Freestyle Swim Stroke Rate

In the age of data overload it is an interesting segue from the last post’s reflection in looking at your bike cadence, to looking at what’s going on in the pool.  A good number of triathletes have Garmin’s or similar devices strapped to their wrists, me included, and are fastidious about recoding their sessions and seeing them tracked on Garmin Connect, Training Peaks or another similar piece of software.

ATP have been working with one athlete who has nice smooth swimming style, but was stuck at the 1:50 sec / 100 m pace; knows why he is stuck, but can’t seem to burn a new path to see these times start to drop – the realisation that a mathematical approach may just be the quantification needed to kickstart the change required.

Your Garmin tells you a bunch of things about your swimming, the two interrelated things we are going to look at in this post is stroke rate and strokes per length.   The first, stroke rate, is the number of complete strokes cycles, i.e. a left and right arm stroke making 1 cycle, that a swimmer is taking per minute.  This is the similar number to what we look at on the bike when we are considering cadence.  Take a second to review what your average stroke rate was on your last swim – then have a look at the following chart on the Swim Smooth website.

Before you get too carried away with where you are sitting on their BMI style chart – go back to your last swim data and find the number for strokes per pool length.  Again this is counting a complete cycle of strokes per length of the pool.  Now plug these 2 numbers into the calculator at the bottom of the Swim Smooth page, its called Swim Smooth Simple Stroke Calculator – scary how accurate it is hay !

What I like to do now is adjust the Stroke Rate number to put in a number that is more  middle of range, but also with a realistic improvement from your actual number.  This improvement is in my experience is in most cases by speeding the number up, but its not impossible the you may need to consider slowing down.  Have a play with these two numbers, and see what it takes to get a 100m time that is (a) an improvement from your last swim and (b) something that you’d like to see.

Reflecting on the things that the swim coach has been telling you about your stroke, or things that you intuitively know about how you swim.   Are they going to have an impact on how efficient your stroke is and therefore how many strokes you need to take per length?  Are any of these factors having a knock on affect to your overall stroke rate?

In the case we mentioned above, our athlete was aware of his “over gliding” problem.  This was also identified by the poolside swim coach as swimming “catch-up style” and having both of his hands meet or a least nearly meet at the front of the stroke.  Months of working on changing the timing of the front part of the stroke actually slowed this swimmers average stroke rate.  Positive change was affected when the focus was shifted from when to initiate the stroke timing, to focusing on stroke rate alone – the other improvements followed sympathetically.  Sometime ditching the overthinking, and looking at the big picture and average numbers can achieve the desired outcomes.

Baseline Keto Testing

In my day to day life as LCHF / Keto, I’m not a big ketone tester.  I am however a massive advocate in the advantages of testing from the standpoint of getting a baseline for you particular way of eating and some of these new habits that you may be forming.  Two years into Keto for me, I know from what I have been putting into my body if I am generating ketones or not.  To me its a bit like having a cadence feature on your road bike trip computer or Garmin; the first time you get it you may have a realisation that you are way under or way over on your cadence, but from that moment on, you have a pretty good idea of what speed your turn over is – an occasional check in is all you need to stay on track !  From a lifestyle perspective, what is important to me is that I am healthy, got my weight under control, and my inflammation is quelled.  If one or two days a week I’m not showing high ketone numbers, I’m not bothered that much.  From an endurance perspective, I am more concerned to get deep into ketosis as a big event comes up, so testing becomes more important for me, and whilst on this more intense path, I will learn more about what my body can tolerate and what it can’t.  This learning I can then plug in to my “normal” life be less obsessive with testing every day and night.

I discovered a while ago, that the urine ketone strips are for raw beginners only.  I’d probably go a step further and say they are more likely to cause frustration and false readings as your Keto journey advances – so I’d suggest going straight to a blood or breath meter for everyone.  I have been using the Keto Mojo meter for about 6 months now and am very happy with its simple operation and nice and big display.  I’d like to get the new bluetooth adaptor for it – as I am a gadget guy, but I really don’t need it !  If you were using this meter because of a health care problem, and having and accurate recording tracking all you measurements to show your health care professional was important – then getting the new toggle would be a big advantage. Here is a small clip of how the Keto Mojo works.

