Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Making the most of our swim training

Last week colleague Patrick McCrann wrote an article about why triathletes should NOT swim year round and even further, why its only necessary when we get to race specific training 3-5 months out.

Its a very good article and all points are worth considering. This got me thinking however.
What if we are new to the game? have High goals or have decided to work on swimming, maybe a weak area...

How Can We Make the Most of Our Swim Training Time?

Swimming does cost us allot of time. most of us are swimming at a gym so there is getting there and home, changing, saying hi to overly friendly trainer, etc...

Make the most of your time:

we have seen big gains with minimal time in the pool. why? remember in school when you discovered that when ever you had a ton of work to do it some how got done faster? and you maybe even got better grades? I do. when your working on something as complex and dynamic as swimming and you do it a mere 1 hour a week total focus and concentration are required! For many of us masters or your club swim is at way-to-early:30. if your gona get up that early and swim, put your game face on! Work hard, get tech tips from the coach, work drills for your problem areas and keep swimming!! you will be surprised how much extra an easy 50 every time your waiting for the coach to give you the next set will add up to.

~And what about going to the gym. get your core work in, spinn class after swim, what else can you do to "Get Faster" and make the most of your trip?

~Make it part of your commute to work, miss traffic in the am or pm.
~Ask the coach, "what do i need work on?" my goal is XYZ, what are your thoughts? if i come alone what workout should i do? The coaches are there for a reason use them! most will be happy you asked.
The Magic Workout:

When I lived in the Boston area some friends and I signed up for a 1/2 ironman. some of us were seasoned triathletes, some not and out of shape, some (me) had a whopping 4 weeks to prepare after the cycling season ended? I hadn't run in 3 years. it was my main worry but i had to swim some? right?

while training late in the summer we discovered what was referred to as the magic workout. And still is today by many in the area.

~30' ride to Walden pond
~30' swim. (across the pond and back)
~and a ride home. (sometimes the long way if time allowed or an all out TT home)

my training partners quickly noted, "that is a kick a** workout!". It was but i was more impressed by its functionality and great use of time.

We got a ride in. A 30' swim (similar to the distance and time for our 1/2 ironman swim. they also finished a 1' or so before me allowing them to see my stroke and give a few pointers for the return trip). Swim cap and goggles fit nicely into our pocket and we got a the very key swim bike brick (more on that later)
2 sports, great workout, a brick effect, in 90 minutes!! you can't beat that with a kick board!

bottom line here, look for and explore all your resources, and use them!

Quality Training:

One of the reasons I personally have for swim focus periods is the issue of quality training. particularly when high intensity training is on. Its tough to run and bike hard. however swimming hard and biking (or running) hard seems to work for many without a drop in the quality or performance in there training. this makes swimming more "doable" when the running or cycling intensity increases.

Final thoughts:

Swimming is a large time commitment for little real time gains in the race but realize it's a tough, full body, very tech. sensitive sport which is first in the race. Meaning a "Better" swim might not mean time gained in the swim but later in the race...

Talk to your mentors, training partners, coach and swim coaches. Make a well educated decision regarding your swimming needs and sch. accordingly.

Remember everyone is different. every one's situation, resources, goals, fitness lever, goal race.

"Train YOU before you train the race."


MarkyV said...

Um... no. You want to get good. It's called repetition. You swim all the time. I _could_ take off several months and still do _okay_ but I don't. Fitness in triathlon is not acute to each discipline alone. It's cumulative. Swim.year.round.

Signed.... the fastest swimmer in the sport.

EK Endurance Coaching said...

Mark brings up a good point. Even the Swim specific "fitness" that we have can be lost, fast in a layoff. this leads us away from Patricks article and more towards this one. maximize your time swimimng, while patricks is more on maximizing time over all
And you heard it here, the fastest triathlon swimer in the world swims year round. wana get better? get to it!

Anonymous said...

what about the people who are not as fast as you, have very limmited time to train? think thats what these articles get at....