blueseventy athlete Lionel Sanders recently suffered a sacral fracture after a fall from his bike during a long brick workout. Due to this injury he's been off running and is has been doing limited cycling for several weeks. To make up for it, he's putting in effort to find improvements in his swim. We caught up with him to find out how his swim training has changed while he recovers.
"Since the injury I've been confined to pulling. Fortunately though, this is probably my biggest area of improvement. The delta between my pulling and swimming is very large. Around 10s per 100m difference between my best pulling and my best swimming. Interestingly, my kick is horrendous! What I'm coming to find is that my kick has been serving some sort of stabilization purpose, which has resulted in faster swim times than pull times, but at a massive increase in effort due to a massive scissor kick, every other stroke."
Focusing training down to one aspect can be a useful tactic to isolate and discover imbalances or issues that offer room for improvement.
"This injury is giving me an opportunity to learn to swim and stabilize through my core and without the use of my kick. My hope is to go so long without kicking that I forget the old muscle firing patterns and when I do reintroduce the kick, it will be less taxing and serve more of a propulsive/buoyancy purpose and less of a stabilizing purpose."
In addition, when forced to limit training it can be advantageous to take the time to fix other areas of your swim that may not be causing you a problem, but have room for improvement.
"Because strict pulling is so monotonous, I also took it as an opportunity to learn to bilateral breath. I have been a strict right-side breather for nearly 10 years and this has created a lot of imbalance in my stroke. I am already seeing the improvements in balance and symmetry in just a few weeks of bilateral breathing. This will help make me more versatile and I can decide if I want to breathe right or left depending on buoys and waves."
Don't let injury get you down! Swimming is a great way to keep training when injury keeps you from running or cycling. Using the time when your training is limited to focus, find and fix weaknesses in your stroke can turn you into a stronger athlete once you're back to full power.