What if you are not from a swimming background though want to be more competitive in the triathlon swim? One answer is to add more structure to your swim training.
I Want To Be A More Competitive Swimmer
There are many triathletes whose goal for the swim is to “just get through it so that I can get on the bike”.
I am not one of these.
Swimming is enjoyable to me. I have spent many hours reading books and blog posts and watching videos about swimming in order to be a faster swimmer. I have also gotten advice from my son, a former college swimmer, on how to improve my swim.
As with most sports, improvement comes by developing better technique, a more efficient form, greater full body strength, and aerobic fitness.
Increasing Stroke Rate Using the FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro
According to Swim Smooth, there is an ideal relationship between swim speed (time per 100 m) and swim stroke rate (strokes per minute). A swimming stroke that is too high (RED zone) hints at too short a stroke. On the other hand, a slow stroke rate typically indicates too much glide with each stroke and a tendency to create a hand position in the latter part of the stroke that causes one to slow.
My swim currently falls in the upper left portion of the BLUE region. Using my FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro, I am training to increase my stroke rate while paying close attention to the catch phase.
About the FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro
The FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro is a waterproof metronome. The choice of one of its three modes depends on the training plan. For example, one mode allow you to set a time per lap for use with interval training.
I set the device to transmit an audible tone for each of the strokes in the targeted pace. For example, I set the Trainer to beep every 1.0 second for a stroke rate of 60 strokes per minute.
The pace is adjustable in 1/100th of a second increments giving plenty of resolution for every situation.
The small, waterproof device easily secures beneath a swim cap and transmits a clearly heard, audible beep. It floats in water to help avoid it being lost in the pool or open water.
The Tempo Trainer Pro also comes with a clip for ‘dryland’ training. For example, it is used in bike (cadence) and run (foot turnover rate) training.
The FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro includes a replaceable battery. I have had the device for more than five years and replaced the battery one time by taking it to a local BatteriesPlus store.
My journey toward becoming a better swimmer continues by working to increase my stroke rate. With strength training and more structured time in the water, I am confident that I will be more competitive in the triathlon swim.
After competing in sprint triathlons for eight years, my training had become sloppy. I had lost the discipline of the early years. I had nearly stopped strength training, focusing instead on cardio and endurance training. And to top it off, my performance was poorer. I was also struggling with knee pain while running.
Credible References for Strength Training
So, the article entitled “Mark Allen’s 12 Best Strength Exercises” jumped out at me as I skimmed my emails on a recent winter morning. Having read about triathlon for over eight years, I knew of Mark Allen and considered him a credible source of information.
I became even more interested in the plan once I realized that this strength training plan had also been a turning point for Mark. In the first full season after following this strength training program, Mark won the three international multi-sport endurance events, including IRONMAN World Championship in Kona-Kailua, Hawaii.
Around the same time, I read about Judy Cole, a 73-year-old ultra runner. Judy had started running every day during her early 30s. However, early on, she had problems with her knees. Following the advice of her running partner to strengthen her quads and hamstrings “became a game changer”.
I had also been struggling with knee pain, something I had not faced for several years.I had also been struggling with knee pain, something I had not faced for several years.Judy’s experience sounded oh-so-familiar so I committed to the plan.
My Experience with Mark Allen’s Strength Training Program
This post is a journal of my experience with Mark Allen’s strength training program.
I first published this post after completing four sessions of the first, or adaptation, phase, eventually finishing eight.
Now in the second, or endurance, phase, I already feel stronger. Exercises that were especially difficult in the first sessions are now much easier. And, for the first time in months, I am running without knee pain.
Mark’s Best Strength Training Exercises
Listed in the table below are the twelve exercises in this program. The table lists the triathlon event most impacted by the exercise. Meanwhile, the article includes videos that show how to perform each of them correctly.
Helps most with . . .
Lateral Dumbbell Raise
Strength Training Restarted – Phase 1
I started each session with core exercises and 10 minutes of cardio to warm up.
The core exercise portion included one minute of each of:
Plank — one minute.
Side plank — one minute on each side.
Abs — one minute sitting up on the floor with the back at about 45 degrees off the floor and legs extended and on the floor. (This is an alternative to crunches that have fallen out of favor with trainers.)
Before starting with the weights, I took 10 minutes to finish warming up. This involved walking, jogging on an elliptical machine, or riding a stationary bike at an intensity high enough to begin sweating.
