swim practice

15 triathlon race tips for 2015

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2015 is here to stay and now is the time to start really focusing on your swim.

The holidays are over, gyms are offering savings on memberships, your speedo might be a little snug around the waist, and race season is only a few months off–I know- I am wondering where the time went as well. Consequently, the time to invest into your swim split is now and will pay off with huge dividends when race day dawns not only physically but also psychologically.

When asked what scares athletes (especially beginners) the most about triathlons, it is the swim and when prompted to explain what they are scared about, they usually say, “finishing.” Preparation, therefore, is key,

Here are 15 triathlon race tips for 2015 you can focus on to make it the “Year of the Fish.”

  1. Be consistent: If you do not come from a swimming background, then one of the most vital ways to improve your swim is to get into the pool more often. Creating a routine of going to pool on set days will also help you later on in the year when volume begins to increase.
  2. Time Trial: Doing a monthly or bi monthly time trial will make it easier to track progress. Do one this week to set a base line and then do on each training cycle (usually every 3 to 4 weeks). I find that 1000 meters or yards is a good distance.
  3. Swim analysis: Videotaping your swim stroke with either a GoPro or iPhone with a waterproof case like the lifeproof then having it analyzed by a professional will help you figure out your weaknesses and which drills to do.
  4. “Drill, baby, drill:” Drills are not glamorous but they help you get a better feel for the water and more importantly how your body is moving in the water. 
  5. Embrace your weakness: Like number 3 and 4, you need to address your weaknesses to turn them into strengths. Maybe you are a sprinter but die after 200m, so you need to focus on endurance sets. Or maybe you can cruise for hours on end at the same pace but have no upper gear, so need to do some sprints. Either way you need to address those with specific training. 
  6. Intensity: You are not going to get faster through drills alone, but need intervals, at and above race pace. You will not only burn more calories, but you are getting the most out of your pool time. 
  7. Join a team: A swim community like the Tri Swim Pro Team or a Masters team will help motivate you, push your speed, and hold you accountable. A team also makes swimming more fun.” 
  8. Use toys wisely and sparingly: Pool toys can help energize your swim and if they make swimming more enjoyable, definitely use them, but do not become reliant upon them and allow them to hide flaws in your stroke. Keep in mind that come race day, you will not be able to use them. 
  9. Practice open water: Get to the open water as much as possible to help you become more comfortable with not seeing the bottom of the pool and dealing with imperfect conditions like currents. 
  10. Visualization: since you cannot always get to the ocean or lake to swim (or its just too cold, visualization can help step you through your fears and how to deal with them. 
  11. New gear: investing in a new swim watch, wetsuit, or goggles can reinvigorate your motivation. 
  12. Sign up for a race: there is nothing more motivating than putting a deadline on when you have to be ready by. 
  13. Dry land strength: Hitting the gym will help you look faster but also improve any imbalances, flexibility, and mobility so that when heavy training comes, your body will be prepared. 
  14. Practice those flip turns: if you want to get faster, practicing your flip turns can shave off a chunk of time from your next TT. 10 turns, where you start from the middle of the pool and sprint to the end, flip turn, and push off, at the end of each workout can do wonders. 
  15. Nutrition: A better workout stems from better fuel. Start by adding in more vegetables, lean meats, fish, and healthy fats from avocado, coconuts, and chia seeds. By focusing on what you can have, you forget about what you can’t.