Training alone vs. group training

Posted Ella Villas Articles

Many of our subscribers and customers train either solo or in small groups.

Some swim in masters groups (18 and over coached workouts).

And we get questions and observations around the different forms of training for triathlons regularly.

Which is better? Training solo, training with a group, or taking on a masters swim class?

Let’s take a look:

Solo training has many advantages. You can change things up whenever you’d like.

You can practice the things specific to what you need, such as a drill or part of your stroke.

You can try out fins, snorkels, Tempo Trainers, do some long slow swimming, work in vertical kicking in between sets, and add in sprints when you need them.

On the flip side, solo training can be tough! It’s just you an the water, and your thoughts.

Sometimes motivation can wane. It’s tempting to get out early and hit the showers.

It’s tempting to wear that pull buoy throughout your workout to make things easier.

You aren’t getting any instant feedback from a coach, and there’s no one to talk to between sets.

With group training, you get the motivation of fellow athletes. You can compare notes on how you’re feeling, how well you did on that last 200m, what you’re going to have for dinner, etc.

If you’re in a masters group, you get the benefit of having someone on deck watching over you. Harder to cheat or skip or get out early, even if that coach is the most laid back person on the planet!

But with group training, you are going to be going with everyone else’s program. If they all want to go fast, you go fast. If everyone is working on kicking, you work on kicking- like it or not.

And then there’s the problem of keeping up, or competing with your friends or teammates. This could mean getting away from nice, effective, smooth swim technique.

So what’s ideal?

We recommend mixing things up. If you can train solo and maintain your motivation and excitement about swimming, more power to you! Keep it up, and we’d love to have you in our Tri Swim Success training group.

Even though triathletes often complain that masters swim programs are focused on the competitive swimmer, and not the triathlete, it’s a great idea to join a local program and jump in one of the slower lanes at first.

And you may meet some fellow like-minded triathletes in the process!

So roughly, I would like to see triathletes that are in the beginner-intermediate range of swimming adopt a weekly training schedule something like this:

2 solo swims in a pool
1 group or masters swim session
1 open water session (ALWAYS with a buddy or group!)

If it’s not open water season for you, just jump in a hot tub for your open water training. 😉

And all of this must come with the caveat that, you are going to be befriending the water in the process- group or solo training, open water or pool (or tub), the water becomes your friend as you move forward in your training and learning.

Have fun with it, and let us know what you think about these training ideas!