1. Training Volume:
Distance per week = 2 times your longest race
For example, if your longest swim is 35km (English Channel), then you should swim 70km per week.
2. I Never swim more than 5 times a week
“Why?” Because it does me no good! I have tried swimming more frequently than this, but it does no good for me. I just start turning up to the sessions tired and not recovered all the time. So I try and hit 5 sessions a week at most.
3. ‘Upping’ my training
There are few rules to follow when you are ‘upping’ your training routine:
A. Only increase your total training volume by 10% at most each week e.g. if you are currently swimming 10km a week. Don’t suddenly increase this to 20km a week. Make sure you only increase your training from 10km/week to 11km/week (10% rule)
B. Only increase each individual training session by 10% also e.g. if your long swim for the week is currently a 6km swim, just ‘up’ it to 6.5km or 7km. Don’t jump from 6km to 10km. “Why am I saying all this 10% stuff?”. Because if you don’t follow it, your body will start crying out for help, and you will probably develop an overuse injury.
C. Don’t increase both training volume (i.e. the total mileage you are doing in the pool per week) and training intensity (i.e. how fast you swim), at the same time. Always do one or the other.
4. Find a ‘Good’ Swim Coach
I did emphasis the word ‘Good’ for a reason. Go away and find yourself a good swim coach. I have encountered a few swim coaches. I personally like swim coaches that are either ex-competitive swimmers or if they are excellent triathletes/swimmers themselves. One coach that I can’t recommend highly enough is Bethan Fowler, who has fantastic enthusiasm for coaching, and is a professional triathlete. She does underwater stoke analysis, which is priceless feedback for any swimmer. She is located in Newport.
5. Recovery Weeks
Don’t forget about recovery weeks. I will include a recovery week at the very least every 4th week of training. So three weeks of tough training, followed by one week of easy training.
6. Having the correct swimming gear
One thing I used to do when I started swimming was that I would use crap swimming gear. I have learned that to get the most out of certain sessions its good to have proper swimming gear such as paddles, fins, underwater MP3 player and goggles that are comfy and do not fog up (priceless).
7. Don’t watch other swimmers (too much anyway)
I was brought up in a family with two other brothers, so you can imagine the competiveness between the three of us. So the amount of times I’ve been in a pool and I have been half way through an endurance session, and then a swimmer starts trying to overtake me, when he/she is doing 50m sprints. I hate getting overtaken, so what do I do, I speed up, then end up blowing up about 500m later, and end up jumping out of the pool, after finishing the session early. Thankfully I don’t do this anymore, I have more discipline when training now. Saying that though, I constantly have to hold myself back, when someone trys to overtake me.
8. Don’t hate aqua aerobics 🙂
Everyone that has been swimming before has experienced themselves swimming nice and leisurely in the lane, then all of a sudden the aqua aerobics crew come in, and turn the pool into a washing machine within minutes. I used to hate this, but I have learned to love it. The reason being is that they actually simulates openwater conditions. They create nice choppy waves, for you to practice swimming in these sea-like conditions.
9. Proper Nutrition
Bring adequate nutrition to the pool. If your session is shorter than 1 hour in length, then you only need water. If your session is going to exceed 1 hour, then you will need to other nutrition such as energy drinks. Also plan for directly after the swim. I will always bring food/drink in my swimming bag when I go down to my local pool. I always drink a pint of milk and eat a banana straight away after my swim. When I do long swims, I will bring down a brown bread sandwich with chocolate spread in it.
10. Have Fun
Don’t forget the reason why you started going swimming in the first place. It is so much fun to go for a swim and you feel great afterwards. So don’t take your training too serious. If you start turning up to the pool in the morning/evening and it feels like a choir, then just don’t bother going. Take a break for a few days, and then go back to it. This point links back to the point I made above about not swimming more than 5 times a week. For me when I start swimming more than 5 times a week, I loose this enthusiasm to jump into the water.