PRE-RACE SWIM WORKOUTS
TRACE SIMULATION HE GUNS ARE about to sound. Race season is fast approaching (if it hasn’t already arrived at your gate). Everyone should have a good winter base under their belts, but now it’s time to do some specific work in the pool to prepare you for competition. And that means race simulation. Many of the metres that have been put in leading up to this point will have been done at a pace faster than your realistic race pace. That’s important work, but it’s also important to put in a good chunk of distance moving at the pace (or paces) you’re expecting to achieve during a race. If you don’t, you will find that your body is simply not prepared for the demand.
For the novice athlete about to embark on their first sprint triathlon, an important element of success will be to execute the swim in an even pace and not get caught up in the initial rush at the sound of the gun.
But a seasoned vet, hoping to make the podium in a standard-distance race, will likely want to get in a fast pack and hang on feet. That will mean starting out strong for the first few minutes then settling in to a pace you can hold for the rest of the swim.
This is the time of season to do sessions that will help condition the body to perform optimally under these demands. Here are a few suggestions:
It’s also beneficial to mix in a healthy dose of longer time trials – 400, 800, 1000 and even 1500 m long. An effective training method for time trials is to break them up based on your event. For example, after you are well warmed up: FOR SPRINT DISTANCE: 2 x 400 m FOR STANDARD DISTANCE: 2 x 800 m
Take a two-minute break between efforts and work hard to keep the same pace for both intervals.
Record your times and try the same session a few times as your season approaches. You should separate your attempts by at least a week. The important element in designing swim sessions as race season approaches is specificity. Create main sets that mirror distances and expected paces – done on shorter rest intervals. As you move into the season, you should maintain similar sets, but the main sets can be shortened by as much as 25 per cent and you increase the rest intervals marginally, depending on your frequency of racing. If you’re not racing too often, then maintain the distances.
Do it in training so it’s not an unpleasant shock in racing!
Clint Lien is the head coach of Mercury Rising Triathlon in Victoria.
Sessions two and three are for experienced athletes planning on strong results in a standarddistance event.
The first session is designed for a novice sprint-distance athlete.