It is almost April and time to get your bike on the road, run outside in the sunshine and hopefully jump back in the pool! Here are few tips to get you back into the business of swim, bike and run this spring:
• Book a bike tune-up to ensure that your chariot is in good working order. A little lube here and there, a new chain, new tires and some TLC to ensure that you are safe.
• Find your helmet, cycling gloves, arm warmers, toe warmers, sunglasses, rear bike light (increase visibility), spare tire, pump or C02 and weather appropriate cycling clothes (layering is key).
• Your first rides should be aerobic with a focus on finding the perfect gearing for the terrain and wind, practising balance, getting familiar with vehicular traffic, turning on your awareness for car doors opening, distracted drivers, cars rolling stop signs etc
• Once you establish your outdoor riding confidence, add some hilly riding into your route and work the hills in particular. Strong hilly riding is the best way to get fit.
• Is it time to change your running shoes? I advise replacing your shoes every 3 months if you just wear one pair at a time or every 4 or 5 months if you have 2 pairs on the go simultaneously.
•Treadmill running can help develop leg turnover and make you strong. That said, it doesn’t require your hip flexors and hamstrings to work as hard because the moving belt “comes to you” so be prepared for a bit more muscular fatigue when you hit the road.
• Wear a head lamp and reflective clothing if you are running in the dark.
• Fartlek running is a great unstructured but structured run workout and it is a great early season tool to build some speed and strength. Alternate faster running with easier running (but not too easy – run similar to your long run pace/effort on the easier bits). Try something such as:
15 min warm up
2 x 1 min strong with 1 min easier back at warm up pace
2 x 2 min strong with 1 min easier back at warm up pace
4 min strong with 2 min easier back at warm up pace;
That is 16 min – do it once or twice or three times based on your fitness and goals
Warm down 15 minutes.
• Make your first swim a drill-focused swim. My favourite drills are Single Arm Side-Kick 6-Kick, Delay and Dog Paddle (described below). Each swim should start with a warm up and drill set in order to “set up” your swim. As you progress to swim sets, continue to alternate some drills into your main sets in order to re-align your stroke. For example:
200 warm up as you feel
2 x 50 as 25 SASK 6-kick, 25 swim
2 x 50 as 25 Delay, 25 swim
2 x 50 as 25 dog paddle, 25 swim
25 strong – 5 sec rest; 50 strong – 10 sec rest; 75 strong – 15 sec rest; 100 strong – 20 sec rest; 50 drill choice to re-align stroke – that is a broken 250 with a 50 drill for a total of 300 – repeat as time allows; done!
Celebrate spring! Focus less on pace and data and more on feeling the warmer breeze on your face and the freedom of outdoor movement!
**swim drill descriptions
Single arm side kick 6-kick (SASK 6-kick) – kick on your side with your single arm extended above your head – kick for 6 kicks and then take a big stroke and switch sides and kick on your other side for 6 kicks, then take a big stroke and flip back over to the other side for 6 kicks – continue for the length or prescribed distance. This reinforces body position and a big stroke and pull through the water as well as swimming on your side.
Dog paddle – this can be done with your head in the water or head up – do the swim stroke, but the recovery (which is typically above the water) occurs under the water. Focus is on feel and getting a very long pull underwater. Think “fingertips down” and “lead with the hand rather than your elbow”.
Walking Dog paddle – walk in the shallow end – shoulders under the water – pulling the water back using our forearms – elbow at the surface – using your lats – shoulder forward
Delay – this is normal swimming but pause when your hand is extended above your head for the catch and the other hand is pushing through at your hips. Pause here to be sure to get full extension from your tricep at your hips and the pause ensure a good catch. This also helps with body position