So knowing your baseline is important !  In some previous posts I’ve looked at the effect of various nutrition on my own ketogenic status.  In each of these posts I have said at the end of my experiments “now all thats left is to know the baseline – which is the effect of just the exercise alone – with zero nutritional intake”.  Today I did my first baseline experiment, or what affect exercise has on my Ketrogenic status.

To be 100% honest, my pre-conceived notion was that taking this baseline was a waste of time and would give me nothing extra to consider about being Keto and doing endurance sports.  How wrong I was !

Todays session was an 8 km interval run.  Aerobic 1 km warm up, then 500m pushing to tempo or top of Aerobic, then recover 500m in aerobic zone.  I am in a build phase of my training so I don’t have any need or desire to push hard in the tempo, I just wanted to “shift through the gears” and have a session that ticked my training schedule as well as something that could serve to test the impact of the session alone on my Ketogenic state.

I’d been up for about 2 hours, and had a bulletproof coffee pretty early upon getting out of bed.  Some of my previous tests I’ve looked at my BSL and been unhappy with how high they seem very early in the morning, but on reflection have put that down to “dawn phenomenon” – In an effort to contradict everything I’ve said above, some more testing of BSL in the hours after getting up I believe will show that for me, BSL stabilises an hour or so after my morning coffee – thus for a base line test waiting a few hours is prudent !

The above snip from Garmin Connect show my HR for the exercise session.  The pre-workout reading of Ketones was 2.0 and the post-workout reading was 0.6 – I know, staggering right !!!!  BSL was 98 pre and went up over 110 post!  Here is a clip of my testing.

My hypothesis is at this point, that given the relatively short exercise period, the changes in my hormones; perhaps cortisol?? are having an adverse effect on my BSL which is having a knock on to my ketone levels.  My hope is that in longer tests, these impacts will smooth out and be a non-issue in longer events – I guess it would be also interesting to see the same distance run, without the tempo sets even 500 m, so keeping it all low and slow !  My preliminary conclusions at this moment in time would be to be more prudent at the start of an endurance race to avoid anything that would impact BSL – perhaps the first hour could include something like Perfect Keto exogenous ketones !  So there’s at least 2 more baseline tests needed and another “product” test – I’ll need another tube of Keto-Mojo strips !!! #ketomojo

 

I’ll add more baseline tests to this post – so they are all in the one spot !

 

Keto Athletes: Race Gel 2nd Attempt

My experience as a fat adapted athlete is that for about 4 hours of aerobic (I guess you could say approaching threshold or high aerobic) activity, I have found that I can get by with very little additional fuel.  However, my personal experience is that as I hit the 5 and 6 hour mark, I need to fuel.  My desire for a fueling strategy is something that will a the very minimum keep me in ketosis, and ideally further promote the dietary ketogenic state.  From a  numeric standpoint, that could look like starting a race with a ketone level of 1, and as I fuel, have that number getting larger 1.2 or 1.4 as opposed to the fuel lowering my ketone levels and slowing the uptake of my bodies fat stores as fuel.

There are opposing factors at play here;  my personal experience has led me to believe that at the 4+ hour mark, in order to sustain athletic performance, my body has needed some carbohydrates.  What I don’t want to do, start out in a ketogenic state, and as the hours march on, fallout of ketosis and be unable to sustain my desired race pace.  By the same token, I don’t want to be sucking on carbs from the get-go, being thrown out of ketosis and then be reliant to ingesting sugar to keep me going through the majority of the race.

My strategy is to keep or enhance the dietary ketosis going for as long as possible, and to drip in some carbs that won’t negatively affect that state.

