It's been over five months since I hung up my bike, and shifted my focus from triathlons to running. Although it is not a necessary part of marathon training, I'm still committed to swimming weekly.
A swim workout once or twice a week is a fantastic way to stay healthy, recover from training, and get a good fitness base for the coming race season.
Whether enjoying the off-season, or racing competitively, here are a few of my staple workouts. So, grab a pull buoy, a kick board, a Waterproofed iPod Shuffle, and spend some quality time at your local 25 meter pool this season!
Triathlon swims are unpredictable - from the initial panic of the start, to finding your pace, to then having the chaos resume as you sprint towards the shore. This workout is intended to prepare you for those unpredictable scenarios and get you ready to race.
Pro tip: For you overachievers who REALLY want to replicate the swim start, recruit the kids swimming in the next lane to whack you with fun noodles as you swim along - Kidding!
1 x 300 easy swim
Incorporate this workout into your training when running is your focus, and you are looking for some active recovery. As a low-impact exercise, a swim workout is ideal for enhancing your aerobic fitness and strength, while avoiding any further stress on your ankles and knees. Swimming improves flexibility, and strengthens your hamstrings, hip flexors and IT bands. It also increases your VO2 capacity, which will positively impact your running economy. You can even swap out a recovery run for some pool time if your legs are feeling extra weary from all that pavement pounding.
1 x 200 easy swim
Approaching swimming during the off-season can be a lot like approaching a yoga session. Both demand focus on your breathing that can introduce a very meditative quality to the workout. This particular workout focuses on these practices by working on distance per stroke and breath control. To reinforce that this season is about recovery, not results, I often skip wearing a watch for this workout... but I do bring my pull buoy along.
Pro tip: The DPS (Distance per stroke) drill is done by counting how many strokes you take from one end of the pool to the other. Your focus is to maximize the distance that your pull and glide can propel you by taking as few strokes as possible. The goal is increasing your VO2 capacity by breathing every 3 to 4 strokes. But don't HOLD your breath. Instead begin exhaling slowly a few seconds after you put your face back in the water.
1 x 200 easy swim
With racing season winding down, most of my workouts are of the off-season variety. My swim cap and goggles are riding around in the car, still damp from my swim this morning. And before they can dry I'll be back in the pool, building that fitness base and staying healthy!
Note: Please be sure to tailor your fitness routine to your own individual health, and your goals. Seek professional medical advice if you have any questions regarding what is appropriate for you prior to participating in any exercise program.