“There was too much writing for this workout.” Peter Schmidt
20 years ago, I worked for a short time with a swimming instructor who wrote a novel on the board for almost every workout. There’s a lot of complexity – a lot of “new and exciting” exercises and setups with so many variables that he needs a Cadillac-sized whiteboard to jot them all down.[Text Wrapping Break] After those workouts, I remember thinking “that swim wasn’t a swim”.
Canadian triathlon head coach Marc-Antoine Christin believes swimming training should be simple enough to not need to be written on a board, and I’ve heard Joel Filliol say the same. You don’t need a whiteboard to remember, 40 x 100 @ 1:20.
“Boring training makes a great athlete” or “Variety is the spice of a weak soul” are two phrases you’ll often hear me say when you’re standing in front of an athlete. Honestly, I don’t know where I first heard it. (That’s what happens when you get older.) I think it could be two-time Ironman World Champion Chris McCormack.
When instructors aren’t repeating workouts and taking pride in writing “brand new” classes every time you come to the pool, I’m sure they don’t remember what most of us are doing out there – trying to get faster. When you show up on the track and watch training, no one thinks “oh damn – 10 x 400 again” or “what? 5 1kms – we did it 3 weeks ago!”
But swimming has a culture where every training session needs to be fresh and shiny. This is not correct. Repetitive or progressive training gives the athlete the opportunity to master the full range of movements. This helps them strategize and helps build confidence. It gives swimmers something to shoot at. You know what you did last time – now let’s see what you can do this time.
So, when I say boring workouts, I’m really talking about easy workouts. When the gun goes off, you’ll have 750 to 3,800 m of water in front of you, and that’s what your swimming training should be for you.
If you’re like most people, and have an hour of swimming, simple, basic main training sets can give you a better return on training time than complex instructions that require you to constantly calculate vacation time, while at the same time Try to figure out what your batting and effort should be. “KISS” – keep it simple (you know the last sentence).
This is an easy 8-week progression where you can do a basic 2,000-meter main setup for one semi-distance run (1,900 meters) per week. Here you can see that the sessions are not exactly the same, there are obvious evolutions, but they don’t get any simpler. Trust me, this is a valid improvement.
For all distances, work hard for the race. You can easily adjust these sets to reflect health and skill levels, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with mixing some pulls/paddles.
You can also do simple cardio every two to three weeks for some adaptation.
After 8 to 10 weeks, start tapering and start racing after two weeks.
|week 1||20 x 50 @ 10”
10 x 100 @ 15”
|week 2||20 x 100 @ 15”|
|week 3||10 x 100 @ 10”
5 x 200 @ 20”
|week 4||10 x 200 @ 15”|
|Week 5||6 x 200 @ 15”
2 x 400 @ 30”
|Week 6||5 x 400 @ 20”|
|Week 7||4 x 500 @ 30”|
|week 8||2 x 1,000 @ 1′|
Bottom line: boring training makes great athletes, but the truth is that “boring” training shouldn’t actually be boring. Not if your goal is to be a better swimmer and a better athlete. Embrace simplicity and work from the ground up. Learn these basics, then repeat them often with intent and purpose. This will make the pants “shiny and new” every time.
Clint Lien is the head coach of the Mercury Rising Triathlon www.mercuryrisingtriathlon.com and Assistant NPC Instructor for Canadian Triathlons.