View Full Version : PT-Triathletes & Seasonal Swimmers: How to plan the “more important” Swim Season

August 14th, 2007, 12:01 PM
I did my first sprint tri this summer and darn it, I am hooked. Something about getting to spend more time outdoors during the nice weather and not spending an extra 45 minutes a day driving to and from workouts is a plus. But I am definitely a swimmer first.
So, if I really wanted to be a serious triathlete, the advice for the “off-season” would be to concentrate on my base building and weak links – running (averaging 11 min miles! ICK!) and cycling (not as bad as the running but still needs quite a bit of work).
But I am a swimmer, who will now be doing triathlons in the “off-season” for fun and a wish to be mildly competetive in the sprints. So how do I work my swim season so as not to loose the precious gains I’ve made in running and cycling but really putting forth the concentrated effort to do well at swimming? Not only that but I’ve never considered myself a distance swimmer before although I have always been fond of “middle distance” 200s. That’s nothing compared to a ½ mile minimum. Yes, I won’t be the most stellar swimmer this way either but I am quite happy with placing in the top half of my age group with an occasional shot at placing in a weakly contested event. Add to the pile I don’t have much time between finishing grad school this winter, working more than full time, and an icky major metro area commute. A total of 6-8 hours a week will be reserved for a few special “to the max” occasions. I can probably manage 4 hours on a consistent basis without killing myself but maybe only 3 in really awful weeks.
I’m confused on how to balance the sports while putting a major emphasis on swimming. Also, how to taper with throwing other stuff into the mix? Back off everything else two weeks out? Three weeks? I suppose I’ll be able to pick only one taper meet and make it count. And what events should I try this winter? Normally I would mix things up with a whole bunch of strokes, mainly breaststroke, the 200 free, and maybe a 400m free for fun. I don’t know if I will be able to put enough time in the pool to do longer distances but feel an urge to do the one hour swim in January (go NEM!), an 800m free in December, and a 1650y in March (something I don’t think I’ve EVER done in my lifelong swimming career except in practice).
I hope maybe others can discuss their own seasonal issues here and we can figure out some plans that work for us as there are no books I’ve found which cater to periodizing the year with multiple sport seasons. (for me, swimming Fall/Winter and triathlon in the spring/summer)

Kevin in MD
August 14th, 2007, 02:16 PM
With only 4 hours per week, don't sweat the training mix too much just keep moving.

For those triathletes who rotate sports, your focus sport would be 4 or 5 workouts per week, the other two maintenance sports you do twice per week.

In your own case you you have the added restriction of 4 days per week and if I read correctly, New England weather to deal with.

It depends on when your A race meets are. Here in Maryland SCY meets start in october. But for the moment I'll assume that February is your big meet.

With that in mind, I think in the fall a balanced schedule would be good, riding outdoors until the weather won't allow it. You can also get in a fall half marathon for the run exposure.

Come December you'd probably be heading inside fore a swim focus block. By this tie it is getting pretty cold to ride outside although running is still OK. So from December to March or so swimming 4 times per week with running on a maintenance schedule of 1 or 2 times per week. With limited time availability, assuming you are healthy, you'd want to emphasize running over biking due to the bigger aerobic benefit per minute of running, that's why 2 runs and no biking. The weather also plays a part in it.

Round about March you can start running a bit more and cut back on the swimming, then when the warm weather comes emphasize biking for a while before you do a balanced schedule through the summer.

As for tapers, with only 4 hours of training per week I don't see any tapers really being necessary. A little fine tuning of your training mix and a couple of days easy and you should swim well.

Don't sweat changing the swim events you train for. A good 200 swimmer will spank just about every triathlete in the water anyway.

August 14th, 2007, 02:47 PM
Yeah, when I taper, its more in terms off adding more sprint and slightly longer rest invervals than actual less time in the water. I switch from trying to get a mix of all levels to either easy and/or technique or race pace. The yardage difference is minimal.

August 15th, 2007, 02:52 PM
I did my first sprint tri this summer and darn it, I am hooked.

I don't have any advice but I had to tell you that I did my first tri this weekend (a sprint) too and I liked it. I am far from a runner but do spinning once a week. I will be out for wrist surgery so my next tri will be in March. I'll be working on the run over the "winter".

Good luck.