Category Archives: triathlon

Just Keep Swimming

Although I haven’t raced a full triathlon in almost 5 years, I have kept up with the sport by participating as a relay swimmer.  Swimming has always been my best of the three disciplines, and is definitely my favorite.  I actually stopped swimming for over two years because my new gym didn’t have a pool; I noticed the negative affect it was having on me, so I rejoined my old gym and got back in the pool this year.  It has been awesome!Screenshot_2017-01-31-12-28-27-1.png

When it comes to running, and much more so biking, I am the one usually asking advice. When it comes to swimming, people generally ask me.  Now that we are coming into tri season, a few of my friends have reached out with basic swimming questions.  I figured it made for a good time to do a Swimming 101 post 🙂

Swimming 101

  1. Know how to swim!- This may seem obvious but having both volunteered at and participated in triathlon, I see all too often that not everyone who is in the water actually knows how to swim.  At one event where I was life-guarding, I had to get to a guy quickly as I could see him struggling to find footing.  As he grabbed my kayak, he said to me, “Wow, I didn’t realize swimming was so hard.”  He then admitted he had not swam outside of a shallow end before.  Ever.  Ranking safety among everything else you must know that if you cannot swim, and you enter water, you could drown. Many summers ago, I wrote a whole post on this, which you can read here.
  2. Practice open water swims- Very likely, your swim training will mostly consist of pool work.  This is perfectly acceptable but not for sole water training, unless you are planning on only indoor triathlons.  Otherwise, plan to spend time in the open water.  Open water consists of a lake, a bay or an ocean.  In a pool, you have the luxuries of pushing off, using the lane lines for sight and being able to stand if tired.  Those luxuries are gone in the open water.  The open water is dark (no sight lines) and far more rough than a pool, especially in the ocean where you have to contend with waves and currents.  Additionally, in a race situation there are people all around you and you have to fight through paddling arms and kicking legs.  (Not to mention, all the livings things that call open water their home!)  Try to find community OWS so that you get a real feel for race day.  And please, never swim in open water alone.
  3. Invest in good goggles- Good goggles are a must have!  And you don’t have to spend a lot of money for a quality pair as goggles are relatively on the cheap side.  Considering what you will put out for a bike, goggles are a drop in the bucket! Each person is different so there is no one pair that fits all; the most important things are comfort and visibility.  My favorites are by Aquaphere; I have both the Kaiman’s and Kayenne’s.  They are both comfortable, but I tend to use my Kayenne’s more often because provide me more wider field of view and my eyelashes don’t not touch the lens even if I have mascara on.  My best advice is to buy from a store with a good return policy and try out multiple pairs.
  4. Learn to breath bilaterally- This is the most efficient way of breathing during a swim.  It is easy to get in the habit of only breathing on one side, but breathing bilaterally will help you balance your stroke.  Additionally, looking left and right in the open water will help you sight better and keep in line with the swim path.  As an added bonus, bilateral breathing eliminates stress on both your shoulders and hips.  I was a one-sided breather for a long time and it was tough to break the habit, but once I did my swimming improved greatly.  Learn this way so you don’t have to re-teach yourself later!  My advice is to work on breathing techniques using the kick-board and slowly introduce the bilateral laps to your pool work outs.
  5. Wear a wetsuit- Before I get into this, I have to admit, I wearing a wetsuit is not my preference!   I never felt I needed one because I am confident and unafraid with my swimming; I got one, and have used it in the past, because I do not have a desire to swim in freezing water without protection.  There have been a handful of races wherein I am very, very, thankful for my wetsuit.  Given the option, I would rather just not deal with it.  However, for beginners, a wetsuit can act as somewhat of a safety net because they will keep you boyant and you can more easily float if necessary.  Furthermore, because of the added boyancy, they also make you faster. That is the added bonus I definitely DO like about a wetsuit!  X-Terra almost always has a sale, so I could check them out.

Are there any swimming questions you have that I did not answer?

Clean Eating Challenge; Days 4-7

One week complete!

Day 4-

This was a really good day.  I woke up energized and ready to go.  It was definitely the best  I had felt.  I capped off the day with a great workout and my delicious post workout smoothie!  This smoothie is probably one of my favorites because it tastes like I am eating a pb&banana sandwich!  It was a good day.  Nothing else to really say.

Day 5- 

I woke up in a bad mood.  No idea why.  Just a funk.

