Pre-race – race day nerves
There are situations that will pop up in a race that no one will be able to anticipate, the simple issues you should practice, so they are second nature when you come across them. For those unusual situations follow some simple guidelines
Swim – loosing your goggles in a swim
Googles can get knocked off in a swim, minimise the possibility by wearing two swim hats, put your own hat on first then your goggles followed by the swim hat supplied by the event organiser. By wearing your goggles under a hat you are very unlikely to loose the goggles completely.
If however you do – take your time, spend a few seconds and look for the goggles, if you don’t find them quickly move on. If you are uncomfortable with swimming without goggles, perhaps close your eyes or one eye when your face is underwater, opening them to site and breath.
Stay calm and make your short-term focus – “getting through the swim”. There is plenty of the race left to still do well.
Bike - Mechanical problems during the bike leg
Again its primarily about preparation, punctures or dropped or even broken chains are very stressful, so make sure you follow some simple guidelines
Bike / Run – dropped drink or get
You have convinced yourself that on the longer rides / runs that dropped fuel, be it a drink or a gel is now going to ruin your race. If you have a strategy in place it will be less of a problem
Many of the issues around drifting off line in open water swimming are caused by how you swim, what is important is that you always enter the water in line with your shoulder. As soon as you start to enter with a wide stroke or crossover the centre line of the body, you will have a tendency to drift offline. Practice and make sure your coach is helping you with the correct hand entry position.
One of the most difficult and important things to do in open water swimming, so what are the tricks to keep on track.
A common problem in triathlons is the dizziness you feel when you exit after a long swim and are running or walking into transition. This is caused by the rush of blood away from the head, when standing after being horizontal in the swim for a long period. Sometimes called benign positional vertigo (BPV). It is short term and will go away, but it never helps you with a fast transition time.
So here are some simple steps that you can try, which may help you reduce the occurrence
Take some time to try out the ideas above until you find the one’s that work for you
One method of checking the preparedness of a bike is an 'M-check'. So called because it forms the shape of an M starting at the front hub, travelling up to the handlebars, down to the bottom bracket, up to the saddle and back down to the rear hub. .
The below list gives a more complete list of areas to examine when performing the M-check.
The use of a kick board can;
Using a pull buoy raises the hip position in the water, this gives extra support.
Extra support allows;
- The swimmer to focus on their head position, breathing and arms.
- Not using your legs with a pull buoy means your upper body gets a work out.
- By positioning the pull buoy between their feet the swimmer will experience the swimming downhill sensation and allows them to relax and improve their balance.
Flipper / Fins
The use of fins have many benefits;
- Improving body position with the addition of speed.
- Lowering stroke rate allows for more time to focus on technique.
- Adding fins adds resistance in the water increasing load on the swimmer.
- Improves ankle flexibility.
Over use of fins can lead to cramp, in the lower calves. If swimmers suffer from this a larger more flexible fin may help.
In my 20 years of coaching swimmers, there has always been the debate on what is the correct hand entry and position throughout the front crawl stroke. I hope with this article we can simplify things and show you how you can use a simple piece of equipment to take away the worry of the hand entry, allowing you to focus on other things.
Let’s break down the issues into smaller steps so we can get a better picture of all the complications.
Coaches too often teach hand entry and catch the same way for all swimmers, but everyone is different and have a different experience in the water. This requires a difference in how and what coaches should be doing in their training
CATCH-it can do this and it’s so simple to use! CATCH-it can be worn throughout your training session and will put your hand in the natural relaxed cupped position and if you have a tendency to flatten the hand will give you the feedback to change and relax.
Wear it for a few sessions to get the feel of the relaxed hand before then trying sessions without it, once you have that feel. Using it now and then the remind yourself how it feels, maybe in the warm up of a training session. Simple!
If its been a while since you last swam, nw is the time to check out your kit and perhaps update it ready for when we start. Here is a reminder of what to check and a list of kit you will need.
Ensure the pair you have been using (and love) are still fit for use. Check the strap for any splits, the eye seals for nicks and replace them if they show signs of damage. You don’t want them letting you down in the middle of a session.
