Archive for the ‘Triathlon Training’ Category

Getting in the Groove - Photo by Sian Proctor

Getting in the Groove – Photo by Sian Proctor


I have been an open water swimmer for about 5 years and have completed open water swims of varying lengths from 800 meters to over 6 miles.  I am not a professional by any means but I have had enough time and experience to become comfortable with the open water environment and offer some advice to others.  My experience has been primarily in lake waters since that is what I have access to so my advice will not include considerations unique to ocean swimming (of which there are plenty!). If you are a triathlete getting ready for your first race and it involves an OWS, or if you doing your first OWS as a stand-alone event, I recommend you consider the following things:

1. Wetsuit

  • Use one if allowed.
  • Get one that fits.
  • Rent or buy a used one to save money.
  • Practice in the open water with your wetsuit prior to your event.
  • Lube up around your neck, shoulders (if sleeveless suit), and wrists (Body glide or other).
  • Let it hang inside out to dry and store on a hanger when dry.

2. Goggles

  • Get ones that fit and don’t fog up.
  • Consider smoke color for sun protection.
  • Have several pairs the day of the race.
  • Practice adjusting them while treading in water over your head.
  • NEVER touch the lenses with your fingers.
  • Wipe them out with your tongue, then wet in water to clean.
  • To fit them at the store, stick them to your face without the strap. If they don’t fall off for about 10 seconds, they fit.

3. Sea Sickness

  • Earplugs help with motion sickness
  • Training a lot in open water helps you get over mild sea sickness

4. Breathing

  • Bilateral (both sides) will help you maintain a straight course
  • Waves and other swimmers being close may force you to breathe on one side
  • If water is wavy, time your breaths to avoid sucking in water

5. Sighting

  • Get a feel for the course (overview map) prior to the swim including any obstacles or danger areas.
  • Pick something large that is father away but in line with the buoy to site from
  • Develop a rhythm that seems to work…5 strokes, sight or 10 strokes, sight
  • Practice sighting in the pool by doing “head-up freestyle” drill for 50 – 100 m
  • Learn to sight quickly as part of your stroke and avoid stopping and going vertical
  • You can follow someone else if they are on a good line (and you can even draft)

6. Training

  • Train with longer pool sets prior to your race (1000 m or 1500 m depending on your race distance).
  • Train in open water if possible at least 3 – 4 times (or more) prior to your event. Never swim alone unless you are in an area with lifeguards present.

7. Swim Time

  • Swimming in open water always takes longer than the same distance in a pool.

8. Incidental Contact/Race Etiquette

  • Contact will occur with many people in the water. It is unavoidable.
  • It is the passing swimmers responsibility to go around the swimmer in front. If someone bumps you from behind, stay your course. They need to figure out how to go around you.
  • If you stop, don’t stop right at a buoy or you will get run over. Stop and look around you quickly to be sure you are not directly in someone’s way.

10. Swim Your Race

  • When race day comes, don’t worry about anyone else.
  • Do your warm-up and be ready when the starting horn sounds.
  • Be sure you know where to start, where to swim, and where to finish.
  • The first few minutes are a adrenaline rush so give yourself a chance to calm down and relax.
  • Find your space to swim where you can be comfortable but be aware of those around you and of the route you are swimming.
  • If you panic, just stop, relax and breathe.
  • If you need to rest, you can do so on a kayak as long as you do not make forward progress.
  • Enjoy the event and all the training and hard work you have put into swimming!

Read Full Post »

Distance: 5.6 miles
Time: 60 minutes

My goal was to run for 60 minutes without stopping today, but I made it 40. Well, that is better than past attempts. I walked/ran the next 20 and still did 5.6 miles in 60 minutes. That time puts me ahead of the 2.5 hour pace for 13.1 miles. So, I just need to run for 40 and walk for 20 then run for 40 and walk for 20 then run for 20 and walk for 10 and I’ll be done! Maybe I’ll try that next week and see how I do.

Read Full Post »

Distance = 4.4 miles
Time=48 minutes

What better way to spend a glorious Veteran’s Day than running along the side of a two lane country road in western North Carolina? My intent this morning was to run from mom’s house to the local coffee shop in Black Mountain (the Dripolater!) and she would drive down around an hour later (with my step-father) to meet me there. The morning was crisp and cool at around 38 degrees and the steep downhill start gave me a chance to warm up slowly. Very quickly, though, I began to jog as the grade just begged for quickly moving feet. By the time I reached the bottom of the .7 mile hill, I was warmed up and ready to continue.

