KEY SWIM WORKOUTS TO KEEP YOU THE NOVICE, FRESH
Swim Training geared towards the TRIATHLETE
Every body gets to a stage sometime in their training when they seem to hit a plateau. No real progress forwards, just stuck in the rut. This is especially true for the novice, who comes into the world of triathlon and multi sports. Their initial gains are huge as the training and fitness levels increase dramatically when going from practically zero. These gains could last a while (dependant of course on how committed each athlete is towards his or her sport). There will come a time however during training when you need to shake things up a bit to get past that stale patch.
Change of Scenery;
We are all creatures of habit and I am one of the biggest culprits. It’s always the same old route and regime we follow week in week out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but to keep you fresh, you need to change your surroundings and the workouts.
Try a different pool venue if you can or opt for a different spot when you do open water swims. You will be surprised at how this can spice up the training session, even if you stick to the original program schedule.
You can then also incorporate various alternate workouts to coincide with the new venue to really put the zoom back into your step.
Pool swim at different venue:
Let’s for a minute pretend that you are some hot shot Olympic pool swimmer and today is the day you are going to show off that raw speed. This is what we do!
- Stretch for 5 – 10 minutes before we actually dive in (arms/shoulders/back/legs)
- Bring along all the toys and whistles (zoomer fins/ freestyler paddles/ align kickboard)
- 400m easy swim warm-up (concentrating on the stroke pull and what you are doing underneath the water to make you go slip faster through the water)
- 200m kick with zoomer fins, resting 5 seconds after each 50m but kicking harder than normal
- 400m pulling with freestyler paddles and foam pull-buoy (once again, think about the arm pull/high shoulder/far reach entry)
Okay the warm-up is over and your’ ready to rock n roll. Get out the water and stretch for another 2-3 minutes, more so to get the head into the right mental frame of mind.
If the pool venue has lane ropes and starting blocks, even better:
- 4 x 100m maximum swims (starting off the blocks/good fast turns/high stroke turnover) and going at 100%. Record time? Get out and rest a full 1-2 minutes between each. What we try do is keep our times the same for all 4. That means you will have to work that much harder each one to keep on track with your pacing. It’s almost like a mini time trial over 400m but with rest in between
- 8 x 50m any stroke but freestyle, rest 20 seconds after each and a full 1 minute after 4. Butterfly would be great if you can do it and so would backstroke (as it closely resembles the freestyle stroke).
- 8 x 25m sprints, diving off the blocks each time and trying to breathe as little as possible over the course of each length. Imagine you’re in the final of the 50m Free at the Olympics and it’s all out to the wall. Keep you eyes fixed on the wall at each end and swim hard into the finish
- Ease off with a 200/400m swim or freestyler paddle pull for recovery
Open Water swim venue:
Whether it’s a sea/lake or river swim, this is the perfect workout to keep you fresh and make it well worth your while. I call it ins and out’s.
- you start on the beach/edge and run into the water at race pace intensity, swim out for about 50m (perhaps more so if you have waves to navigate), swim parallel to the beach for 400m and then return to shore. Upon exiting the water, you run back to the start point of the swim and repeat the rectangular course again.
- 500m swim/400m run and you do this a minimum of 3 to 4 times. If you are planning on training for ironman, then 5 to 6 times would suffice. If you want to keep track of your pacing, record each lap ad try finish off with the fastest lap towards the end. This is much more fun when in a group but does keep you focused when alone as well. A mini aquathlon so to speak but great for a number of reasons;
I guarantee you renewed vigour and performances if you adopt similar approaches to alternate training as has been suggested above. Good luck!
The lunchtime POWER SWIM workout
by Current Triathlon Plus SA Editor and ex Pro triathlete Glen Gore
Maximise your lunch time swim with this no frills easy to do, swim workout
You only have 60 minutes to make use of your lunch-break and that includes the commute there and back plus the change into and out of work clothes. How best can you utilise a maximum of 30 minutes dedicated to a swim workout that is going to produce results? If you want to benefit from a short lunch time swim workout and make it count, you got to swim fast and swim hard. If you intend to just plod along and do some slow laps in the pool, it’s most probably not worth the effort. The aim of any beneficial lunch-time swim workout would be to train at your maximum aerobic capabilities when doing the short and sharp intervals. Anything less than short and sharp is best left for when you have the time to put in a longish session. For now, we only want the shortest best possible workout with the most short term benefits.
