STEPPING UP AND DOUBLING DOWN
Are you thinking about moving into the big kids sandbox? I’m talking about going from the half- to the full-distance.
The anxiety around making that decision is usually based on the extra 90 km of riding and 21 km of running that goes with it. Often the last consideration is the extra 1,900 m of swimming.
If you’re planning on moving up from a standard-distance race to a half, you’re looking at an extra 400 m on race day. Most age-group triathletes regularly complete 2,000 to 3,000 m per session several times a week. They swim in excess of their actual race distance nearly every time they get in the pool. The extra 400 m isn’t a profound increase, especially compared to the huge gap between 1,900 and 3,800 m.
You should never go into the event thinking ‘I’ll just get through the swim and once I’m on the bike all things will be right and true in the world.’
Coming out of the water after swimming 3,800 m you weren’t properly prepared for can have a dramatic effect on the rest of your day. And not in a good way.
Once you make the decision to go the extra “mile,” be prepared to get in a healthy dose of 4,000 to 5,000 m sessions. You should also bring up the weekly average so that, in the 12 weeks prior to race day, you are averaging at least 3,200 m per set, at least three times a week. And remember, while swimming faster is certainly a good thing, for most full-distance swimmers the goal is to have lots of endurance strength.
And what gives you that endurance strength? Metres. Lots of metres. With paddles, parachutes, with a band on your ankles. And then you should swim more metres.
Are you swimming less then 8,000 m a week? Are you doing any days where you’re hitting at least 4,000 m? Finding the time can be a challenge, but most people can organize themselves to get in a few minutes early and leave a few minutes late and add 10 to 20 per cent to their average without causing a ripple in their daily lives. But getting in those weekly big days can often require some determination. For a slower swimmer that can mean 90 minutes or more in the pool. If your master’s swim group only swims an hour, three times a week, then you’ll need to get in more than a few extra minutes. Sometimes the best solution is to add an extra day to your group schedule. This gives you the added benefit of being able to focus exclusively on your strength endurance.
The following is a great strength set. You’ll need paddles of several different sizes.