Triathlon Training: Swimming Frequency

Since I started training triathletes and Ironman, I have read and researched triathlon training and workout design extensively. One item confuses me is the frequency of swimming training in every triathlon training program. Unlike cycling or running, swimming is a sport where biomechanics, technique and “feel” are lost within a few days without training. If you ask any competitive swimming to take 2-3 days off between workouts and they will note a change in “feel” with the water.

I'm not calling for large volumes of swim training, quite the contrary. Swimming is the least time consuming and theoretically least important leg in a triathlon. This is unfortunate, but true. In fact, many world class triathletes are mediocre swimmers. Research also suggest, swimming is an optimal mode of exercise cool down. Therefore, I suggest all my triathletes (if the facilities are available) to warm-down with swimming. I suggest 500-1000 yards of cool down daily of swimming. This maintains the swimmers' “feel” for the water and is an optimal form of warm-down, what else do you need?

In the case of swimmers converting to triathletes, I highly recommend this program and to only swim a 1000 a day during warm-down. Spend the rest of your training focusing on running and biking (hope you like it!) as they are more time consuming legs and the goal of the swim is hold you own with exerting minimal energy, which should be doable if you already have years of swimming training under your belt.

GJohn

Carb loading: Before and During a Race

My internet has been down for the past 3 days...sorry for the lack of posts, enough excuses:

In the latest article of Science, the topic of “hitting the wall” on a marathon is discussed. “Hitting the wall” is when the body has been pushed to the limit and begins to shut down. This is caused by numerous items, but the article sticks due with the fuel sources as a cause which can be manipulated. The importance of carbohydrate loading prior to a race to increase glycogen stores in your muscle and eating sugar during the race will keep your glucose levels up during a race is essential for any endurance sport. A Harvard medical student has created a formula to estimate the amount of carbohydrates and sugar to be ingested at and before the race based on a variety of factors: desired pace, muscle mass, aerobic capacity etc. (check out the app here, http://endurancecalculator.com). This tool could be very useful for swimmers, especially open water swimmers. From my experience, swimmers generally overdo the “carb loading”, especially swimmers who do not perform aerobic events (50, 100). Moreover, this formula could help Open water swimmers predetermine which fuel stations to use and how much to ingest. Overall I feel Open water swimmers are the main beneficiary of this idea, as having proper nutrition can only improve performance and safety in sport. On a side note, are there any biodegradable gel packs on the market? For swimmers and triathletes who slurp and throw these packages after consumption, I feel a biodegradable product is a must to keep oceans and running routes clean.

GJohn

Ironman Oxidative Stress

Iroman competitors put their body under unfathomable levels of stress. These activities are highly provocative, no wonder finishers get tattoos of their accomplishments all over their body and buy everything they can find with the logo on it! Everyone can fathom an Ironman stresses the body, but the quantity of stress and the molecular levels of stress are still being determined. I would say an Ironman competition is the most destructive exercise to one's one human physiology, only second to a multiple day tennis match where it is estimated 30 km was covered by each player (http://www.sportsscientists.com/2010/06/mahut-v-isner-59-59-epic-for-ages.html ). The differences between an Ironman and other modes of exercise is not well documented, but lets discuss what is known!
Any form of exercise causes muscle breakdown. This should not be needed to be stated, but if you knew this, good work, every one needs a confidence boost. As opposed to most thought processes, the eccentric phase of exercise (lengthening) not the concentric (shortening) causes the highest amount of muscular breakdown. This occurs by molecular breakdown of the monofilaments, impairing the sliding filaments. The adaptive human body will do more than recover. Enhancement of the damaged muscle will become stronger by laying down more monofilaments allowing more cross-bridges in the future. Unfortunately this rebuilding does not happen immediately, in fact it will take several days as many of you have witnessed after your first run of the season, you will encounter soreness for multiple days and will possibly be more sore 24-72 hours following the exercise, opposed to directly after the workout, entitled DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). 

