Improve your swim times without getting wet! Dry-land swim training, properly executed, can increase your power, form, and speed in the water. TriDot coaches John Mayfield and Jeff Raines discuss how to supplement your swim training with out-of-the-water exercises. Learn how dry-land training develops swim-specific strength, reinforces proper technique, increases your range of motion, and establishes muscle memory.
TriDot Podcast .035:
The Year-Round Benefits of Dry-Land Swim Training
Intro: This is the TriDot podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile, combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training. Giving you better results in less time, with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We'll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation, and let's improve together.
Andrew: New TriDot podcast up and rolling, and today we are talking about swimming, kind of. Welcome to the show everyone, where today we talk dry-land swim training. Joining us for this conversation is Coach John Mayfield.
A successful Ironman athlete himself, John leads TriDot’s athlete services, ambassador and coaching programs. He has coached hundreds of athletes ranging from first-timers to Kona qualifiers and professional triathletes. John has been using TriDot since 2010 and coaching with TriDot since 2012. John, are you ready to not get wet recording this podcast today?
John: Yes. I don't know if I've ever gotten wet while recording a podcast, but yes.
Andrew: I could arrange for that to happen.
John: Let's stick to the trend.
Andrew: He does sweat a lot.
John: It'll be bad for the equipment, I'm sure.
Andrew: John gets real sweaty during these podcasts. He really doesn't people; he really doesn't.
And also joining us today is Coach Jeff Raines. Jeff has a Master of Science and exercise physiology, and was a successful D1 collegiate runner.
He's qualified for the Boston Marathon multiple times and has raced over 120 triathlons from competitive sprints to full distance Ironmans. Jeff has been coaching runners and triathletes since 2009. Welcome to the show today, Jeff.
Jeff: Thanks, Andrew. I'm super excited to see how my dry-land exercises translate to the water now that pools are starting to open up.
Andrew: So, who am I? I am Andrew, the average triathlete, voice of the people and the captain of the middle of the pack. After our warm-up today, we will talk about ways to train for the swim while on dry land. Then we'll cool down with Jeff and John giving us a little race recon of Ironman Florida. Lots of good stuff, let's get to it.
Narrator: Time to warm up; let's get moving.
Andrew: Alright you all, there are a lot of variations of the game kiss, marry, kill floating around out there. Where for fun as kind of a sort of twisted thought experiment, you decide between three people or like three celebrities, for example, who you would want to kiss, who you'd want to marry and who you'd want to kill. This is commonly done amongst junior-highers high schoolers, frat boys of the world, real mature stuff here.
Jeff: Perfect for us.
Andrew: Perfect for the three of us on the podcast. I was thinking about what the triathlon version of kiss, marry, kill could look like, and I felt like it was awkward to do this with people. But what if we did this today with gel flavors, okay. There are so many flavors of gels out there from all the different companies producing them.
And so if you could kind of decide which one you want to marry, which one you want to kill so to speak, and which one you might want to kiss, which ones would you choose? And this is kind of the way I'm thinking about this. The one you want to marry that's that one gel flavor that if you could only have one gel flavor the rest of your life, you'd be happy with that particular flavor.
The gel flavor you want to kiss is one that maybe you've seen out there that maybe it's a new one, kind of a hot little gel flavor on the side that just got announced by GU or some company, and you're like I kind of want to try that gel flavor, that's your kiss. And then your kill is one that whether you've had it or not, not only do you dislike it, you just want it wiped off the face of the earth, that's how bad you think that gel flavor is. So that's the way we're seeing this today. So, Jeff Raines, I'm going to start with you. What is your kiss, marry kill, gel flavor edition?
Jeff: My go-to flavors, I like I guess this would be the marry. My go-to, I like to kind of taste or crave or maybe even burp a little bit something of a lighter fruity or flavor if I'm out on course. So I like the tropical punch shot blocks a little caffeine, but those gels, tri-berry with a little bit of caffeine in the mandarin orange. So those are just kind of good safe, good flavor, but nothing super heavy for me. So those would be my kind of go-to kind of lighter fun fruitier flavors. The kill, the ones I absolutely hate are the thicker kind of heavier. I love coffee and in lattes, expresso stuff like that, but as far as GUs and being 80 miles into an Ironman bike and maybe it's super-hot and I'm tired, and I'm late into the bike, the last thing I want to do personally is pop caramel macchiato or an expresso flavored for me. And I know some people swear by that, but those kind of thicker ones, I can't do. So I guess those would be my kill. The kiss, the ones I'm intrigued about I would say that I have not tried that I want to, GU actually announced some really cool fun flavors. I'm just going to maybe name one or two of them that I can think of off the top of my head that I got a try.
Andrew: That you want to try, yes.
Jeff: There's one called a hoppy trail, birthday cake, French toast. I mean I love French toast; I probably would hate that GU at mile 80 on the bike course
Andrew: But you're interested in going on a date with it, and seeing if you two get along.
Jeff: And the one that I guess I'm intrigued by, the kiss ''quick kiss'' would be the new flavor tastefully nude. Like that is literally a flavor in GU.
Andrew: So I'm guessing it tastes like absolutely nothing.
Jeff: It's just very interesting.
Andrew: So, John, now that Jeff names like every GU flavor under the sun in his response. That is kiss, marry, kill, and he somehow fit all the flavors in there. John, what are your kind of couple?
