swimming – indeed in every area of life – without balance, it is nearly impossible to relax and feel at ease or to navigate and move with any predictability.  Recall a time when you slipped and fell.  As you lost your balance, you probably experienced a moment of panic and responded by tensing your body.  This feeling of panic and tension is just as true when we lose emotional or mental balance as it is when we lose physical balance.  Balance is essential to every human being’s sense of well-being.  It is the foundation of security and comfort. 

In our day-to-day lives, each of us expends 90% of our neurological energy just to maintain balance – to maintain a harmonious relationship with gravity.  Despite this tremendous investment, once we get past the toddler stage of walking, and the training wheel stage of bicycling, we devote very little of our focused awareness to studying our relationship with gravity.  That is, until we commit to a mindful practice like efficient swimming, yoga, T’ai Chi, gymnastics or dance.  These practices lead to a lifelong refinement of our relationship with gravity.  The possibilities are infinite!  To view a video of extraordinary balance on a bicycle click here.

Your relationship with gravity is the most enduring and consistent physical relationship in your life.  It begins at the moment of your conception and continues until your death.  It permeates every molecule, every atom of your being.  Buckminster Fuller called gravity “the physical manifestation of love”.  (Perhaps there is some revealing truth to the expression “falling in love”.)  Gravity is truly our source of orientation.

In a recent blog, Terry Laughlin asked, “Who is your Master?”  With great certainty, I responded, “My Master is Gravity. She has been with me, informing me, orienting me, since my conception.”

A conscious study and enduring practice of orientation with gravity (like efficient swimming or T’ai Chi) is a study of proprioception.  With clear and pure intent, the benefits of such a study are profound for your well-being – far beyond improving your swimming.  A strong and abiding sense of physical balance strengthens mental, emotional and spiritual balance as well.  This is truly a path with promise!  As John Savino, who recently attended our 5 -Day PMF Clinic in Coronado says, “Swim long and prosper!”

Shane Eversfield is a Total Immersion Master Coach, author of “Zendurance, A Spiritual Fitness Guide for Endurance Athletes“, and producer of the DVD “T’ai Chi for Athletes“.  He is also a contributing editor to Hammer Nutrition Endurance News.

Total Immersion Swimming

I just returned from obtaining my latest certification.  I spent the last week in Coronado, California getting my Total Immersion Swim Coaching.  If you are unfamiliar with Total Immersion check out the main website at www.TotalImmersion.net for the history and philosophy of this process of learning a more efficient freestyle.  It works well for triathletes.  Focus switches from swimming using all arms and legs to learning how to use your core and weight shifts to propel you through the water.  The more efficient you are on your swim the more energy you will have for the bike and run.  Why spend all that energy fighting the water when you can learn to propel through it with ease.  Check back for more information about my Total Immersion lessons and classes coming out soon.

Ironman 70.3 Syracuse Experience

This is going to be a long one but I hope you read on. 

On Sunday 9/19, I completed in Ironman 70.3 Syracuse.   What an experience!!  I arrived early as usual for my event to get transition set up and do my rituals of race morning.  It was dark and raining so it meant a little extra thought had to go into how to set up transition to keep everything dry.  The bike was set because we had to have it in transition the night before. There was a sea of bikes.   I have done events with large numbers of participants before but looking around and seeing all the amazing athletes, pros included and their bikes, kind of brought me back that very first triathlon.   You start to freak yourself out and think “What the heck am I doing here? I am so out of my league!”  Then you reassure yourself that you prepared and trained hard for this event and you own it.  It is my race and no one else’s.   What happens here today is all up to me and how I decide to do.  What the other athletes can do is up to them and they don’t affect me.   With my mental preparation out of the way, it is on to the swim start.

The race organizers had us pick up our timing chips on the way to the swim start.  There was no way to verify if the chip was working or if it was really assigned to me.  They assured us they were set.  It was not till the end of the race that we realized how wrong they were.   Waves started lining up for the swim and everyone was cold and nervous.  You could feel the excitement in the air.  Everyone thinking “Just let me get started and I will be fine”.  The rain had stopped for a while but the water temperature was only 62 degrees.  That meant as soon as your face hit the water it was going to take your breath away.   Now, in your head you prepare yourself for it and that it only last a few minutes until you get adjusted to the temperature.  I have a wetsuit on but I kicking myself for not having brought my long sleeve one.  I thought the water would be around 68 and I would be fine. WRONG! My wave gets ready in the water to take off and the countdown begins 3, 2, 1 go!  Race is on!!   Right off the bat, I can’t keep my face in but I keep redoing it as if asking for more punishment.  The breath goes and comes back and I start to finally settle into my pace.   My swim is going well.  I am passing people in waves that started ahead of me.  I must be doing well and I can’t wait to see my swim time when I am done.  As I near the end of the swim, I am aware that I really can’t fell my arms because they are so cold but they are still moving.  That is all that matters.  Start thinking “Boy I am I glad I brought arm warmers for the bike.”    Finish the swim feeling like I had done a great job and start my run to transition #1.  One of the great things about Ironman’s, they have wetsuit strippers.  Best thing ever invented at a race.  You sit down, stick your legs up and someone rips your wetsuit off.  WEE!! Good thing my tri shorts were tied tight!  Would not want them coming off, too!