Not sure if the cool weather invigorated me or if I had recovered well from my long run a few days before, but I felt fantastic! I ran and ran and kept running and running even up a couple of long hills (which I NEVER do). I actually felt great and even my bum hamstring did not bother me.

I ran for about 32 minutes straight (which is GREAT for me) then the last hill into town got me. I finally started walking then ran/walked the rest of the way to finish in about 48 minutes. Coffee and a snack never tasted so good!

Read Full Post »

Distance: 8.8 miles
Time: 1hr, 41 min
Location: Black Mountain, North Carolina!

I am visiting my mom this week and also keeping up with my running schedule for the Dec. 14th half-marathon in Scottsdale. She lives on top of a mountain, basically, so there are lots of hills around the house to walk up and down. A long run was on tap for this week, though, and was not in the cards prior to my departure on Friday. So,  settled for walking up and down terminal 3 until my flight departed (about a mile) and postponing my long run until today.

Last week I completed 7.7 miles running laps around Lifetime Fitness. Running loops does not really bother me. In fact, counting and reminding myself what lap I am am gives me something to think about and keep my brain occupied. So, in looking for a location near mom’s house that was a) flat (hard to find in the hills of North Carolina and b) a known distance, I selected the .55 mile path around a nearby lake.

Wanting to increase my distance from last week, I chose to run 16 laps or 8.8 miles. And, wanting to really, really take my time getting into running longer distances, I opted for the mostly walk and partly run strategy. I walked the first lap (7 minutes) and ran the second (5 minutes). Then, on each of the subequent 14 laps, I walked the first 2/3 lap and ran the last 1/3 which had a slight downhill. For most of the laps, I was able to maintain about a 12 minute (or a little faster) per mile pace ending with a total time of one hour, 41 minutes.

This time is right on the money to allow completion of the half-marathon in 2.5 hours. Unfortunately, that means no stopping for water or other breaks. But, most of the distance today was walking so I felt pretty good about the overall time. I feel so much better at the end when I mostly walk. My joints don’t hurt and my bum hamstring is not as painful. If I can just overcome the guilt of not actually “running” the distance then I think in terms of time I will be fine.

Read Full Post »

Run 4 miles, 44:44 then bike commute to work 17.5 miles (got a ride home)

Post election day is here. What a better way to celebrate than with a good workout? Decided to run BEFORE riding today as I am training for a half marathon on December. Switched off the Tucson half and am now going for the Scottsdale Fiesta Bowl half. The $ started adding up for Tucson and logistical strain so Scottsdale is cheaper and less hassle.

Run/walk is working well for me right now. Today I ran 2 miles straight then ran/walked the next two. Overall time is still around 11 minute mile which will easily get me in under 2.5 hours for the half. I find that the running is getting easier though dropping about 10 pounds would make it more so. Not sure if that will happen until I start training again for the next triathlon on April.

Bike ride after the run was very difficult probably because my training has slacked off a bit in the last few weeks. Felt very tired on the ride and took me longer than usual to get to work. I managed to get a ride home which was nice even though riding would have been a better workout.

Read Full Post »

Result: 7.7 miles in 1 hr 24 min

My goal today was 7.7 miles in 1hr 28 minutes and I beat that by 4 minutes with my awkward run/walk style. Not being able to run the whole way really bugs me, but I am able to set a pretty good pace, still, given the distance. My goal for the half in December is to finish in no more than 2.5 hours. So far, I am on track for doing that. However, my miles got slower and slower today so I definitely need to factor in fatigue and distance and be realistic about my time.

Read Full Post »

3 miles – run/walk – about 40 minutes although I did not take my watch/heart rate monitor

Took two days off from exercise (and got a fantastic massage!) but time to get back to work. Next event is a half-marathon run in Tucson on December 7. Given that my longest distance of late is 6.5 miles, I need to get moving (hahhaha) and up my distance so I can feel pretty good for the race.

Yesterday’s massage worked a lot of kinks out of my tight hamstring, so I felt better when I ran/walked three miles today. Friday I will bump my mileage up to 8 miles so we’ll see how things go then.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »