Just Keep Swimming...

Just keep swimming... just keep swimming... just keep swimming... I often get Dory from Finding Nemo stuck in my head during a workout, especially one with long sets.  And almost always during the swim leg of a triathlon.  I think Dory has great advice, particularly for this time of year, the "off season".

Many triathletes drastically reduce or drop their swimming all together during the off season.  While I definitely agree it's nice to have a couple of months of lighter workouts, I disagree with dropping swimming all together.  My recommendation is not to reduce the number of times you swim.  Most of the year I swim 3x/week.  There are times building up to a race I may throw a 4th (likely another open water workout) in there, but I think 3x is the minimum.  Instead of reducing frequency, I reduce duration.

Here's why.  Swimming is the most technique-based of all three triathlon disciplines.  It's so easy to lose parts of your stroke you've been working to perfect (not that I'll ever achieve perfection, but I'll keep trying!) by reducing the number of times a week you swim.  Honestly, it happens quickly!  So rather than dropping down to swimming 1-2 times a week at this time of year, keep your three (plus?) workouts, but make them shorter.  When I'm training, my swims are at minimum an hour, usually around 1:10-1:15, and once/week they're 1:30.  Right now I'm doing 30-45 minutes.  I still get a break, but I'm not losing the feel for the water and don't have to restart my technique work.

I'm currently just focusing on my stroke, doing snorkel work, swimming with fins to work on my glide, and drills.  I'm not a huge fan of drills; my caveat is you have to know what your stroke weaknesses are, and pick drills that focus on those.  Don't just blindly do drills you see other people doing, without knowing why or what that drill is accomplishing.  

Soon enough, I'll be back to 60-90 minutes, 3x week.  Here are a couple of basic workouts you can modify.  If you're not sure about the abbreviations, just drop me a quick note.  They are in metres, so if you swim yards then just add some more of the main set.

60 minutes, 2800 metres
Warm up:  3x200 (easy, kick, pull)
Main set: 2x (400 steady, 300 easy full gear (paddles, pull buoy & band), 200 tempo, 100 fast (10 SR)) 1 min between sets
Cool down: 200 easy

90 minutes, 4200 metres
Warm up: 4x200 (easy, kick, snorkel & fins); 4x50 band only 
Main set: 6x200 build to fast 1-3 (15 SR); 6x100 full gear alt steady & tempo by 100 (10 SR); 6x200 build to fast 1-3 (15 SR)
Cool down: 200 easy

Once I get into "serious" training next summer, I may even up my frequency to 5x/week.  I really want to see if I can break 32 minutes for a half iron and 1:05 for an ironman swim.  I'm close, but it will take a lot of work!

If only I could swim outdoors all year -
I'd be happy to brave the PNW rain!
Have fun, and just keep swimming!

1 comment:

  1. God, I have been so bad about this recently. I hate swimming.