John: So I guess I'll marry the Cola flavor, just because I love Cola especially out while racing. That is my go-to kind of nutrition on the run, just like regular actual Cola. So yes, let's put it in a gel form. Kiss, the one that was intriguing salted watermelon; I think that would be kind of refreshing.
Andrew: You enjoy salted watermelon on a hot Texas day.
John: I do, I'm all about that kind of a summer jam. The one I would have to kill is, I love a good IPA, but I cannot imagine, one of the ones that Jeff mentioned, and of course he mentioned them all.
Andrew: Jeff mentioned that he'd want to try this one.
John: He did say all of them, but include in them was Hoppy trails. I love hops and a good beer, but I cannot imagine hops in a gel.
Andrew: I kind of like want to see John try hoppy trails mid-workout now, just to see what his thoughts would be on it.
Jeff: And actually after Ironman, I'd want to kill them all.
Andrew: Yes, you don't want to see any of it.
Jeff: No, that's end of the day; never show me a gel again.
John: For at least six months, I don't even ever want to look at another.
Andrew: There's going to be a lot of people out there that relate to that, that's for sure.
Just to kind of run through mine: my marry, and I've talked on the podcast before about my love of science in sports gels, they're not thick, they're a little bit more watered down, and so they go down really easy.
I've talked about like a couple of favorite flavors for them, but the one I would marry, if I could only have one gel the rest of my life, it would be science in sports lemon and mint. My kiss, the one I've always been intrigued by, I've just never seen them on a store shelf. The untapped maple syrup, where it's not even like a processed gel like it's actually like Vermont maple syrup and that syrup is just so naturally watery, but so naturally filled with electrolytes that it doubles as an energy gel.
I've always been intrigued by those. I've never tried them, but I always kind of secretly wanted to go on a date with one and see how I liked it. So that would be my kiss, and my kill and this is a little backwards because lemon is a fruit and lemon and mint was my marry. But in general, I've never gotten along with the fruit flavored gels. Doesn't matter what the fruit is, doesn't matter what the combination is.
And you guys know I love fruit when we're at staff functions, I've always got some halos with me or an apple, or like I go through fruit like nobody's business. But I would just kill all of the fruity stuff; I would kill the apples, citrus, watermelon, strawberry, tri-berry, mix berry, lemon, lemon-lime, toothy fruity whatever it is if it's a fruity concoction in a gel.
John: It's a massacre.
Andrew: Just kill it. So, Jeff, I guess you and I are polar opposites when it comes to our gel taste because I do like the espressos and the chocolates, and some of those heavier ones as you described them.
Jeff: I could split the variety pack.
Andrew: We could.
Narrator: On to the main set, going in three, two, one.
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One would think that to develop swim fitness; you have to be in the water. Now it may be true that actually swimming in the water is the best way to improve on the swim; there are some great ways to further the fitness on dry land as well. So guys, when we say dry-land swim training, what exactly is that? What does it look like? What can we do on land to continue training for the swim?
Jeff: I would say that any exercise that is performed out of the pool for the purpose of improving your swim speed and your swim efficiency in the pool is considered dry-land swim training. You're dry, you're on land as opposed to in the water, but the sole purpose is to improve the efficiency of your actual in the water swim stroke.
Andrew: So when we're on dry land, and we're looking to kind of work out to improve our swim. What are we actually doing in those exercise sessions to continue building our swim fitness even when we're not in the water?
Jeff: There are a number of things you can do. I mean just kind of general functional strength movements, functional training. You can do tubing exercises, vasa trainers, I mean cable workouts.
Anything that you are going to do on land out of the water to enhance your swimming in the pool is dry-land training. Swim programs, master's programs will incorporate specific strength days where you're in a gym; you have a certified strength and conditioning coach leading those workouts.
Andrew: And they're kind of working out the muscle groups that you use when you're swimming.
Jeff: Absolutely. Or even just full-body workouts to incorporate the core, but yes there are even more specifically kind of more swim specific movements. And inside of that, kind of what most people are thinking in the back of their heads right now is the tubing exercises. And even now being stuck at home and a lot of us don't have hardcore gyms or our trainers coaching us.
So during the COVID times, most people are referring to the majority of their dry-land training being done, utilizing the swim specific tubing. And so during these times, the benefits of these tubing workouts or even just dry-land, in general, is to maintain or even build strength and improve your technique. So let's just say you don't have access to a pool, maybe you're traveling for a week. Maybe it isn't coronavirus related; maybe you're just out of town for a week, you can't get in the pool. So your goal is to maintain your strength that you have built in the water or even build it a little bit through creating resistance. So the tubing bands will create resistance that is greater than the density of the water that you're pulling against, catching and pulling against in the water. So you can build your swim strength by doing dry-land training. So you can improve your swimming greatly without even being in the water.
So our goal like during these times is to try to maintain, we might lose a little bit of the endurance aspect, we're not going to sit there and do tubing exercises for 60 to 70 minutes straight, arguably even more than that. So we can cut that touch to almost in half, and I think we're going to talk about that a little bit later. But really due to the buoyancy of water, arguably eighty to ninety percent of your weight is taken against gravity due to the buoyancy of the water. So the endurance aspect of swimming comes back quicker.
Andrew: I got you.
Jeff: When you get back in the pool. So when you can't get in the pool for a period of time.
Andrew: Normally when we hear that stat, we think oh there's less stress on our body, there's less stress on our joints, and that's kind of the advantage there. But it also helps us build stamina quicker because we're not carrying as much of our own weight in that sport.
