Earlier in the year when I raced at Antwerp 70.3 I met with another Trigirl ambassador Maryvonne van den Berg and her recent blog was 10 Things I Love about Triathlon (or something along those lines – my Dutch is not great) and it got me thinking. I often write lists and am constantly thinking of “10 Things” when I am out on my bike, in the pool or out running, (10 things I love about swimming, top 10 favourite adverts, 10 favourite dinners etc.) so it was amusing to see her doing the same thing. Perhaps we’ll set a Trigirl trend; here are my latest “10”
Firstly I need to explain that I’m a fighter. I don’t mean this in the sense of ‘not giving up’ or of the ninja variety*, I mean that I look like I’m battling my way though the swim, bike and run, even though I might be doing quite an easy session or feeling quite relaxed. I look tense; I look like I’m using brute force to barge my way through the race. Although it does me ok (!) it’s not particularly efficient and my first 3 technical corrections relate to trying to “relax” more in each discipline.
1. Relax my shoulders on the bike. I have a tendency to hunch up my shoulders, creating tension in my neck and down my back, as well as restricting the function of the muscles that help to expand your lungs – thereby restricting my lung volume. NOT HELPFUL!
2. Relax shoulders on the run. Again, hunching my shoulders is not going to benefit my run. Relaxed shoulders, relaxed arms, relaxed stride. BETTER!
3. Relax first phase of swim stroke. The first phase of the swim stroke where your forearm moves from horizontal to vertical through the water should be relaxed and easy (so my swim coach tells me) as there is very little forward propulsion that can be gained from this movement and therefore it should be relaxed. I on the other hand look like I’m clawing and grasping at the water. What a POINTLESS activity, so I’m trying to relax more here as well.
4. Balance on the bike. Ok, so obviously I can stay balanced on the bike with out stabilisers. However, when I’m on the turbo trainer or out on the road, if I look down at the frame of my bike, I can see the top tube, and next to it I can also see the down tube. In order to do this I must be leaning slightly sideways, otherwise the down-tube would be immediately below the top-tube. So somewhere along the line my muscles on one side must be compensating for this slightly lopsidedness. WHAT A WASTE OF ENERGY!
5. Cadence. I do drills to try and increase my cadence on the bike. Keeping the legs spinning efficiently and smoothly.
6. Looking up. Onto running here, looking at the floor encourages you to collapse your body and stoop. Looking up on the other hand encourages you to RUN TALL!
7. Pivot from my elbow. Swimming. I’m re-learning how to swim so that I don’t ‘squiggle’ my arm through the water, (not very efficient) but to keep my stoke more linear. To do this I need to bend my arm more and try and keep my forearm more vertical through the water. Far more EFFICIENT.
8. Isolate my head from my shoulders. No, not ‘off with her head’ type isolate but rotate my head to breath at a different time to my shoulders. Sounds easy no? Not so for me it would seem.
9. Getting in and out of my bike shoes. Not only looking to save seconds but also mental energy. Faffing around with my shoes means that I’m not concentrating on the numpty in front of me who is about to fall off their bike while doing the same thing.
10. Saggy hip. Every time I look at this picture my ego takes a kicking and my vanity says “don’t show anyone” this picture. But if I’m to get stronger I have to address this flaw in my running technique. I have a tendency to “collapse” at the hip when my foot hits the ground. You can see from the picture on the left that this causes my back to go crooked, my shoulders to go off line and my head has to balance me out by tilting sideways. What I’m aiming for, which you can see in the picture on the right (when I’m a little further into my stride) is for nice horizontal hips, horizontal shoulder alignment and an upright head. Surprisingly tricky for me 🙂