My current plan is:

Start the race more or less fasted; for me that’s a bullet proof coffee when I wake up, which as we all know for an endurance type race can be pretty early in the morning.  The other factor can be that in most cases, this has meant a night at a hotel prior to the race and thus no access to my normal kitchen, and no blender.  So a trusty travel mug, a coffee bag and one sachet of Bulletproof instamix; add boiling water and stir or even shake (depending on the travel mug, shaking hot drink can end up in disaster…)

For the benefit of fellow Australian athletes, I am sure some of you have had difficulty sourcing various products that you may have read about on blogs end websites, I get my Bulletproof products from OptimOZ.  

Depending on how long till the actual race start, I may pack a bit of my go-to Keto breakfast, just to keep my stomach happy, normally I’ll just have a bit of a nibble here and there – say after I have checked in my bike, and before I’ve got to get rid of my gear bag.  Check out this take away on-the-go sausage and egg smash.

 

The next thing that will hit my stomach will be out of my water bottle.  My combined hydration strategy for a 70.3 is to take 2 x 700ml bottles with me on the bike.  Each bottle containing; 1 serve UCAN Superstach – plain, 1 serve SFuel, and 1/2 a serve of electrolyte (Endura Low-Carb). UCAN is available in Australia from Generation UCAN,  I have found their service to be outstanding  – they are very into making the product wok for you the way its intended. I will post a video of the mixing and impact of this on my keto levels soon.  If its a hot day and I need  extra hydration, I’ll get a bottle of water at an aid station, and thats me sorted!  From a Calorie  perspective, the UCAN delivers 110 and the SFuel delivers 45.  So a combined 155 calories per bottle.  The hope for the SFuel addition, is that it actually delivers about half of the calories as fat, so as per my strategy, maintaining or even promoting a dietary ketogenic state – but let’s wait for the test video to make that call 100%.

To further promote that aim, I have also been making a “nut butter gel”.  The basic recipe for these is 2 tablespoons of nut butter, 2 teaspoons of MCT oil, a few Chia seeds (soaked in a bit of water).  I have added salt and also Amino’s to this previously, and for a bigger carb hit, add 1/4 serve of UCAN per gel.  I did add Caco nibs to one batch of this, but this added to the chewiness of the gel which I think is actually moving the idea in the wrong direction.  My current thinking is to pop 2-3 of these on the bike.  They do require a bit of mouth-work to get them down, and picking the Chia seeds out of your teath with your tongue for the next 20 minutes or so will keep your mind occupied on the bike.  I have tried to use these also on the run, but I found that I was “over” the taste on nut butter by then, and was looking for a fresher mouth feel.  So, from now on these are a bike only food.

The final thing that I’d think about eating on the bike is a UCAN bar.  These deliver about 100 calories and according to their data, won’t spike your blood sugar levels and won’t kick you out of ketosis.  We will take that as read for the time being, but I will do a test on the bike to see what impact it has on me.

So off onto the run, and this is the danger hours for me as we get past the 4 hour mark – so have I kept myself in the fat burning mode and ketogenic state up to this point?  Now I need to keep some fuel up to my body without kicking myself into the only carb burning gutter.  My previous post on testing the Freedom Fuel has lead me to this new recipe for a gel that is a) Keto Friendly b) delivers some carbs and c) has a mouth feel that isn’t going to make me gag during the run of events like a 70.3

You can watch the video of me making the new gel, the mix for 4 gels of the new formula is as follows:

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 6 teaspoons MCT
  • 1 serve UCAN plain
  • 1 serve Perfect Keto
  • 1 serve essential aminos
  • water

The impact of this gel on me will be posted on this video link.