  • I really, really, REALLY, wanted waffles for breakfast.  This was my first real legit craving since having started.  If only there was a waffle flavored breakfast smoothie!
  • The coffee thing is bothering me so much less than I ever imagined it would.  I still want a cup in the afternoon, and on this day I was really sluggish, so I really wanted another cup.  Instead, I made some green tea.  It is definitely not the same, but it was better than nothing.
  • My day turned around when MY VITAMIX arrived!!!!!
  • I had my first real challenge of the challenge.  I had a fundraiser for a friend at the local bike shop, sponsored by Team Fuji.  Team Fuji does a triathlon night every year at my bike shop, but this year we were also raising money for a friend who had been recently diagnosed with cancer.  (Team Fuji= Andy Potts, Cam Dye, Matty Reed and Sara McLarty)  It is a really fun night, but there is always TONS of food and free alcohol!  I knew it would be a challenge so I made a really filling dinner smoothie before leaving my house!  I ended up doing pretty well.  I did have one beer, but I had decided ahead of time, I was likely going to have one.  I say I did “pretty well” because it wasn’t long before I spotted my weakness.  Almond cookies.  Any type of sugar, almond, sandies type cookie and it is game over.  I ate two!  I won’t lie, I was a little upset with myself.  Not because I ate them, but because I didn’t even try not to eat them.  I saw them and I ate them.  But then I saw Andy Potts eat one and thought “Cheers!” this is a fun night!
  • As soon as I got home, I research some healthy versions of almond cookies.  Found one that is only three ingredients that I will definitely be making very soon!

andy potts

Me and Andy

Day 6-

Woke up in a much better mood and with tons of energy.  This was good because I had so much to get done!

  • Met my mom for lunch at Panera.  We use to sometimes split the You Pick Two, and she would get a 1/2 salad and I would get 1/2 sandwich.  I definitely wasn’t going to get a sandwich and neither of us wanted whole salads.  I cannot believe we never thought of this before, but we asked if we could get the You Pick Two and each get 1/2 salads.  THAT was easy, they said yes with no problem!  Awesome!  I had looked into what I was going to get before coming, so I was totally prepared.  (Side note: did you know Panera has a “hidden menu” with very healthier options?  Well, they do.  No idea why it needs to be hidden but it is.  Unfortunately, I would want to change them all around and I didn’t want to ask for a second favor.)  I went with the Thai Salad with no wonton strips and dressing on the side.  I didn’t even end up liking the dressing and the salad was perfect without it.  It had a little bite to it thanks to the spicy edemmame, but I really liked it.  It added good flavor and a nice crunch.
  • For dinner, I tried something new.  I was going to use it as a New Food Friday, but I forgot finished pics!  I made ground turkey taco salad.  Before this, I had (seriously) never had ground turkey.  I had fresh spinach, turkey meat (seasoned with taco seasoning), and grilled onions and peppers and topped with light Italian dressing .  I really liked it, but I will admit, I very much missed having cheese.  A LOT!  If I make this again, I will sprinkle some cheese on top.
  • When I say taco seasoning…I mean, I made my own!  I am very proud of this because I have two of those packets in my cabinet.  One if half open and needs to be used at some point anyway.  However, I had come across a homemade version and since I had all the ingredients handy, I figured I would try.  Pretty simple to make although I had way too much because it was too hard to divide the measurements to make it enough for only one serving.   I think next time, I’ll finish my packet and then eventually, I’ll make a bigger batch of this to save and use when needed.
  • I bought tons of those click top containers (plus, my mom chipped in a bought me some too 🙂 ) so that I could finally have an easy way to store my loose foods.  I already have them for my dry baking ingredients and love them.  My house is very short on storage and I need to be very smart with my space.  These containers definitely help!

Day 7-

Pretty simple day.  Gym, cleaning, pool. 🙂

  • I have been having smoothies for breakfast every day, but I decided to have some quick oats with almond butter and strawberries.  It was a nice change up and I was so full afterwards!
  • The craziest thing happened…a woman at the pool had Johnson’s popcorn.  It’s pretty famous by me; sold in Ocean City and people LOVE it.  I LOVE it.  It is ridiculously good caramel popcorn.  As soon as she offered me some, I thought, I am doomed.  I’ll eat the whole bucket if you let me.  But I simply took a few pieces and went back to my chair….pretending the popcorn wasn’t on the table 5 feet away.  But then…I ate it and it was enough.  Just a few pieces did the trick.  Had I taken more, I would have eaten it, even though the small amount was perfectly fine.  It’s a pretty big step in my issues with portion control.

Energy Level: Still kind of low during the week, but much better over the weekend.

Hunger Level:  I am almost never hungry.  I find myself shocked that I got to this age without ever truly realizing what food could do for me.  I eating less, but I am more satisfied.  Additionally, I feel like I am really paying attention to taste.  Almost like my sense of taste is heightened or something I cannot quite explain.

Overall:  At the end of the first full week, I am feeling really good.  I definitely feel better in general and I am starting to notice other things changing as well.   My skin is clearing up, I have so much less bloating, I am sleeping better, I feel more energized and overall, I just feel lighter.  And well, I AM lighter.  I weighed myself for the first time in a week and I have lost some weight.  I am really trying not to focus on the number but it did feel good to see that my lighter feeling was right, and it definitely helps motivate me to get through this week.


Cheers to another week!

❤ Jillian