Adaptations of highly strenuous exercise are noted in the oxidative system. Most athletes have been told to take anti-oxidants to help the body recover following strenuous exercise. Oxidative stress directly correlates with a increase in metabolic rate. It is estimated metabolic rate increases 20-fold with exercise, this is with a moderate volume of exercise, not the highly disastrous Ironman event! Therefore metabolic rate adaptations could increase more than twice 20-fold. A recent study by Pinho found Ironman competitors show a signficant increase in two oxidative stress markers (thiobarbituric acid and protein carbonylation) following a competition. This research suggest the need of higher anti-oxidant consumption in Ironman and other endurance athletes.

Enzymatic activity is another area believed to play a role in high levels of stress. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is an enzyme which inhibits adrenalin. One study found statisicially lower levels of SOD which confirms again (yes this is been multi-published) endurance activities decrease adrenalin levels which are directly associated with testosterone levels....just saying, endurance athletes have less testosterone. 

The last two areas which undergo high amount of changes are the thermal and inflammatory systems. Get ready for another obvious fact: body temperature rises during any form of exercise. Much debate has created about accidental deaths in triathlons and it appears these tragic causalities are not due to dehydration, depicted by the media, but by overheating or congenital heart disorders. Overheating can cause many microscopic organelles to malfunction and fail. Some important organelles transport energy, regulatory information and manufacture proteins (not pieces of steak, but the building blocks of life!). These high temperatures need to be addressed as best as possible, but as stated overheating will occur, but knowing proper methods to body cooling and checking with your physician about heart abnormalities is essential for Ironman athletes. 

Finally, inflammatory changes are found. These are the most commonly noted changes with exercise and inflammation can be directly noticed following a training session. Inflammation is noted by analyzing the athletes plasma. In this plasma many protein molecules (typically cytokines) are found which inhibit or cause inflammation. The common cascade is the increase in tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) which recruit interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-10. Interleukin-6 plays a vital role in inflammation as it recruits c-reactive proteins which hault excessive inflammation. IL-1 and IL-10 are anti-inflammatory markers recruited by IL-6. Therefore IL-6 plays a huge role in the inflammation process as it prohibits large inflammation, but monitors excessive changes due to extreme exercise, such as an Ironman. IL-6 is believe to be influenced by glycogen levels and during an Ironman race glycogen levels are nearly depleted which is believed to increase IL-6 levels more than other inflammatory markers during an Ironman. No matter the amount of gel you eat and throw on the ground (how about some biodegradable triathlete food?) glycogen levels will be low in a Ironman competitor (don't believe all the hoopla from the nutrition marketers). 

To conclude, the main findings in the study were similar cellular changes are noted during an Ironman race compared to other exercise activities, but to extreme levels.

Gjohn
References:
1. Pinho R,Silva L, Pinho C, et al. Oxidative stress and inflammatory parameters after an ironman race. Clin J Sport Med. Jul 2010;20(4):306-311.

Triathlon Running Pace

Running speed during the bike to run transition in a triathlon is variable from person to person, but a team of researchers wanted to note if running at 5% faster, 5% slower, 10% slower of their 10-km time trial for the 1st kilometer had a significant difference on the triathletes final time. The study noted a variation of only 20 seconds during the initial km lead to a difference of 150 seconds over the entire run. As with any athletic event, variation is great within each participant, but this statistically significant information is crucial for training and planning for any triathlete.

GJohn
References:
1. Hausswirth C, Le Meur Y, Bieuzen F, Brisswalter J, Bernard T. Pacing strategy during the initial phase of the run in triathlon: influence on overall performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. Apr 2010;108(6):1115-1123.

