Swimming on the Road
Swimming on the Road
Howingrained is triathlon in my life? I still remember my wife timing me during my stationary swim workouts during our honeymoon in Lake Placid, N.Y. Since the ice had only just melted on Mirror Lake, my only swim option was a tiny hotel pool, so I attached a short strip of surgical tubing to the ladder, put a harness around my waist, and swam minute-long stationary intervals in order to maintain some swim training during our first week of marriage.
While you probably won’t want to follow my lead during your honeymoon, there’s likely times when you’re on the road and find yourself desperate to maintain your swim fitness. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years for getting in some swim-specific training.
1.One athlete I used to coach who was desperately trying to qualify for Kona had to make a weekly trip to Chicago for business, which we initially thought was going to hamper his training goal. After a bit of research he found a masters program based just minutes from his office. He was able to co- ordinate his calendar so he was always in Chicago on Friday mornings, which allowed him to make the masters swim a regular part of his training routine. Even if you’re not off to one city on a regular basis, do some research before your trip and find out if there are pools close to your hotel that offer early morning or evening length swims.
Open water options.
2.Much of my travelling is to triathlon events, which means there are often open water options. A convention in Hawaii, Florida or a similarly warm climate might offer some ocean swim options right next to your hotel. While packing a wetsuit might be a stretch, a swim-skin can provide a bit of extra warmth and a bit more f lotation for those open water efforts.
Check for reasonably sized hotel pools.
3.Just 400 m from Ironman’s Florida head office, the Westin hotel has a 15 m pool that is more than adequate for short swim workouts. Even if the hotel pool is shorter, I’ve found that even a 10 to 15 minute swim every second day makes getting back to regular workouts that much easier. After a warm-up of about five minutes, I typically do a series of drills including one-arm swimming, catch up, head up crawl and sculling, taking a short break of about 10 seconds after every four lengths. One of my favourite short-pool sets is the “locomotor” set I created, which I do once or twice depending on how much time I have and how long the pool is:
Bring out the harness.
4.If I find myself stuck with a pool that’s too short for lengths, I’ll resort to my harness and surgical tubing and do intervals of 15 seconds to a minute, with half-to full-recoveries.
Bring some stretch cords.
5.When there just aren’t any water options, you can use stretch chords or surgical tubing to simulate a swim workout. I typically bring these with me during a run, then attach them to a fence or post outside the hotel on my return. Bending at the waist, simulate your swim stroke, focusing on keeping a high elbow during the “pull” phase of the stroke. You can either alternate arm pulls, do both arms at the same time or alternate between the two. Try sets of 30 seconds to a minute, taking a half recovery (15 or 30 seconds).
Take some time off.
6.If you know you’re going to be away for a while without any swimming opportunities, plan ahead and do an overload week in the pool. Substitute a few run workouts for swims during the week before you leave so that you’re ready for a bit of a break when you’re on the road.