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TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper
TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper

The beginning of the end

TriHardAlanby TriHardAlanSep 29th 2013
Today was the last Triathlon of my season. Not my last race, I have another 3 duathlons, so the time to ponder the season and whether itÂ's has been a success will be another day. It did however make for some comparisons as this is now the third year in a row that I have competed in this race and the results did give me something to think about for next season.

The race was an Standard at Dorney which doesnÂ't warrant a race report as simply any Standard at Dorney is the same, 2 laps of an easy to navigate lake, 8 laps of a pancake flat bike course which is always a tailwind going away from the clubhouse and a headwind going back and an equally flat but uninspiring run. ItÂ's a bit of a marmite venue but I definitely love it, racing there regularly gives me a measure of progress and conditions are very consistent, almost independent of the weather. Having got a 2.14.22 at Hyde Park with its short bike and silly long transitions I was hoping to get a genuine sub 2.15. The stats:

Swim: 28.14
T1: 1.15
Bike: 1.07.43
T2: 1.01
Run: 38.11
Total: 2.16.24

This got me 12th out of 257 finishers and 3rd in AG out of 26. Hard to compare directly with last year when I got 2.27 when the bike course was 2k longer due to the Olympic venue construction but I was faster across all 3 disciplines, especially on the bike and swim so definitely progress.

But what really made me think about next season, and it is a subject I have already been occupied with, is the swim time. I am swimming quicker than ever before undoubtedly but when I saw I had finished 12th overall I was disappointed to only get 3rd in AG and analysed the results to see where I lost and it was the swim with the two guys in 1st and 2nd doing 21 and 23 minutes respectively. I outbiked and outran them both but not enough to catch them. So, the first step (and maybe not the ultimate one) to winning these AGÂ's, I need to get that swim time down to 25 minutes. So, how to go about that?

Improving a swim time falls, in my humble opinion, in to two areas;

Swim Fitness Â- This is the easy part. I achieved decent gains early in the season simply by swimming more. Sounds obvious but I have definitely been guilty in the past of a common bad swimmers mistake, concentrating on the less frustrating, more enjoyable disciplines I am stronger in.

Swim technique Â- This is the hard part. Partly, for me, because you need the help of others. As someone that grew up as an only child I donÂ't like receiving help from others and view asking for help as a sign of weakness. I donÂ't bow to that madness of course but none the less itÂ's how I feel. So how best to get that help?

Currently that Â"othersÂ" is in the form of the twice a week club swims. But an upcoming switch in the timetables mean I will only be able to make one of those and presuming this is the correct approach is that enough? My gut feeling on this is actually yes. Seeing the same coaches once a week or twice a week will probably result in hearing the same things once or twice a week, a swim set aimed to facilitate a group, as of course it has too. But therein lies my concern, these sets are not tailored to me. So now we get back to the question is this the correct approach? The alternative is individual coaching, someone giving instruction and sets, both supervised and not, tailored to me and more specifically fixing my faults. But this will take financing, there may be some tough decisions ahead.
ritatrisby member: ritatris, Sep 30th 2013 16:47
I can very much empathise with the swim weakness, and technique is definitely the way to go. At the beginning of the year I took the decision to ditch club swims as the pressures of keeping up with a set meant I was more worried about dropping behind to do anything other than thrash away getting very fit but not going any faster. Instead I had a few lessons (about 4) from super swimmer John Wood at Tri Coaching and have been swimming for 30 mins twice a week in public sessions, really focusing on technique and not doing much more than 4 lengths at a time really. Result? Over 6 minutes off my 1.5k time (35 to 29 mins). With no endurance or speed work whatsoever, relatively short time in the pool, but a real focus on quality. A few lessons don't have to be pricey - take away 3 things to work on then go back for another when you're ready, and don't worry about getting un-swim-fit in the meantime, the technique benefits will more than make up for it :)
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