Jeff: Absolutely. And so dry-land does not have to be quite as long as the actual time you would spend in the pool. So if you're substituting an hour twenty-minute swim workout, with dry-land exercises you don't need to sit there and do tubing for an hour and twenty minutes or an hour ten, you can cut that down.
Andrew: So let's talk about the logistics of doing dry-land swim training. What do you need to get ready for these kinds of workouts, and where can you go to kind of do these workouts. What's the best way John to kind of implement these?
John: So a lot of this stuff can be achieved simply through bodyweight exercises. So especially a lot of the core, the core is very important in swimming to maintain tautness and continue to provide proper form. So that the swim technique is executed properly, and as we know, things like planks and step-ups and those kinds of things can build the core without any type of equipment, can be done absolutely anywhere.
And there are lots of other bodyweight exercises that can be done to provide just kind of a general strength training session. But also target some of those swim specific muscles. As Jeff mentioned, the stretch tubes are very beneficial and super easy to use, they're cheap and then go anywhere. So they're great for travel, a lot of times when folks travel they don't have access to their pool, so they're a great substitution.
Very easy to pack that in anything. You can do that anywhere hotel room, wherever you are. Twenty minutes a day, get in a fantastic session that's going to, again as Jeff mentioned reinforce the strength, reinforce that proper swim technique, and reinforce the muscle memory that is your swim technique.
And then from there if you have access to a gym, there's a ton of stuff in a gym that you can do that that is really beneficial for these. So it's using more of the machines, some of the heavier weights that again can really specifically target those swim specific muscles.
Andrew: So if an athlete fires up their computer, and they log onto the Google machine, or they get on the YouTube, and they start searching for dry-land swim training, a ton of resources will come up.
And I know this because I've looked. I was curious while I was out there, I've looked through a lot of them and guys they are very different. So tell me this, is there a wrong way or some wrong things to implement into your dryland swimming?
John: Absolutely. So as we've mentioned through the COVID quarantine, there's been a lot of people that have been doing these specifically the tubing sessions. And there have been a lot of videos put out, you'll see them on YouTube or social media, I've seen a ton. And I almost feel like a lot of people just grab some swim tubes for the first time, anchor them on something and just started swinging.
Andrew: Swinging for the fence.
John: Yes, and like a lot of the stuff I see is almost like a blooper reel from the gym. And realistically, one they're not going to be very beneficial and two, they risk not only unproductive but counterproductive. Some of these, when done wrong, are going to lead to injury. So it's very important that especially with these tubing sessions, they're done with good technique.
One to prevent the injury. So we are working muscles, we're working joints, and we need to make sure that we're doing movements that are proper and beneficial. But then, as Jeff mentioned early on, we also want to reinforce proper swim form and techniques. So if we're just out there flailing our arms around, that's not reinforcing proper swim technique.
So we want to be very specific in those movements, especially in times like COVID quarantine where we didn't have regular access to the pool, where we were reinforcing that muscle memory. We want to make sure that we're doing that in these sessions. So that once we get back or when we return, that muscle memory is there, that those proper techniques are reinforced, so you come out better for the wear as opposed to further back then than where you started.
Andrew: I'm reminded of when we first, as a staff, we're getting together, and we're like, “Hey, a lot of people are facing pool closures. Let's kind of talk through getting some materials out to kind of help people train during this time,” and I had never done anything with the swim tubes up until that point. And so I remember we were at TriDot headquarters all together meeting, and we got out a set of the Lane Gainer swim tubes, got them wedged in the door and got all set up, and you guys were showing me for the first time as an athlete how to use them. And when TriDot founder Jeff Booher was walking me through, okay, here is how to kind of set your catch with the swim tubes; this is what it should feel like.
And he was kind of correcting that the position of my shoulder or the position of my elbow and making sure I was doing it right. Like it was showing me some ways that my muscles should feel when setting that catch in a swim stroke that I never felt before. And so clearly my stroke all this time, I wasn't really setting a strong catch this whole time like I could have been.
And so I really the first one, two, three weeks of doing the swim tube workouts was really focusing on my catch. And I feel like if nothing else, I've walked away from COVID quarantine with a stronger sense of what a proper catch should feel like, and for that, I'm all the better. And so I really treated that of hey, focus on the technique, focus on the form, really into your point some of the videos I've seen, people are just blowing their arms as if they're Michael Phelps in the water, really going for it these quick, jerky movements.
It looks nothing like a swim stroke should look like. I'm sure they're wearing themselves out, but what are you actually accomplishing, the heart rate is getting up. And talking about the importance of proper form with these workouts, what are the key technique or form elements that athletes should be paying attention to while tubing?
John: So, as you mentioned, one of the most important things in both the swim stroke and in doing these tubing sessions is that initial high elbow catch. That's kind of where everything starts, so that's the first thing that we want to do.
And in doing so one, I'll say that Coach Jeff Raines and Elizabeth James did a fantastic job creating a fantastic resource that's available out there, that walks through how to execute these tubing sessions properly. Again, to get the strength and to reinforce that proper form.
Andrew: If you guys haven't seen what we're talking about. If you go to TriDot triathlon training on YouTube, that video is there, and it's our swim tubing kind of demonstration video. And hey, here's the proper form, here's what you should look out for, here is how you should do it.
