Monday, February 13, 2017

Bilateral Breathing vs Single Side Breathing - Comparison Pool Time Test

Open Water Worlds Wednesday
Clermont FL
Earlier this winter I had the opportunity to do some swim sessions without any real purpose. Instead of wasting the swims, I decided to take the opportunity to test:

(1) Bilateral breathing

(2) Single-side breathing dominate side (right)
(3) Single-side breathing
non-dominate side (left).

The impetus for this test came from racing. Despite swimming to my dominate side (right) in training, I occasionally take a few strokes on the opposite side (left) during races for the sheer purpose of mixing it up and helping my right side relax for a few seconds.

What I found was that despite feeling incredibly awkward during those few strokes, I felt like I didn't slow down at all and actually made up a little ground on my competition. As a result, I thought I should finally test my breathing and learn something about it.


Test Protocol


With all my tests, I am not trying to win over any scientists. Frankly, my tests are done more to satisfy my own curiosity. For this test, I swam 200s LCM, alternating between, right-side (how I normally breath), bilateral breathing (one breath right, one breath left), and left-side breathing. I did 12x200 per day, so 4x200 of each pattern each day (ie, left, right, bilateral). I tested over 8 continuous days. In total, that is 96x 200s, and 32x 200s in each particular configuration.  I averaged the 4 reps of each configuration per day in the graph below for simplicity sake.

The pace I choose to swim was the easiest possible swim pace I could for that particular day. It would be equivalent to my all-day pace. It is a pace that is natural and one I don't have to think about.

Test Results


Analysis

I was definitely surprised by the test results. Mainly, every time I swam a 200 on my left side I felt incredibly awkward. Bilateral breathing felt awkward as well but not as awkward as breathing to my left. I totally expected that I would be significantly slower bilateral breathing and breathing to my left side. Both configurations felt so slow in the water, but every time I hit the wall at the end of the 200 I was objectively informed that I was no slower. My stroke rate was a bit higher on my left and bilateral configurations, but if it was truly less efficient I would have suspected slower times as well.


Takeaway


What I learned from this process is that it really doesn't matter how I breath, at least while swimming easy. It would be interesting to do the test again at higher level of efforts to see if the result was different.

Regardless, it is a reminder of how important athlete psychology is in sport. Just because you feel slow doesn't mean you are slow. Just because you feel fast doesn't mean you are fast. Testing things or practicing things gives you confidence. Confidence I believe leads to faster overall times as there is less thinking involved and less second guessing.


Other "testing" articles you might enjoy:

- Speed Suit Testing - TYR Torque vs Roka Viper Elite
My Blood Test Numbers - Testosterone and all
- Wind Tunnel Testing My Shoes
- My Complete Wind Tunnel Test

Lastly if you are a triathlete or endurance athlete, I have set up a FREE Ironman Q&A group on Facebook. Feel free to ask any question you might have about Ironman Training or endurance sports.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Athlete Blood Testing - Blood Work Test Results for Ironman Pro Triathlete

Complete blood tests results at bottom of post
Athlete blood testing - frankly it is one of those topics that no one talks about. While I have seen a few professionals talk Testosterone, I don't recall anyone discussing it openly in a general sense. As a result, I thought I would share my own blood test numbers, the process I took to get them, and the benefits I get from testing. Complete test results, Testosterone and all are at the very bottom!!!

Why I got my blood tested


Completing an Ironman Triathlon is tough and the months of high-level training can easily wreak havoc on the body. Getting a blood test before ramping up training is an essential part of the process as it establishes a baseline for my blood values. It also helps me understand if I am truly ready to embark on my training program and it gives me the confidence to do so.

Many athletes look to blood tests ONLY when they are feeling off in the middle of the season. The problem with this approach is that I would have NO baseline to compare values to. I might have abnormal levels which could explain the issues, or those levels could have been abnormal all along. Establishing a baseline can help me and my doctors make better and more informed decisions down the road.

The process of getting my blood tested


Getting blood tests proactively under the "wellness" category is no easy task in the US Healthcare system. Typically people only get blood tests when they are sick, and as a result so called "wellness" testing is not frequently covered by insurance. In addition, unless your doctor is familiar with endurance athletes, chances are he/she might not even prescribe the testing or understand why you need to be tested.

I decided to go with a Dr. Garret Rock at Athlete Blood Testing for my blood test. InsideTracker and BluePrint are two other services I considered but Dr  Rock has been intimately involved in research on using blood biomarkers in athletes for 8 years. He has personally worked with thousands of professional athletes including pro triathletes, runners, and cyclists. Dr. Rock's expertise allows him to truly understand the significance of blood biomarkers in a way that no general physician or other service can.

In his words, Dr. Rock says: "Don't try to interpret yourself. I have seen tens of thousands of tests on athletes now and analyzed a giant database that we've been populating over the last 4 years, as well as read thousands of studies...and I am still learning something new occasionally. To get the most out of your tests, rely on those that have a comprehensive understanding of how to tie all of the information together. It's much more complex than simply looking at a number and comparing to normal/abnormal range. Ideal ranges and normal ranges vary based on your age, gender, and frequency/duration/intensity of training/racing. These should be factored in to your interpretation."

In addition to Dr. Rock's expertise, Athlete Blood Test was super simple when it came to the process. Instead of a process that can take weeks, ie. getting an appointment into my primary, being sent for labs, and then getting another appointment with my primary to discuss the labs, Athlete Blood Testing took only days and I was over 2,000 miles from Athlete Blood Test the entire time. The whole process included:

1) Selecting the test panel. I opted for the Gold Panel as I wanted the most comprehensive panel to establish my baseline. I added it my cart and completed the checkout process answering a few questions along the way. I received a confirmation email that included instructions on the closet LabCorp location to get my blood drawn from.

Two vials of blood drawn
2) Get Blood Drawn - My LabCorp location doesn't need an appointment, but because I had already eaten that day and I was told to fast, I opted to use the online scheduler and scheduled an appointment for the next day, a Thursday FWIW. There is no additional payment at LabCorp, my payment to AthleteBloodTest covered all the testing. I was in an out of LabCorp within 10 minutes.

3) Get Results - I had my report emailed to me on the following Monday. I also had a chance to talk to Dr. Rock on Tuesday over the phone, although phone follow-up is an additional charge.

My Blood Test Results


Here is my report. Dr. Rock explained to me that I was the 1 in 100 with ideal labs and that the typical lab results and reporting are much more complicated than mine. His work with professional triathletes has shown that an extremely high number of them have deficiencies in: Iron, Vitamin D, and/or Magnesium. However, I did not have any deficiencies. I will say that I have been supplementing all three over the years, and I know MgSport is proud of me for keeping my Magnesium levels up. I know Matt Miller at Base Salt is proud of my electrolyte numbers.

While my Testosterone was on the low side of normal, Dr. Rock was also confident that my numbers were unlikely to fluctuate significantly given a similar training profile as previous years. He also assured me while they were on the low side of normal, they were quite normal among my professional peers. My LDLs are a little high, but frankly much lower then when I wasn't a triathlete altogether.

Overall getting my blood tested was a very positive experience. Not only did it clear the path for my training, but it was also hugely refreshing mentally knowing where my numbers were.

If you are interested in getting your own Athlete Blood Test you can do so and save 10% in the process with Athlete Blood Test Coupon Code: bloodtest10. 10% off brings the plans to Gold ($314), Silver ($224), and Bronze ($143).

Lastly if you are a triathlete or endurance athlete, I have set up a FREE Ironman Q&A group on Facebook. Feel free to ask any question you might have about Ironman Training or endurance sports.