Triathlon Injuries

Today we are taking a step away from the pool and looking at the ocean in combination with the road. Triathlons are an expanding event which began in the 1970s and was deemed an Olympic event in 2000. This increase has seen an associated spike in injury rate as Injury incidences are between 37% and 91% of triathletes sampled have been reported over specified data capture periods, with reported injury rates ranging from 0.7 to 5.4 injuries per 1000 hours of training participation to 17.4 per 1000 hours of competition1. Most of these statistics are from Olympic or Ironman distance events, but due to the popularity of shorter sprint and "fun" triathlon distances, a study looked at the injury rate at these shorter races compared to the longer races.  The study looked at 6 races in Australia and compiled all the injuries from the race.  These injuries were collected at the first aid station, where all reported injured athletes check in. Two hundred seventeen individual were seen during the competition, representing 2.3% of the total participants. Injury rates was lowest in the Fun distance and highest in the Olympic distance. The Fun distance injured athletes were commonly younger, less experienced, less likely to report having a coach and had less training volume than the longer distance participants. The most common site of injury at the Olympic distance was the foot and toes and the knee was the most common site of injury at the "fun" distance. Abrasion/graze type injuries were the most prevalent in all groups followed by blisters and strains.  The rate of serious injuries (fractures, heat stroke, laceration) was .9 per 1000.  Most injuries occurred during the run (54.1%) leg compared to the cycle (18.4%) and swimming (11.9%) legs.  
p
This study had a lower injury rate than current publications in swimming.  These low rates in swimming are a positive for the sport of swimming, especially open water swimming which is an another up and coming sport.  From 1999-2009 the amount of open water swims in the United States increased 320%. This is an enormous amount and will follow as similar path as triathlons in many areas.  Most notably, shorter open water distances will be more popular opening the range of participants to club swimmers, master's athletes, and lay people.  In fact, the National Championship of Open Water swimming is having races entitled "Sea Sprints".  These races have the participants start in the water and sprint into shore where they are required to run to the finish line.  The Open Water Championships is having these Sea Sprints for various distances and an individual medley event, more information can be found here: http://www.pacificopenwater.com/race-info/sea-sprints.

References:
1. Gosling C, Forbes A, McGivern J, Gabbe B. A profile of injuries in athletes seeking treatment during a triathlon race series. Am J Sports Med. May 2010;38(5):1007-1014.


Age Declines with Triathlons

Age related declines are evident in real life as much as sport. Studies suggest peak age for athletics is 35 years of age, with some exceptions (Dara Torres, hopefully not synthetically enhanced, but I have my doubts)4. Muscle force, endurance, power and aerobic capacity have been documented to decrease 1-2% per year following peak performances (sorry to be the bearer of bad news). These numbers are suggested values in sedentary individuals, luckily there are mechanisms to prevent age related declines. The most prominent decline is in type II muscle fibers (fast twitch muscle fibers). If these muscle fibers are lost most frequently in adults, why are most Master's swimmers apprehensive to do sprint swimming which engages the most of these diminishing muscles fibers? Seriously, anyone I'm still waiting for a good rebuttal. One can argue that performing sprint exercises can be advantageous towards musculoskeletal injuries, but with proper warm-up and exercise progression there is no more risk of injury than overuse injuries secondary to pounding yardage. Moreover, injuries with sprinting are typically muscle strains which heal well with proper managed healing, opposing overuse injuries (rotator cuff tendonitis) can be dehabilitating injuries which may recover with proper management, but is much more complex and typically involves surgeries in later life. I have a few swimmers that swim to stay in shape and loose weight, this is great and important for a healthy lifestyle. However their opinion to loose weight involves swimming 4,000 yards in 1 hour. A lot of their arguments are catered around the notion that moderate exercise burns the most fat, which is true...but (there is always a but) moderate exercise burns less calories. Lets do the math, if moderate exercise burns 65% fat and 35% carbohydrates, but high intensity exercise burns 40% fat, 60% carbohydrates. Once again, theoretically moderate exercise is superior, but lets do the math

Table 1: These total values are estimates1

Activity

Calories

Burned

Fat Percentage

Calories from Fat

Watching TV for 60 minutes

120 calories

60 percent

72 calories

Swimming easy for 60 minutes

350 calories

65 percent

260 calories

Sprinting and strong swimming for 60 minutes

900 calories

40 percent

360 calories

There is my rant on sprinting and calories burned. The article today compares age related declines in the top 10 times for Olympic and Ironman distance triathlons. The study only looked at males over two seasons (2006-2007). First, I will discuss the physisiological response to aging, how it affects the different aspects of a triathlon and how to prevent these disadvantageous changes.

