Apr 01

How to fool your swim coach

Stacey Richardson’s 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… 




Stacey Richardson’s Weekly Workout Tips
©TriStacey Coaching

Mar 16

Popeye was Right: eat your spinach!

spinachI was visiting my brother in San Jose last week.    He’s an avid cyclist and has a copy of Joe Friel’s Cyclist Training Bible.   Of course, I picked up to leaf through the pages.   I’m on this aging athlete kick lately, so I looked that up in the index, and went to the pages to read up.    I found more really great stuff about aging athletes and nutrition:

Popeye was right: eating spinach can make you stronger and more muscular, especially if you’re over age 50. Let me explain.

It’s apparent that as we grow older muscle mass is lost. Although this loss is slowed somewhat by weight lifting and vigorous aerobic exercise, it still happens. Even athletes in their 60s typically demosntrate considerably less muscle than they had in their 40s.

Now there is research that shows why (1). Nitrogen, which is an essential component of muscle protein, is given up by the body at a faster rate than it can be taken in as we get older. This is due to a gradual change in kidney function that comes with aging producing an acidic state in the blood. Essentially, we are peeing off our muscles as we pass the half-century mark in life.

Joe goes on to talk about how

“there is also a natural way of achieving this same result through diet by eating foods that increase the blood’s alkalinity – fruits and vegetables. “

Read full article here.

Find Joe’s books on Amazon.

Here is a nice list of foods that are either alkaline or acidic.  (Note, the food is classified based on how it impacts your blood alkalinity, not the ph of the actual food.  That is why lemons, tho very acidic on their own, are high on the alkalinity list)

Greenopedia alkaline list of foods

I tried making a green smoothie out of kale and oranges.    Not having the right type of blender, it came out kinda chunky.  It was good, tho.    Kale is an amazing vegetable…fry it up and add it to any dish, mix it into your favorite salad, or blend it for a smoothie.



Some more links:

Dr. Oz talks about how to balance ph in eating in this article:


  • Try to eat two alkaline producing foods for each acid food.
  • Drink lemon or lime water with alkaline spices.   Good Idea!

Acid / Alkaline levels of spices.

Mar 03

I Need a Training Plan

I’m probably going to be writing more and more about the challenges faced by an aging athlete.    That’s where I’ve been the last couple of years and I’ve decided to quit muddling through feeling like crap, and do something about it.   I just don’t know what to do yet.

I mentioned Joe Friel’s article about the Aging Athlete in yesterdays blog post.   I actually read that sometime last year while I was recovering from my collarbone fracture.   As soon as I was able to get back to training, I started adding intensity to my workouts in the form of a Boot camp.    The Boot camp has been great in terms of motivating me to do high intensity workouts.   And I love the instructor.  He is just exactly like what you think of an army drill instructor, and makes it impossible to slack off.

drill instructor

Much as I love it, I’m not so sure that Boot camp workouts go along with Tri training.   They leave me sore and tired, and my muscles never quite recover by the next boot camp session.

Other than Boot camp, I’m doing a long bike and a long run on weekends.    And fitting in other stuff when I can during the week.   Basically, not much of a plan.   And, worse, I am not building in any recovery weeks.  I sort of figured that recovery periods were happening naturally due to crappy weather and other stuff getting in the way of training.  But I’m definitely not doing it right because I am always sore and tired.

So, I need a plan.


Mar 02

Recovery and The Aging Athlete

I wanted to do a follow up to my earlier post about aging athlete syndrome.   Ernestine’s story teaches us that growing older in and of itself is not an excuse to give up and stop training in the sports that you enjoy.      However, it is good reason to train smarter and differently.

Joe Friel writes that aging athletes have an  ”increased tendencies for acid-base imbalance, reduced sensitivity to thirst, perhaps a greater propensity for weight gain, lost soft tissue elasticity accompanied by an increased likelihood of injury, reduced enzyme activity, less tolerance for heat, and more. It isn’t pretty.”

He goes on to tell what we can and should be doing in his blog here: Q & A: Recovery and the Aging Athlete

And in case you need more inspiration, here’s a list of 9 aging athletes that will put you to shame.



Mar 01

The Aging Athlete Syndrome – Get over it

I have missed my bloggy peeps.  And, I hope you have missed me!   And - If you are still reading this blog – Thank You!

Blogging helps keep me focused on  staying fit, making goals, and racing!    I also hope it inspires others to do these things as well.

So, here goes with a new blog post:

The past few years I have struggled with what I call the Aging Athlete syndrome.

  • My overall fitness has declined.
  • My speed has decreased.
  • My weight has increased.
  • My recovery time has increased
    • my tried and true training plans leave me exhausted 
    • I walk around all day after hard workouts limping like an old fart!
  • And, I don’t sleep well.

The whole broken collarbone saga didn’t help matters, as it was a huge setback in my fitness at a time when I was aready seeing declines.

The only thing that has kept me going at all is the fear of gaining weight.  To be honest, I haven’t felt the competitive spirit in a very long time.    And I’ve even considered throwing in the towel because just maybe – just maybe – I am too old for this triathlon stuff.

Then I saw this article about an amazing woman named Ernestine Sheperd.  She is 77 years old and competes in body building competition.   In a bikini.  And she looks good in a bikini!   Wait, correction – she looks great in a bikini!   (I wonder if she limps around after hard workouts???)

Note: if you don’t see the embedded youtube video, go here instead: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=700883106622261

Ernestine’s story tosses aside any excuses I have about being too old.    So I say to myself – “Get Over It!”.   Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and get back out there and DO WORK!    This lifestyle will keep me younger feeling longer!

Thank you Ernestine for your inspiration!


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