Planning is a prerequisite to success. When you properly plan and execute your workouts then your chances of success are higher. When preparing for a triathlon you need to train for all 3 parts of the competition. A triathlon is an endurance race consisting of 3 parts – running, cycling, and swimming. The most challenging of these 3 courses is usually the swimming. The triathlon swim distance is usually 1.5 kilometers but can be as long as 3.9 kilometers for an Iron-man. So, what exactly goes into preparing for a swimming triathlon? We dive into the swim workout for triathlon athletes and a few tips to help you maximize your training workouts.
The triathlon races are categorized as novice, sprint, half Iron-man, and full Iron-man. Triathletes may focus on running and riding during training as they come more naturally. Some may also develop the tendency to only work their upper body so that they save their legs for the cycle and run.
Since triathlons consist of 3 different courses, it is essential to adequately train for each section.
You need to train your kicks when training as this gives you an advantage over the other competitors. Efficient kicks make you faster and help reduce the amount of energy you use in water. It is important to note that any swim style is allowed but freestyle is considered to be the most effective.
During training, it’s a good idea to mix up your workouts and use different swimming styles so that you train most muscles in your body. Swimming twice or three times a week should be enough. If you are completely new to swimming, you might benefit from swimming up to 5 times weekly.
As you train, recall the basics – Proper breathing, technique, forward reach catch, and extension. Then as you progress, work on improving your strength, endurance, and speed. Just keep in mind to train as you want to swim during your race.
Below are 8 swim workouts for triathlon, each with a specific goal:
The main aim of this workout is to build your endurance in the water. Much as there are a few harder sections, most of it should feel easy or steady.
It is important to be patient with yourself. So, if you feel you didn’t quite get it the first time, try again. The key is to start slow but remain consistent. Interval training might also help as it builds strength while improving your cardiovascular fitness.
Distance: 1800 yards
Proper breathing is important in swimming. Complete each breath properly by inhaling out of the water and exhaling underwater. This workout helps you harmonize your kicking and breathing while keeping fatigue to a minimum. If you learn how to properly time your breath and kick then you can conserve your energy while building speed.
To do a knuckle drill, bring your fingertips to the base of your fingers.
Distance: 2400 yards
At first, pacing may feel a bit off. This is normal. But after you do a few sets it will feel more natural so don’t give up as soon as you start.
Distance: 2100 yards
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Kicks to tri help you advance your kicking technique and leg strength. To do a catch-up drill, leave one arm extended in front of your shoulder as the other arm goes through a full stroke cycle. For a superman kick, your face should be in the water and your hands apart, just outside your shoulders.
Distance: 2300 yards
This workout helps you train your sprints, which are at a faster pace than the normal race pace. If you master how to maintain your technique while sprinting then your pace training is almost ideal.
Distance: 2350 yards
Threshold swimming is the fastest pace a simmer can maintain over a minimum of half an hour with no breaks while still being able to tolerate the buildup of lactic acid. The threshold pace is usually faster than the pace required to build an aerobic base.
Distance: 2000 yards
This 45-minute workout helps you focus on technique and improve your aerobic fitness. Building aerobic endurance entails swimming at lower intensities.
Distance: 2200 yards
It is important to do a speed test so that you measure your fitness and test your speed. The critical swim speed test is considered the gold standard when it comes to measuring swimming endurance.
Distance: 1500 yards
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Here are a few swim tips to help you get the most out of your training:
Drink plenty of water before and after your training sessions. This ensures proper recovery of muscles and removal of wastes such as lactic acid (4). Stay hydrated by drinking fruit and vegetable juices, chocolate milk, and electrolyte sports drinks.
With swimming it is necessary to increase the oxygen supply when you are underwater.
While cycling and running, breathing comes naturally. You don’t need to seek permission from your environment to breathe. That said, it’s most important in swimming to have breathing that is well timed and rhythmic.
First, you need to be able to keep your face in water, then figure out when and how to breathe in and out. You should breathe in while your head is above water and exhale while your face is underwater. Don’t hold your breath and don’t inhale too quickly. Exhale completely while in the water then turn your head and inhale a fresh breath of air.
Proper form ensures your body moves smoothly through the water. Good technique ensures you move faster as there is less resistance. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you move through water:
It would make no sense to train three times a week but have pizza, fries, or burgers for your dinner every night. You need to fuel your body with the right foods – complex carbs, lean protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits. A proper diet provides your body with the energy you need, helps you build muscle, and aids in recovery.
Eat complex carbs to replenish the glycogen stores used up during exercising (2). Eat lean protein such as salmon, tuna, chicken, and beef to help build lean muscle mass and reduce the loss of exercise-induced muscle loss (1).
You want to dress right so that you are comfortable during your swims. Tight and unbreathable swim clothes can make you uncomfortable and less efficient. Invest in a good pair of swim goggles, swim caps, and training suits. You can always consult a salesperson or a swimming trainer about which swimwear best fits your needs.
Much as you want to be ready by the time your competition arrives it is important to get plenty of quality rest. Training too much without getting enough rest wears you out and interferes with the muscle recovery process. This increases the chances of getting injured (3). Therefore, ensure you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night,
Also, don’t stress or pressure yourself. Even if you don’t reach your target times, don’t get frustrated. Just try again till you improve your race times. Appreciate the progress you make every time even though it is small.
When done for fun, swimming is an easy and fun sport. However, competitive swimming requires more than just moving through water. It requires speed, endurance, and power. For a triathlon, swimming poses the greatest challenge. Training, however, sets you up for success. It requires effort, patience, commitment, and consistency. So, while it may be difficult, it is worth it in the long run.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!