Adaptations Secondary to Aging

As stated, aging decreases the amount of type II (type IIx more specifically) muscle fibers. Type II fibers are the big, explosive muscle fibers, when these fibers are lost muscle mass and strength decrease termed sarcopenia. It is estimated lean muscle mass during adolescence is 50% of body weight, aging declines lean body mass to 25% at ages between 70-80. During sarcopenia, type II fibers may atrophy (shrink in size), transition towards type I fibers, or decrease the volume of satellite cells3. Satellite cells are essential in protein turnover in muscle, more specifically when exercising your muscle are constantly breaking down and rebuilding. This impressive mechanism is one of a kind that damages itself to get stronger, simply unorthodox! Satellite cells are needed during rebuilding of muscles and a decreased volume leads to less rebuilding (don't worry we can help them out, stay tuned).

How are Triathlons Influenced

The main finding in the study noted by Lepers et al. was cycling had the smallest age related decline in performance compared to swimming and running4. Secondly, the study believes running and cycling had a larger relative decrease in performance in the Ironman than the Olympic distance triathlon, but swimming had a similar decline with increased distance4. The reason cycling had the smallest decline in performance is likely due to a variety of reasons. First, it has the least amount of stress on the body. Cycling is low impact allowing athletes to perform high volumes of training without orthopaedic injuries. Orthopaedic injuries are the second hypothesis it has the smallest decline compared to swimming and running. Swimming and running have multiple orthopedic (knee, hips, shoulder) injuries associated with them, but when was the last time you heard of someone being hurt while cycling, other than falling off a cliff on the Santa Monica mountains? The last hypothesis cycling holds off time declines is cycling does not use a stretch shortening cycle which relies on more type II fibers. A stretch shortening cycle occurs when the body utilizes eccentric muscle contraction. For example, the hamstring is the predominant muscle in the back of your thigh. The hamstring is composed of three muscles (biceps femoris, semimembranosus, semitendinosis…in case you were wondering) and their primary collective action is to flex the knee. The most common cause of a hamstring strain is from the “eccentric use of the hamstring” while running. The eccentric use of the hamstring is highest when your leg is extending, off the ground, and swinging forward prior to hitting the ground for your next step. This stage is termed the “terminal swing” (and yes, we realize these sounds more like a carnival ride than a leg movement). The eccentric load is highest due to the amount of stretch it places on the hamstring muscles (this is similar to the strain you feel in a straight leg raise). Eccentric contraction is used in swimming during recovery of the arm in all the strokes, as well as kicking. During kicking, the downkick in freestyle, the hamstrings are contracting eccentricly as they stretch across the hip and pelvis. Eccentric contraction requires less energy, but generates more force requiring type II muscle fibers which are typically decreased in older adults.

Preventive Measures

The old adage, “if you don't use it you loose it” is making a comeback like skinny jeans. To prevent muscle loss resistance training has been proven to reduce the detrimental effects of changing by increasing strength by 174% after 8 weeks. Resistance training can enhance satellite cells, allowing muscles to rebuild. A high intensity, multi-joint lifting program utilizing maximal lifts is the most beneficial and can be performed safely, if it is monitored properly and increases in loads and volumes are made correctly.