A lot of different camera angles kind of showing Jeff, Elizabeth, and Grant Booher doing it correctly, super helpful resource. If you guys go on YouTube and look for that on the TriDot YouTube channel, that's what John's talking about.
John: Yes. So in the video and all that, the first thing we want to do is work on that high elbow catch. And what that is doing is getting the forearm and the palm into an early vertical position. So that's going to set up the rest of the stroke, that's going to serve as your paddle in the water.
So kind of like if you were rowing a boat with an oar, you would get that paddle in the water early on, and you would get it in a vertical position. You would recognize that if you had that paddle in a horizontal or diagonal position, it's not going to be as effective. So you want to get that paddle deep in the water in a vertical position, that's what's going to allow you to move the water and propel you through the water, whether you're swimming or in the boat.
We also want to get the palm in that vertical position, because basically, the body is going to move away from wherever that palm is facing. So when the palm is in that vertical position, that's it's facing rearward, so it's going to push away from that. So if the palm is flat, so horizontal to like the pool floor or to the ground, that's not where we want the body to go opposite of. So we want to get in that vertical position, so we can push away propel the body forward.
So that's kind of the first thing we want to work on, is getting into that high elbow, vertical forearm, vertical palm. And then we basically want to maintain that for as long as possible. So that middle phase is called the diagonal, that moves from that high elbow catch catch back towards through the stroke, back towards the body and again we want to maintain that vertical position throughout. Then we get into the finish where we want to maintain that vertical palm for as long as possible.
So again, the body is moving away from the surface of that palm. So that's why we want to keep it vertical as long as possible, and then get a good push off of that. So we're starting the stroke with the high elbow catch early on, maintaining all the way through and getting as much as we can out of that stroke from the beginning to the end.
Jeff: Yes. And a couple of just other aspects that we really need to pay attention to while tubing is timing. And the eccentric phase of the tubing is something that I'm going to reiterate on.
Andrew: And the eccentric phase is kind of when you're going back to the start, right? You've gone through your stroke, and you're moving your arms back to the start. You don't come up and over like you would actually swimming in water, you kind of go in reverse through those motions, right?
Jeff: Yes. And so in dry-land, doing tubing exercises what we can focus on is the eccentric phase. After John just mentioned that extension phase, the triceps engaged, hyperextended, slightly hyperextended wrist, you've finished the underwater portion of the ''stroke'' using the tubing.
So instead of just letting that band recoil and throw your arm back to the front of your forehead to start that catch phase again, let that band retrace your steps, the eccentrically, exactly as you did concentrically retrace those steps eccentrically, and let that resistance control slowly in that same timing aspect, get back to the start position so to speak.
John: That's actually one of the real common mistakes I've seen in a lot of these videos that have popped up over the last several months. It's as Jeff mentioned, a lot of times it's that band just whipping the arm back. So yes, you missed the eccentric, and then you miss the opportunity to reinforce that muscle memory of where those positions should be.
Andrew: It's like the people I've seen that do the tubing real well; they do it real well. And the people I've seen that do the tubing not real well, man it's not good when they deal with poor form. We're not going to call anybody out specifically obviously.
Jeff: Well yes, and lastly the timing aspect. So it's kind of understood whether you're tubing or whether you're actually swimming. We don't want to have like maybe a lot of bubbles in the stroke, and what that means is kind of like dead spots. We don't want dead spots in the swim stroke, but inside of that let's call it a 360-degree motion in swimming, maybe it's a 180 so to speak tubing because we're retracing those steps.
But there are no dead spots in the stroke, but your arm is moving at different speeds. There are different timing aspects of the stroke inside of that 360-degree motion. And so what I see a lot of is people really rush and hurry that first initial catch phase, because it's understood you want to kind of quickly initiate the high elbow catch.
But once you've kind of gotten to that high elbow position, we want to actually be controlled that first half, even that first third of the underwater stroke and with the tubing. So we don't want to press too hard and too fast. You may have heard the term or the phrase “grip it and rip it,” or “accelerate through the underwater pull.”
Andrew: I heard you use the phrase “grip it and rip it” on the swim tubbing video on the TriDot triathlon training YouTube account
Jeff: I stole that, but it is becoming very popular across the industry.
Andrew: It's a good wordplay that really paints a picture of what you're trying to do under the water with your arm.
Jeff: Yes, exactly. So I would like John said, initially engage the high elbow catch. But you're going to accelerate through that. So that first half of the tubing exercise don't jerk the arms, don't drop that elbow, don't overuse the deltoid. Grip at first, rip it, be patient.
And then as you accelerate through the finish, the diagonal and that extension phase, then you can start to speed up the arms. So timing and eccentric phases of the tubing exercises are things that I highly encourage that you really be intentional about.
Andrew: So if I have a swim session coming up, and I know I'm traveling or I know I'm just going to be out of my normal routine and I just can't get in my swim session in the water. I'm looking to replace those 60 minutes with something on dry land. How should I allocate or spend those 60 minutes? And I'm saying is we talked a little earlier about 20-20-20 we talked a little bit about during COVID-19, what we were telling people to do. But just in a general training week where we were just out of your routine for a day. How would you advise somebody to spend that time they might have spent in the pool?
Jeff: And so this can apply not just to kind of swimming in dry-land. I mean some people will have a let's say a free day, they I got off work early. I've got the next six hours, eight hours or all day long to allocate to whatever I want. So now what I'm going to do is cram or over train or add an hour to my bike ride. So now if you're not going to be able to swim and you're traveling, and you have an hour and 15 minutes like you said you allocated to swimming.
