Tips and Tricks

edited January 12 in Resources
Use this thread to add any tips or tricks that help you in your training and your actual challenges. There are so many small things that are perhaps too mundane to make for a good discussion, but there are useful small things that are good to know and even better to share. I didn't see any other thread like this in the archives so I hope the admin will adjust this if I overlooked an existing thread.
Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

Comments

  • I'll go first: For the most part I enjoy a 10 km swim twice a month. I do start to waver at km 6 from boredom and motivation. I begin to think, "You did enough.", "You can get out.", or if I get out for a pee break I have trouble getting back in. I tried many things to to motivate myself - inviting friends to join me, but they always get out and it seems harder after they leave or, like moving special stones I collected over the season from swims from one plastic cup to the other after each km and then think about when I got that stone and how I felt or about the people I swam with etc. Last night I tried something different. I prepared 10 juicy grapes in a plastic container as a reward and set this next to my drinks and I ate one grape after each km. Sounds silly but at kilometer 6 it began to pay off and motivate me. New thoughts like "Just 300 to go and you get a grape.". Grapes never tasted so good. They were like little trophies. What a grand feeling pulling off the last grape from the vine (keeping them on the vine was very motivating.) A little madness is a good thing and maybe it will help you with the boredom.
    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.
  • My trick I use for getting through a particularly long set. The "12 Days of Christmas set" where you swim a 25 on day one, then a 50 and 25 on day two; 75, 50, 25 on day three, all the way up to day 12 where you start with a 300.

    It's a long set (9100) and for me takes just under 3 hours. My problem is remembering which 'day' I'm on, especially with some reps ending at the opposite end of the pool. So what I do is a special count while swimming.

    I normally count laps, not lengths, but with this one I have to count lengths. So I synchronize with bilateral breathing. '1 of 12' for length one of the 300, '2 of 12' for length two and so on. That followed by '1 of 11' Each word is an arm stroke. By the time you get down to days 10, 11 and 12, you've been swimming for a while, so it helps to have a method to keep on track.

    A happy coincidence of this method is that I'm now bilateral breathing more!
  • Grease your ankles when racing around Sandycove.

    Give up coffee.
  • @loneswimmer, why?
    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.
  • edited January 13
    Here are things that I've found helpful:

    * Never show up to the pool/water without a specific workout, preferably written down. Without a clear plan 300 yards can feel like 3000 and with a plan 3000 can feel like 300.
    * Vaseline on earplugs creates a much better seal (I have sensitive ears).
    * Have a recovery drink with you for the end of the workout and drink it without 20 minutes of finishing.
    * A 500 ladder is a good easy way to add 1500 yards to a workout (1 x 500, 1 x 400...etc.).
    * Swimming races is a good way to overcome fear of open water. I find the presence of others very soothing.
  • @Dawn_Treader, grease your ankles because Sandycove swimmers to like to play rough. Give up coffee because then when you drink it, it's more effective.
  • @Dawn_Treader, grease your ankles because Sandycove swimmers to like to play rough. Give up coffee because then when you drink it, it's more effective.

    I am barely human before ingesting coffee in the morning. Giving it up is not an option.
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • @Laflamme02, love that 500 ladder idea. Damn, so simple when reading it, but I never thought of it. Thanks for the idea.

    And I'm with you: if I show up at the pool w/o a workout in mind, it feels like work, instead of fun.
  • @Laflamme02 ditto me me. I also use a string of washers at the pool to count my sets. It has 30 washers so after each set/interval I move one washer over to the done side. I have a very small brain for short term memory :).
  • IronMike said:

    My trick I use for getting through a particularly long set. The "12 Days of Christmas set" where you swim a 25 on day one, then a 50 and 25 on day two; 75, 50, 25 on day three, all the way up to day 12 where you start with a 300.

    As a variation, you can do the "8 days of Chanakuh" with this instead and it makes a very nice 1 hour lunch set with warmup/down. (3000 yards + warmup/down yardage).

    -LBJ
    "Ordinarily he is insane, but he has lucid moments when he is only stupid." - Heinrich Heine
  • @Laflamme02 ditto me me. I also use a string of washers at the pool to count my sets. It has 30 washers so after each set/interval I move one washer over to the done side. I have a very small brain for short term memory :).

    I have used colored plastic clothes pins that I clip between the floats on the ropes. Different colors for different multiples of laps/sets/intervals/wharever.

