Swim Workouts

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I started posting my favorite swim workouts on Pinterest. Check it out at http://pin.it/sE3xIri

Some various sources include

– Kraken Masters 

– Triathlete.com

– Combinations I put together

A favorite swim workout – 500 countdown + 10×100

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This is one of my favorite swim workouts. It’s a nice mix of endurance training and intervals. You could mix it up a bit more by adding 200’s or 50’s on the second set.


Data Check: long swim review

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A few days ago, seven-year-old son Paul asked me if he could do the Bengal Triathlon. He just finished up his first year on the Pocatello Tiger Aquatics Club, so I told he could do the triathlon if he could prove he can swim 750 yards straight without stopping. He did that in 25:53 on Wednesday.


I’m in a swim-only mode with a calf muscle injury, and I got bored quickly of the laps in a 25-yard pool, so I needed to challenge myself. At some point during the kick sets that I hate so much, I remembered that I have a goal of upping my monthly long swim to 4,000 yards. That was a perfect thing to do. If Paul can do 750 yards, surely I can do 4,000.

So I did it on Friday afternoon. I was tired from the previous week workouts, but I was determined to make this happen. What else am I going to do?!?!  I want to be ensure full recovery from this calf muscle injury.

The first 1500 yards was good, and I held back appropriately. My pushoff on the turns was one-footed, so the times are off a bit.

The second 1,500 yards I began to struggle. My one-footed pushoffs started a small foot-cramping issue. My form was going to pieces, and I don’t like swimming like that because it leads to bad habits. I pressed on.

The last 1,000 was ugly. I did it, though! And that is the exciting part. Now I have a new goal of completing this 4,000 yard TT on a weekly basis in 1:00:00. This was a personal best non-stop distance for me — LIFETIME!

On the charts below, you can see how my form and times consistently drop across the workout. I do a 3,000 yard TT every six weeks or so, so I am familiar with that.  You can se how my time drops close to the completion of the first 3,000 yards and then I just hang-on to close-out the 4,000. The goal when I am healthy is 4,000 yards in 1:00:00 with a steady pace and SWOLF.



Confirmation of my theory: Training Troubleshoots With Sebastian Kienle

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This is exactly what I am trying to do for my bike workouts. Sufferfest Nine Hammers and my local “Nine Hills” match the recommendations here at Triathlete.com.  I am also keeping up with a weight-lifting routine that I like and is showing improvements


I like the associated swim workout for something new to replace my “drills and kicks” workout.

For the run, I really do need to some bricks. I havent done any all year.

Big Training Block using a different theory

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Coming off the Tour of Sufferlandria and seeing spring kind-of in the air already, I am pushing into a big training block for the month of March that will add intensity intervals and some weight training into the mix.

In the last two months,  I read Matt Fitzgerald’s “Racing Weight,” and I am currently about a third through Matt Dixon’s “Well Built Triathlete.” These books got me thinking that I need to change up my “more is better” training focus on volume and build in some intensity. That requires a nice balancing act in planning and execution.

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The book reading is nice, but I also have some recent, specific experiences telling me to add intensity to my routines.

I am not training for a specific race right now, and I found the intensity levels of the Tour of Sufferlandria to have a huge effect on my running. Then, a friend posted the ladder workout for swimming on our Snake River Tri Club facebook page, and I really liked that for the change of pace (literally) and the mix-up of lengths to keep it mentally interesting.  I am also realizing that I really should keep lifting weights all-year round.  Finally, a switch to yogurt/berry smoothies for breakfast and basic oatmeal with pure cane sugar for snacks has me finally seeing some progress in losing body-fat as shown on our Aria scale.

Thus, my new training philosophy will be to have a long/easy, moderate, and short/high-intensity interval workout for swim, bike and run each week. I will add in a really easy 1.5 mile run to and from (3 miles round trip) the gym to get in weight training, too. Interestingly, that easy run to/from the gym creates the extra runs I needed to get in line with the BarryP run program on Slowtwitch that I like to refer others to when determining a run training program.

So what does this training plan look like?



The above training calendar from Sporttracks.mobi shows three identical weeks of the following workouts as a building block focused on an undetermined 70.3 triathlon in a few months.

Monday morning: Swim moderate

Monday lunch: Easy run to/from gym to lift weights (very simple routine takes 20 minutes).

Tuesday morning: Sufferfest Nine Hammers, which I think for me is definitely the best way to make gains on the bike.

Tuesday lunch: Tempo run for 10k. This is a relatively hard run on mostly trashed legs from the Sufferfest video in the morning.

Wednesday morning: Sufferfest Local Hero (or other one hour vid like The Hunted followed by Long Scream) to get a good 90-minute threshold with high intensity intervals workout on the bike.

Wednesday lunch: Swim 2,000 for intensity. This will be the 1,600 ladder. 

Thursday morning: Jog to gym and back (about two miles round trip) for quick lift routine.

Thursday lunch: High intensity running local hills.

Friday morning: Jog to gym and back to lift, again…two days in a row….or take a break.

Friday lunch: Long swim of 3,000 yards straight. I like 3,000yds straight because it sets me up to be fresh and ready to go after a 2,000 yard / 1.2 mile swim during a race.

Saturday morning: Sufferfest ISLAGIATT or Blender for a long bike.