Next, it is essential to fuel the system. Once again, older adults naturally loose muscle mass therefore more protein to prevent these changes. The current daily recommendations for protein consumption are .8g/kg of body weight. These values were derived from younger persons, current research protein consumption for older adults needs to be higher, roughly 1.0-1.25 g/kg of body weight to prevent sarcopenia. Information protein timing after a workout can be read in an earlier post found here: http://www.swimmingscience.net/2010/02/weights-wednesday-post-resistance.html. Lastly protein with the 10 essential amino acids, especially leucine, enhances protein synthesis3. Here is a list of foods high in leucine, thank you http://www.dietaryfoodfiber.com.

Leucine food sources Leucine content (grams/ 100 gram food) 2

Soybeans, mature seeds, raw

2.97

lentils, raw

2.03

cowpea, catjang, mature seeds, raw

1.83

Beef, round, top round, separable lean and fat, trimmed to 1/8" fat, select, raw

1.76

Beef, top sirloin, separable lean only, trimmed to 1/8" fat, choice, raw

1.74

Peanuts, all types, raw

1.67

Salami, Italian, pork

1.63

Fish, salmon, pink, raw

1.62

Crustaceans, shrimp, mixed species, raw

1.61

Chicken, broilers or fryers, thigh, meat only, raw

1.48

Nuts, almonds

1.47

Egg, yolk, raw, fresh

1.40

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, bengal gram), mature seeds, raw

1.37

Seeds, sesame butter, tahini, from raw and stone ground kernels

1.36

Chicken, broilers or fryers, wing, meat and skin, raw

1.29

flax seed, raw

1.24

Nuts, walnuts, english

1.17

Egg, whole, raw, fresh

1.09

Egg, white, raw, fresh

1.02

Sausage, Italian, pork, raw

0.96

Milk, sheep, fluid

0.59

Pork, fresh, separable fat, raw

0.40

Hummus

0.35

Milk, goat, fluid

0.31

Milk, whole, 3.25% milkfat

0.27

Soy milk, fluid

0.24

asparagus

0.13

Snap beans, green, raw

0.11

Milk, human, mature, fluid

0.10

Summary

The goal of this paper was not to dwell on the declines of aging. These declines are inevitable, but with the right plan and execution reducing these declines are possible. The more muscle mass embodied, the more one has to decline before detrimental effects are noticed and I challenge each Master’s swimmer and coach to safely push themselves to achieve levels that are atypical for their age!

References:

1. Leucine: food sources high in amino acid leucine. | amino-acids. http://www.dietaryfiberfood.com/leucine-rich.php. Accessed March 10, 2010.

2. Busting the Great Myths of Fat Burning - For Dummies. 2009; http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/busting-the-great-myths-of-fat-burning.html. Accessed March 10, 2010.

3. Koopman R, van Loon L. Aging, exercise, and muscle protein metabolism. J Appl Physiol. Jun 2009;106(6):2040-2048.

4. Lepers R, Sultana F, Bernard T, Hausswirth C, Brisswalter J. Age-Related Changes in Triathlon Performances. Int J Sports Med. Feb 2010.

Does Caffeine Ingestion help short-term high-intensity Exercise?

Take Home Points:
  1. The mean improvement with short term caffeine ingestion was 6.5-9.4%.
  2. Individual variation influences caffeine effectiveness.
Caffeine, who doesn't drink it? Whether you consume a Red Bull with a 4-hour energy
drink stirred in or a Quadruple Mocha Cap' with 12 double shots of espresso, most of Americans consume caffeine in one form or another. However, caffeine is a banned substance and although the 120 mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee will not cause a positive test, it is estimated that three cups of coffee directly before competition can exceed the urinary caffeine limits of 12 micrograms/milliliter permitted by the International Olympic Committee. (For a more detailed and humorous look at the NCAA urinary caffeine limits visit my high school friend's blog at http://www.kastawayblog.com/2009/12/how-many-mocha-frappuccinos-does-it.html.)

