Winter is here for us in the northern hemisphere and as the mind shifts from racing and race day performance to what do I do now for the next 6 months here are some tips and ideas to keep things going through the winter. Keep the motivation up and come out swimming faster next summer.
First thing to do is take a break, at least a week of NO training but 2 is good. Then a week or 2 of very easy unstructured exercise. Make it social and do something different to the normal routine. Only when you are really missing training and have itchy feet and are desperate to get back to it is it time to return. Some people will struggle with this but it’s better to take it now when the next key races are months away then push hard until Christmas and start the new year tired.
Once your back to training again focus on technique, if you can get a video analysis and have a quality swim coach look over your stroke. Put the work in now to improve the technique so when the real work starts you are already in a better place. Efficiency in swimming is everything especially when the distance increases so having the best technique possible to get the most speed from the effort you put in.
Hit the gym. We’re not talking turning into a body builder but putting some strength and power behind that stroke and being strong right through the core will only benefit your swim. Weights session to work on your shoulders, chest, back and arms as well as core work to ensure you stay straight and stable in the water and maximise every ounce of energy you put in.
Join a club. If you don’t already look to swim with a local triathlon or masters group. Having people to train with and a coach on deck taking you through the session can make it much more enjoyable and get that little bit more out of you. Having feet to follow and people to chase can make you push those reps a little more and grow the confidence and belief that can help lift your swim.
Build the speed. Especially if you are a long distance swimmer that likes to log the miles try a period of building some speed. See if you can set a new 100 metre PB or enter some masters events that are short and sharp. Speed requires efficiency and strength and once you have it you can use your new found speed to take you over your desired race distance even quicker. Short reps at high effort on long recovery to ensure you keep quality high. Aim to keep the stroke efficient and apply more force to the water and not just make more splash. Even the best long course swimmers will still be able to do a fast 50 or 100 metres and the winter is the perfect time to hone this skill.
Most of all keep it fun, you are doing this as a hobby and to improve your life. Work hard when you need to but keep it fun and enjoy the process of improving as a swimmer. Then as the summer and race season starts again enjoy your new found swim speed!
Kit Walker is a European Champion Ironman athlete and triathlon coach. 2017 saw him set a new course record for the Outlaw Triathlon (Full) in Nottingham, UK.
Kit can be found at Kit Walker Triathlon