Andrew: An hour-ish.
Jeff: An hour-ish and you can't get that in; 20 to 30 minutes of intentional tubing will maintain or build the strength aspect that you would get from that longer swim session. And then, like John said, it would even help enhance your biomechanics of your stroke if you do it correctly. So instead of just fulfilling that extra 30 minutes to 30, 45 minutes or the rest of your day with junk miles or deviating off of your plan.
My main thing I mean I would stress even, I've seen this where a lot of athletes want to just straight up during times where maybe they're injured. Maybe they break their wrists or something, and what they want to do is just go in and double up their cycling or add more run miles, and just completely get rid of swimming. What I would do is stick to the plan, but instead of swimming, do these 20 minutes type tubing exercises.
And then fulfill the additional time with aspects of the sport that are going to make you a better, faster athlete that you don't normally do. What are the things that we cough up first or the most in a busy week, probably visualization techniques?
Andrew: For me, it's definitely stretching and foam rolling. For me, I should do that more.
Jeff: Foam rolling, reading blogs, reading your favorite triathlon book. Reaching out to experts in the field asking them questions, stuff like that. So there are tons and tons of...
Andrew: Going back and listening to your favorite episode of the TriDot podcast!
Jeff: Boom. Doing things like that and educating yourself without overtraining can make you a better, stronger athlete without adding additional workouts.
Andrew: So is there a benefit to dry-land swim training as a part of a regularly scheduled tri training week? Or is it really just a substitute for those occasions where you can't get to a pool?
John: Absolutely. As we've mentioned, it's really about building strength and reinforcing proper technique. So our times being in the pool is primarily formed in fitness. So often times strength kind of takes a tertiary role in that. It's relatively hard to build strength in the pool, especially once you kind of reach that critical mass. So a swimmer new to swimming, hence spent a whole lot of time in the pool, they will get stronger, they'll develop those muscles.
They'll be sore and tired after a session, but that's going to plateau relatively quickly. And there it's kind of hard to build strength in the pool. So again we're really focusing on form and fitness that's stamina, but it's a great opportunity to continue to build strength. And as Jeff was mentioning these phases of the stroke, we want to be explosive on that second half. That comes through strength and powering those muscles.
So the dry-land exercises are a great opportunity to increase strength. So if you don't have access to a pool, so whether you're traveling or whether you're in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, these are great. But they really should be incorporated throughout your training career.
Andrew: And I think that's a great message for us to really convey here, because I know I had never really been exposed that kind of training until this kind of COVID season kicked up. And we were looking for ways to kind of encourage people to keep the swim training going with pool closures.
But it's something that's been around for a while; it's something that Jeff Booher, our founder, has been a huge fan of for years and years and years. As soon as pools were closing, I mean he was like oh yes, people should use the tube, they'll be fine because he's that confident in what training with the swim bands can do for your fitness. And I think it's great for people too; it's kind of, the COVID Quarantine kind of time without pools has really kind of revitalized that in a lot of athletes minds that maybe weren't aware of it, or maybe had let tubing fall by the wayside.
But since we're acknowledging that, this is something that's valuable year-round whether you have a pool or not. I mean there's benefit to working those tubing in, working some strength stuff in the gym, working some flexibility stretching stuff in.
So Jeff, tell me this, in a normal training week. I've got my swim sessions; I got my bike sessions, my run sessions they're all scheduled. Some athletes have strength in stretching sessions kind of on their plan as well, what is the best way to schedule in just logistically time for dry-land tubing. Where in the week does it fit in the best?
Jeff: During the coronavirus pandemic, I really fell in love with tubing. During this time, I have been doing them strategically, intentionally two to three times a week for two-plus months straight without swimming, and I am sold. I have now come to a point where I have done three open water swims after spending a couple of months not swimming once. And I have found that strength aspect, my form aspect felt amazing while swimming.
Just not swimming for a number of months, getting in I felt great, I was only a matter of seconds off on my average pacing or pace per 100 maybe base on open water swimming. And so I'm a firm believer that we need to be using these tubing exercises, even overall general dry-land exercises need to be incorporated more so than just supplementing swims.
Even when we are swimming two to three days a week straight, we still need to be mixing in these tubing exercises as part of our strength sessions. But also you can strategically mix those in kind of like the scenario I just gave.
Andrew: So it's really like taking, whereas in the past maybe a lot of us would have the mindset that oh I went to the pool on Monday, I went to the pool on Friday whatever your swim days are. Swim check checked off my swim stuff for the week.
Maybe it's changing from that mindset to the mindset of okay I went to the pool for the week, now let me get in my dry-land stuff because that's really the well-rounded picture of what swim training is. It's not just what you do in the pool, but it's what you can do out of the pool to fully well-round yourself as a swimmer.
John: I think even so with the regular swim training that we do, we do a lot of leg exercises, we do a lot of core exercises that reinforce and help injury prevention with the biking and the run. So it just makes sense that we would specifically target the swim as well.
Andrew: So like we've alluded to at the time of this recording, and at the time that we've been putting out a lot of dry-land swim kind of material. It's because we're in this season where a lot of athletes worldwide are in different stages of social distancing for COVID-19. Some people have access to pools now some people still do not, so dryland tubing has been a big focus for us in this season at TriDot.
