In the first of a series of blog articles we are dedicating this weeks blog to an article with a number of triathlon training tips to help you as we all enter the chunky phase of the training calendar in readiness for racing and putting down some PB’s. We will start with the swim for our training tips in true Triathlon fashion.
Swim with a pull buoy when doing your laps to help you replicate a more wetsuit centric swim while you are still hiding indoors in the chlorine water. The pull buoy will create added buoyancy in your legs creating more of a flat swimming profile allowing you to concentrate on your stroke and reduce the kick preserving the legs for the bike.
Vary your swim sets rather than hitting the pool time after time and putting down 50 laps before you get back out again. If all you are doing is seeking to trim seconds off the same swim session you will struggle even if making multiple trips a week and putting in the hours. Work on some distance sets managing the perceived effort mixed up with some sets where you do repetitions with rest intervals. Variety really is the spice of life!
Find a full sized Olympic pool and try your hand in a 50m pool. The longer pool will allow you to truly settle into your stroke and will disrupt your 25m rest cycles where you have become settled into a stroke to turn ratio. The longer pool will give you more of a shot when it comes to open water swimming and their are no sides to grab onto for a breather.
Leave the car at home and ride to the pool. Even if only a few miles riding your bike to the pool gives you some sense of brick training and it doesn’t need to be on your TT bike that you would never dare leave at the pool. Even a mountain bike ride is still working many of the same muscles and helps build on a basic swim purely by ditching the motor.
Focus on reducing your SWOLF score rather than your CSS. Marginal gains in speed in the pool can be at the expense of energy retained for the latter phases of the triathlon. Focus on reducing the number of strokes you are taking to swim each lap and improve your efficiency rates building for a full race.
Finish every session with 50 metres of back stroke not to help you go quicker but to help your body cool down and reduce the likelihood of any injury.
Join a triathlon club masters swim session and pit your skills against others with the added bonus of a coach on the poolside watching all those bad habits you have acquired over the years like overlapping hands. A great way to meet fellow triathletes as well as helping you get some coaching in an affordable way.
If the budget will allow get a pair of buoyancy shorts to replace the pull buoy. This will give the same benefits as a pull buoy but allows you to maintain your kick and a more natural swimming stroke while getting a flatter swimming profile.
Include some open water swimming in your training as soon as the weather permits. Once the water temperature creeps above 16 degrees any swimming wetsuit should permit you to experience swimming in the open air. We’d recommend using organised lakes with well marked out circuits and people in the water to help you if you find yourself in trouble. Lakes also tend to warm up quicker than the sea or rivers with a locked body of water.
Gain confidence to swim with bi-lateral breathing practicing in the safety of your pool during your training. If you only swim breathing on one side in open water this can make it harder to swim in a straight line. Bi-lateral breathing helps you to hold your line more effectively and even out your stroke.
Practice swimming close to a leading swimmer to get used to benefitting from the water disturbance of a swimmer in front so you draft them and can maintain your pace with less energy. You must stay close to the swimmer and literally tickling their toes in order to realise the full benefits of drafting. This could allow you to maintain the same pace while using 10-15% less energy so vital for the latter phases in triathlon.
Open water starts in a pool. It is hard to replicate the chaos of a swim start in a large triathlon field with hundreds of other swimmers all battling for the shortest distance to the next buoy. What you can do is replicate the start from a stationary position where you are vertical and treading water. Head to the deep end and tread water for 30 seconds to then accelerate hard to the other end of the pool repeating this a number of times. This will give you experience in the hard kicking start of the swim and shifting your body from vertical to horizontal.
Make sure you try your wetsuit before you race in it. Don’t leave your first swim in your wetsuit for your A race and make sure you factor in some training time in your wetsuit. Ideally as above in open water but in reality in any conditions to get the feel for swimming in your wetsuit and the mobility you will have.
That’s the end of part one. Look out for the next part in our series of 50 triathlon tips!