SWIMRUN Training Tips
So you've probably trained for a running event before, probably trained for a swimming event or a triathlon before. The key difference with swimrun racing is that you may be racing with a partner, in unusual attire, in the water, out the water, repeat.
For teams, best practice is to train with your partner, if you can. If you can't then not to worry, you'll just have to treat the first third of your swimrun race as training - this can go well, and it can go very wrong.
RUNNING IN A WETSUIT
The second thing to get your head around is running in your wetsuit - it's perfectly OK to cut down an old thin wetsuit and race in this. Although the first time you cut your wetsuit it feels like sacrilege, it is how many swimrunners start. You may want to invest in a swimrun specific wetsuit further down the line, they provide the advantages of having the zip on the front, and greater flexibility in the legs. There are many run sections that you will want to unzip your wetsuit and roll it down to the waist ("cab down"). The easier it is to do this the faster your transition will be.
We have thoroughly tested, and can recommend the HEAD Aero which we reviewed here. The man behind the design of the HEAD Aero has now go on to set up ARK Sports - also very good swimrun wetsuits.
So wetsuit sorted - put it on and go for a run!
SWIMMING IN SHOES
Swimming in trainers is no drama. It's just like swimming, except you've got trainers on. Just wear whatever you normally wear for trail running. Want to splash some cash on a new pair? Then key features are grip, weight (when dry & when wet), drainage, tread, comfort!
Using a pull buoy to increase buoyancy help keep your legs floating and aligned. Check out our article on gear to see how to modify your pull buoy. Note when in and out of water your laces (if you use them) can magically untie so make sure you triple knot them, or opt for the lock/bungee laces.
JOINED AT THE HIP
Next up is to try swimming, transitioning and running with a tow system. Coming from a kayaking and white water perspective I was initially very reluctant to tether myself to someone else in the water, now I wouldn't have it any other way.
Look out for my next blog post specifically on the tether coming soon!
With training the tether can become very effective on the run sections too.
Something that might catch newcomers out is you get given a race bib to race in. This makes unzipping and peeling down your wetsuit slightly more awkward, and will add a little extra drag on your swim.
Try all of the above whilst wearing an old race t-shirt to mimic the bib.
ALL THE GEAR
Forgetting about the kit for a moment, remember the basics - hill training is possibly the most effective run training, so work it into your training schedule. Swimming ten to twenty sets of 100m to 250m at 80% is a good way to improve your swimming endurance, and along with a few swim coaching sessions to improve technique you should see improved efficiency and speed.
The best swimrun gear in the world is no where near as good as lots of consistent training.
One thing I did before Coniston was to write down the 8 swim distances and complete them in the pool (resulting in a great 5km swim session). After each swim distance I pulled myself out of the deep end ("deck-up") had a cold shower and jumped back in, just to mark the end/start of each "transition".
If you can get some swim - run - swim - run sessions in your training then that's ideal. It might be worth a weekend in Wales/Lake District/Scotland/coast/ suitable wild area to facilitate this. Might be worth reading Decision Making In The Wild before you embark on any epic swimrun journey.
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