Sites like dailymile are great for several reasons. They’re an easy way to track our training. They’re a wonderful place to be part of a large and encouraging community. They also have this great feature that puts your workout summaries on Twitter automatically (if you have that feature enabled). The coinciding tweet gives a link to your workout as well as the first few lines of detail. If it’s a swim workout, the display says something along the lines of, “@IronBrandon swam XXXX meters in XXX Minutes…” followed by a link. When I see this it really makes me wonder just HOW people are swimming.
A small disclaimer before I begin go on a tear about what I think about swim training: I have been a competitive swimmer since I was about 6 years old and am very used to true “workouts” in the pool. Now, that aside, here’s what I think a workout is; just like any other workout, there are sets and cardio work and long steady work and sprint work and tempo work and on and on. I truly hope that I’m reading all this wrong but I don’t think I am. Much of the swim training that I see seems to be people just getting in the pool and swimming laps for as long as they can take it without being bored to death. This is NOT a swim workout.
It’s true that distance training has its place in swimming, especially if you’re training for a specific long distance event. But, if your training is just a bunch of laps and you wonder why you’re not seeing any speed improvements, you’re not going to see any until you begin to mix it up. The irony is that most of us are aware that we cannot just go out and run without doing something with the run. Whether you add in something as simple as a fartlek or you’re doing a complex step-up run, we know to throw different things at our body so we improve. Swimming is no different.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to a real workout is that many of us don’t have a coach or someone to guide us through a session. Even if you do have a coach, there’s a good chance that they may not be there for your workout and thus the responsibility for pushing yourself has to come from you. You have to be willing to push yourself and to be honest with your times and effort levels. If you cheat, you’re the only one who might truly know, but at the end of the day, your speed and endurance will not progress as they should.
So, where can I find some workouts? There are some great resources online that can give all levels os swimmers a great workout. Here are a few:
So, go swim! Stop just doing laps! Push yourself and get faster. Grab a simple watch and get in the pool, you’ll be amazed what actually WORKING in the pool will do for you.