Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Triathlete Training Question, Answers Welcome

This is my first Tri season. As part of training, I've finished two open water swims. One a swim only event of 1 mile, the other the 500m swim segment of a sprint tri. Both times, I ended up doing a LOT of breast stroke (like 60-70% of the race). I could never really find a rhythm. I tried a couple of tactics, like counting strokes and trying to push through it, but my breathing never settled and I had to revert to breast stroke. I'm working toward a Olympic length Tri in 40 days and am not afraid of the swim, just concerned I'm being inefficient and slow. Curiously, my splits for these two events, are pretty close to my pool times which are in the 2:10 to 2:30/100m range. The latter event was pretty choppy water, so I can understand that being slow, but frankly, I'm a little surprised at the 2:10/100m avg over a mile. I need to work on sighting as well as breathing, but I think that is not that big an issue. The psychological shock of zero visibility I think I can get used to as well.

I work out 3xweek at a pool. (Short/Medium/Long) I've had coaching and they have given me training drills that I do from 100 to 300m each depending on the length of my workout. I'm doing approximately 40 mins, 50+mins and this week a peak of 70mins workouts respectively for short/med/long. Technique wise, I think I'm good for this goal race, I feel efficient and when I've worn my wetsuit, I feel I'm gliding.

Phew, now with all that background, my question. I think one reason my race pace was good is that in the pool, since I don't do flips, I take too much time at the turns. It's usually at least a breath, and normally 3 quick ones before/as I turn around. Every 100m, there is typically a goggle reset meaning, I'm not really testing my CV to get into a rhythm. Since I've been training, I've reduced significantly my times as measured by distance to time elapsed. So, I know I'm improving in swimming further faster. But is this improvement without really improving my breathing technique/stamina to power through using only freestyle?

Will doing flips help me build up better CV conditioning (if that's the right term)? Will they help me to slog through changing and challenging open water situations without having to revert to long stretches of slow, inefficient breast stroke? I've never learned, but don't think it would be hard, just time consuming to get good technique in my precious training window time. Should I invest valuable pool time in incorporating flips into my swim workouts. Without a clear answer, I think I'll just try to minimize the time at the turnaround as much as I can without having to learn to flip.


  1. Don't worry about flip turns. I've done 5 day/week 4k+ swims and NEVER flipped - rolled out a few Ironman swims too ;). Swimming is all about finding a rhythm. One day you will say, "There it is!" It may take several months. It may take more than a year. One day though, it'll be there. Swimming is a skill and it can take A LOT of work.

    I would suggest getting more coaching though. Sounds like what you got didn't really do the trick because you shouldn't need to take so many breaths at the wall. Get the goggle situation sorted out too.

  2. Good stuff. Thanks for the feedback. I had a video coaching session that fixed a couple of big leaks in my stroke. I'll probably take another soon and my goal is to attend some regular masters swim classes. Unfortunately my current pool's class schedule doesn't work well. We're rejoining the Y after Memorial day, so I'm hoping for more scheduling options. Thanks again for the info.