Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

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Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby Avanti22 » Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:38 pm

Hey all,

Something thats been bothering me for a while now, I have done the occasional Durathalon ( Run Ride Run) and race competitively every week on the bike - track & road, but I cant do the Tri's because for some reason I just dont have the same endurance or stamina in the water as I do on the road. Its not like I flap about and waste energy going nowhere I can hold pace and smooth strokes for a few laps then I just run out of steam you'd think with my level of fitness I would be able to do better. Is there a specific breathing technique and body position in the water? What are the basics of Endurance swimming?
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by BNA » Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:34 pm

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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby Andrew69 » Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:34 pm

Ideally, have someone that really knows what they are talking about look at your stroke, as you may well be flapping about wasting energy without you thinking or realising it :mrgreen:
If your stroke really is fine , then its all about getting the km's in the pool in. Just like riding or running, youve got to put the time in. There are no shortcuts, especially with such a technical sport as swimming.

Most import thing to remember is holding your stroke together. Its pointless trying to swim for ever if your stroke has fallen to pieces, as all you will do is reinforce bad habits and a poor, inefficient stroke.
Start with shorter repeats (100m) with enough rest between sets to recover enough that you stroke quality does not suffer. Once you have built your volume up to a level you are happy with (for you goal race distance), increase the length of each set. 400's are normally plenty long enough for anything less than IM distance. Once you settle into the 400's, start dropping your rest time between sets.

Before you know it, you will be able to hold close to 400m pace for ages.
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby eucryphia » Sun Jun 07, 2009 5:41 pm

Andrew is right,

I grew up following a black line on the bottom of a pool. Up at 5:30am to swim a couple of miles every day in the morning and the same every afternoon, then racing on Saturday morning. It cost my parents a fortune at Forbes Carlisle in Pymble and McDonald? at Lane Cove. At Lane Cove we'd 'warm up' with a 100m medley (2 laps of each 4 strokes).

It's just the same as cycling, you've got to train; find a pool nearby, join a squad, get someone to fix your stroke and swim until you puke. And wave goodbye to your spare time. It's very boring, but great for developing your aerobics and upper body.

It depends how badly you want to win triathlons.
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby casual_cyclist » Sun Jun 07, 2009 5:43 pm

Andrew69 wrote:its all about getting the km's in the pool

+1
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby toolonglegs » Sun Jun 07, 2009 7:24 pm

casual_cyclist wrote:
Andrew69 wrote:its all about getting the km's in the pool

+1

+2...I spent from the age of 5 to 16 or so doing an ever growing amount of km's a week in the pool...2 hours morning /3 hours afterschool...now I can't even do a descent 50m,that and the thought of doing laps seriously sucks!.
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby Avanti22 » Sun Jun 07, 2009 7:41 pm

eucryphia wrote: It's very boring, but great for developing your aerobics and upper body.

It depends how badly you want to win triathlons.


Thats a good point actually I think that being boring would have alot to do with the lap swimming problems I dont have the same motivation in the pool as I do riding and running to rack up the km, the adrenaline rush just isnt the same, its not as adictive, I ran 12km today (AT) 5min/km over very up and down terrain garmin showed a total climb of 248m over the 12km so some of it was pretty hilly, although I was hurting the body was screaming for more, its the same with riding, but training in the pool well... its boring. Does anybody else get this feeling of boredom in the pool? or after youve mastered it, it becomes enjoyable?
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby Hebden » Sun Jun 07, 2009 7:50 pm

Avanti22 wrote:Hey all,
Is there a specific breathing technique and body position in the water?

Do what is comfortable for you. I breathe on every other stroke, one side going up the pool and the other coming back. I can breathe every third stroke in the traditional way but my method works best for me, so I stick to it. Get some coaching or do some internet research on body position and roll. I used the TI (Total Immersion) DVD and book to learn to swim practically from scratch. I just did the drills on their DVD and changed from struggling to do 400m without stopping to 2-3km nonstop laps in about 3 months.

Avanti22 wrote:What are the basics of Endurance swimming?

Be slippery and glide. Think of a rower rowing a boat. You pull and glide, there is no point pulling again to soon as you won't get maximum benefit until the speed from your last pull dissipates. Once you have a strong pull and are nice an aqua dynamic(term?) you should make the length of a 50m pool in 50-55 strokes with ease. This is efficient and thus good for endurance swimming.

For me there was one session when I just clicked. Swimming is a very technical sport little things, once you work them out, can make a big difference. Lots of regular practice would help a great deal too, I would recommend 4+ sessions a week if you really want to improve.