Sunday morning: Very easy 9 miler, building to 13.2 in third week.

This will create a lower volume for me in terms of miles, but I think I will make up for it in terms of overall intensity and consistency. I am excited about this plan, and that will drive my ability to actually do the workouts as scheduled. I might not hit the whole workout as scheduled, but I will definitely at least start it, which eliminates one my main psychological enemies of dropping a workout under the guise of “I need to recover more” or “I’m just too tired right now.”

Some of the expected results:

1. Higher overall power output on the same Sufferfest videos, showing an increase in lactate threshhold.

2. Faster times on the hills interval run segments that I have already established on Strava, improving strength and reminding me what pain really feels like so I can remember that during a race I really do have an extra level to attain.

3. Slightly faster times on the standard lunch 10k route that I have run many many times and usually get faster as spring turns into summer.

4. Weight drops to 180 on March 21, from 185 on March 2. That’s a lot for three weeks, but I think it will happen.

5. Body fast drops from 19.8ish to 18.2 on the Aria scale. Who knows how accurate this scale is, but it is consistent and I can use that to measure objectives. I don’t know if this is really doable or how it relates to the weight loss, but it is something to think about and will drive me to complete the training plan as I chase this goal.

This training plan is probably best for an Olympic distance triathlon rather than 70.3 because of the lack of bike and run volume, but it is what I will be doing to build to more distance at the newly gained and higher threshholds on the bike and run. My swim is what is, and that is where I want to be with it (28:00ish 1.2 mile). I need to get much better on the bike and extend my endurance on the run.

I will be reporting back at the end of each week. The great thing about Sporttracks is that it automatically tracks missed workouts, so I will be showing those graphics, too, in an attempt for accountability.

Sporttracks provides great charts for complete triathlon training loads. Strava and Garmin Connect don’t do this so well, so I am using Sporttracks now.

Below you can see a nice progression ladder in the training load for this three week block:




And below you can see how my performance stat goes from 283 on March 1 to 307 on March 25. That is objective improvement that I can feel good about.


Measuring a decline in swim efficiency using SWOLF from Garmin 910xt

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One of the things I like about the Garmin 910xt is the ability to get some swim data, specifically SWOLF (swim golf, lower is better) and an efficiency rating.  There is some debate about the usefulness about SWOLF, but for the sake of this quick post, let’s say it is at least somewhat useful.

BLUF (bottom line up front): being out of the pool for a month cost me 10% on SWOLF and efficiency, about 90 seconds per mile, and three seconds per lap. — But in that month, I took about 8 minutes off my half-marathon time!

The Details: I was out of the pool for about a month because it was being repaired. I got back into the pool with some quick and easy 1,000 swims last week to get back into the groove for swimming. Today, I did my first 2,000 yard set to see where I’m at….. basically, I’m slow and it hurts much more than it should…but that’s not the point of this post. I decided to look at my SWOLF from today versus one that felt good and I was swimming good. I checked back through my activity history and found a 1,500 swim from April where I was finding my 70.3 race pace for the St. George race. Perfect. Data analysis: Today was SWOLF = 38 and efficiency = 35.  That day back in April SWOLF 36 and efficiency 33. Almost a 10% difference! I suppose the watch isn’t quite accurate enough to really detail that 10% difference, but the number is the average of   up to 80 points of data (one point = one pool length).  Also interesting was the average 1 mile pace: 27:48 vs 26:19 in April…. a full 90 second difference over about 1800 yards, which is 36 laps, so we are talking about three seconds per lap that the pool repairs cost me. And that doesn’t count the affect of being significantly more tired after the swim session and how that would affect me the rest of a 70.3 race if that is what I was doing today. Below is the data, with the April swim on the left and today’s effort on the right. swimcomparison

Two reasons to always do flip-turns in the pool

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I swam this morning for the first time in about 90 days. And in that 90 days, I didn’t do much in the way of exercise after the 70.3 on September 8th. I ran about 15-20 mile per week, but didn’t do any swim or bike or anything else for that matter. What I did do was eat and drink whatever I felt like. Needless to say, I’m a relative physical mess right now as I start back into a winter training season. In short, I got a bit fat and out of shape.

So I swam 500 yards this morning. The goal of the session was really to just get to the pool and jump in and see what happens.

Well, the first thing I noticed is that I’m physically weak.

And that was especially clear when I did the flip turns. It took an additional bit of effort to make the flip, and I realize now just how much of an abdominal workout it is to do flip turns. And that leads to the title of this post.


Here are my two main reasons to do flip turns:

1. The underwater glide creates a hypoxic element to your workout. As you glide after the push, your body has to work with the oxygen it is given and you can’t simply get another breath. I don’t pretend to know the physiology behind it, but I know it results (for me, anyway) in an increased efficiency in my body and its breathing requirements, most of which is most notable when I get to running. This is a major reason why I think increased swim volume can lead to much faster run times (in addition to weight loss and general aerobic improvements).

2. The flip turns are an additional ab workout. Physical fitness depends signficantly on core strength. Any opportunity to increase core strength and endurance should be exploited and maximized. Thus, you should be doing flip turns whenever possible. Incidently, this is the only positive thing I can think of when wondering what could be good about a 25 yard pool.

My point is….do your flip turns. If you don’t know how, learn.  It will help you swim, and you’ll be quite surprised what happens with your run.

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