12 Weeks to an Iron-Distance Swim PB: Week 5

Over the coming 12 weeks I will post a a series of workouts building your swim fitness as you prepare for either Challenge Wanaka (18 Feb) or Ironman NZ (04 Mar). I have been a professional triathlon coach since 2000 and am a multiple Iron-distance finisher including doing both these events in 2011 (the year of the wind in Wanaka and the year of the rain in Taupo).

12 weeks out from Challenge Wanaka starts the week of Monday 28th November. For those of you doing Ironman NZ two weeks later, your sessions will commence the week of Monday 12th December.

Tri Training NZThis is the fifth week.  Other weeks can be found below:

Each week will have three pool sessions for you to complete. I also encourage you to get in the open water once a fortnight to develop those skills sets. This can either be part of a triathlon or as a group open water swim. The pool based sessions work well when completed on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday or on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

This weeks training is continuing to develop your base fitness with a strong focus on technique and endurance.

Session One

Tri Coaching NZ

This session is designed to challenge your endurance and your speed in a mixed session.

  • 600m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 6x (200m, 30sec RI; 4x 50m 10sec RI);
  • 200m Cool Down.

Start by swimming 600m for a warm up. Keep a nice steady pace and feel free to pause occasionally to stretch or grab a quick drink. The idea of the warm up is to get the blood flowing and muscles loosened up before some of the more intense sets later in the workout.

The set after the warm up includes eight repetitions of 50m. This 50m is done continuously with the first 25m done as a drill before going straight into the final 25m of regular swimming. Pause after each rep and have a short rest while you focus and mentally prepare for the next drill. Here are some drills that you can include in your programme:

  1. Kick On Side (KOS)
  2. Kick On Side (KOS)
  3. 6/1/6
  4. 6/3/6
  5. Broken Arrow
  6. Popov
  7. Kick On Side (KOS)
  8. Kick On Side (KOS)

For the drill set wear a pair of short fins. These will provide you with a small amount of momentum whilst you are focusing on what the upper body is doing. I recommend Finis Zoomers.

Take your fins off prior to commencing the next set. This is a set of six broken 200’s. A single repetition involves swimming 200m continuously, then pausing for 30 seconds Rest Interval (RI) prior to swimming another 200m which this time is broken up into 4x 50m each with a 10 second Rest Interval. Yes, a broken 200m does involve 400m of swimming each rep and I’ve scheduled six into this set.

The final set is a 200m Cool Down. As with the warm up, feel free to pause and do some stretching and grab a drink. Also consider doing some other strokes as part of the cool down. Throw in some back stroke (Bk) or breast stroke (Br) to mix it up.

Session Two

Tri Coaching NZThis session works on enhancing your speed but because there isn’t much rest you will need to keep swimming fast to keep up with it, hence enhancing your endurance as well.

  • 600m Warm Up;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 50m Build 1-4, 15sec RI;
  • 12x 50m Build 1-4, 1/2T Time + 10sec;
  • 8x 50m Alt Fast & Easy, 10sec RI;
  • 12x 50m Build 1-4, 1/2T Time + 5sec;
  • 400m Cool Down.

Start by swimming 600m for a warm up. Keep a nice steady pace and feel free to pause occasionally to stretch or grab a quick drink. The idea of the warm up is to get the blood flowing and muscles loosened up before some of the more intense sets later in the workout.

The next set is similar to the drill set in the first workout of the week. The set after the warm up includes twelve repetitions of 50m. This 50m is done continuously with the first 25m done as a drill before going straight into the final 25m of regular swimming. Pause after each rep and have a short rest while you focus and mentally prepare for the next drill. Here are some drills that you can include in your programme (complete the list twice through):

  1. Kick On Side (KOS)
  2. Kick On Side (KOS)
  3. 6/1/6
  4. 6/3/6
  5. Broken Arrow
  6. Popov

For the drill set wear a pair of short fins. These will provide you with a small amount of momentum whilst you are focusing on what the upper body is doing.

