This is the third in a series of offseason swim workouts that I’m writing for one of the members of my triathlon club. As before, these workouts are intended for accomplished swimmers, with an “accomplished swimmer” being defined as someone who can comfortably race an open water mile for time and know whether or not their swim was a good one based on how fast they swam and how tired they were when they came out of the water.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with focusing on drills to become a longer, more efficient swimmer. If you can’t swim an open water mile easily, that’s what I recommend you do. However, this workout series is not geared for that. These workouts are meant to take experienced triathletes who’ve spent an entire season building long, efficient strokes and give them a boost of speed and power. They can then build on that new power when next season’s training starts in earnest.
Up until now we’ve been doing 50s on a steady interval. First we did a long set of 50s at an aerobic pace, followed by a short set of sprints. Then we introduced a change of pace, using fartlek concepts to bring on some faster swimming, but still our set was built on a base of consistent 50-yard intervals. This week we’re going to go a little longer with our main set intervals, and if you don’t mind my saying so, it’s going to kick your ass.
We’re working to a purpose. We want to strengthen your aerobic base in the water and get you out of the habit of swimming slow all the time. Aerobic work is fine, but this being the offseason, now is the time fordifferent kinds of work.
Don’t worry. Swimming at a steady pace will come back to you when you need it. For now, worry about going hard when it’s time to go hard.
-- 4 x 100 easy warm up @ :30 rest
-- 200 kick
-- 5 x 200 @ :30 rest, negative split by 100s
-- 5 x 100 @ :30 rest
------ #1, #3, & #5 easy aerobic pace
------ #2 & #4 tempo pace, negative split by 50s
4 x 50 @ :40 rest
----- #1 & #3 hard (95% effort)
----- #2 & #4 easy/drill
100 warm down
This main set will not be easy. It’s longer than we’ve gone, and it’s organized a little differently, although it’s still got a fartlek concept at its core.
You want to start each 200 at a comfortable aerobic pace and hold that for your first 100 yards. If possible, use a pace clock to note your time for the first 100. When you turn for the second 100, start accelerating. Accelerate all the way through that second 100, and finish that second 100 faster than your first 100. Use your pace clock and hold yourself accountable. If you’ve done this correctly, your overall time will almost certainly be pretty good even though you basically dogged the first half of the interval.
Rest thirty seconds and go again.
As with last week, you will quickly realize that the only way to survive and succeed is to swim long, easy strokes when you’re not swimming fast, actively recovering when it’s not time to work. The key is to balance your need to recover with your need to work when it’s time to work. Fatigue is expected. This is why you use the pace clock. Hold yourself accountable and make your body accelerate through the back half of each 200.
Don’t take extra rest between the 5 x 200 and the 5 x 100. This is one set, 1500 yards total. Use active recovery on the first, third, and fifth interval. Swim tempo (85% to 90% effort) for the second and fourth interval. As before, work hard when it’s time to work, and swim easy when it’s time to recover.
Take as much rest as you want before you reach the Speed Work portion of the workout. Catch your breath, recover, and get ready to work hard again. Blast out that first 50, and if you want to do some stroke work, now’s the time. Rest on number two, blast out number three, and take it easy the rest of the way until you get out of the pool.
If you survived this week, you’ve accomplished something.