    -LBJ
    "Ordinarily he is insane, but he has lucid moments when he is only stupid." - Heinrich Heine
  • A simple tip to help warm hands after a swim is to keep some tissues or a piece of fabric in your pockets to hold loosely within your hands.
  • edited January 14
    I have seen goggle fogging tips elsewhere but another that our dive leader gave us in Maui last year was to use toothpaste. The clear blue, not the white, obviously. It works really well. Wipe a smidge into the googles and rinse. As a bonus, you get minty fresh eyeballs. Make sure you rinse thoroughly thou; there is a fine line between 'minty fresh' and 'OMG my eyeballs are on fire' :0)
  • I write my workouts on 4 x 6 color coded index cards - red for a sprint workout, blue for a distance workout, orange for a tempo mix, green for... well, I forget what green was for, but you get the idea. I keep them in a quart sized ziploc baggie to stay dry. I now have stacks of cards I can refer to for workouts and it's fun to see what I was doing on a particular day 2 or 3 years ago.

    I LOVE @Dawn_Treaders grape reward system. I wonder if that works as well with beer?

    @Loneswimmer, give up coffee? I'd rather give you my first born. No really. You can have her.

    I use these handwarmer packets after a cold swim. You can put them anywhere. Yes, anywhere: http://www.amazon.com/Grabber-Hand-Warmers-Pairs-HWPP10/dp/B001CEMJRK/ref=sr_1_2?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1389730130&sr=1-2&keywords=handwarmer+packs
    Molly Nance, Lincoln, Nebraska
    http://mollysbigswim.blogspot.com/
    www.facebook.com/molly.nance
  • For ice cream headaches, press your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
  • edited July 14
    When observing or crewing on long swims, bring an external battery pack to re-charge your mobile devices. The weak signals out on the ocean will drain your phone's juice surprisingly quickly.

    Nicer boats like the Outrider have built-in outlets, but many boats have only a cigarette lighter (or less).

    Jackery's products are well-reviewed. The 12000mAh-capacity Giant+ stores enough juice to recharge an iPhone 5-6 times on a single charge. Also works with Android devices.

    image

    - Buy on Amazon

    Amazon UK doesn't sell Jackery, but this one by Anker looks to be equivalent.
  • edited July 14
    I have a couple of discoveries/inventions that I'm particularly proud of. :-)

    How to organize A LOT of equipment so your crew can find stuff easily

    image

    These are hard plastic pencil boxes, and they happen to fit really nicely into a Rubbermaid Roughneck. (Mine happen to be from Staples.) Permanent marker wasn't really sticking (the plastic was too slippery), so I took sand paper to rough up both ends, and the ink stuck.

    The trick with this setup is that it works even better when you have an extra pencil box floating around on top. This way, when you want to pull one of the boxes out, you can insert the extra pencil box in its place, so that the boxes don't fall on each other and slide all over the place.

    Note the two bits of velcro adhesive on the sides of the Rubbermaid Roughneck ... one to hold the mini LED light, and the other to hold the whiteboard marker. :-)


    How to attach waterbottles to a rope without duct tape or risking the cap popping off

    image

    The key here is the tying of the knots. The knots need to be spaced with just a tiny bit more space than the circumference of your waterbottle. You want the loops to be fairly small. Getting the distance between knots and the loop size right may take an irritating amount of time. :-)

    image

    Push one of the loops (loop A) through the other end of the other loop (loop B). You'll then thread a carabiner through loop A, as in the third picture:

    image

    This loop can't really slip! No matter how hard you pull the ends of the rope apart, no pressure is exerted on the neck of the water bottle. Slick, no? :-)

    Here's how it looks with the waterbottle:
    image

    For what it's worth, this is the knot I used (before it's tightened):image

    I've got space/knots for five bottles on my rock climbing rope. This way, I can add five bottles of fuel, secure the rope to a dock, and have cool drinks during training. :-)

    How to know approximately how many calories/carbs you're drinking

    If you always mix your drinks up the same way (for me: 50 grams of koolaid or gatorade powder in 750ml of water), you can re-graduate the outside of your waterbottle. I took some masking tape and taped off a long thin rectangle down the length of my waterbottle. (This was to prevent me from accidentally sanding all over the place.) I then took sandpaper and roughed up the plastic inside the taped-off rectangle so the permanant ink would stick. I then peeled the tape off.

    Since I put 50 grams of carbohydrate in 750 ml of water, I knew that every 75 ml of water would be 5 grams. So I poured in 75 ml of water, and put a mark on my waterbottle, then another 75 ml of water with another mark, etc. until the water bottle was divided into 10 servings. At each feed, I can measure off my intake as, say, 30 grams of carbs / 120 calories / 450 ml.
  • edited July 14
    In order to display an image, you will need to insert an URL that ends in .jpg or .png

    The links you included are webpages, not images.

    For example, the image-source URL of your first photo is:
    https://opmqmg.bn1302.livefilestore.com/y2m3cLYAVjUr1WtapkAqS97kHQc0BYjsP5qEqg-2_noGM4QKgOad3eW0AwnMqKXaUgf9DGbX0MVwwJI2BIftyGakUBTUp0ZXSrarSOnM6Vn-o43yJre7h3d5QQZ0kA0P-6V/Org.jpg

    Just put that between a pair of img tags, and it will display.

