Monday, October 24, 2011

Swimming and Triathlon Training – Is it all about the speed?

My first (and only) 8k swim
I have always thought that I’ve been a good long distance swimmer with decent stroke mechanics. My swim stroke was videotaped in the pool showing my technique both above and below the water and although there were some minor issues, I thought my mechanics were pretty good. I typically finish middle or top of the pack in most triathlons and in the pool my times have been pretty much the same over the past few years. I am definitely not the fastest when swimming 25’s and 50 sprints in the pool with other swimmers, I don’t sprint well and I don’t like to do it. In fact, people who have worse form than me, most times, beat me at the shorter distances like 25’s and 50’s. This would frustrate most people but I understand my body and understand what I can and can’t do. I don’t sprint well period!
I could however swim forever without becoming fatigued because I swim efficient. When I come out of the water in a triathlon I feel as if I had a good warm up, I am not exhausted or tired. So even though I may not be the fastest swimmer, I am very efficient and am able to save most of my energy for the bike and run.
Many people who compete in triathlons are very focused on their times in the pool but being a fast swimmer doesn’t translate into an efficient swimmer. Swimming for endurance and working on technique does not come over night, it takes years to develop. I am not saying that recording your times is not important; it is always good to know how you’re progressing day to day. If you have a great day in the pool, your times were faster, you felt stronger and you set established some significant improvements on previous times, doesn’t translate into becoming an efficient swimmer. Think about why you had a good day, was it because you had a great night’s sleep? Did you eat well? Did you come off a rest period? So many factors could’ve influenced your great day. Setting faster times is all good and well but how efficient are you and are you finishing with enough energy to complete the remaining 2 disciplines effectively?
This is the time of the time of year that most people are ending their racing season. I find this time of year people get in the pool less frequently or not at all. This time of year you should be working on your technique to become a more efficient swimmer; you should be doing more drills that are technique focused. Think about getting someone to video you in the water so you can see your stroke and mechanics so you can focus on becoming a more efficient swimmer. This will be far more effective for you than focusing on becoming faster. If you can have a good swim in a race and come out of the water feeling energized and ready for the bike that is a good thing! The worst thing you could do is to jack up your heart rate in the swim and come out of the water fatigued.

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