May 22

Free Speed

This past weekend, I participated in a triathlon clinic put on my Barb Lindquist. Barb, ranked #1 in the world in 2003 and 2004, represented the US in the 2004 Olympics on the triathlon team placing 9th overall.  The clinic was offered to members of Striders Tri Group that I belong to as well as some participants .  A couple of the members are coached by Barb so they organized everything.


The clinic began on Friday with a dinner that everyone to meet each other. There ended up being 20 total participants in the clinic at all different levels from experienced triathletes to triathletes just starting their 2nd season of racing.  After dinner, Barb shared her story about how she started life as a competitive swimmer and ended up as a world class triathlete.

On Saturday morning we started out at the pool to work on swim technique.  I learned lots of new drills to improve my body position and overall form. Each participant was then video taped from the front and side. Here are my videos.

So, what did I learn from my video analysis? I need to work on my head position – it needs to be lower in the water and I need to make sure I am looking to the side as I breathe; not forward or back.  Getting my shoulders (and thus head) down will help pull up my legs.  As Barb would say, “We need to see butt checks!” I also have to work on keeping high elbows and making sure I don’t cross the center line especially with my left arm.

The afternoon on Saturday was spent working on some running drills and running form. To be honest, I sort of tuned out a bit here. Yes, I know the drills help, but I am very skeptical of changing running form. I just know far too many people who have ended up injured because they tried to fix something that wasn’t broke.  I am happy with my running performance. I have seen incredible gains over the past few years and have remained injury free throughout. So, while I understand that it might be possible to improve efficiency by changing things up, it really isn’t something I am interested in right now.

On Sunday, we started off the day doing running strength exercises. These included things like stair climbs, tire dragging (not tire throwing Jeff), strides, and 100 yd sprints with short recovery. These really kicked my ass. I think it was mainly the stair climbs, but my legs are trashed now. It is that good kind of trashed though that feels like you worked your ass off.

After the running workout, we moved on to bike handling skills and improving transition speed. The bike handling skills were pretty helpful, but it seemed to be even more helpful to the participants who were only on their 2nd season of riding and less comfortable on the bike to begin with. The bike handling drills focused mainly on turning with making tight circular turns and weaving through a slalom course.

Once we had the cornering drills down, we moved to the grass and worked on contact drills to get comfortable riding with other people near by.  Even though most of the participants are planning on racing USAT races rather than ITU races (where drafting is legal) it is important to be comfortable riding in a group just in case something happens. For these drills we paired up and practiced riding while leaning on each other. Riding shoulder to shoulder actually wasn’t that bad, but because the grass was so bumpy, it was hard to ride in a straight line.

I had a lot of fun practicing transitions. There were a lot of people who had never started with their shoes in their pedals and it is something I myself hadn’t practiced in a while. I didn’t do it at all last year because it wasn’t allowed at IMWI so it wasn’t on my radar.  It is definitely something that gets easier with practice and I know that I need to spend some more time on it before my first race in June. After practicing everything individually, we put it all together with some mini races – run to the the bike, helmet on, run with the bike to a mount line, mount, put feet in the shoes, do a lap around the parking lot, dismount, change shoes, and run out.

Overall, the clinic was great and I learned a lot.  There was a bit more classroom time than I expected and some of the stuff it seemed more like demonstrating what drills/exercises we should be doing without a lot of time actually spent doing those drills/exercises. Even so, I was really worn out by the end of the weekend. I did my best to get in my scheduled workouts on top of the clinic, but I was short on time (and already pretty tired) so I had to cut back on a few of them. 

My long ride took the biggest hit. I was supposed to ride for 4:15 and ended up calling it a day after only 45 miles (less than 3 hours). It was brutally hot and my legs were already zapped. I stopped halfway through at a gas station and made what is easily the best $1.50 purchase ever:

Photo May 20, 2 59 47 PM

Why spend $0.99 on Dasani when you can get a whole gallon for $1.50??? I’ve never seen this at a gas station before but this gas station was near a lake and campground so I think that is why they had it. Between filling my bottles, and drinking straight from the jug, I used nearly 2/3’s of it. The rest I dumped over my head.

I’m on a recovery week now so I’m going to let the body rest up and hit the training hard starting on Monday again.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2012/05/22/free-speed


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  1. Matt Oravec

    Good stuff man. The only thing I could really tell on the swimming was the head position… however college swimmers we know say that you are supposed to have your forehead hitting the top of the water, our triathlon swim clinic guru said you should be able to pinch a tennis ball between your chin and neck (a bit less than that, but it’s a great visual).

    So what the hell, you aren’t going to tell me how to cut down my T2 time? I just wasted my lunch time reading this and I will still have 7+ minute T2 times?!?! Damn you!
    Matt Oravec recently posted..National Bike To Work Day… did you?