Throughout the journey, I recorded in a Google Sheet the number of repetitions and weights for each of the exercises. I also noted when I should use a heavier weight in the next session and made notes of any pain or soreness I felt during or after the session.
After each session, I complete another 10 minutes of cardio, time permitting. I then follow a routine of static stretches of my hamstrings, quads, calves, and upper and lower back.
I have already seen progress. Each session, I can use higher weights and the amount of soreness in the days after the session has been much less.
Before each session, I try to re-read the article and watch the videos to make certain I follow the correct form and breathing for each of the exercises.
Machine used for the leg extension exercise. Mark Allen’s program involves a mix of exercises that use free weights, weight machines, dumbbells, and body weight.
Endurance Strength Training – Phase 2
The main difference between the first two phases was that Phase 2 involved two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of each of the exercises, rather than one set in Phase 1, with a 90 seconds rest between sets. As in Phase 1, I completed two sessions per week with at least one day, but usually three days, between them.
During Phase 1, I selected weights for each of the exercises for which I could complete 15 repetitions with good form. For some of these, I could increase the weight slightly during the four weeks.
In transitioning into Phase 2, I used the same weights as at the end of Phase 1. However, in the first two sessions, I completedonly 12 (rather than 15) repetitions in each of the sets (except for the squats). I did this following the principle of injury prevention that calls for increasing intensity gradually.
“Increasing the intensity, time, or type of activity too quickly is one common reason for a sports injury. To prevent this, many fitness experts recommend that both novice and expert athletes follow the ten percent rule, which sets a limit on increases in weekly training. This guideline simply states that you should increase your activity no more than 10 percent per week. That includes distance, intensity, weight lifted, and length of your exercise session.” Source: Very Well Fit
Continuing this principle, I increased the number of repetitions (“reps”) to 15 for the first of two sets in week 2; the second set still involved 12 repetitions. In week 3 of Phase 2, I completed 15 repetitions for both sets.
Also, early in Phase 2, I ran indoors on the LifeTime Fitness track for 10 or more minutes after weight lifting and before stretching. Another pleasant surprise has been the absence of any knee pain during the run. This seems to confirm my theory that my knee pain resulted from weak hips and other leg muscles that are being strengthened in this program. How motivating!
My plan is to complete 12 weeks of Phase 2, increasing weight gradually as possible. The end of Phase 2 will still be over 9 weeks from my first triathlon in this year.
Lessons from Strength Training for Triathletes
I have learned some important lessons while using this plan:
Be patient – the results one should expect from this training, and all training may seem to come slowly. Keep at it and you will eventually see results.
Become familiar with the specific equipment you will use in the program. I did not seek an introduction from a trainer and found that I was learning how to adjust it by observing others, experimenting. I learned by some things by accident, like how to add weight in 5 lb. increments on the machines.
Add weight when after a few sessions (minimum of two) the weight seems easy. You can tell that it is easy when you can maintain good form throughout all the repetitions.
Interested in Joining Me?
If you would like to join me in following Mark Allen’s strength training program for triathletes, comment below or email me at seniortriathletes@gmail,com. I will share the Google Sheet with you so you can record your results and we can track our progress.
The internet abounds with information about training, preparing, and planning for a triathlon. Through my years taking part in the sport, I have come across many websites, among the best websites for triathletes, especially those age 50 and over.
As its title implies, this post includes information about the websites I have found to be the ‘go-to’ sites for my triathlon journey.
RunningintheUSA.com is the product of hard work and commitment of the husband and wife team of Bill and Mary Flaws of Waukesha, Wisconsin. According to the website:
“Mary is an avid runner, and Bill is sane. Mary does the website programming. Bill takes the pictures that are featured on the home page. We work many many many many hours scouring the internet, maintaining the information in the directories. This is our full-time life work. We don’t have other jobs. We barely do much else besides maintain this website. It is our life, and we love it.”
Video Demo of RunningintheUSA.com
The site can currently be used to search a database of over 41,000 running races such as 5k, 10k, half marathon, and so on and over 2,700 multisport events like triathlons.
Search for triathlons by
Type of multisport event (e.g. Triathlon, Duathlon, Aquathon)
Search for races in adjacent states on consecutive dates
Apparently, there is an important population of those who share an interest in completing races in multiple states. For this group, the site developers included a feature under the Multisport Events tab called ‘Double Stater’.
The “Double Stater” menu is used to search for triathlons held on consecutive days in adjacent states.
