Weekly Workout Tip

How to fool your swim coach

Published: March 31, 2014, on Blog, Weekly Workout Tip

Want to pull one over on your swim coach?

Talk the talk. Walk the walk.  “Swim the swim?”

If you are like most triathletes, you think that your swim is “good enough” and chances are that you haven’t made major improvements in a while.   Swim coaches constantly struggle with triathletes and their tendencies to change workouts, swim one speed all the time, skip stroke sets, ignore drills, wear their tri kits to practice,  and opt out of wicked test sets due to other workouts they have scheduled for later that day, etc.

In service to the sport of triathlon and struggling triathlete swimmers, here are some time-tested tips for fooling your swim coach on deck into thinking that you know what you are doing in the pool.  

1.  Do your warm up like a pro.   No need to race it or to count the lengths on your GPS device or your automatic lap counting device , get a split, or win it.  True swimmers know how to eeeeease into their day with minimal effort, beautiful form, and absolutely no rush. In plain talk, sand bag it and stop your warm up when the folks in the fast lane are hanging on the wall talking.

2.  Use your head to count lengths and leave your fancy waterproof GPS watch at home.  The coach will be really impressed that you can count AND your lane-mates will think you have spent your life in the pool.   You can then ponder appropriate send-off intervals or remark on the mathematical pattern of  the workout and total the yardage for extra brilliance points.   Learn to count and stroke.   It may not be that hard after all!

3.  Lose the Drills and Win the Form contest.   Be the slowest sculler and driller in the pool during drill these sets.  Be the poor fool who can hardly make the interval you are thinking so hard about your beautiful stroke.  Be the swimmer obsessed with your feel of the water, the symmetry of your movements, the pitch of your hand, the height of your elbows, the rotation of your torso.  Be a swim NERD and obsess about your swimming economy like your life depends on it.

4.  Learn to FLIP TURN.  You get style points. You get a free streamline stretch off of every wall. You experience the added hypoxic high of breath control, AND you can learn it on u tube in 5 minutes.  Who doesn’t want to see stars and feel a little euphoric during the trials of miles!?

5. Finally, make sure to swim with your swim band in every single practice, as part of your warm up, cool down, or for simple entertainment value.  It’s ok to complain bitterly about it and take 6 months learning not to sink or call to the lifeguard, but it will really, really impress your coach.

You never know.  After all this talk of how to fool your coach, you might just fool yourself into being a better swimmer.   You’d be a fool not to try… 




It’s not about the workouts

Published: February 19, 2013, on Blog, Weekly Workout Tip

bilal bracelet

Time to revisit these themes as we set out on our 2014 triathlon journeys.  Many athletes still hold dear some ancient ideas about coaching, training, and racing.

Perhaps its time to clear the air on behalf of all the professional coaches out there in the TRI universe.   Collectively, we can swear under oath to you that..

It’s not about the workouts

“What??”  you say.   ” I pay for my workouts from you. I get them. I do most of them. Sometimes I move them around, modify them a bit, over-bake the pace with my friends, draft, workout a little tight, etc.  But, well, I work out as I’m supposed to. What more do you want?”

Well, dear athlete.  We want you to TRAIN and not just work out. There is a huge difference.

Working out= staying in your jeans, having fun, no long term planning, no variations in fatigue.  You generally feel fit but experience no profound adaptations in your physiology, may plateau, and your regime is not a progression but rather a routine. Nothing wrong with that. But it’s not training… For beginner triathletes this looks like swim, bike ,run, rinse, repeat.   And these same athletes wonder why race day is exponentially more challenging than their daily regime.

Training= following a vision, doing workouts to your best effort, never giving up, growing wiser and more expansive in your views and knowledge of your chosen sport,  and following the lead of a trained coach who imparts knowledge, encouragement, and pushes you past your self-imposed limits and barriers.  You’ll never know if don’t you try, but human nature is that we do not routinely set ourselves up for challenges greater than our limits.  But really, what are our limits?  …Confines of the mind that need further discussion.

Coaches bring your through your fear of failure on a journey that leads to success greater than you imagined.

I once said to my coach “If I live through this workout, I’m gonna fire your A#@!!!   And the calm, steady reply was, “well, I’ll wait for your call. Time to get moving!”

And another day my coach said, “Listen, SR,  I’m going to clear out all your head noise for you and take it away. No more self doubt, questioning, or uncertainty about racing pro as an older lady, mom,etc.  My job is to silence your head noise and to let your talent shine through in your racing, GOT IT!!!???

So training is this journey into the deeper parts of yourself as a person, an athlete, and a person with doubts, feelings, a life, a family, and a balancing act.   It’s not following some random spreadsheet from a book.  It’s a live dialogue between you and a mentor who will break you at times and put the pieces back together to make you ever stronger.

2014:  your year to TRAIN and stop clocking hours just working out.

It’s up to you.  


photo:  athlete Bilal Saib who replaced Ironman workouts with Ironman training once we began our journey









Open Water Worries

Published: March 5, 2012, on Blog, Weekly Workout Tip
that's me- ready for my first panic attack!

This week’s training tip  was published on Active.com last week.   I was soooo excited that they accepted this for publication, as Open Water Swimming is largely about mind games.

For many of us, it is terrifying and the most dreaded part of any race.   Read more about how you can conquer your fears and take concrete steps to stay safe, manage your fear, and to master the technical art of open water swimming.   For more fun, see my video on u tube on race day mental preparation.   Make 2012 the year your rule your over your fears, not them over you.

Mental skills for triathlon, specifics about open water



that's me- ready for my first panic attack!

Go me, Racing Elite and afraid of the waves!



But what???

Published: December 26, 2011, on Blog, Weekly Workout Tip

Will 2013 be the year that you kick your BUTs butt???

“I’d like to lose weight coach, but…”

” I was on pace to run ___  but then…”

“I could have been top in my ____  but…”

” I would have made Kona but…”

“I wish I had more time to train but…”

We all love to explain away our shortcomings and are quite skilled at it.  It’s how we protect our egos, recover from disappointment,  and cover up what might be a lack of  preparation for achieving our goals.   It’s part of being human and we all do it.. BUT…

What if this is the year that you listen to yourself and define what are your limiters.  Listen to yourself in conversation with other athletes and listen for the BUT.  Once you do that, you have the beginnings of your 2013 training plan.   If you need an ear, hire a coach to listen for an hour or get yourself a great journal and get started!  ; )

In 2013, be an athlete who is satisfied but motivated to do more.   Motivate yourself to kick your BUTs butt in 2013.  No more excuses. Let’s work on concrete solutions!!!