Running Man: The Swim Training Begins
Words: Mike Sheridan
Legendary triathlon coach Joe Friel always said that you should never do complete triathlon training in one day. By that, he meant don't partake in all three activities (swimming, running and cycling) in the same day - and especially not the same distances as an actual competitive triathlon event - while you're simply in training mode. Me being me, I ignored this; as a rule, you probably shouldn't really ignore set-in-stone training plans from elite coaches. Last Wednesday, I cycled 30k, ran just under 13k on a steep incline, did some free weights, and then partook in a fifty minute swimming lesson.
Now, no matter how fit you are, swimming is hard. It's an aerobic exercise, and really requires a repetitive, multi-faceted technique that really takes practice to merely becoming competent at, never mind master. I had a patient and encouraging coach in OneEscape's Dave Cunningham, who started the lesson by asking me when was the last time I swam. "About a year and a half ago in Lanzarote," I replied, "but it was really more frolicking than swimming." With that self-effacing statement, I hoped to lower Dave's expectations to those of below sea level. If I didn't at that point, I certainly did after attempting my first length; actually, it was more two-thirds of a length. This is where I was planning to point out that the day's previous excursions had drained me, and it was merely a case of fatigue that was causing said feeble attempt. Added to that, I just didn't have any technique - and as Dave pointed out, I was using far too much energy. I think this basically means I splashed my way up the pool. There is only one way to go when you're this crap at something, and it is up; so after about twenty-odd float-aided lengths and much poolside coaching, I was able to do a full length, with a relatively decent technique. This, despite struggling to comprehend under-water exhalation - each length caused me to swallow vast amounts of pool water. I finished with severe cramping on both calves, which pretty much ended my training for the day. Since my cardio levels were at a relatively high level, I did expect to take to the swimming with more ease. With racing season fast approaching, I now realise just how much work will have to go into the water aspect of any triathlon.
The shortest distance I'm running is on the treadmill at the moment. It generally comes in between 12.5k - 13k, on a tough enough incline of 3% upwards. I'm not killing myself speed-wise either, and use the treadmill sessions more as a way of keeping the cardio at a solid level, when I'm not road running or cycling. If you're in the gym, you're also more inclined to do other things, such as core training or weights to help you put on that little bit of extra bulk for whatever event you're aiming for. Right now, the marathon is still a given; I ran 23K on Sunday with relative ease, and could've kept going, only I had prior commitments to attend to that evening. Also, running into Tesco in Finglas for a Mother's Day card, having run from Kinsealy (via town), did garner some strange frowns from the locals, as I staggered in looking the epitome of dishevellment and windswept-ness. I do much prefer the road runs, and can generally do a lot more on the pavement than I conceivably could on the treadmill, but stopping and starting is murder on the quads if you've covered a solid distance already.
After almost buying the farm on the bike on the way into work with the increasingly bright mornings, I decided to invest in a pair of sunglasses and went with the Nike Odeon, which retail in and around the €95 mark, and are light and effective so far. I'm using them for the running as well, so hopefully they'll come in handy this weekend when I try to break the 20-mile mark for the first time. If I survive, I'll let you know how i got on next week, when I will also be writing about my session with personal trainer Ray Lee, who took me through my paces at OneEscape. Two days later, I'm still recovering.
Story by David | 09:00 | Friday 27th March 2009 | Other
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