Best Website for Swim and Other Triathlon Training Gear
Triathlon is sometimes referred to as a rich man’s sport. This comes in part from the expense of registration fees, even though there are race organizations who are offering reduced fees. But that’s a story for another time.
Another reason that triathlon can be an expensive sport is the amount of clothing and equipment one can purchase for training and racing in three, quite different sports. Of course, much of it is unnecessary, especially if you belong to a full gym with a pool.
SwimOutlet.com is the first place I go when looking for a new or replacement item for triathlon training or racing. This is also where my wife, kids, and grandkids go for their swim clothing and equipment. This comes from several years of shopping many sites and ending up purchasing items from the Swim Outlet site.
SwimOutlet is a USA Triathlon certified multisport retailer.
While you should shop around, I have consistently found Swim Outlet to offer a full range of products in a range of quality and price points. And, prices are competitive and, many times, the lowest. Plus, they offer a price match.
Following is a quick tour of the SwimOutlet website.
Here we are at SwimOutlet.com website. To help you get started on your journey here, I want to highlight a few areas in which triathletes may be most interested.
First of all, at the ‘Gear’ then ‘Swim Gear’ tab, you can find everything imaginable for swimming no matter if you are a beginner or professional triathlete. With so many products to choose from, Swim Outlet helps shoppers zero-in on the right ones using product-specific filters such a size, brand, color, material, and price.
The site also includes several guides such as the one for sun protection shown here. You can find the link to this and other pages in the SeniorTriathletes.com post about my favorite triathlon websites (this post for those watching the video on SeniorTriathletes.com).
The ‘Triathlon’ link beneath the ‘Gear by Sport’ area under the ‘Gear’ tab, takes you to pages where you can find triathlon, biking, and running specific items. By the way, Swim Outlet is a USA Triathlon certified multisport retailer.
And if you are a Value shopper looking for the best deals, click on the SALE tab from the Home page. Here you will find good quality at the most competitive prices. For example, if you are looking for low cost jammers for your swim training, check out their grab bags by typing ‘grab’ in the search bar.
Take a stroll through the SwimOutlet site. I think you will enjoy it and be amazed at the wide range of products and their good prices.
Thank you for watching.
END OF VIDEO SCRIPT
Featured SwimOutlet Pages
Pages of the SwimOutlet website highlighted in the video review are:
Disclosure: Please note that SeniorTriathletes.com is a participant in the SwimOutlet.com affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to SwimOutlet.com. As an affiliate, I will receive a small commission for any purchases made at SwimOutlet.com when you use the link in this post.
SwimOutlet.com offers quality products at competitive prices.
Please check out SwimOutlet.com and share your comments below.
In Process Best Website for Nutrition and Hydration
If you have done a triathlon, there is a good chance you are already familiar with Hammer Nutrition since they sponsor many triathlons and endurance sporting events. In fact, you likely received in your swag-bag a sample of a Hammer Nutrition product – a Hammer Gel, Endurolytes Fizz, or one of their Energy bars.
I was introduced to more of the Hammer Nutrition products and how to use them by Senior Triathlete James Chapman at the Rocky Gap Triathlon in Maryland.
training for my first half marathon, I exchanged emails with Steve Born. Steve laid out a fueling plan for both my
training and the race itself. Without
the right fuel, an otherwise enjoyable challenge can become a disaster. I don’t go out on a long bike ride without a
few Hammers gels – just in case.
Since I sweat a lot during exercising of every kind, Hammer Endurolytes capsules are also great for maintaining electrolyte levels.
take a quick tour of the Hammer Nutrition website by clicking on the frame
Here we are at the Hammer Nutrition website. You can see its contents by hovering over the four top-level headings – Top Sellers, Fuels & Supplements, And More, and Education.
over ‘Fuels & Supplements’ shows you the range of products for training and
racing and for daily consumption. You
can explore these further by clicking on one of the red sub-heads.
More’ shows you ‘Gear’, including Clearance items and Electro Stimulation
products which I have used and really like.
It also includes ‘Clothing’, ‘Coffee’ and ‘Body Care’ products with which
I have less experience.
The fourth heading is ‘Education’ which contains a whole host of articles and quick-read advice pieces to help you learn about and fine-tune your fueling and hydration approaches for both training and racing.
can see, the site is easy to navigate. I
recommend taking at least a few minutes to take a look around it. I am confident you will come away with some
new and useful information.
Featured Hammer Nutrition Pages
the Hammer Nutrition website highlighted in the video are:
want to receive a 15% discount on your first order with Hammer Nutrition, enter
Customer Number 203519 when prompted.