Take your fins off prior to commencing the next set, which is a set of eight repetitions of 50m with only 15 seconds Rest Interval. Within this set build the pace every four repetitions. This means that each rep you get quicker. Your 50’s might look something like this:

Rep Time
1st 0:58 Build 1-4 Steady
2nd 0:55 Fast
3rd 0:53 Faster
4th 0:51 Fastest
5th 0:57 Build 5-8 Steady
6th 0:55 Fast
7th 0:52 Faster
8th 0:49 Fastest

The next set is similar to the previous and involves 12 repetitions of 50m where you are also building through 1-4, (and 5-8 and 9-12) but on a ‘Go’ time that is equal to your half your T-Time + 10 seconds. Remember your T-Time was calculated in both Week 1 and Week 4.

So if your T-Time was 1:45 your ‘Go’ time for this set would be 1:45 divide by 2 being 0:52.5 then add the 10 seconds equals 1:02.5 so round up to 1:05 (nearest 5 second mark above). So every 65 seconds you would start the next rep. Remember with these sets the faster you go the more rest you get, so the incentive is there to push that little bit harder.

The next set is a set of eight reps of 50m alternating between a rep where you swim as fast as you can and then the next rep just cruise along (still doing freestyle/front crawl). Take a ten second Rest Interval (RI) between reps.

The set prior to the cool down is a set of 12x 50m building 1-4 (as above) but this time on 1/2 T + 5 sec. So using the example above: your ‘Go’ time for this set would be 1:45 divide by 2 being 0:52.5 then add the 5 seconds equals 0:57.5 so round up to 1:00 (nearest 5 second mark above). So every 60 seconds you would start the next rep.

The final set is a 200m Cool Down. As with the warm up feel free to pause and do some stretching and grab a drink. Also consider doing some other strokes as part of the cool down. Throw in some back stroke (Bk) or breast stroke (Br) to mix it up.

Session Three

Tri Training NZ

This session is very much designed around enhancing your endurance.

  • 1,000m Warm Up;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 25m Pick Ups, 10sec RI;
  • 1500m TT;
  • 200m Cool Down.

Start by swimming 1,000m for a warm up. Keep a nice steady pace and feel free to pause occasionally to stretch or grab a quick drink. The idea of the warm up is to get the blood flowing and muscles loosened up before some of the more intense sets later in the workout.

The set after the warm up includes 12 repetitions of 50m. This 50m is done continuously with the first 25m done as a drill before going straight into the final 25m of regular swimming. Pause after each rep and have a short rest while you focus and mentally prepare for the next drill. Here are some drills that you can include in your programme.  Complete each drill twice:

  1. Kick On Side (KOS)
  2. Kick On Side (KOS)
  3. 6/1/6
  4. 6/3/6
  5. Broken Arrow
  6. Popov

For the drill set wear a pair of short fins. These will provide you with a small amount of momentum whilst you are focusing on what the upper body is doing.

Take your fins off prior to commencing the next set. This set is made up of eight reps of 25m Pick Ups with a 10 second Rest Interval (RI). When swimming a Pick Up, start off at a slow pace for your first few strokes.  Then pick up to a moderate pace for the next few strokes, then a few fast strokes, then get faster and faster every few strokes as you make your way down the pool. Finish up with your last few strokes being at sprint pace. After each 25m, stop and rest for 10 seconds. Use the pace clock on the wall or a wrist watch to time this precisely.

Next up is a 1,500m Time Trial (TT), where you swim 1,500m continuously and as fast as you can maintaining a steady pace the entire distance.

The final set is a 200m Cool Down. As with the warm up, feel free to pause and do some stretching and grab a drink. Also consider doing some other strokes as part of the cool down. Throw in some back stroke (Bk) or breast stroke (Br) to mix it up.

You can sign up to receive these sessions via email by clicking here.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact me.

I am the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

I specialise in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. I can be contacted at coachray@coachray.nz and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to my informative newsletter.

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Coach Ray is the author of the successful 12 Weeks to an Ironman Swim PB – Swim Faster with Smart Training eBook.

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