Saturday, September 6, 2014

Offseason Swim Workout #1

As a triathlete, you probably spent the season trying to swim efficiently.  I don't blame you.  You can't win a triathlon in the swim, but you can lose one there, especially if you swim inefficiently and burn through all your energy reserves.  Triathletes don't need to be fast in the water.  They need to be long and comfortable.  You want to hit the beach feeling like you have plenty left, and if you're not too far behind the field when you get on the bike, that's a bonus.

But.  The season is over now, or it's nearly over.  Which maybe means that you're ready to start thinking about offseason training.  This in turn means that now is the time to work on getting faster in the water, rather than constantly trying to swim comfortably.  Aerobic paced swimming is great, but it will never put you at the front of the pack.  If that's where you want to be, offseason speed work is the answer you've been looking for.

This is the first of a series of workouts that is meant to help you get faster.  For the purposes of these workouts, I'm assuming that you're already a pretty good swimmer.  My goal here is to teach you how to do effective speed work, giving you more high-end speed when you need it.  This is useful for triathletes because it ups pace at which you swim comfortably and because it can help you break away from the scrum after a mass-start in open water.  Being able to pull away from the pack early and get to clean water is a huge advantage in a triathlon.

I'm writing this series primarily my friend Alisha, who's planning to use this offseason for the same purpose you are--to get faster.  The series is also for my friend Ben, who has a goal of finishing in the Top Ten at Master's Nationals next year.  He and I often swim further than the workouts you'll see in this series, but we use the same principles I'll be using.  We simply do it using base sets built on 100s, 200s, and sometimes longer distances rather than the 50s and 100s I'll be using over the offseason.

Here's this week's workout: 

- 200 SKIPS*
- 20 x 50 @ 1:10 (~:20 rest) aerobic pace
- 100 easy / drill
- 8 x 50 @ 2:00 alternating:
--- Hard (95% effort)
--- Easy (60% effort)
- 100 warm down

* SKIPS: Swim, Kick, IM, Pull, Swim. Total = 1,000 yards.

If you can, hit the pool three times this week.  Do this workout twice and then do one longer, more aerobic swim as your third workout.  And let me know how it goes, okay?

Post-Workout Notes:
-- I did 10 x 100 @ 1:30 instead of 20 x 50.  That worked out to just under :15 rest per 100.  That's okay, but I wouldn't recommend going under :10 rest per interval, regardless of whether your intervals are 50s or 100s.

 -- I did the 8 x 50 @ :50.  That was fine for me, but it felt more like a 400 yard fartlek swim than it did organized speed work. At :50, I was getting just over :15 rest, and that's not much if you want to maintain 95% effort.

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