Well, like we said, we've put out a video kind of covering our recommended tubing method. We've even been on Social Media on Facebook in the I AM TriDot Facebook group. You guys coaches have been critiquing, athletes they've been uploading kind of selfie videos of themselves doing the tubing, and you guys have been able to give real-time feedback on the proper technique, the best way to do it, what they need to fix.
So we've really been going all-in on trying to help athletes work on their form, do the right training right, doing the tubing exercises right. And a part of that was a really cool thing that TriDot decided to do called the Dry-Land Swim Challenge. And so John, just kind of tell us a little about what the Dry-Land Swim Challenge looks like. And what we as a company have hoped to learn from it from the athletes participating.
John: So we want to see what is the effect of long-term time outside of the pool. So this quarantine has largely presented a unique opportunity, in that we can get swimmers to not go to the pool for months on end. This is a unique time, and that when hopefully are we ever going to have that opportunity again. You never say, “Hey swimmers, let's do a study where you just don't go to the pool, and some folks might be opting in for that, but most folks are like no, I'm going to go to the pool and I'm going to swim because that's what we do.”
So it's a unique opportunity to see what happens when swimmers don't go to the pool. So that was a response as you mentioned when all this first when we started seeing the pool closures, and so we no longer have access to swim training is what can we do as an organization to provide our athletes with resources? And as you mentioned is where the tubing came from.
We created the videos and sent out the structured training, and we created this challenge. So basically it was an incentive to provide these athletes to go in to do the tubing sessions and to follow these sessions that are prescribed. But at the same time, we wanted to see what the results were of those that decided not to do the tubing sessions, and we're not going to do really any structured plan.
Andrew: Yes. So we have athletes that are participating in the Dr-Land Swim Challenge and are doing absolutely nothing as participants.
John: Yes. So we have over 800 people participating in this, the majority of them have said yes, I'm going to do the tubing sessions, but there are some that have said that they're not going to. And so what we're going to do at the end of the day is compare results when we get back. Something that we've mentioned throughout is doing this work in order to maintain and even build our strength.
So we don't have a crystal ball to see exactly what these results are going to be, but we're quite optimistic that some folks are going to actually have better swim times when they come back because of the increased strength and because of the increased focus on proper technique that's going to directly translate to their pool swimming.
So that's kind of what it is, it's a unique opportunity just to kind of see what is the outcome of swimming when we don't swim for weeks and months on end. But we are able to do these specific structured tubing sessions.
Andrew: Yes. So if someone's listening to this podcast right when it releases, we're kind of still in the thick of that study and kind of learning and kind of gathering that data as some athletes are getting back in the pool, and others are still not quite back in the pool. Somebody finds this podcast a couple of years from now, circle back with us and maybe we can tell you what we learned from that the season where nobody was swimming.
John: Yes. And absolutely because we hunger for knowledge, we're always looking for innovations. And so this is exactly the kind of things that we're looking to do, is how can we improve. And so now as I mentioned several times, we have a unique opportunity to learn here.
And so we've always said that insight changes everything, so this is an opportunity for us to gain some insight. And yes, we're going to change most likely what we do based on what we learn here. So it's a kind of a positive spin on a rough situation, but looking forward to where this goes.
Andrew: And Jeff, you did mention earlier that you personally had really enjoyed the swim tube workouts. So it was something that you hadn't really been doing a lot of, but now you're sold you're going to continue to do it.
So with the other athletes and the TriDot family that have been participating in the dry-land workouts and have been doing the tubing, what is the feedback been from other athletes about implementing these dry-land workouts?
Jeff: The biggest feedback that I've gotten is kind of what John was saying. Athletes, their first or second swim back whether it is in a pool or they're just starting to mix in a little bit of open water swimming is, it's like John said, their purpose is just to get a feel for the water. And so most people, one it's a curveball of I haven't been in any water like this in months.
But then now I got to throw a wetsuit on there, and remember how to do the wetsuit and just all these things. So people's sole purpose is just to get in, put that wetsuit on, go for that open water swim and just enjoy being actually in the water for once.
But the feedback that I'm getting is that even though their sole purpose and focus is just reorienting themselves with that water, they're surprised when they go home and look at the data in that their average pace per hundred or man that section I was just focusing on cruising or hand position or whatever, but I happen to be almost within a second or two of my average pace for that race, my last race of my peak of last season.
So I've had a number of athletes, and that's part of the reason why I coach, I mean I love those “aha click moments,” I love the random phone calls or texts like, “I got in the open water and look, oh my gosh the timing aspect of that catch phrase is just something I never clicked with me, but now the tubing band exercises I was able to actually do it. I spend the time on it and think about it, and it just happened, it did it, and it clicked.”
And so people are excited as they're getting back in the water because they're seeing that their speed has not faltered that much or as much as they thought it would. But also they're excited to get back into the real routine because once that endurance aspect is built on top of just this great foundation they have built, they're just going to take their swimming to a whole other level.
And so I'm getting excited and motivated just talking about the few athletes that I'm already seeing this positive trend with, I just can't wait to see what the TriDot community and even the industry as a whole.
John: So we have seen a whole lot of kind of light bulb moments, and it's again another opportunity that has been is one, for these athletes to perhaps receive some of that critique in a different light. So it's one thing when you're trying to float in water and trying to propel yourself through water to do these things. You're thinking about breathing and kicking and all that, so it can be more difficult.
Andrew: And then the coach is trying to help set up to catch properly, that there's a lot of other things going on in that moment.
