How many triathletes look at the swim as just a giant obstacle course before the real race begins? I even put myself in that camp at times. Unlike running or biking, hours spent in the pool do not necessarily translate into lower times in the water. Gale Bernhardt & Nick Hansen offer a good solution to that problem through the release of the second edition of Swim Workouts for Triathletes. The book links training objectives with workouts in the water that will drive improved performance at your "A" race this season.
Straight off the shelf, the book met two key needs for me. First, I really like to mix and match my training schedule around work demands and specific race objectives. Almost all triathlon plans include good swim plans, but they are often hard to separate from the rest of the program. When I have purchased books focused only on swimming, the workouts usually are geared to members of swim teams, not endurance-focused triathletes. Bernhardt and Hansen have given me workouts that are perfect for triathlon training in a structure that allows me to match them with my race goals.
Second, I really don't want to feel like a monk copying by hand every workout the night before I swim and saving the paper in a sandwich bag. I frequently get to the pool and realize I either copied the wrong workout or I forget to annotate all the abbreviations. The physical layout of Swim Workouts for Triathletes with waterproof pages and a built-in stand makes it exceptionally easy to take straight to the pool.
No review of a training book, though is complete without a true field test. Ken, my training partner and I followed the Olympic/Half Triathlon training plan for three week in the second version. Miriam Weiskind has used the first version extensively on her way to several podium finishes already this year. The three of us sat down this week and talked about the book. Here's the discussion:
Paul: You took third place in your age group this spring at Lavaman in Hawaii. How did the first edition help you improve your swim this year?
Miriam: As part of my early season prep work, I spent a great deal of time in the pool strengthening my swim. Swim Workouts in a Binder was a great tool in allowing me to pick the perfect workout whether it being an endurance or speed workout. It also does a fantastic job of offering two different volume options depending upon what distance race you are training for.
Paul: Ken, we just did one of the Endurance Zone 2 workouts this morning. I still feel the buzz. I liked having one longer and one shorter version of the same workout on a page. That way, we both could focus on the same goal, but roughly end at the same time. What do think so far about the program?
Ken: Hours of random drills with pool toys don't lead to faster times, in fact training like this actually regressed my swim times. The book provides structure to my workouts by adding in a few drills with a higher volume of fast drills, which will lead to faster race times. Also, I like the variety of distances to suit my time available. Rarely was I pushing myself hard enough or swimming fast enough on my own. As you say Paul, unless there's no buzz in the shoulders, it's a wasted workout and that's what I was doing.
So, in a nutshell, this is a great tool for any triathlete looking to drop time on the swim. I am still trying to figure out how get the pages to dry, but I'm sure I find the solution. Swim Workouts for Triathletes: Practical Workouts to Build Speed, Strength, and Endurance by Gale Bernhardt and Nick Hansen published by VeloPress is available is bookstores now.
Author: Paul Tyler
Paul Tyler is the founder of Triessential.com and a contributor here at TRIJUICE. Triessential offers an iPhone application that provides training tips and motivation every day throughout the entire year.
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