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How to Measure Your Swim Threshold in Triathlon Training

Most technically savvy triathletes are familiar with terms like “functional threshold power” on the bike or “lactate threshold for their run.” These are measurements of your pace based on your sustained threshold ability for a given amount of time; usually one hour. In other words, what is the maximum pace you can hold for an all out one-hour effort? However, few triathletes know their functional threshold in the swim or even know how to obtain it. Knowing your threshold ability in all disciplines is essential. In essence, there are two types of triathlon training: aerobic and anaerobic. Any kind of effortful training below your threshold is aerobic. Anything above is anaerobic. Now in actuality, triathlon training zones are much more…
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Why Stroke Rate Matters to Your Triathlon Swim – Part 2

In the last blog, we looked at the importance of not only knowing and maximizing the cadence rates of your bike and run but also that of your swim. In this blog, we’ll look at how to calculate your strokes per minute (SPM) and whether to slow down or speed up your rates to be as efficient and productive as possible. Slowing Down and Speeding Up First of all, you should discover for yourself what your actual SPM are. The easiest way to do this is to use Swim Smooth’s calculator and measure how long it takes you to perform 10 strokes. Follow this link to find the calculator and the pictured graph below. In fact, I will be referencing…
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Why Stroke Rate Matters to Your Triathlon Swim – Part 1

Triathletes like to talk a lot about bike and run cadence. We’re always striving to hit our bike cadence somewhere in the 80 to 100 RPMs range and we’re constantly trying to elevate those running strides per minute up to that magic 180 number. And yet, (at least in my experience) we all seem to curiously leave swim stroke rate out of the conversation. This is an interesting blunder for reasons difficult to understand. After all, if we know that an ideal range of RPMs or strides per minute makes us better bikers and runners, then it would only stand to reason that the same principle applies to swimming. And it does. Much like a vehicle engine, if we’re putting…
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3 Key Points to Remember About Triathlon Swim Technique

I often relate swimming to the sport of tennis. To be truly great at tennis, it requires an elegant combination of incredible fitness and superior technique. However, one of these elements has much more value than the other. Guess which one? I’ll describe a tennis analogy to help explain why technique takes precedence. Say I had a one-on-one match with John McEnroe later today. If the match were to be decided by the more physically fit competitor, I would win hands down. I could run up and down the court all over bad boy McEnroe. He’s 57 years old, retired, and out of shape. I, on the other hand, am in my prime. But who do you think is going…
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The Top 3 Points to Consider in Your Triathlon Race Strategy: Swim Strategy

Part 2 in a 3-part series. In the first entry of this blog series, we introduced the topic of pacing. While pacing, especially on the bike and run in long course triathlon, is hugely important, its application is minimized if your day is already over in the swim. You need a solid swim strategy to complement your overall triathlon race performance. While the swim is always the shortest portion of a triathlon, its importance is well warranted. You can’t win in the swim alone, but you can certainly lose in it. How you train for and execute in the swim leg can affect the rest of your race. By utilizing the best swim strategy for YOU, exiting the lake ramp…
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The Triathlon Swim: 3 Key Insights Part 3 – Drafting

Our previous discussions of the three key insights within the triathlon swim established an understanding of how and why start position and sighting in an open water race are both influential to your overall triathlon swim success. While sighting is an especially invaluable skill, it (sometimes) loses its necessity once you’re drafting behind a competent swimmer. And that’s only the beginning of the advantages. Yes, indeed, the benefits of drafting are substantial. Drafting Ever been on a group ride with a litter of road cyclists and led the pack? What happens when you fall into the middle of the group? Suddenly you’re coasting, yet the pace hasn’t dropped. Until you’ve experienced group drafting on the bike for yourself, you might…
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The Triathlon Swim: 3 Key Insights Part 2 – Sighting

Yesterday we initiated a conversation on the three key insights for the triathlon swim by discussing the importance of the start position. Today we’re moving on to an even greater insight – sighting. Sighting What will often separate one who has trained for the pool from one who has trained for the triathlon swim is the ability to ascertain the shortest distance between two points. Hours upon hours of obtaining proper technique and superior swim endurance are all reduced to nothing if you don’t know how to lift your head out of the water to “sight” a buoy. A focus on swimming faster with little concentration on direction is a silly gamble to roll the dice on for a few…
TriDOt_2016_0502_Blog

The Triathlon Swim: 3 Key Insights Part 1 – Start Position

“In triathlon, you can’t win in the swim by itself … but you can certainly lose in it.” Its been said before and whoever coined the phrase was on point. The triathlon swim may be proportionally the shortest leg of the race (especially in long course triathlon), but that in no way discounts its importance. Your open water start to the challenge ahead can either be a catalyst to a fantastic day, or a saboteur robbing you of everything you’ve worked for before it hardly even begins. For this reason, no triathlete should take the swim lightly. Swim training is important and so are the undeniable factors present in open water triathlon swims. Today we begin a series dedicated to…
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When Am I Ready for an IRONMAN?

Triathletes commonly ask how long is required to fully prepare for an IRONMAN race. My answer is simple: Everyone’s unique, so there’s no one answer. But everybody’s plan should ideally include both a developmental phase and race preparation phase. The developmental phase time will vary widely based on several factors including an athlete’s age, body composition, overall fitness, and time within the sport. It focuses on building speed, power, and efficiency to ensure the athlete has adequate fitness and skill in each discipline to take on the rigors of training for and racing in an IRONMAN. In addition to fitness, the athlete will need to achieve certain physiological adaptations in the developmental phase. These can include changes such as body composition, muscular and…
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Go Open or Long in Triathlon Swim Training

I understand the comfort of your indoor 25 yard short course pool.  Your times are familiar.  Compared to what I’m about to talk about, they’re fast.  And that short way to the other side is the oh so forgiving wall. Now if you’re a Master’s swimmer who is only going to compete at meets in a short course pool for the rest of your life … ignore this post.  However, if you’re a triathlete (and if you’re on this site more than likely you are), then you might want to hear me out. You need to be open water swimming or swimming in a long course pool, preferably 50 meters.  Here’s why: 1.    Better Stamina Building Whether you’re a professional at flip-turns or…

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