You do have a spare pair, don’t you? So you are prepared for anything? Make sure you adjust them before arriving at the pool, just in case.
For training in the pool, we recommend a short fin (the Speedo BIOFUSE design is our preferred fin). These aren’t the cheapest, but have been proven to last longer than some of the cheaper brands that tend to split quite quickly. Bargains are out there with Speedo advertising these today at 50% off.
If you already have fins, check that they still fit your feet. Fins should fit snugly; if you can fit multiple fingers in the space between fin and skin they are too big! If fins are loose they will cause chaffing and likely painful blisters in the long run. We recommend 1 shoe size up when selecting a fin, as your feet will swell slightly during training.
Look for any splits in the rubber, especially around the back of the fin. Replace them if you find any.
You need a good general-purpose paddle that is easy to fit. There are many paddles out there designed to correct specific swimming issues, which work well, but are of little use for general swim training. We recommend the Finis AGILITY paddle. They can be fitted quickly and come in different sizes to suit your hands. Plus they have the added advantage of reminding you that the hand entry should be flat and not thumb first. Shop around as these vary in price a lot and you will be surprised how cheap you can get them if you look.
Snorkels in swim training allow you to focus on your drills without worrying about breathing. They help to ensure body alignment, stroke efficiency and to build aerobic capacity. The guidelines from Swim England recommend rotation in the lanes so that everyone is breathing away from each other. This will be helped further by the use of a snorkel.
Our recommendation for a good quality, general purpose centre mounted snorkel is the Finis Swimmers Snorkel. Remember that these should be cleaned on a regular basis, which can be easily done by running the snorkel through a wash cycle on the top rack of the dishwasher (without the head bracket). When looked after properly these snorkels will last a long time.
Make sure to check the head band and the mouth piece for any damage regularly. Replace it if you find anything wrong.
Not used by all swimmers, but some find them useful, especially when tumble turning and swimming backstroke. Various designs exist and all need regular checking for damage, especially the ones with a metal strap, to ensure there are no sharp edges that might cut you in use.
It’s always a good idea to use a nose clip strap, that either attaches to the bridge of the goggles or has a longer neck strap. These are used to prevent the nose clip from being lost in use. This is especially useful in open water swimming, where it would be impossible to find the clip if it falls off. Check the strap and replace it if you find any damage. Remember to regularly clean these as they tend to get stored damp in plastic cases, which can mean they are prone to bug growth.
Which nose clip strap do Tri-Trained recommend? Why, our own brand-new Keep – it of course! It’s a very neat and secure nose clip strap at a modest price if you are looking for one.
An important part of your training kit, especially if you have long hair, which I am guessing most of us have from the lock down. Give yours a look over, as they do split after a while. Finding out on the pool deck is a frustration.
Tri-Trained can supply you with a long-life silicone swim hat at a very reasonable price. If you like, you can have your name added.
There isn’t much that can go wrong with a kickboard, other than a good clean if its been standing around in a damp kit bag. If you are looking to buy your first kickboard, we recommend a large, standard one such as the Speedo universal kickboard. It’s a good quality board and will last for years.
If you want to reduce the number of pieces of kit you carry around, then consider a kickboard/pull buoy combination, these are foam boards that can be used for either role.
The same goes for pull buoys. They will last you ages and there is very little that can go wrong. If you are looking for your first, or replacing yours, then make sure you get the size that’s appropriate for you. Adults will generally need the larger size. Children and petite adults should consider the smaller size. Prices vary and there is little difference, other than size and colours, but we recommend the TYR pull for most people.
Also consider the combo kickboard/pull buoys explained in the kickboard section above.
Flip flops / pool shoes
A ‘must have’ if you are planning on doing any open water swimming and a real bonus if you enjoy swimming in an outdoor pool in the colder months. They will protect your feet from sharp objects and will keep you warmer on cold surfaces.
Check for any splits and give them a good clean, if they have been sitting in your bag for a while.
