We’ll be publishing weekly here at NWT, with the long term goal of publishing daily–start small and finish strong!
January is nearly over and soon we will all be in the middle of our A Race prep. We are seeing folks get back into a solid routine, and slowly bring back the consistency of their training. While it’s my belief the training never ends and we should aim to be consistent all year (another post, another day), it is good to see people making the commitment to get back on a schedule.
Long distance training should be taken very seriously, especially the full distance. For some reason, it seems many of us do not enjoy swimming, and even when we do get in the water, some feel 1-2k is what it takes. It is understandable how some of us may feel this way: the swim portion of an IM race is a mere 2.4 miles out of 140.6….why spend time in the pool?!
First and foremost, we are training for a triathlon….that is swim, bike and run! Further, what we do in the pool today has a direct effect on the amount of bike fitness we will be able to access on race day. We’ll never get 100% of what we can hold on the bike. However, one way to increase the amount of bike fitness we will be able to access is to become more swim fit. So, suppose swimming 15k a week gets us out of the water 3-5 minutes faster, it could also net us 10 minutes on the bike as well. To put it simply, in triathlon swim fitness = increased bike fitness.
Swimming at IM is unlike any other mass start–we are swimming with 2500 “type A” people who have proven time and time again they are clueless on pace. What that means is we have A LOT of people swimming as hard as they can for 300 yards or so. To contend with that mess we better be swim fit or we could find ourselves using all our energy just to stay alive–and that is not a joke. I’ve heard stories of people who trained for months only to spend the first 40 minutes of the race hanging onto a kayak because they were literally scared of drowning and spent too much energy keeping their head above water. I’m talking extremely fit folks (on the bike and run) that took 1:45 to get out of Mirror Lake…..only to DNF because their plan was to play catch up on their way to Kona.
So, what do we do?
Get in the pool and swim–WE made the call to sign up for Ironman–no one forced us to. It is OUR responsibility to get in the pool and swim, because we are putting our life and other lives on the line! A mass swim start should not be taken lightly. Showing up with only having done 3-6k a week is definitely asking for trouble.
Here are some tips on how to make the time in the pool more enjoyable:
- Join a Master’s group
- Start a swim game/Challenge with friends. I did this with EC and averaged over 20k for 2 weeks. It worked so well, EC is setting it up again in February.
- Just show up! The hardest part is getting there. Just show up 3 days a week, and get it done!-Realize that all we have to do is swim 12k a week to be doing more work than 90% of the field–take comfort in that!
As we approach the main prep of our A race, remember that the sport starts with a swim and our whole day will be set up on the amount of swim fitness we brought to the race. What we do from today forward is our choice.