Author Archives: Ross
Beginner Open Water Swim Kit Tips
With Summer fast approaching and lake temperatures finally warming up there is no better time to take the plunge and start your open water swim training. If you are new to the world of open water swimming or are taking the plunge for the first time then check out the following tips on how to get your swim season off to a kick start with the help of the right equipment.
Before you think about dipping even a toe into your local lake there are a few import issues to address. Open water swimming doesn’t have to be an expensive business but ensuring that you have the right equipment will not only make you a lot more comfortable in the water but will also keep you safe and visible if the worst were to happen.
Your wetsuit is without doubt and essential item when it comes to open water swimming (in the UK at least!). Not only does your wetsuit keep you warm in chilly water but it also keeps your buoyant and reduces drag, allowing you to swim faster and for longer. Wetsuits designed specifically for open water swimming are tighter fitting and more streamlined than their other water sports companions and so fishing your old battered surf wetsuit from the attic just isn’t going to cut it unfortunately.
Specialist wetsuits start at around the £100 mark and a high end model from industry leaders such as 2XU and Speedo can cost you anything up to £1000. It is worth noting that investing in a well fitting wetsuit will pay you dividends as you are less likely to suffer from wetsuit burn – something that is excruciatingly painful and can prevent you from competing.
Goggles are next on the list as these can make the difference between you sticking to the right course or swimming into a duck! I always remember the time when I forgot my goggles when entering one open water swim race a few years ago and had to rely on a pair of backup cheap goggles that were really not up to scratch. They were perfectly adequate up until the last lap of a very cold lake and I was reduced to swimming by ear for the last 300m of the race. One kayak mounded official had to tap me on the head with his paddle to stop me swimming into a speedboat!
After losing about 5 mins of time to what I consider to be a very silly mistake I am particularly picky when it comes to choosing a pair of goggles and would recommend that you try several pars before you settle on the perfect pair. Check that the seal is correct for the shape of your face by placing the goggles onto your eyes without the band strapped around your head. If they stay in place then you have a good seal and they are more likely to keep water out of your eyes!
Last but not least it the humble swimming cap. This not only reduces drag and allows you to cut through the water with minimal effort but it also keeps you warm and also allows resque services to spot you in the event of an emergency. The brighter the better when it comes to your swim cap and trust me there is no color too luminous! When you are next training in misty lake inhabited by speedboats then you will be very glad of your bright pink swim cap!
For swimming kit, speedo boys swimwear, wetsuits, goggles and more, see the Speedo website.
Top Injury Avoiding Tips
The effects that endurance training can have on your body can be severe. Often training programs for long distance runs and triathlons involve a very high amount of training and can place an enormous load on your body. Without sticking to a structured and balanced training program as well as ensuring your body is fueled with the right nutrients you vastly increase your chances of picking up a show stopping injury and risk ending your race career before it has even started. Follow these practical tips to ensure you are training smart and doing everything that you can to prevent injury.
Training load is the cumulative impact of training sessions on your body. Over the course of a few weeks of a structured running or triathlon routine the subsequent knock on impact of each training session can build up over time and without even realizing it you can quickly store up an injury risk. There are all sorts of fancy ways to measure training load but if you don’t have a spare £300 to invest in the latest Polar GPS watch then there are a few basic rules that you can follow.
Make sure that you plan your training schedule so you have alternate high strain and low strain days as this will give your body a fighting chance of recovering. For example on one day you might have a two hour intense turbo training session planned and therefore the next day should involve a lower intensity run or swim. This way you are not only training different muscles and energy paths but you are also ensuring that you recovery adequately from a tough training session so that you can be revitalized ready to hit your next intense session hard.
One of the best bits of advice that I was given when training for my Ironman was to always take a complete rest day during the week. Although some people find that this is unnecessary, I always found that having a day where I didn’t need to train refreshed me not only in terms of physical recovery but also mentally – something that is equally important and often overlooked.