    Alternatively, you can upload a photo using the blue image upload button at the bottom-right of the toolbar.

    Sorry for the frustration... hopefully the upcoming software upgrade will have a more intuitive process for including images.
  • Thanks @evmo! Any tips on resizing? I tried [img width="245" height="326"] and [img=245x326] as per the BBC code website I found, but neither worked.
  • JenA, this is great stuff, thanks for sharing. I love a good organizer and appreciate the thought put into all of that.
  • For really long swims that I have to do indoors, I drop rings at the end of the lane and for every 1000 yards, dive down, grab the ring and put it on the deck. It's so satisfying to watch that pile diminish and go from 20 to zero.
  • I read this somewhere a while back, I can't remember where or I'd give credit where due. But I think it is good advice: get used to swimming long swims in a state of fatigue by starting fatigued (not all or even most, obviously, but occasionally). So sometimes, in lieu of a straight 10k, I'll beat myself down into a state of fatigue first, by pulling 50x50's on 50 (turns my shoulders into soggy noodles) and then roll right into a straight 7.5k with only a very short break. The first 500 or so is very hard after the beat down set. I struggle to get into a rhythm or maintain good stroke mechanics. The quitter inside me screams "YOU HAVE TWO MORE HOURS OF THIS, THERE'S NO WAY YOU CAN KEEP THIS UP." Which is a true statement, if that acute state of shoulder fatigue remained for the whole two hours. But it won't. It subsides into more general fatigue after a period of active recovery and I get back into my normal groove/rhythm. Sometimes I even start feeling strong and approach a normal 10k pace. That's the awareness that I want to reinforce. It's like the mantra I learned as a cyclist (which has also become a bit of a life mantra): "Don't quit on the climb..." "If you really need to quit, you'll still need to quit after the climb, so evaluate your condition after the climb, not during it." Accumulating experience overcoming both the mental fight of that first 500 meters and the general physical fatigue of the remaining 7k reinforce strong emotional and psychological habits leading to success when it counts, in and out of the water.
  • edited July 18
    @spacemanspiff: This sounds very much like ultra marathon training. Every couple of weeks we put in back-to-backs where you do long runs 2 days in a row to get used to running through the fatique, pain, stiffness and mental torment.

    It's all what you're used to.
  • edited July 20
    A couple more ideas...

    How to dose pain medications without making a mess
    If you use tylenol or NSAIDS to manage pain during your swims, you might use liquid tylenol, liquid ibuprofen, etc. It can be messy (and sticky!) for your crew to try to measure out the dose on a rocking boat. Prefilling the doses in syringes (not needles) can help enormously!

    You can typically get (often free) an oral syringe from the pharmacy. They look like this:

    image

    These, unfortunately, have caps that can be knocked accidentally. You can also get "luer lock" syringes to prevent this problem (even available on Amazon...)

    Amazon link: luer lock syringes

    image

    You can then get luer lock caps (also available on Amazon) that twist onto the ends so the syringes can't leak.

    Amazon link: luer lock caps

    How to follow the boat more easily at night

    If you take a rope, hang it the length of the boat, and *evenly space* lightsticks (light LEDs, or whatever...), it can give you a great sense of spacial awareness at night. If the boat starts to twist (or you angle away from the boat) the lights will appear to move closer together. I find this invaluable for navigating at night.


    How to warm up quickly

    These are fairly well known in Canada, but may not be commonly available in your neck of the woods. :-)

    These are amazing hot packs. There is a thin metal disk inside a liquid that, when snapped, starts off a chemical reaction that produces an impressive amount of heat. It also turns the liquid into a solid. The best part is that they are reusable! You just have to boil them for a couple of minutes, and the solid turns back into a liquid.

    image
  • How to follow the boat more easily at night
    If you take a rope, hang it the length of the boat, and *evenly space* lightsticks (light LEDs, or whatever...), it can give you a great sense of spacial awareness at night. If the boat starts to twist (or you angle away from the boat) the lights will appear to move closer together. I find this invaluable for navigating at night.

    Sounds a lot like Diana Nyad's Directional "Streamer"
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • Niek said:
    .... except that it's not. At all. :-) By "hang it the length of the boat", I mean, "tie one end of the rope on the stern, and the other on the bow, and rest the lights so they hang along the side of the boat". All it does is light the edge of the boat -- and it gives you no more information than you would get swimming in daylight.

    Diana's directional streamer, on the other hand, gave her information about the currents and removed (or significantly reduced) her need to sight.

    Putting a series of glowing light sticks in the water at night would, of course, make whatever predators were in the area think it was their birthday... ;-)

  • edited July 20
    Sorry I miss read.
    I thought I read towing after the boat.
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
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