To be transparent, that Customer Number is assigned to me. I will also receive a credit on my next order under the Hammer Nutrition Referral Program. If you like, you can also participate in this program once you have become a customer.
Please check out Hammer Nutrition and share your comments below.
If getting water in your nose during swimming leaves you sneezing, with a runny nose, or, worse yet, congested, then you and I have something in common. You will also find my experience with a nose clip useful for your triathlon swim training.
I Love Swimming, But
I am comfortable when swimming, whether in a pool or the open water.
My breathing during both pool and open water swimming is comfortable and relaxed. I exhale through my mouth and nose while my face is in the water. This keeps me from taking in much water during the swim. But, there is always some water that gets into my mouth and nose.
The pool water that gets into my nose will invariably result in a runny nose and, occasionally, sneezing over the next few hours.
When I swim in lake water, even the slightest amount of water in my nose will leave me with a plugged nose, making sleeping the next night difficult. I blame it on an allergy to the algae in the lake water.
While a nasal decongestant will help reduce the congestion, I avoid using one until it is necessary.
In the past, I had tried a nose clip that I dug out of my wife’s gym bag. However, it was more hassle than good since it slipped off my nose after a short time in the water.
Rethinking the Nose Clip
Recently, I came across an article about Olympic swimmer and gold medalist Missy Franklin. The article showed her wearing a nose clip.
This got me thinking.
Since I live near a lake, open water swim training is very accessible. I decided that I wanted to solve the problem.
I took to the internet to review various nose clips. For every positive review, there was an equally negative one. In most cases, the reviewers with negative comments wrote of the clip falling off their nose. Several even lost their clip during its first use. No brand seemed to have a completely positive review.
In the end, I went to local sporting goods stores, finally finding a clip at a local REI store. I purchased the last unit of the only model they had in stock, the TYR Ergo Swim Clip.
My experience with the TYR Ergo Swim Clip has been positive, especially with the clip attached to my swim goggles.
Protecting My Investment
The nose clip was inexpensive (around $5) so it would not be terrible if I lost it in the lake.
However, I preferred not to have to keep running around shopping for another if I were to lose this one. Remember, my experience with nose clips thus far was that they tended to fall off.
I decided to find a way to keep from losing the clip in the lake. The first attempt was to use some good quality dental floss to secure the clip around my neck (like a necklace). This was similar to the design of the clip that I had borrowed from my wife, except that hers used a rubber strap.
I secured the floss to the clip using a loose knot around the bridge of the clip. The knot was smaller than the ends of the clip so that it would not come off. For reference, see the inset in the picture in this article for which the caption begins with “Here is what worked for me“.
First Open Water Swim
In my first open water swim of one mile, the clip came loose two times, the first time after swimming more than a half mile. Since the process of coming off my nose was relatively slow, I could stop and reattach the clip before it came completely off.
The second time, I used the clip in the LA Fitness swimming pool. Again, I found that the floss holding the clip around my neck would catch on my face, occasionally tugging on the clip. I was certain that this is the reason the clip started to come off my nose.
While in the pool, I also found that the nose clip did not sink to the bottom of the pool when dropped in the water. Instead, it floated somewhat below the surface of the water. Still, I was not giving up on securing it.
Second Open Water Swim
The next time, during an open water swim in a nearby lake, I attached the floss holding the clip to my goggles (see picture below). The floss was still the original length; throughout the swim, I could feel the floss dancing around my face, occasionally catching momentarily on my skin and tugging on the clip.
Swim goggles with TYR Ergo Nose Clip connected by dental floss. In this case, the floss is longer than needed which caused it to catch on my face during the swim.
However, over the course of a mile, the nose plug came loose, but not completely off, only once. Progress!
Third Time’s a Charm
Before the next lake swim, I reduced the length of the floss holding the clip to the bridge of my goggles so it was not brushing against or catching on my face.
Picture 3: Here is what has worked for me for triathlon swim training. Swim goggles with Tyr Ergo Nose Clip connected by floss. The floss is secured to the nose clip by a knot that prevents the floss from passing over either of the two larger ends of the clip.
The result was exactly as I hoped. The clip stayed on my nose throughout a one mile lake swim. And, more importantly, there was no runny nose or congestion.
If you have problems with water getting in your nose during swimming, the swim clip may be the solution. You can avoid losing it—or worrying about losing it—in the pool, lake, river, or ocean by clipping it to your goggles using a short piece of floss or string.