Strength training is something that not enough emphasis is placed on in most conventional triathlon training programs but can play a hugely important part in ensuring that you stay injury free. For running in particular, strength training should be compulsory as unlike triathlon training there is no natural cross training involved (swimming and cycling). Continual weeks of running can quickly cause your small supporting muscles to become weak, leading to subtle changes in your running style and placing undue stress on venerable joints and tendons. It doesn’t take much to through your body out of balance and you can quickly find that you pick up an overuse injury such as tendonitis.
Strength training doesn’t have to involve elaborate personal training sessions or expensive gym memberships as most core work can be done without the aid of any equipment. For working your legs, access to a good range of weights equipment is the easiest way of ensuring you are really building your leg strength but one legged squats and box jumps are a good place to start
Diet both before, during and after a race is important. We all know that for endurance events maintaining a critical level of complex carbohydrates and fluid levels is essential to fuel your best performance but too many people neglect to put thought into their training and recovery diet. When you are peak training your body is continually drawing on your bodies vitamins, minerals and fuel stores to repair tissues and grow new muscle. Without giving it the raw materials that it needs you are not only going to recover slower but you will also quickly become fatigued and worn down. Products such as Kinetica Whey Protein drinks and running supplements are a quick and easy way of giving your body the raw materials that it needs.
Moves Iphone App
Moves is a great new free Iphone app that tracks your activity throughout your day. Aimed at those people who want to stay informed with the least amount of hassle possible but and without paying huge sums of money for additional GPS enabled hardware.
The Moves app utilizes the onboard GPS receiver in the Iphone to covertly track your every step, run or cycle without the need for additional user interaction. All you have to do is start the app recording at the beginning of the day to clock up a record of your exercise as your move from home to office and go about your daily routine.
Instead of just displaying a simple step count the app brings your exercise record to life as a storyboard. The app automatically recognizes what activity you are doing (running, walking or cycling) and displays the time that you spend doing these activities in a moving timeline that also includes your rest times and location as well as distance travelled.
You can easily update any section of your timeline so that periods of rest or inactivity can be given location names, meaning that you can keep track of the places where you spend time doing absolutely nothing and identify areas/times of your life where you can make improvements…time spent in the coffee shop for example!
The app allows you to quickly see your summary stats for the day or you can scan through the individual bubbles of activity to locate a particular activity. This makes it really easy to find out which of your day
The accuracy of the app is on a level with any other GPS enabled app and depends on the your GPS signal strength. Unlike specialist activity trackers such as GPS running watches, the GPS receiver inside the Iphone isn’t particularly high powered, which has its drawbacks. On the plus side the low power draw means that you can track your activity for the best part of a day before the battery dies. Although when using the app you will notice that your battery life is effected to a much larger extent if you spend all day fiddling around with the App!
All in all considering this app is completely free it is one of the best activity trackers available in the app store. As well as automatic exercise recognition you can simply start this app tracking and then completely forget about it, happy in the knowledge that it will be tracking your every move from your pocket. When you take the sheer convenience of this app into account as well as its zero cost this really is a very useful lifestyle app that can provide some serious insight into your day to day activities.
Oakley Blade Compression Top
Oakley is a brand that is virtually synonymous with extreme sports. Founded in 1975, its owner Jim Jannard started out making high quality bike gloves and before long the company was making clothing and eyewear for virtually ever adventure sport you can think of.
Oakley are best known for their skiing and surf wear, but recently they have started producing some of the most distinct and recognisable compression wear on the market.
The Oakley Blade Compression Top has ben designed with the surfer in mind, but its high spec features make it ideal for triathlon and open water swimming. Although it lacks the thickness of traditional wetsuits, it is ideal for warmer climate swimming as it offers support and compression as well as a beter range of motion compared to thicker wetsuits.
The fabric is made to stretch in line with your bodys national range of motion, meaning you only have to fight the water and not the material. As well as being ultra thin and flexible, the fabric hugs and shapes the contours of your body to reduce drag in the water. This sleek model positions your body in the most streamlined way posible in the water, optimising your aerodynamics and allowing you to cut through the water with minimal effort.
The compression abilities of the Blade Compression Top support your muscles and promote blood flow to those areas of your torso that work hardest during your training session or race. Post race, the compression works hard to remove lactate and promote recovery as well as drying quickly to avoid discomfort.