John: Right. So this has been an opportunity really to isolate some of these things. And there's just been a ton of those light bulb moments kind of as Jeff described that oh, this is what it feels like, this is what a high elbow catch is. And so, I think there's just kind of a shared optimism of I can't wait to get back in the water and try this out, so that's been neat. And something else that we've been doing and encouraging athletes to do is just to post videos of themselves tubing through our Facebook group, and our coaching staff has been providing feedback.
And so that's been a unique opportunity for us to provide feedback, and to point out some areas for improvement. Whereas it's much more difficult for us to do analysis on videos for all the athletes, it's not feasible for us to do. But these tubing sessions are pretty quick and easy to video; they're quick and easy to provide that feedback. So it's been a unique opportunity for us to provide that back to the athletes. So just a lot of good stuff, a lot of optimism as we head back into the water.
Andrew: Well, you all, if you have somehow listened to all this and not felt motivated yourself to get some swim bands, start doing some tubing exercises, spend a little bit more time, not a ton more time, just a little bit more time in the gym, strengthening some of those swim muscles, work on your flexibility a little bit, spend just a little extra time on dry land to help your swim in the water, if you don't feel motivated to do that after all of these stories, and all this from John and Jeff, I don't know what's going to make you do it. So go get some tubes, jump on board and realize that the work towards a faster swim split can happen even when you're out of the water. There's a lot we can do to capitalize and strengthen ourselves with swimmers. So guys thanks for sharing all that, and I know I've got some tubes, let’s go do work out.
Narrator: Great set everyone; let's cool down.
Andrew: For our cooldown today, as promised John and Jeff are going to give us a race recon of Ironman Florida. It's a really popular race here in the United States. A great time of year November in Florida, right on the gulf coast of the state beautiful area. And a lot of folks are really interested in that race, a lot of people have done that race, a lot of people are looking to do that race. It was one that I considered when I was going to kind of sign up for my first Ironman; I highly considered an Ironman Florida.
And so just for any folks out there who are maybe in that boat, or they're thinking about that next Ironman, they want to toe the line at. Maybe they're trying to decide what they want to transfer to or defer to from another race; they can kind of hear just a little bit today from you guys about that race. I will go ahead and on the front end John, I'll plug that you have on our YouTube account which is getting a lot of talk in this episode, we do have about a 45-50 minute long talk where you give the play-by-play of what it's like to do that race. It's a Race Recon Webinar series that you do such a great job with. And on YouTube TriDot triathlon training, there's a full length of video with all this information we're going to share and more.
But just for some of you guys who haven't watched that, you just kind of want to hear the high-level stuff, let's talk about it. So, John, this was your first Ironman, Ironman Florida, you've raced it several times. Tell us why you personally love that race so much.
John: You're right, I do, and as my first, it's special one. For me going back, I've been back several times. It's almost a pilgrimage back. And I know it's special because it was my first, but there's just something about Ironman Florida.
In the time of year, as you mentioned this November, the summer peak season is over the snowbirds have yet to arrive. So Panama City Beach is just taken over by triathletse just like we have our own little village there on the beach.
Andrew: A little bit of paradise.
John: I would almost compare that to Kona, it's a very similar experience there where the week of the World Championship, it's the little village of Kona is overrun with triathletes. The same thing happens every November in Panama City Beach, Florida. So even you go to Walmart, and 80% of the people you see you know are triathletes.
Jeff: I have to cut John off, like I travel with John to tons of events and races. John's at tons, if not almost all Ironmans throughout the year, at least in the States. And for some reason, I noticed this last year; he was just tickled to death that Ironman Florida was coming up. Like we were excited to be all of them, we loved being out there supporting our athletes at the races events.
But I got this feeling like man, why is John so gung-ho, Florida's a month away, it's two months away. Like we have two or three other ones in between here and there, like why is he talking about Florida so much, and so being around John, like I can honestly say that he has a special place in his heart for Ironman Florida. So sorry I had to cut you off.
John: And I do, I love sharing it with people. And so yes, if an athlete wants to do Ironman go do Ironman Florida. It's a fantastic venue whether you're a first-timer or seasoned veteran, it's a fantastic race. The logistics are great; it's a summer vacation town. So as I mentioned before, all the summer vacationers are gone so there's just a ton of condos right on the beach, you can walk out your back door, and you're in this beautiful white sand, and then you put your feet in the crystal-clear water.
It's just amazing, and really the rates that time of year are incredibly affordable, and there's just a lot of neat stuff in the town. Ironman village is very accessible from all of these condos and hotels and rentals, and just a great vibe, just unique. Really, every Ironman has its own kind of feel, kind of personality, but you get that kind of beach feel at Ironman Florida for good reason in this amazingly beautiful beach. And again I live on the Texas Gulf Coast, and it just doesn't compare. I can go down to the beach in Galveston; I can be there in 30 minutes from my front door. But there's just something about that beach in Panama City that's just fantastic.
But it's known as a flat, of course well; it's a gulf swim which is kind of a toss-up you never know what it’s going to be which kind of adds to the excitement. Many times I've been in there on race day, and the Gulf of Mexico looks like a lake. It's a glass top crystal-clear water that you can see 30 feet down through, other days kind of depending on the winds and the currents, it could be six foot plus swell, so it can be very challenging.
