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Active Expert: Gale Bernhardt

3 Posts tagged with the swim tag

Q. Hi Gale, I am in week 8 of your 27 week plan for the Half-Ironman training program. I tested this week and have made noticeable gains in both swimming and running (my limiters, so this was a big positive!). However, my T1(5) biketesting ended up with identical #s from my first test 8 weeks ago. Conditions were the same, on an indoor trainer, didn't feel tired, ate well, etc. Avg. watts 277, HR avg. 142, total time of 14:30. Any thoughts as to why or what I should do differently? I have not really skipped any workout to date and have clearly made progress in the other 2 disciplines. Thanks - S. T. 


A. Hi S.T.~


Thanks for using my training plan to help you succeed - and - congratulations on the swimming and running improvements! You mention those are your limiters so I suspect you are a very strong cyclist.


If that is the case, you require higher intensities to make improvements on the bike. But - you may not want to add that level of intensity as I suspect you'll trade swimming and running performance. Since those are your limiting sports, holding cycling steady isn't a bad thing right now.


I also suspect that as you progress through the plan and intensity increases, cycling should show some gains. Since you are already strong there, the gains may not be as much as swimming and running though.


Let me know if my assumption is true (strong cyclist) and keep me posted to the changes as you make your way through the plan. If you do decide to increase cycling intensity, monitor your fatigue. You may need to just keep cycling in a maintenance mode until you get stronger in the other two sports.





A. Thanks Gale! Good advice and insight--cycling has been my strong suit. I will hold steady on that for now and let my swim and run 'catch up' before increasing bike intensities. I'll keep you updated; thanks for the plan--it's helped immensely so far. S.T. 





Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

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497 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, triathlon, bike, run, swim, plan, half-ironman, improvement

Q.   I’m a triathlete trying to improve my swimming speed in the off-season. I use your Workouts in a Binder cards when I swim on my own and I also swim with a masters group. I’ve just moved up to a new lane in my masters group and I’m struggling. The lane typically swims on a 1:40 send-off time. Yesterday we had 6 x 100 on 1:40 as the first part of the main set. I made the first three (just barely) send-offs and came in on the 1:41 on number four. Should I have just pushed off and kept swimming what would amount to a steady 300 or should I rest a 50? What is better for me?


A.   As a triathlete you do need the endurance to swim long distances at a steady pace. But…too many triathletes settle for slogging it out in all the main sets in a masters swim and they end up swimming continuously. If you are going to improve speed, over a long distance, you need both endurance workouts (working on continuous swimming or broken swims with minimal rest) and workouts intended to increase the speed you can average during long swims (these are sets where you get rest and swim a faster average pace).

So, the answer to the question of “What is better for me?” depends on what you’ve been doing in training and what you need to improve. If you’ve been doing long, continuous swims or broken swims with little rest – sit out a 50 and aim to keep the speed high during these sets. If you’ve been doing a good number of broken swims with plenty of rest, go ahead and aim to finish the main set even if you’re dangling at the end of the lane and doing a continuous swim.



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Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

Off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific cycling and more triathlon plans found here.




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I like your book Workouts in a Binder.  I am now entering offseason and will only be swimming twice a week.  The book is set up for three to four swims per week.  How do I use it with only two swims a week.  (i.e. still follow the suggested workouts in order?) not sure.





Hi A.C. ~


Thanks for dropping me a note about Workouts in a Binder. I'm assuming you're a triathlete using the training plan on page 17.


That written, most triathletes have decent endurance and could work on gaining some speed in the off-season. Consider keeping the Endurance workouts shown on Saturday as one of your two workouts. For the second swim - consider replacing the Tuesday Form or Speed workouts with cards from the Anaerobic Endurance set. When the AE card says "fast" - I'd like you to really go FAST! No holding back and don't worry if speed fades during the set. Over time, you'll gain more endurance at the faster speeds.


Have fun and let me know how it goes.





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Cycling and mountain bike training plans can be found here.

492 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlon, swim, workouts_in_a_binder