Transition #1 is interesting.  I am wet and cold and I try and put on arm warmers.  Not an easy task when you can’t even feel your fingers. Socks will be a good idea for this race so they go on.  Not use to that on the bike and I hope it works.  I need to keep as much of my body warm as I can.  It is raining again just as I start the bike!  They have told us the bike will be challenging but in this rain and fog that might be an understatement.  There were parts of the course where you could not see more than 500 feet in front of you.  You start to wonder is the road going to go up, will it take a turn or maybe a downhill.  Will have to wait and see so I take it easy.  No sense chancing a crash because this is my race and no one else’s.  I will just stay to the right so that I am not in another racers way.  It seems if all we are doing is climbing most of the course.  Not an issue for me, I think because I LOVE to climb.  By mile 45 the course seems to get easier and I can cruise into Transition #2.

Transition #2 should be faster since all I need to do is rack the bike and put on my running shoes.  The hat and race belt can be put on as I start the run but WAIT.  All that fluid and fuel on the bike has left me with a little problem. I must wait behind 4 people in the port-a-john line.  SUCKS but is a must!!  Nothing you can do when Mother Nature calls. 

Finally, off on to the run and I decide to take a look at my watch.  WOW!!  I am about 30 minutes ahead of where I thought I would be at this point.  Can’t wait to see those split times!  All I have to do is run 13.1 miles and I am done.  “Keep your pace” I keep telling myself in my head.  It is your race and you do it your way.  Running is going well and at mile 3, I realize that I am running a sub 8 minute mile. That might be a bit fast so I slow a little but I am feeling strong so I don’t back off too much.  By mile 4 near the water stop, I hear, “Hey Thea, I have been following you all day.”  There was this really nice lady that I did not know telling how I was inspiring her to keep running without even knowing it.  We start running together and talking.  We are encouraging each other to keep going.  We don’t realize how strong we look.  Then quite a few of the male racers start to make comments.  Like “You ladies are looking great and keep up the good work”.  We smile at each other and at the same time say, “Thanks, not to bad for old girls!”  We happen to be in the same age group.  We even had a racer in his 20’s ask us if he could run with us to keep him on pace.  Lynn (the lady I was running with) was kind of a celebrity in this town.  She had help start their local triathlon club and everyone on the sidelines was cheering her on.  Lynn and I stayed together all the way to the finish!  It is nice to have company in the really tough spots.

The finish is unbelievable.  People are lined up on the both sides for what seems like miles. I FINISHED!!!!  I get my medal and they take my timing chip.  I can’t find my family or my friend who did the race along with me.  I am off to the bag check tent to find everyone.  When I get there my friend asks how I did and I tell him I think good but need to wait to see times.  Then my husband arrives and tells me that he was unable to track my progress online.  Ironman has an athlete tracking system so people can see how you are doing while you are out on the course.  My chip number is all Zero’s for the day.  It is as if I did not even do the race.  There was a problem with the timing chip.  I had no way of knowing but my times were lost for good.

I leave the event with mixed emotions.  I am excited to finish.  I feel as though I did better than I expected by about 40 minutes now but I have no way of ever finding out.   I can’t set any time goals or decide what I really need to focus on for next race without my splits.  They way I look at it, I can pout about it and complain or realize it was my race and those time really only mean something to me.  And I know I did an AWESOME job for me and that is what matters most!!!

Good Times at Nav-E-Sink Swim!!

What a great day for the first open water swim of the season!!  Nav-e-sink swim is the best swim race to start off the season..  Personally, I did well but the best part is that some of the athletes that I work with placed in their age groups  for the first time in a swim!!   Way to Go!  All that hard work really paid off.

When a good idea turns to a BAD one!! (April 12th)

As though I don’t have enough on my plate these days with triathlon season just starting, I decided to get one more certification this past weekend.  I have found that I love strength training on the TRX system because it lets me train outside and works so well.     When the weekend started I had hoped to bring this modality to my clients but I wanted to be trained on how to bring this to a group setting.   Today, that great idea has turned into a very painful idea for me.  Who would have thought that some strap attached to the ceiling could kick my b_ _t so well!   My clients better beware it is coming your way soon!!

Those that know me will get this!!

Okay..so I had a friend help me set up this crazy website.  It has taken me almost 6 months to figure out how to get my blogs to post.  I know(how can someone be so slow!!).  The worst part is that years ago(that is many moons) I actually  worked in computers.  SCARY thought!!  Not that I have it figured out, I hope I can entertain you with all the fun and crazy things that can happen during a triathlon season.   Last years biggie of crashing the bike into the garage hopefully will not be topped!   (it was on top of my car!! ) Happy Training!!

January 31st, 2010

What a weekend!!  I spent the weekend learning from of the top Sports Nutritionists in the States. Nancy Clark held a workshop on Sports Nutrition and Aging in Rutherford, NJ.   I learned more then I ever expected from a weekend workshop.  Even things that I wish I had not learned!  Of course Saturday night, some good friends helped me to break all the golden rules I had spent all that time learning!  What are good friends for!!  Love ya!

Happy New Year!!!  The start of the New Year means a start of a new triathlon season!  This years looks to be especially busy.  This is the second year of Tri 4 Fun Training and it is off to a busy start.  Swim lessons are in full swing and I am getting close to booked on all private lessons.  New swim classes for triathletes start in being of March.  Check the website later in Febuary for updates.