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THE NOVICE APPROACH TO 3.8KM…………..
You would not necessarily be reading this if your were “okay” with swimming 3.8km before the 180km bike ride and 42km run. That always seems like the easy part. What’s hard in your mind, is risking life and limb to battle the elements whilst you thrash out almost 4000m of swimming in an open water environment. It can be daunting, especially for the 1st timer virgins. Help is at hand and it really is “not as bad” as you think it is. Consider it to be a warm-up before taking on the bike and run.
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Gearing towards the Half Ironman and longer
by Glen Gore – Former Pro Triathlete/current editor Triathlon Plus South Africa
SWIM, BIKE and RUN
What can I do to improve my swim, bike and run skills over the next few months with all the big races just around the corner?
Triathlon is such a diverse and complex sport that one will never/can never stop learning or trying to improve on one’s performance. Even the Pro will have a desire to go one step better and faster.
This time of year is ideal to hone your skills and improve on the smaller things that essentially make a big difference once summer comes around again. If you leave the training and the trying of new tricks till it gets warmer and closer to the start of the season, you loose out on valuable experimental time, which these months can provide you with. Now is the perfect time to try new techniques/drills/skills as a way to improving your triathlon/multi sport performances once the summer season truly gets going.
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Why do I sink when I swim without the pullbuoy or aid from the wetsuit? My legs are like sinkers..
The art of swimming well “without” the use of a pull-buoy and wetsuit!!
By Glen Gore – former elite level long distance swimmer/triathlon coach and editor of triathlon plus south africa -
If I had a penny for every time I saw or heard of a triathlete “suffering” from the same problem you are having, I would be running a very well stocked triathlon storeJ. Your problem is indeed a very common one amongst some triathletes who would gladly buy a wetsuit were it available, that came with a pull-buoy built into it to aid their flotation. I would classify a swim triathlete as either a “natural” swimmer or a “sinker”. From what you tell us, the “sinker” would be close to what you resemble when swimming without the aid of the buoyancy that a pull-buoy or wetsuit provides.
Certain triathletes do not possess the natural ability to swim on top of the water but rather, tend to drag themselves through the water. The legs and hips drop significantly in the forward freestyle position which then causes a huge amount of drag through the water as they struggle to remain afloat. When using a pull-buoy or wetsuit, this problem tends to be minimised as the legs are then elevated thus allowing the triathlete to swim on top of the water, rather than through the water. Speed will certainly increase in this case and that is why you swim faster when using the wetsuit and the pull-buoy. How do we fix this? Easier said than done!
Kicking Drills would be a great place to start. You need to develop a stronger kick where the feet and ankles are forced closer together and the power generated from the kick is significantly increased. Incorporate more kicking drills into your swim programs on a weekly basis. A stronger and more technically sound kick (ankles together as opposed to a wide split scissor kick) will help elevate the legs and improve your current predicament.
Swim Drills where you concentrate on lowering the head position in the water will also assist with this problem. A lower head position through the water will naturally lift the buttocks and that will cause less drag on the legs. Some catch-up drills (single arm power pulls with lots of kicking) incorporated into the swim program will contribute to fixing this problem.
Dry-land weight training that increases ones upper body strength may also contribute to fixing the problem. Stronger arm, back and shoulder muscles will give you some extra power in the water which may help elevate those droopy legs and minimise the drag.
There is no quick fix or definite answer to the problem that you are experiencing. Hard work in the pool as well as diligence and patience in your swim training will certainly go a long way to improving your swim speed without the aid of the wetsuit or pull-buoy. That is the true beauty of triathlon and a sport that requires mastering three different disciplines. You may never quite reach the “Holy Grail” of swimming much faster without that wetsuit or pull-buoy but it will keep you motivated to come back for more.