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      I can’t give away all the secrets from the clinic. I didn’t pay for it to make you faster! haha. However, on Saturday, when Barb told us to bring everything we would need for transition, she said that you should be able to fit it all in a small bag and that if anyone showed up with a bucket of water to rinse your feet, she would kick you in the ass. So, I am assuming that your lawn care, grill, and cooler would have been frowned upon.

      The swimming form stuff is interesting because it seems like there are a 100 different opinions on the correct way to swim. Barb really dislikes the Total Immersion/less strokes is better (T-not-WSS) approach and I tend to agree with that. I worked on my head position yesterday in the pool though and noticed a huge difference right away. My “problem” is that I tend to get bored and almost look around while I am swimming. I need to stop that and I think I’ll get faster.

      And you were totally on my mind during all the running form stuff. haha

  2. Matt Oravec

    Oh yeah, forgot… you read my blog last year a couple times… DON’T MESS WITH YOUR RUNNING FORM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Got it?
    Matt Oravec recently posted..National Bike To Work Day… did you?

  3. TriMOEngr (Christina)

    I really need to get someone to video me because I fear that my form is much worse than I think it feels. Interesting stuff.
    TriMOEngr (Christina) recently posted..Gravel = Bad, Friends = Good

  4. Jon

    I think your swim form is pretty good! Have you tried out a band yet? Basically find a way to tie your feet together and swim (without a pull buoy)…..its gonna be hard but it will teach you to use your core to keep your butt up! I have used a band with a pull buoy a few times, and only once without. OMG did my feet SINK like a rock. I have to do some dolphin kicks to keep the legs up. My core SUCKS!
    Jon recently posted..Finally, Getting Consistent Again

    1. Jeff

      This is awesome. Dave and I were using a band last week and it is freaking hard. You get through 25m and want to die! But then you take it off and feel great in the water!
      Jeff recently posted..Ironman Texas 2012

  5. Chris

    Hey Kevin. I enjoy reading your posts. Really good content. Seeing as this is the first year that I’m actually training for tris, I think a clinic like the one you just wrote about would be quite beneficial. I’m terrible in the swim and slightly below average in the bike. I started running in 2007, but feel I’m halfway decent at that…..just need to master the other areas. I found a “Total immersion” dvd quite helpful. I did approx. half the drills and feel more comfortable in the water. Don’t get me wrong, I still suck in the water, but it’s improving. Keep up the good work. I’ll see you at the next MiTi meeting.


  6. Chris

    PS: I think you should head to Panama City with us in 2013 and save the MiTi for the following year. We have quite a few people interested in going.

  7. Beth

    I may or may not have just spent the past 15 minutes analyzing your form. Keep your legs together! Butt up (head position wherever it needs to be to make that happen)! High elbows! And you don’t need any of this advice, because I’m pretty sure you’re swimming 17 sec 25’s. FAST!
    Beth recently posted..I’m Cranky About It

  8. katie

    I still can’t start with my shoes on the pedals. Sigh.
    katie recently posted..it’s not all puppies shitting rainbows

  9. Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race

    Shoes on pedals…..nope don’t do that.

    Obviously need better swim form because 1:34 is an eternity. If I cut that down to 1:25 that is 9 minutes right there…..my goodness.

    Sounds cool and between you and Jeff with the Tri Clubs I am going to have to join one finally.
    Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race recently posted..Ironman Texas – Bike Recap

  10. Jeff

    That looks like a great clinic.

    Your swim form looks pretty darn solid man. Hips are high and you looks to be swimming down hill. No wonder you are killing it in the pool!
    Jeff recently posted..Ironman Texas 2012

  11. Carolina John

    Nice! Swim form and head position are crucial. Stretching and yoga is also easy speed.
    Carolina John recently posted..50 for Fun

  12. BDD

    That is pretty cool, you cant miss a chance to learn from one of the best

    Riding in a group has become a lost art, makes me sad

  13. DR

    awesome clinic
    im going shoes in pedals on all local tris again this year
    hopefully I can perform better than last year!
    practice practice practice

    totally agree on the running thought process
    I think that unknowingly by running in mirage shoes and focusing a bit more on midfoot landing my calfs finally pushed back at me last November. Long term should be good for me but even that slight change took my body awhile to adapt and accept the form. I think?

  14. lindsay

    haul that jug around on the bike like the beefy guys do at the gym. it’s the cool thing to do.
    lindsay recently posted..run like a diva 5k

  15. Matthew Smith

    First of all, you’re a beast with the running, so I agree with not messing with your form in that department. I learned a bit from your swimming technique. I always have a hard time not crossing the center line on my swim. I’m glad you had a good clinic, and take it easy out in the heat! I’m feeling it too here in the South! 🙂
    Matthew Smith recently posted..In Memory of "Beryl"

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