Ahh beautiful sunny Sydney. The family flew down late yesterday and I’m sure the rest of the passengers in ear shot were delighted with Mack’s screams (due
to all the exciting things that are going on outside the plane as it ready’s for take off – and to ensure mummy and daddee were also seeing these ‘exciting’¬† things happening).

We tend to forget we were all kids once!

So tonight we have my dads 60th. Big do and I still need to finish my speech. So between that and getting out some coached athlete plans, this QnA and a couple of meetings (read exciting developments) I have my work cut out today.

Glad I was up early and got my brutal swim session done. That one hurt ūüėČ If any Sydney siders live in the inner west, then head to the Annette Kellerman
pool. A great 50m indoor aquatic centre and I can’t believe I had a lane to myself at what I would consider peak swimming time on a Friday morning.

Ok lets get to this Friday QnA

Q: Hey Kristian

Hoping you may be able to add this to your Q&A or even answer in directly? Also you were looking at possibly creating a base training plan for me, similar to what you would follow in the lead up to me starting the TS Ironman Blueprint in November.

I’ve just started back swimming¬†after 12 months away from the pool. I have never been a strong swimmer and basically taught myself from magazines and dvds a few years ago.¬† I’ve always had some form of program to follow, but find¬†the sessions hard to achieve as I really don’t have the skills needed.¬†I’m always fighting against the water and never getting anywhere or making progress.¬†Are you able¬†to share some of your expert advice and perhaps give me a¬† back to the basics guide of what is my best approach to start back (as a real novice), what sort of sessions etc. ?

Regards Scott Hunter

A: Hey Scott,

Development plan is in the works. I have been swamped but that’s no excuse. For those interested in a ‘base’ development plan, I’ll release that in the next week before I head to NZ to present an 8h class on integrating TP Therapy Tools with Power Plate.

Ok on to your main question. I would say your in a similar predicament to many triathletes. Non swimming back ground, self taught and trying to decipher what you should actually focus on.

Back to basic guide.

1. Use a big ass pull buoy. Sure it goes against what most people teach but I really don’t give at rats about that. Many times not conforming to the status quo is how you progress in leaps and bounds. I couldn’t write it any better why a big PB is going to help you swim better. The weaker you swim the more important this is: Read this from Brett Sutton.

2. You NEED to fall in love with swimming and understand it’s going to take some time. For me the essence of the underrated t riathlon swim is being able to get out of the water without it have taken a crap load of energy from you. Being sufficiently swim fit will allow better performances in your bike and run. “Swim training IS run training”.

3. TYR Catalyst hand paddles in XS ¬Ö YES extra small. I don’t care what the packet says. Most triathletes aren’t good enough swimmers to be able to use dinner plate paddles. Unless your swimming very low 50’s or under, you only need XS paddles. Get them from wiggle here. Use these at certain times because they allow you to swim solidly without a high HR thus you develop strength without overly taxing your aerobic system.

4. Read this post from Joel Fillio. Top 20 rules for swim – sure some of this will go against some things I or others say but those 20 or actually 21 rules are on the ball and Joel definitely knows what he is doing.

5. I have added a snorkel to my swim tools. This allows me to stop excessive hip rotation (when that happens on your breathe side, you then overcompensate with your opposite arm and leg ie. they go wide for counter balance to stop you over rotating and thus slows you down. So adding in easy snorkel pull sets where you focus on good stroke technique will help you transfer to your swim. Repetition is your friend.

So in essence for you Scott and others in this predicament. Fall in love with swimming. Don’t worry about drills but use tools to help develop your swim. Get swim fit by swimming more. Make sure you do your pecs and t-spine manipulations and mobility work.


Q: Hi Kristian –

1) If I truly go “all out” then the first 5 or so power intervals are my best and after that the output (watts) drops off as I go on. Watts are about 20%-25% less by the last interval over the first.

Is this still useful, or should I be moderating the first few so I can be consistently stronger all the way through?

2) Occasionally I’m mentally weak and add in extra 1min rests (e.g. 4 sets of 5x1min with an extra 1 min rest after each set). When I do this I can sustain a higher output through all 20 intervals than if I do them back to back. Is this a good thing, or is it better just to do them all back to back? I know which one tests me more mentally, but what about physically?

3) I can achieve a far higher output doing power intervals on the bullhorns versus aerobars. What’s the preferred position?

Gerrard Smith

A: Hi Gerrard,

Thanks for your questions.

1. You should be able to increase the amount of reps you can sustain wattage at over time. Sure at first you will drop watts etc ¬Ö the important thing here is that it’s all out at a high enough resistance to get 40-45rpm. Thus it’s your legs that should be failing not your CV system as the rep is only 1min at a time. Another point I cannot stress enough is the recovery aspect. Most athletes spin too much here and keep the HR/ watts etc too high and
don’t get optimal recovery for the next rep. The 1min off portion you should have limited resistance and just turning the legs over.

There is nothing wrong with your moderating the set a little to be able to push hard over the last few reps. Those are the ones that count. Those last really uncomfortable ones where you need to use all your will power to push through that uncomfortableness. That is where the real training is done.

2. Doing them as 20 straight is mentally tough .. but it strengthens your mental muscle which will come in use on race day. If you give yourself an ‘out’ you develop the habit to do this in training and if you do it in training that little voice will convince you that it’s ok to back it off a little (killing your goals) in racing.

3. Do them on the bull horns. This session is not about being aero. this session is about recruiting as many muscle fibers as possible and making you strong.

Q: HI Kristian,
I have a question for the next Friday Q&A… about linking training blocks together.

I will be following your 16 week 70.3 Blueprint up until Canberra 70.3 in December. 5 weeks later I will be racing Wanaka Half.  I will then switch over to the 20 week plan for IM Cairns which just happens to be exactly 20 weeks after Wanaka.

My question is do I take any down time after Wanaka and skip the first few weeks of the 20 week plan or get straight into it? I think both the mind and body will need some time off otherwise this results in 41 weeks of focused effort.  Also, how should I fill the 5 weeks between Canberra and Wanaka?

As always, I appreciate the help.

A: Hey Eddie,

Here’s what you want to do.

Post Canberra 70.3 take the first few days very easy. 20×100 with PB+Paddles in the swim nice and easy one day, a 60min easy bike alternating every 10min between biggest gear and a gear that gives you 80+ rpm on the Tuesday and then another swim such as the one below + a 30-40min easy run with a handful of 20sec openers at the back end.

300 Easy with PB
8x50m as 25 kick 25 swim (kick with head in water looking down and turn head to breathe)
20sec rest
40x25m as 3 easy, 1 Fast with 10sec rest between each 25m
300 easy c/d as 2×150 [50 no free, 100 free].

Then after these three days you can ease back into the plan – this would be week 12. But you want the rest of the week to still be focused more on recovery. So shorten the interval lengths and reduce the intensity to moderate at the most. On the Weekend do a 3h EASY bike + easy 30min run off and on the Sunday swap that run with an easy 90min run – these will help you soak up the load of training and the race itself.

The follow weeks 13 through till the race again. However in taper week reduce the Thursday bike to 60mins. After Wanaka – spend a week doing some easy movement everyday – recover HARD. Then take a full week off after which you’ll do some easing back in for about 10 days and pick up the IM Blueprint from there.

Have a great weekend guys and gals. I better get to this speech.