Andrew: Which to me, it's kind of fun at that point, that's not so big that it's intimidating. But it kind of does add a little texture and a little adventure to the swim. I know we all went the flat tranquil swim, so we have the faster time. But at 6 feet, you can have a good time out there.
Jeff: But even like, and I don't know we're kind of cutting you off here, John. But I want to say that like you mentioned Florida being a good course for maybe a first-timer good time of year, faster, flatter type course. But the cool thing about Florida is that, and I'm sure you're going to elaborate on this but like it's a two-loop swim.
So like those more timid swimmers, you're not just 1.2 miles out from shore and have another 1.2 miles to get back to shore. So there's a safety net in that, you get to get out take a break, run across the sand, get back in. And so I just wanted to mention that it's one of the fairly rare swim courses where you actually get out.
Andrew: Which I've never done that. I know there's a lot of local events that they'll have an Olympic in a Sprint, and the Olympic will be two or three loops of the Sprint course, and you get out you walk the shore. I've never had that experience before, and so I've always been like does that spike your heart rate or do you stay relaxed and get to walk?
John: I love it. For me I like segments, I like knowing I'm making progress. So for like Ironman World Championship, you basically swim out 1.2 miles turn around and come back. It's a gorgeous, beautiful, unique swim opportunity, but that's kind of mundane and especially if most don't have the clear water of Kahlua Bay.
And so you'd be staring at nothing for all that time. One of the great things about Florida for me is you swim out away, you go over, and you come back and do that again. So I kind of have the mantra if you did it once, I can do it again. Kind of think I'm halfway, that wasn't so bad. Actually, that was kind of a lot of fun, I'm going to do that one more time.
Andrew: Kind of let you reset a little bit.
John: Yes. And the kind of the section on the beach is just a nice little reset. So you can kind of get your facilities back and refocus, and go do it again. And crowd support is great, Mike Riley's or whoever's calling the races out there, it's just really cool again kind of a unique experience there.
Andrew: So you come out of the water, and a lot of folks they look at elevations of the bike and the run and kind of decide from there okay, which course do I want to do. And so what is the bike and run experience like it in Ironman Florida?
John: So it's flat, it's perhaps the flattest U.S course. I believe the elevation gain is under a thousand feet, which is hard to achieve at a 112-mile distance. And some folks will look at that and compare it to say a Lake Placid or Wisconsin that has close to 10,000 feet of elevation gain, and consider it an easier course. But really the variable in Florida is the wind, is you're literally right there on the coast.
Andrew: I'm a hundred and thirty-five pounds; I mean the wind can bully me real quick.
John: I've been out there on some days that course can go from very friendly to very challenging and very difficult, it all depends on which way the wind is blowing and how much. And oftentimes it's going to be blowing off the coast as a rule, but you never know. And yes even as you get more inland that wind can shift.
So there are even some crazy visuals of the wind blowing between some of these high-rise condos on the beach, that as of last year they made some changes to the bike course that actually spend more time on the beachfront road, and you can really get hit hard with some crosswinds funneling through those high-rise condos. So even though the challenge at Ironman Florida is not the elevation, the challenge is much more in the wind. So again it kind of depends on what's going to happen on race day, and you never know until it happens.
And then the run is a great community feel, you start on the beach, you go through the neighborhood which has just a great turnout, you're just running down a residential street, and those folks know it's Ironman time. They know it's race day, and they turnout in their front yards and it's just a great big party. And one of my favorite things, I always point this out on the webinar as well, is every Ironman is sunup to sundown.
But there's just something about Ironman in Florida where you stand on that beach in the beach; I'm getting goosebumps talking about it. You're standing on the beach watching that sunrise over the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and then later that day, you're watching the sunset.
And usually, the time change is that night, so the Sun is starting to set relatively early. So most folks are either finishing after dark or at least that sun is getting real low on the sky, and there's just something about that sunset over the beach that just really makes it a special and unique opportunity.
Andrew: Just hearing you talking, I'm thinking back to the Brad Pitt movie Money Ball. Where he's the baseball manager for the Oakland Athletics, based on a true story of the Oakland A's.
John: Billy Beane.
Andrew: Billy Beane, yes. But he has kind of a little monologue in that movie, where he goes off on this dialogue with all this baseball footage in the background, and he's like how can you not be romantic about baseball? And hearing John talking about Ironman Florida, like how can you not be romantic?
John: I don't get romantic about a whole lot of stuff, but Ironman Florida is.
Andrew: Alright. Well guys, if you are interested in ever racing Ironman Florida, again we have a whole shebang of John breaking down the logistics of the race. Where you should stay, things you should do while you're there. How does T1 work, how does T2 work, he really breaks down each leg of the race, each segment of the race while he's out there? He covers them just thoroughly on our YouTube channel TriDot triathlon training.
So if you really want more information, I encourage you to go there. And man I'm wondering in my head, I'm signed up for Ironman Texas, and I'm listening to John like am I going to be on the wrong course environment Texas wishing I was running by the beach in Florida?
Jeff: Now, how many signups are going to happen after listening to this?
Andrew: Well, that's it for today folks, a big thanks to Coaches John Mayfield and Jeff Raines for furthering our swim training on dry land. Shout out to TriBike Transport for partnering with us on today's episode. Head to TriBikeTransport.com to reserve a spot for your bike as you head to your next big race.
Enjoying the podcast? Have any questions you want to hear our coaches answer? Head to TriDot.com/podcast and click on submit feedback to let us know what you're thinking. We'll do it again soon, until then happy training.
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