Triathlon Swim Season Planning

If you are new to the sport of triathlon starting out can be quite daunting.  Things such as how do I go about building towards the distance that I am about to swim, or how do I do that distance a little faster become big questions.  For the average beginner the entire season is built up to a single race.

For those of us who are seasoned triathletes and do multiple triathlons over the course of the year, the question becomes how do I make sure that I am in the best shape possible for my most important race, how do I make sure I am not over fatigued going into the lesser important races and what do I do in my early season work to make sure that all these pieces of the puzzle fit together.

The answer, like in all walks of life, is planning.  In these cases, season planning (or periodization for the exercise physiology types).

I feel that each triathlon season (regardless of its length) will have seven specific periods of focus.  These periods may repeat depending on your desired outcomes. Remember that these are specific to swimming, and that you will need to coordinate your desired training outcomes for the other two sports (cycling and running) with your coach.  As these blog articles are written I will also link them below.

Over the next few blogs I would like to break down the thought processes involved in season planning.  This particular blog will go through the individual phases and focuses of each while each subsequent blog in this series will delve a little deeper into each phase of your season.  The final blog will talk about the importance of resting into your lower priority races, and differentiating those rests from your rest into your culminating race.

Physiologists feel that physiological changes can be seen in as little as 4 weeks, so your shortest block of training can be in that time frame.  This time may change depending on your age, your sport age (ie. How long you have been competing or practicing and your starting fitness levels.

As we age it takes longer to see adaption in a particular area as well more work to maintain that adaptation.   More novice triathletes may see huge gains in their swimming without any major training due in part to changes in technique and people whose starting fitness levels are quite low will see positive gains just because they have become more active.

Each period of focus should build upon the previous block of work’s training results.  What I mean by that is maybe during your General Fitness block you tirelessly (probably the wrong word in this case) worked on high elbow recovery and rolling relaxed shoulders.  You have gone from a 600-metre workout to a 1200 metre workout. During your next block of work (Power Phase) you are trying to increase your efficiency (or your speed) while maintaining that high elbow, relaxed recovery.  The plan may not be to increase your overall volumes but to do your work portions of the practice at a faster velocity.

Making sure that one portion of your season dovetails into the next is of the utmost importance.  It is not fun to spend 6 weeks working on something only to let it grow stagnant or forget about it during your next block of work.

Regardless of where you are in your journey focused planning, focused practices and honest effort will result in seeing great gains in the swim portion of your races.

Yours in Swimming,

KURT