"Work on the things that need improving the most that is hard (as in finding the time to do or recover from) to improve during the race season."
Well, I need a LOT of improvement in all areas of triathlon, but really what that means is working on technique or strength or things that you just don't have time for when you are racing every other weekend. Mostly my improvement is needed in the pool. You can't just swing your arms faster in the pool like pedaling faster or turning your legs over faster to go faster; its mostly technique based in the water. There is some golden swim-technique-formula out there and I am bound to find it!
Which means playing with new pool toys!!! Why not? I don't have to break my 100 yard PR for another 5 months. I have time to muck around and see if any of these gimmicks actually work.
So I ordered two new swim toys.
#1 The Finis Hydro Hip
After reading the reviews on the Hydro Hip and watching the video, I was very skeptical. All of them said that it will ride up your hips and detach. Whelp, they were right. After my first 25, it did just that. But I wasn't giving up! I readjusted it, stuck it really low on my hips and tightened it up right and went again. The belt stayed put! So now it was time to figure this thing out.
I had to really try hard to rotate with this thing. Eventually I got the hang of it and it forced me to work my core to rotate my body. After 200 yards I took them off, then chaos ensued. I pushed off the wall sans Hydro Hip, rotated and WHOOPS! I over-rotated to a full 270 degrees and found myself staring up at the ceiling. Holy WOW this thing actually works!
I did 200 yards swimming freestyle and my rotation was incredible! I was finally able to feel what it meant to rotate my core to rotate my body. All along I was using my shoulders and upper body to rotate and it was so hard.
Rotate from your hips/core and the rest of your body will follow.
It is easier this way to swim.
I felt like I was "getting after the water" for once.
#2 The Finis Forearm Fulcrum
This was a strange toy to get used to. They immediately came off my wrists when I pushed off the first time. I soon learned you have to wrap your thumb around it to hold it on. The point of the Forearm Fulcrum is to keep your hand and forearm from bending. You have more surface area when this is the case; more surface area = more pull = more speed. You have to work to keep your elbows high. Dropped elbows = bad juju!!!
Took me a few alternating 100 yard intervals to get the hang of it, but like the Hydro Hip, you don't feel the full effects until you take them off. Once off, my pull felt MUCH stronger and I was engaging my lat muscles, which are those giant broad muscles on your back which are much stronger at pulling than your arms.
I would say the Forearm Fulcrum is an alright toy.You can accomplish a similar effect and water feel by swimming with fists.
Don't bend your wrists and keep your elbows high.
Engage those lats to pull!
Besides playing with new toys, I have 3 off season goals for the pool.
Dolphin kicking (check!)
Learning dolphin kicking took all of 5 mins and the backstroke took 45 mins. My new swimming technique confidence was sky high! I figured flip turns would take 15.....boy was I wrong! Flip turns.......yeah......have NOT been agreeing with me. So I turned to my good friend, Youtube.com for help :)......I swear you could earn a degree off of youtube....
I found this great 5 step flipturn instructional series.
Step #0: Admit that a flipturn is harder than it looks
I got through step #2 alright, but as soon I removed the pull buoys, I was pushing off and hitting the bottom of the pool. Am I not tucking enough? Dropping my arms?
Does anyone have any other easy to learn it yourself flipturn methods? I know I don't have to learn flipturns, but its a goal that I have wanted to accomplish for a long time.