 

Hopefully that will give some of you fellow Ketonians some ideas on how to get into these longer events and using your way of living to its full potential.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Western Sydney 70.3

The International Regatta Center at Penrith is renowned for throwing up some serious heat in mid November, and in the weeks leading up to the 2018 event, the forecast was for a mild 24 degrees.  In the last few days before the race however, the forecast progressively climbed by one degree every day – a beautiful clear race morning eventuated with 24 degrees for the swim and bike ride, but according to my Garmin – Penrith won the heat battle with the mercury hitting 36 degrees and averaging over 30 degrees for the full 21.1 km.

It was fantastic to catch up with the crew from the ATP Sydney days going around the course and swapping a few war stories at the race end.

 

 

Keto Athletes: test the impact of race fuel

As a keto athlete, there is very few on course offerings at the aid stations that I would consider ingesting. Having done two 70.3 races this year, the first long races since my keto journey started; I failed miserably in my nutrition strategy in one, and was happy enough with the second. Nevertheless, it got me to thinking about actually working out what effect various fuels had on my ketogenic state. The following was my fist experiment

https://youtu.be/sZrJxmQZrIY

I came across the base recipe for Freedom Fuel V1.1 at the Natural Nutritionist and found a lot of good advice on this page. I modified the recipe from the outset as I felt that the Rice Malt Syrup was too carb heavy and I also wanted something that was able to keep the fat fuel fire burning so I used the flowing per serve:
1/4 cup blueberries
1.5 teaspoon MCT oil
1 teaspoon Rice Malt Syrup
Water
1/4 teaspoon Amino Acid powder
Himalayan Salt
Lemmon Juice

As you will see from the video, the results were a drop in Ketone status from 1 to .2 – This was a very disappointing result, as I had high hopes for this recipe as a good Keto fuel that would drip in a few carbs, whilst stoking the fat fire. I am going to try a few variations on this recipe, the first being to substitute a 1/4 serve of UCAN Super Starch in place of the Rice Malt. I am pretty sure this will be a winner and it is something that I have already done with my Nut Butter Keto Race Gels.

ITU World Triathlon Championships – Gold Coast 2018

Congratulations to all competitors who raced on the Gold Coast in the ITU World Championships. Was a tough selection process just to get to the start line as all of the Australians were wanting to race on home soil. It was a strong field of competitors – the swim was a great temperature – 20.9 making it wetsuit optional, with only a small amount of wind chop on The Broadwater – really more like a big swimming pool! Exciting to race in the draft legal format with ladies that were equal on the bike and all having a turn on the front! The run heated up as the QLD sun shone down at lunch time, making it a survival to the finish line. A huge crowd at the grand stand made it all worth the hours of training put into preparing for the event.

All Schools Triathlon week

The 2018 NSW All Schools Triathlon Championships will take place on the 28th of February to the 1st of March at Sydney International Regatta Centre, Penrith.

CLICK HERE to see the categories and conditions of the 2018 NSW All Schools Triathlon Championships.

Details on how to enter for each schooling system are:

Government Schools (CHS)

·       Entries:

o   Individual: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/nsw-all-schools-triathlon-individual-entry-registration-36677206512

o   Team: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/nsw-all-schools-triathlon-teams-entry-tickets-36677407112

·       Contact: CHS Convenor: Sarah Maguire: sarah.maguire5@det.nsw.edu.au or mobile 0403 303 864

 

Independent Schools (CIS):

·       Information: https://cis.aisnsw.edu.au/Pages/Sports.aspx

·       Entries have to be submitted online by each school sportsmaster (or designated representative)

·       Athletes can check if their entry has been submitted by using the “Check Nomination” tab on the menu on the left of the CIS page.

·       Contact CIS Convenor: Bruce Thomas: bruce.thomas@rhac.nsw.edu.au or Mobile 0412 090 165

 

Catholic Schools (CCC):

·       Information: https://www.csss.nsw.edu.au/nswccc-triathlon-sport-specific-information.aspx

·       Entries to be submitted through the CSSS website

·       Contact CCC Convenor Scot Ashcroft: sashcroft@saintpatricks.nsw.edu.au or Mobile 0421 349 869