Lightbulb moment (swim training for the triathlon)

When I started teaching, and people asked me why I wanted to be a teacher, I’d talk about wanting to see “lightbulbs come on” in the minds of people I was helping (among other reasons).

Kate, our swimming coach, is great at spotting something, pointing it out, and explaining what to do about it it in a way that makes you think “Ah!” immediately. Lightbulbs come on in your head. Tonight, she did just this when we were discussing the triathlon I’m doing in September.

I entered this triathlon ages ago. I entered it just because it’s the one that I did a few years ago, in between having my 2nd and 3rd child, just to see if I could still get round one. I entered it again this year, just to have something to aim for. I hoped it would get me to start running again.

Then, J entered me for a marathon, and the triathlon kind of disappeared from my mind (and from my list of priorities). It only re-surfaced last week, when I spoke to the fitness instructor at the Sportspark about my training (in general), and I admited I haven’t even been out on my bike yet (other than commuting), and the race itself is only a few weeks away!

(I’ve actually now decided, after talking to him about it, not to worry too much about the bike. It’s only 20K. It’s in my legs somewhere, as I do cycle a lot, usually towing a trailer, and all I have to do is get through about 40 minutes of riding, all being well. Although, having said that, I do need to at least get my road bike out of the garage at one point, and check it’s still roadworthy….)

Anyway, tonight we were talking about kick. I took the opportunity to ask Kate about the triathlon swim (and how to kick for it).

Last time I did this triathlon, I did an embarassingly slow swim. It was slower that I’d usually swim in a warm up. I think I was worrying so much about the other stuff, and I knew the swim was the “easy” bit for me, so I just took it a bit too easy. J said it looked like I got in and kind of forgot to swim. Not forgot HOW to swim, just forgot TO swim.

I asked Kate if I should kick (or whether I should leave my legs rested for the rest of the triathlon). She nodded vigorously. Yes! Kick! Definitely!

She said to kick at about 50% for the first 200m, then basically at full pelt for the final 200m. I did 4 sets of 50m kick (25m at 50% 25m at full pelt) to try it out. Really? Do that for 200m? Yes! Apparently…

She said that you have to at least aim to do it at that pace. It might be (it will probably be) that I’ll slow down a bit. But I have to at least aim to be that fast. And then my arms will follow. It made sense. She explained it much better at the time, which is why it felt so “lightbulby”. But that’s definitely the way I’m going to swim it now.

Next week, she’s going to time me for a 400m swim, after a 5 minute warm up, just as I’ll do in the race. It’ll give us a starting point, and she said she’ll set me some work from there. Am now feeling really excited about it.

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3 thoughts on “Lightbulb moment (swim training for the triathlon)

  1. I swam for a few years in middle school and high school. I think my first tri was in 2009- I picked an Olympic event because I didn’t have an issue with swimming. Well, I’d never done any open water swimming and let me tell you- I got in the water and froze. Slowest swim time ever! You’re going to have s great swim this time around just from having the previous experience under your belt alone! Can’t wait to hear about how it goes!

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    • ah thanks πŸ™‚ I used to do triathlons years ago. It’s actually how/why I started running in the first place! But that was when I was younger and had no kids, so I had lots of time to train. The last one I did (a few years ago) was just to see if I could still complete one. You’re right- this is a really short swim, and actually an Olympic would be a better one to do eventually, because this is such a short swim. But yes- open water can be really tough! As much as anything, because you can get so disorientated. Anyway- am really looking forward to trying one again. Another post-kids “benchmark”. Will definitely write something about it afterwards. Thanks for leaving a comment πŸ™‚

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