Do You Need To Train To Train?

Here's a good way to think about your training, particularly if you're getting back into your swimming (or any other sort of exercise) after a lockdown lay-off:

We all want to get to a fitness level we've not hit before, to set some big fat PBs. To get to that level you're going to have to do some hard training - executing some great sets and sessions consistently over a solid training block (of perhaps 8-10 weeks).

The thing is, you're not fit enough to execute that training right now and even if you could somehow do each session you'd never recover well enough to absorb the work and for your body to make those adaptations you are looking for. You'd be in pure survival mode.

So, you should be thinking: What training do I need to do to get myself to the level of fitness I need to execute that training block successfully?

Call it "training-to-train".

Keep focused on what you can do right now

Of course if you are coming back from a long break from training (say a pandemic lockdown) then right now you might not even be able to swim a training set without breaking down. So you might need three of even four levels of preparation:

I need 4-6 weeks training to swim proper sets again. Then 8-10 weeks of full sessions to get to a decent base level. Then 8-10 weeks training to build to PB fitness. 

That is "training-to-train-to-train".

This way of thinking means you are really clear on what you are trying to achieve at any moment in time. It gives you both a short term goal (keeping you "in the now") and a long term objective (which is very motivating).

In the good old days coaches used to lay out a periodised plan with a base phase (lots of low intensity work), then build phase (increasing intensity), then event specific work (focused on race pace).

Training-to-train is similar but we're not talking about dramatically changing the types of sessions along the way as you would in a base -> build -> race progression. You can perform very similar sessions for each phase but gradually the sessions get longer and the paces increase slightly with your fitness level. In a way you're always in a "build" phase with the ideal mix of training and technique work to improve as quickly as possible.

See our extensive training plans in the Swim Smooth Guru for the perfect mix of sessions and tools to track your fitness accurately: www.swimsmooth.guru


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