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Training
WORKOUTS THAT HAVE STOOD THE TEST OF TIME
By Melissa Mantak
 


We live in the age of acceleration: new technologies and methods of training and coaching are emerging almost daily. Keeping up with all this new information keeps us all on our toes, but some key workouts have stood the test of time. Here are seven standouts and why you should include them in your training plan.
 


SWIM
MAIN SET: 10X100 YARDS
This set is great for all race distances and helps with pace discipline and understanding speed capabilities. It can be used as a test set, final prep to check race readiness or simply as a good, hard training set. Effort level and recoveries can vary, but it’s best used as a hard race pace or threshold effort. Hitting goal times on short recoveries indicates race readiness.


As a former ITU World Cup champion, I used this set throughout my career. I knew I was ready to race when I could nail my goal times. One year, at the end of an exhausting training block, my coach sprang this set on us at the very end of a swim workout. I was bleary-eyed with fatigue, longing to get some recovery and furious with him for doing this to me. But, at about interval No. 4, I realized I was hitting faster times on a shorter send-off than I had at any time in my entire swimming career. I left that session in awe, amazement and filled with confidence at my newfound swim speed.


As a coach, I use this workout with all levels of athletes as it helps us both feel confident in the athlete’s swim progression and preparation.


 


OPEN WATER SWIMS
Hands down, this is one of the most neglected aspects of swim preparation. The law of specificity states: train in an environment as close to race conditions as possible. From first-timers to the highly experienced racer, open water training is critical to success. I’ve seen, both as a coach and an athlete, national caliber pool swimmers struggle and panic in the open water. Pool swimming ability does not always directly or quickly transfer to the open water. Although swimming is swimming in any body of water, triathletes need to develop and master a different set of skills for a successful triathlon swim. Navigation, breathing and stroke style are different based on dark water (can’t see the bottom!), rough conditions, currents, temperatures and swimming with hundreds of others around you. Whenever open water is available, I have my athletes out there as much as possible.


When I worked as the USA Triathlon National Development Coach, ITU World Triathlon Series event and World Cup champion Summer Cook was just starting her career as a triathlete. Her swim skills, fitness and speed in the pool were fantastic. Her first day in the open water was cold, and she struggled. After several months of open water swim training, she was first out of the water at her first big race in Clermont, Florida, won the race and earned her pro card.


24 | USA TRIATHLON | WINTER 2018

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