Coach and two-time Ötillö finisher Mark Harvey of Take3tri and Darrin Roles of Swim Oxford give their top tips for preparing for a swimrun race
Swimrun events are exciting and demanding at the same time. With multiple transitions between land and water, some basic preparation and techniques will make all the difference to your performance on race day. Like most disciplines, good technique and preparation will help you achieve your required results. Whether you are competing in a team or solo event, the proper equipment and training will help you achieve your required results.
Training for swimrun events is fun. Yes, you need to develop your swimming and improve your running, but there’s more to it than that!
How do you stack up against your partner (if it is a paired event)? Are they stronger or weaker than you at the swim, do you need to work on your run to keep up with them? Work on your weaknesses, but this kind of event is more about teamwork. The stronger swimmer needs to work with the weaker member of the team and help them by allowing the weaker swimmer to draft. Likewise, in the run the stronger runner can carry more – and even push or drag the weaker runner along with a tow rope! If you can, train together as much as possible allowing you both to work on your tactics and teamwork. When the lakes are open and you can swim outside, train together in your swimrun gear. You’ll get used to the funny looks from other swimmers as you jump in wearing trainers and a rucksack!
You may be a great swimmer and a brilliant runner, but if you have not trained with your partner, in your full race gear (wetsuit, trainers, bag, paddles, pull buoy, etc) you may find yourself experiencing major issues on race day. You need to perform several race simulations to discover issues before the actual event. Problems such as a rubbing wetsuit or blisters, a faulty bag or constantly loose laces can become major problems that can really hinder your race. Focus on entry/exit strategies as well as swimming and running training.
Your training sessions don’t have to be full race distance, but try to get in two or three ‘big days’. If you are doing a full-distance swimrun race, these sessions should consist of four to six hours of swim/running around your lake or along the river, jumping in and out. It’s the only way to discover any underlying problems, but it is also great fun and amazing training!
Swimrun events are fun and unlike anything you will have done before. The day will be tough, the challenges new and varied, but these events usually take place in stunning environments and swimming and running wild gives you a real sense of adventure. It’s a crazy way to spend a day, but there is a reason why swimrun is becoming bigger by the year – it’s highly addictive!