Swimrun Training – Swimming and Running

Despite the fact that my body appears to be constantly on the verge of breakdown, my swimrun training has continued over the last couple of weeks. In the last blog (link here), I talked about the difficulty of dragging my body through the water with trainers on. This week, I added a pull buoy into the mix. Although this does give added buoyancy, it also leaves me looking like one of those one man bands that you used to get on Saturday night television in the 80s.

The buoy is strung on some bungee cord around my thigh, so that I can stick it between my legs when swimming, then simply spin it around to the outside and leave it bobbing along beside me while running.

As soon as I started swimming, though, I felt completely unbalanced. The buoy, when added to the super floaty neoprene calf guards, brought my legs up way too much, leaving me feeling like I was swimming downhill. Apart from mucking up my timing, I found it really difficult to sight, and accidentally bashed an innocent swimmer-by with my paddle.

I left the lake feeling a bit downhearted, but I will practice some more before making a call on whether or not to use the pull buoy for the race itself.

Zoe and I had a real go at the transitions last week at Blue Lagoon. We decided to swim the short (200m) lap, then get out and run to the gates and back (about 750m), before repeating the process. Although each leg was only a relatively short distance, we managed to complete five runs and four swims fairly comfortably.

The purpose of the session was to practice the transition from one leg of the race to the next, and there were some useful things learned:

Run to Swim Transition

  • Take your time. At first we were splashing straight into the water without breaking stride. Taking five seconds to gather our thoughts proved much more beneficial to an effective transition. Take that extra time to ensure you’re properly dressed and equipped for the water, and do all the appropriate Garmin fiddling.
  • Put on the paddles LAST. I made the mistake of putting on the plastic paddles too early, and then wasted ages faffing around with goggles and swim cap. Once the paddles are on, you have all the dexterity of a drunken horse. (Go on, try it… have a go at putting on goggles with your hands in hard plastic paddles.)
  • Don’t forget to zip up your wetsuit. Probably a mistake you’d only make once, but I made it, realising after four or five strokes that I was completely waterlogged as the lake swamped my suit.

Swim to Run Transition

  • Take your time. At the risk of repeating myself, we learned pretty quickly, that sprinting out of the water and trying to get everything organised whilst running was counterproductive. As with a conventional triathlon T1, there are some things that can be done on the move, and some that can’t.
  • Remove hat and goggles. With such a short run leg, we kept our swim caps in place and goggles on our foreheads. However, even after just a couple of minutes of running, my head was overheating, and the tightness of the cap was starting to cause a headache. For the time it takes to whip them off and on, get rid of them and stick them in a pocket while you run.
  • Where do I put my paddles? I tried running with the paddles still on my hands, but that meant I couldn’t really use my hands, as I mentioned earlier. Next leg, I tried taking them off and holding them in my left hand. Even after a couple of minutes, this was starting to skin my knuckles, so that’s not a solution for the longer run legs on race day. I have a large pocket in the back of the wetsuit, and the paddles wedged into that. This may be the solution, but as we add more and more kit each week, I am starting to wonder whether we need one of those bright orange float bags. That’s going to add a whole new level of faff to an already fiddly process, but is it possible to carry everything we need just about our person?