Pre-race time back in the pool with wetsuits

It’s that time of the training schedule again.  The time where a race is right around the corner in four days.  For me that means a lot of things.  First is the inevitable taper in workout duration.  Then there’s the slightly shaken up workout routines.  The workouts now tend to focus on brief excursions into higher zones, rather than longer sustained efforts.

And lastly…there’s the wetsuits.

Why the wetsuits?

Well first off – I need to ensure the darn thing still fits.  After all, eating all these cakes, breads and cupcakes that The Girl creates around here certainly can’t be good for the skintight suit.  Thankfully though, I’ve managed to get myself back to my season ending weight from last year (which is still a handful of pounds short from where I want to be as we near Boise 70.3).

But the real reason is simply to get used to the wetsuit again.  While in an ideal world one’s wetsuit would feel so seamless it wouldn’t alter your stroke…this isn’t an ideal world.  There will be differences and it’s important to understand those.  Thus you want to spend a bit of time to remember how the wetsuit impacts your stroke and to ensure your comfortable with it again.

Before I could ensure it still fit I’d have to remove the suit from its vacation location hanging out on the kayaks in the garage since the day of my last race last year.  Probably not ideal from a care and maintenance standpoint…but my wetsuit is a trooper, going on four years now and still very happy with the $250 or so I spent back then.  Plus, I didn’t intend on leaving him there all winter…he was initially just put up there to dry…and then September became October…and then February…and somehow April.  My bad.

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Earlier this evening I headed to the pool to meet up with The Girl.  While our swim time didn’t quite exactly line up, we had enough time overlapping that we were able to get a few shots before we parted ways.  First up is the ever so fun wetsuit insertion process.  I say insertion because it’s really a more forceful process than simply putting on other clothing like a pair of socks.

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Personally I prefer to do this inside the locker room – simply so I can minimize any potential fails I might have attempting to get into the suit (you know, like falling over, getting stuck, putting it on the wrong way, etc…).

Once in the suit and in the pool I had a simple 800y warm-up.  It focused on a variety of body position drills – to aide in ensuring that you don’t get lazy simply because I now floated more easily.  After all, while the wetsuit certainly speeds swim times (5 minutes per mile is a commonly accepted number for the average triathlete) it also makes it easier to get lazy when it comes to form.  That laziness equates to lost speed.

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After the warm-up I went straight into the main 750y time trial.  I started strong but semi-conservative.  Given this was the first wetsuit TT of the year I hadn’t quite refined my effort expenditure to pace for that distance (after all, the effort is very different than if I swam without a wetsuit).

So I probably went out a bit too easy initially and could have saved a bit of time there.

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I used the Swimsense watch to record my swim lap sets, which were pretty steady at 1:18 per 100y.  Swimming isn’t exactly my cup of tea, so that’ll have to work for now until a bit later.  Of course, it’s cool to analyze the per-lap speeds and see how those vary over the course of the time trial.

Tomorrow (Wednesday evening) we’ll go back to a land-based brick with a short but intense 40ish minute bike trainer effort followed immediately by a 30 minute intensity building run.  And then on Thursday we’ll return to the pool for more fun in the water with the wetsuits.

It’s those wetsuits swims that are probably my most favorite training days.  Why you ask?  Well,  it’s the one rare time in each training cycle where my swimming paces are awesome.  The rest of the time…not so much. :)

Thanks for reading!

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14 Comments

  1. How do you find your pool wetsuit time compared to your pull buoy time? Is the wetsuit better because you get the buoyancy and the use of your legs?

    –Richard

    Reply
  2. Kim

    isnt it hotter than heck swimming in a wetsuit in a pool? overheat at all?

    Reply
  3. Congrats on an awesome workout! But Kim asks a good question. Do you get hot?

    Reply
  4. Nothing related to the post above, but couldn´t find appropriate place to put this link:

    Courtney Atkinson using GoProHD during the ITU WC in Australia. First time a pro has used during a real race. Very cool.

    link to youtube.com

    Reply
  5. ann

    nice workout! i did my first pool wetsuit swim on Sunday. I have sleeveless – but the struggle was totally there to get it on!

    Reply
  6. I find a dry bag works well for travelling with wetsuits. but I use a hanger for regular storage.

    I’m going to get some looks jumping in wearing a wetsuit at the pool near mine in London. I was going to do my first race in my surf wetsuit but I keep forgetting I’ve lost weight.

    Good luck in Bumpass

    Reply
  7. The use and care instructions for my wetsuit say to never use it in a chlorinated pool. Is this one of those manufacturer’s safety margin things? Is it actually all right to use a wetsuit in a pool?

    Thanks for any illumination on this issue.

    Reply
  8. Ray,
    1:18/100yds is front of the pack at most tris. You’ve made great progress and should be proud. My brother taught me a great wetsuit tip. Step into a plastic grocery bag first and then step into your first wetsuit leg. Next, switch the bag to the other foot and arms. You’ll find it slips right on.
    Ron

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    I find using a plastic grocery bag extremely helpful in putting on my wetsuit. Put bag on one foot and it will slide all the way thru with relative ease. Repeat process for remaining foot, then use the bag on each hand as you insert each arm.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t found a decent trick to remove it quickly in T1.

    Reply
  10. Doesn’t swimming in a pool damage the wetsuit? I just bought my first tri wetsuit and I don’t want to destroy it in the pool before I ever use it in a race!

    Reply
  11. In theory over a long time it probably does damage them. But that’s a lot of swimming with them in the pool. For me, I swim with it a few times each month prior to a race, and then rinse it out afterwards.

    In may case, I don’t have a nearby lake I can swim in to get comfy with the suit – so the pool is my only option. And given it will still last me a really long time, I think it’s more than a fair tradeoff in order to achieve better performance (which, is one of the reasons you buy a wetsuit in the first place).

    As for heat…it depends. I think I have a slightly higher tolerance for heat in a suit. The Girl was baking yesterday in hers in the pool by time she finished up, but it didn’t bother me that much.

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    Ray,

    Well, duh! She’s hotter than you. :-)

    Reply
  13. Elissa

    Hi Ray – maybe u answered this but I could not find it anywhere. I am wondering if the 610 can be used as a pedometer/activity monitor while i try to work u to “running?” Otherwise i need to get a pedometer and will presumably lose all the walking activity when i start running. i have tried the fit bit but it does not seem accurate.

    Reply
  14. It can indeed, though you’ll need to pickup the ANT+ Garmin Footpod. See more about that here:

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    I’ve done it on a few airport days, purely out of curiosity in how far I’ve walked.

    Reply

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