On Writing Workouts

During all of my various coaching certification clinics the discussion around the creation of workouts was covered in detail. The main points of interest?

  • Specificity
  • Energy systems
  • Athlete understanding of goals of workout

Of course the importance of a good warm up, cool down, and dynamic stretching, was covered as well.

Let me clarify: Did we cover 'everything' in granular detail? No. You can't cover everything in a weekend-long clinic. You need to continue your education beyond the initial course. But, all that said, the three points above have been resonating with me lately. Why?

I'm seeing too many triathlon coaches prescribe workouts that have no specifics around energy systems, and no way for the athlete to know what the goal of the workout is. In some cases guaranteeing that the athlete do nothing but train their body to run long and slow on race day. A couple of examples that I've seen (posted online) lately:

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Creating A Successful Off-Season Training Plan

For many, the off-season is an overlooked or undervalued, time of year.  You have to take time off at some point.  You’ve raced and trained hard all season.  Now it’s November, and your still training like you have been? You risk burnout, overtraining, and not getting the recovery you need both mentally and physically.

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Workout Wednesday - 09 April 2014

Yesterday - Tuesday - my swim club focused on threshold - but with a twist.  Maximum effort 25's with a work-rest ratio that kept things tough and in high Z4.

I can't take all the credit on this one.  I attended a lecture at the USA Swimming headquarters here in Colorado Springs a couple weeks ago.  There were a few national team athletes there, as well as coaches.  Great Q&A after the lecture, and the description of this set sounded awesome.

They called them "aerobic sprints".  You'll see what I mean.......

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Workout Wednesday - 19 March 2014

Well, I sure took a hiatus didn't I?  More athletes coming out of hibernation, the ITU racing season getting started - having an athlete racing at ITU Sarasota .....excuses, excuses.

So, back to the grind.  I've been throwing in a little more endurance work for my athletes as of late.  As you might recall, I was pretty heavy on speed and speed endurance / threshold work early on.  I found that most of the athletes at my swim club did a lot of solid aerobic endurance work during the off-season, so it seemed fitting.

A little trip back to the aerobic energy system is in order:

Warm up:
200 swim
200 pull
200 kick (board - no fins)

4 x (75 - 125) on 1:10 - 2:00
Main set:
All on base 100 time + :20 - :30
Cool down
200 easy

This set is SCY and yields 4,000 yards.  The send-offs in the main set are, as stated, are on base 100 time + :30.  So, for example, if your athlete holds 1:10 pace pretty easily under aerobic levels, then his/her 400 send-off is 5:10.  The 300 send-off is 4:00, etc.

You'll notice the 2 x 200's in the middle and end of the round.  I like breaking up a longer set with slightly shorter distances.  Athletes will tend to go a little harder on the 200's - getting a little more rest - but upping the quality of the set that much more.

Drop me a line with any questions - I'm always up for talking about swimming.

Workout Wednesday - 12 February 14

I'm throwing a little endurance work back into the mix today.  But, as usual, there's a little speed endurance work thrown in for good measure.

This is a great set to really get some serious yardage in. And I really like it for the fact that it switches gears in the middle of the main effort and utilizes a different energy system.  The main set efforts, for the longer distances, are aerobic in nature. Targeting a 1:20-1:25 base 100 effort, the rest intervals will provide about :20-:30 rest. But the 25's switch things up with a 1 : 2 work/rest ratio and we start to get a little anaerobic.

This set is SCY and will take about 1:15-1:30........

Warm up:
200 yards easy
200 kick
200 pull

Pre-set / Warm up:
10 x 50
1st length stroke (choice) 2nd length free.

12 x 75 on 1:15.  Cruise efforts 

Main set: 
Speed endurance (Sp/E)  and Endurance. 

2 x (400, 300, 10 x 25, 200)
400 on 6:00, 300 on 4:30, 25's on :45 - max effort., 200 on 3:00

Cool down:
200 easy

4500 yards

Change the send-offs to accommodate your athletes base 100 times, ensuring to keep things aerobic. That means you need to target a send-off that provides :20-:30 rest.  As the main set lasts between 20-30 minutes (depending on the athlete) it's long enough to get the aerobic work in, but short enough to not be boring.  The usual reaction I get from athletes after this set is that they got more yards in the main set than they thought. The 25's keep things fresh and nobody gets bored.

Questions?  Give me a shout!