Good luck
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby eucryphia » Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:03 pm

Avanti22 wrote:...Does anybody else get this feeling of boredom in the pool? or after you've mastered it, it becomes enjoyable?

It does give you 'time out to just think', a good thing if you have a job where you don't get much time to yourself. And my Mum always used to tell me 'only boring people get bored', to which I'll confess :wink:

There are alternatives that involve more than a thick black line. I see you're in Newcastle; tried a surfclub? Waterpolo?
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby bracko » Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:33 pm

coming from a background in swimming i can certainly say that stroke technique is a very important part of swimming, especially for open water.

my advice would be to get in contact with a triathlon squad and take part in a few training sessions in the pool with their coach, or someone who is partially specialised in the area.

it's amazing how easily you can tear apart someone's stroke when you're above the water, and how hard it is to analyse it under.
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby JV911 » Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:34 pm

Avanti22 wrote:Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?


you can swim 400m ?!

no way i could even when i used to surf/body bash regularly and going (i.e. being sent) to swimming lessons. it was probably my breathing technique, or lack thereof, but i had zero interest in swimming so it didnt bother me
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby brendancg » Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:09 pm

coming from a background in swimming i can certainly say that stroke technique is a very important part of swimming, especially for open water.


+1

I was doing triathlons, getting out of the water 7 minutes behind my mate, doing the same time as him on the bike then towelling him up in the run. He had a swim technique, I could run quite well, being that's what we did when we were young. Now I went to a coach, turns out I was swimming like a 'L' shape, my legs were down in the water and my upper body was near the top. You need technique, my coach took me back to the beginning and retaught me how to swim freestyle.

Then, conventional thought is you must do at least three swimming sessions a week to improve. You need to do technique sessions and straight endurance sessions and interval sessions. Finally, you need to practice open water swimming. Swimming thousands of laps will help, however when the arms and legs are flying you are getting kicked and punched, all technique and energy is lost. You need to practice this in an open water environment to get comfortable with it. It can cause a panic and it is all down hill from there.

Finally, good luck, it takes plenty of focus for me to swim and I know how you are feeling. It is all worth it when you get into that race and you get out of the water with the bunch. That is when the focus pays off.
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby pine » Mon Jul 13, 2009 3:15 pm

The runner almost always wins the race.
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 400m?

Postby whitestivo » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:01 pm

i was the same for a long time, reasonable rider and runner, terrible swimmer.

I started swimming last October, 2008, and now I'm starting to come good. It isnt' necessarily about kms at your stage, as you need technique work.

My techinque is much better than before, still not great.

Start with flippers, then months later move to pool bouy, then months later, move to nothing, no one wants to get overtaken by everyone in the pool, and it hurts your motiviation going to slow.

I can't believe from never being a swimmer, the benefit particularly on the run, of improving my swim. My aerobic fitness is so much higher, I'm running pb's I haven't seen in 10 years.

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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 40

Postby CommuRider » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:13 pm

Avanti22 wrote:Hey all,

Something thats been bothering me for a while now, I have done the occasional Durathalon ( Run Ride Run) and race competitively every week on the bike - track & road, but I cant do the Tri's because for some reason I just dont have the same endurance or stamina in the water as I do on the road. Its not like I flap about and waste energy going nowhere I can hold pace and smooth strokes for a few laps then I just run out of steam you'd think with my level of fitness I would be able to do better. Is there a specific breathing technique and body position in the water? What are the basics of Endurance swimming?


The opposite for me. Happy to switch places with you. I can lap swim and cycle forever but struggle to complete a 400m run. Wasn't the case when I was younger but then I hit puberty and running took a backseat as I became conscious of wobbly bits + gravity. Hence running isn't my ideal sport.

Are there any events out there that do swimming + cycling biathlons? I think I'd have a chance in completing a course like that...or perhaps a relay team triathlon...I can do the swimming leg...
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 40

Postby casual_cyclist » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:58 pm

CommuRider wrote:
Avanti22 wrote:Hey all,

Something thats been bothering me for a while now, I have done the occasional Durathalon ( Run Ride Run) and race competitively every week on the bike - track & road, but I cant do the Tri's because for some reason I just dont have the same endurance or stamina in the water as I do on the road. Its not like I flap about and waste energy going nowhere I can hold pace and smooth strokes for a few laps then I just run out of steam you'd think with my level of fitness I would be able to do better. Is there a specific breathing technique and body position in the water? What are the basics of Endurance swimming?


The opposite for me. Happy to switch places with you. I can lap swim and cycle forever but struggle to complete a 400m run. Wasn't the case when I was younger but then I hit puberty and running took a backseat as I became conscious of wobbly bits + gravity. Hence running isn't my ideal sport.