Very useful when open water swimming. Ideal for changing out of your clothing, or wetsuits, outdoors in any weather. Most of them have a waterproof & windproof exterior nylon fabric and a lining that dries you and keeps you warm.
With the recommendation from Swim England to arrive at the pool ‘ready to swim’ and to change on the pool deck these become almost another ‘must have’ item.
Use Catch-it during the warm up to remind you of the correct feel of the stroke. And throughout your training session, to ensure you get that hand entry right.
Think of it as your own personal coach, gently reminding you. Keep it in your swim bag and use it regularly to keep things going well
The development of an annual training plan, aimed at delivering peak performance for a particular competition or a group of competitions is one of our most difficult tasks to get right. It involves taking all of the individual components of an event and spreading the training of each of these components into a long term plan.
Fitness with focus is the aim, but there are many components that contribute to fitness :-
Conditioning an athlete requires focus on :-
So what do we mean by each of these :-
Individual differences – training has to be as specific as it can as all individuals react differently to training
Adaptation – with a change of demand with training, the body will over time adapt to cope with these stresses
Overload – If we are going to improve, we have to do something different, so training must include changes that exceed that normally experienced.
Reversibility – here we must understand that adaptations made from overload will be lost if the training isn’t maintained
Specificity – the changes the body makes to overcome the stresses, will be specific to the type of training the athlete is exposed to. So it is important that training has a specific focus to improve the elements needed in the relevant competition.
Progression – Training has to develop and increase as the individuals capacity for work is increased - do the same, get the same.
Variation – the training should vary over time, training the same all the time will return a diminishing improvement and so training has to include variety, covering relevant components of fitness
Recovery – One of the most important element, this allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair / replace damaged tissue. In preparation for the next phase of training.
Long-term planning – Used to develop a structured and controlled development plan for individuals, allowing them to deliver on their long term goals.
The above makes up the principles of conditioning and are aimed at delivering increased performance. A managed development program will deliver improvements demonstrated in the diagram below. This is called the over-compensation model.
Developing all aspects required to improve fitness at the same time would be crazy. Time and energy would not allow it and the training required for some components, would interfere with the training required for others.
To overcome this we break the training period into separate training periods each of which will have separate goals and training methods. These different periods are designed to maximise the gains in the different components of performance.
This process is called Periodisation and can be characterised by changes in goals, training focus, volume and intensity over time. The time period can vary and is normally talked of as the Macro cycle. This macro cycle is then broken down into several training phases :–
Recovery phase – usually at the end of a cycle, but can also be seen as the start of the next macro cycle. This involves a break from any serious training, usually lasts about 3 – 6 weeks, consists of fun exercise and is focused on both physical and mental recovery
Preparation phase – Low intensity training with high volume, so slow aerobic work, long swims, runs or bike rides at a slow pace. The focus is on physical conditioning, technique and practicing scenarios. Involves aerobic endurance, strength, technical and mental skills training. This forms the basis of all other training.
Pre-competition phase – Here there is an increase in intensity, with a decrease in volume. Normally a 4 – 8 week period with some possible pre-season competition. Can include some tactical and more specific technical and mental training. The rate of change in this period is dependent very much on how individuals respond to changes in intensity and therefore can tend to be more specific.
Competition phase – This phase sees a further increase in intensity, with a subsequent reduction in volume. The training intensity is more specific to the selected events. Some increased focus is also given to nutrition, recovery, warm-up and cool down routines for competitions.
What are nose clips?
A small device, designed to keep your nose closed, whilst swimming. Made from various materials, such as metal, plastics and silicon or rubber. When placed on the nose they hold the nostrils closed. These will prevent breathing through the nose.
Why use a nose clip
Commonly used to help all levels of swimmers, some swimmers can have allergic reactions or irritations after swimming. Allegies to the chemicals used in some pools and bacteria of fungus in open water venues. A nose clip can help prevent these reactions.
Also useful when learning to swim, when water entering the nose is a frequent occurance, preventing the early swimmer gaining confidence in the water.
Also useful when kayaking, rafting or surfing and often used with a nose clip strap to prevent the loss of the nose clip.
What to look for in a nose clip