Enough about what it takes to be in violation, does caffeine work? There is strong evidence that caffeine is beneficial in long endurance events and this drug is most abused by distance athletes, example triathletes. In trained athletes, caffeine’s main effect is glycogen sparing (which is simply using fats as the primary fuel source instead of glycogen, which is important in endurance athletes because glycogen creates lactic acid and is not as energy efficient as fat).

Today’s study was a systematic review (a study that reviewed other studies) that addressed the efficacy of acute caffeine ingestion for short duration, high intensity performance (less than 5 minutes). Studies have found a multitude of results from short term caffeine ingestion in sports performance and this paper looked to look at generalities from these papers. Unlike endurance events, high intensity short duration events use gylcogen as their primary fuel source, but do not use all of this fuel, therefore it is important not to utilize fat as its fuel source.

Of the 28 studies analyzed, the mean improvement with short events that utilize glycogen sparing for benefit, glycogen needs to be the primary fuel source in high intensity events, therefore a different mechanism needs to be utilized for improvement, proposed mechanism to the right.

Of the 28 studies analyzed, the mean improvement with short term caffeine ingestion was 6.5-9.4%, but variability across studies was great and the amount of caffeine ingested varied greatly (1-5 mg/kg of body weight). As a 160 pound male, 75 kg, 1 mg/kg of body weight keeps me way under the legal limit and is less than one coffee consumed, but 5mg/kg of body weight, 375 mg of caffeine ingestion is on the upper limit of legality (should be legal, but you never know) and is about three cups of coffee. One proposed reason for the variability in results is due to the athletes' training status. Of the studies reviewed, athletes that were highly trained (typically college athletes) showed the most consistent improvement with acute caffeine. Another variable is whether the subject regularly drinks caffeine. Unfortunately, this variable has not been studied greatly, but it appears that subjects who ingested coffee on a regular basis had a more positive effect with the acute ingestion. The last variable is that the subject’s genes. Science time!

Caffeine is metabolized in the liver by cytochrome P450 1A2, but this is remarkably different in individuals. This difference variables the metabolism in individuals, more specifically if a person who is heterozygous (two different alleles) metabolizes caffeine slowly, whereas a person homozygous for this allele is a fast metabolizer which is optimal.

Overall, the physiological effects of caffeine use for high intensity short duration exercises is uncertain, but seems to work best in highly trained athletes (modifiable), who consumes caffeine regularly (modifiable), with a homozygous P450 1A2 allele (modifiable… at this present time). Therefore, this short term ingestion works variably for everyone and should be trialed at workouts prior to competition with various legal limit loads.

Just keep in mind, red bull and/or coffee does not equal caffeine. These drinks have many other ingredients, possibly altering the effects.

Check out:
Friday Interview: Dr. Ricardo Mora-Rodríguez, Ph.D.
Supplements for Swimmers

References:

  1. Astorino, Todd A; Roberson, Daniel W Efficacy of Acute Caffeine Ingestion for Short-term High-Intensity Exercise Performance: A Systematic Review Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research:January 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 1 - pp 257-265.
By Dr. G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science of Health from Purdue University where he swam collegiately. He is the owner of COR, Strength Coach Consultant, Creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder System, and chief editor of the Swimming Science Research Review.

Injury Risk in Ironman vs. Olympic Distance Triathlon Training


Take Home Points:
  1. OD and ID athletes have similar injury rates despite different training.
  2. Triathletes, OD more than ID, have a higher risk for Achilles tendon injuries.
  3. All athletes, especially triathletes, that keep training logs should record workouts with "work:rest" ratios. For example, in swimming 5x100 maximum efforts 4:1 work to rest. This simple means if you were going 1:00 on the 100 maximum effort you would rest 15 seconds.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research recently published an article looking at the effect of event distance specialization on training injury and injury occurrence in triathletes.