Are there any events out there that do swimming + cycling biathlons? I think I'd have a chance in completing a course like that...or perhaps a relay team triathlon...I can do the swimming leg...

A couple of months ago I seriously struggled to run for 60 seconds. I am not exaggerating with this. I had a stopwatch so I know that it was 60 seconds that I was struggling with. I just ran 60 seconds on my first session and 2 lots of 60 seconds next time round. After about 6 weeks of doing that on and off I started the Couch to 5k running program. At the end of week 4 I ran 5k in 37 minutes and at the end of week 5 I ran 5k in 32 minutes. At first I hated running. I was no good at it and it made me miserable. I actually enjoy running now and I'm looking forward to building up my distance.
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 40

Postby CommuRider » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:51 am

casual_cyclist wrote:At first I hated running. I was no good at it and it made me miserable. I actually enjoy running now and I'm looking forward to building up my distance.


Sounds like an exponential improvement. Was there anything particular that motivated you to take up running?
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 40

Postby casual_cyclist » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:04 pm

CommuRider wrote:
casual_cyclist wrote:At first I hated running. I was no good at it and it made me miserable. I actually enjoy running now and I'm looking forward to building up my distance.


Sounds like an exponential improvement. Was there anything particular that motivated you to take up running?

Yeah, a 1/2 ironman next year. So I have reached 5k. Starting Oct 1 I will be building up my distance to 10k over 12 weeks. After that I have about 14 weeks to build from 10k to 20k. I will probably spend some time running and some time walking but my goal is to just make it so I don't really care if I have to walk some of the way.

My training is to make the event less painful and less of a struggle as opposed to actually being competitive.
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 40

Postby Helmet Head » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:55 am

I can ride and run well but I'm always almost last out of the water in my AG. For me it's not the distance as I can swim laps all day but I just cant break under 1min/50m. I like the sound of the rower/gliding comparison as I don't think I do that at all plus all the other suggestions make sense too. Sounds like its time for me to join a squad.
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 40

Postby CommuRider » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:42 pm

Helmet Head wrote:I can ride and run well but I'm always almost last out of the water in my AG. For me it's not the distance as I can swim laps all day but I just cant break under 1min/50m. I like the sound of the rower/gliding comparison as I don't think I do that at all plus all the other suggestions make sense too. Sounds like its time for me to join a squad.


I found I could swim faster once I improved my breathing (3 strokes then breathe on one side, 3 strokes then breathe on the other - used to do 6 and only on one side). Relied less on my legs and therefore could swim for longer.

http://swimming.about.com/od/freeandback/a/breath_freestyl.htm
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 40

Postby leighthebee » Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:05 pm

Helmet Head wrote:Sounds like its time for me to join a squad.


Bingo. Swimming will work wonders for your swimming and your fitness for cycling and running. :D

Unfortunately cycling and running do little for your swimming in return. Squad is the way to go. Swimming laps helps but doesn't do enough on its own.
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 40

Postby Thoglette » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:55 pm

Avanti22 wrote:..Is there a specific breathing technique and body position in the water? What are the basics of Endurance swimming?


The short answer - yes. I had a similar problem (actually worse - dead at 100m) which came down to technique. Completely wrong ratio of kicks to strokes and wrong cadence. Fortunately the local uni (UWA) had "adult swimming classes" which have very good coaches. Basically fixed in four lessons

Then, miles, intervals and targetted exercises (eg. laps using one arm, with fins, arms only, kicking only etc etc) - ie hard work (in the squads)
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 40

Postby thomas_deery » Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:20 pm

Hi Everyone, what's your swimming talk?

I sometimes get the Dory from Finding Nemo tune of "just keep swimming" in my head to keep going.

Was wondering what all you guys do?
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 40

Postby Kingaroy_Redant » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:53 pm

This may be a little off track but I will post anyway.

I think the subject line of this thread is fairly typical of our general active population. My work promotes employees to participate in tri-teams, but we are always short of swimmers. Conversely, as a swimmer, I feel I am disadvanteged as I estimate the swim will take up 16%, run 33% and ride 50% of the time duration of a triathlon. A true triathlon to me would be 33%-33%-33% with 1% for transitions. What I would give to have the swim as my weak link reather than my strength.
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 40

Postby leighthebee » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:02 pm

Kingaroy_Redant wrote:A true triathlon to me would be 33%-33%-33% with 1% for transitions. What I would give to have the swim as my weak link reather than my strength.


+1000..... :D
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Re: Why can I run and cycle FOREVER, but struggle to swim 40

Postby CommuRider » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:49 pm

Happy to do a 400m run and 400m swim and 1000m cycling :D
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