The researchers looked at triathletes' past training logs (from 1995) and injuries in British national level Olympic (OD) and Ironman distance (ID) triathletes. Unfortunately, medical records were not allowed to be used by the researchers, but all the participants (12 OD and 18 IR male triathletes) at this elite level keep detailed 5 year training logs and filled out a questionnaire that reported training status and injuries. Previous studies found that 60% of elite OD and 75% of ID triathletes have reported an injury that has caused them to miss one day of training, reduce mileage, seek medical help or take medication. Even though both OD and ID are high endurance events, the ID use more low intensity training compared to the OD triathletes which suggest different injuries should be associated with each distance. Below is a graphic representation of the injuries noted in this study, keep in mind this is study had a small sample size and is of an elite population, therefore it may not be applicable to everyone:

The main findings from this study were that injuries from ID and OD training injuries occur at equal proportions (unlike the 60% OD and 75% ID injury rates noted in previous studies) and the most common site of injury in both types of athletes was at the knee. OD triathletes did have a higher tendency for Achilles tendon injuries, which was proposed to be caused by more hill and speed work. It was also noted that triathletes obtain overuse injuries of the Achilles tendon sooner than single sport runners because triathletes excessively use their Achilles tendon in swimming to plantar flex (point toes) and during running and biking their Achilles is excessively stretched. This cycle is a concern for all multi-sport athletes that train swimming and the study recommends stretching in between swimming and the other activities. 

Another point this article makes surrounds the tracking of exercise in exercise diaries. The article criticizes that triathletes note their training by terminology such as "long run", but this is relative and can range from a 2-5 hour run. Proper training records should include "work:rest" ratios that can be assessed and re-evaluated from event to event.

What do you think about injury occurrences in triathletes? Does OD or ID have a higher or difference injury occurrence?

Reference

  1. Vleck VE, Bentley DJ, Millet GP, Cochrane T. Triathlon event distance specialization: training and injury effects.J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Jan;24(1):30-6.
By Dr. G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science of Health from Purdue University where he swam collegiately. He is the owner of COR, Strength Coach Consultant, Creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder System, and chief editor of the Swimming Science Research Review.

Triathlon Swimming Speed and Biking Performance

Take Home Points:
  1. Swimming effort influences biking performance.
Good week of swimming thus far, some fast collegiate times (Nathan Adrian 19.1 in a brief?), high school times (Dagny 1:53 200 IM), and 9 SCM world records (Biedermann 1:39, 200 free!) Before we get into the bread and butter of swimming, I'm going to review a triathlon article.

The Journal of Sports Sciences, did a review of current race strategies of the swimming leg of the triathlon and provided suggestions to improve race performance. Some interesting facts came up: ultra-endurance triathletes did not have statistically significant power decreases after a 3 hour cycling time-trial following a 3000 meter swim (compared to a 3 hour cycling time-trial by itself). All your triathletes are probably thinking "why even train for the swim, it's only 10% of the race and it doesn't affect my subsequent bike ride". Well, ultra-endurance athletes are swimming at a controlled (about 75% maximum speed) speed and it has been shown that swimming between 80-90% of your maximum speed has no effect on your bike, but if you're a poor swimmer wishing to doggy-paddle a sprint-triathlon it is likely you're swimming at 100% of maximum speed just to finish. This strategy has been shown to decrease bike power by 17%! Another area of swimming that affects overall triathlon place is what position they exit the swim. It is essential to exit the swim in the first pack of swimmers, but at the same time you don't want to exceed 90% of your maximum speed. Some ways the article suggest to accomplish these two points, wear a wetsuit and draft. The conclusion included a couple no-brainers, but the stats and percentages are worth a read.

References:

  1. Peeling P, Landers G.Swimming intensity during triathlon: a review of current research and strategies to enhance race performance.J Sports Sci. 2009 Aug;27(10):1079-85.
By G. John Mullen founder of the Center of Optimal Restoration, Swimming World Magazine Columnist, creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder System, and chief editor of the Swimming Science Research Review.

Mental Toughness Training Program

Mental Toughness Training Program
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