Every year in February, Team Amazing Day hosts a swim challenge. The rules are simple: whomever swims the most distance in the month wins.
Although swimming is the shortest distance of a triathlon, it is definitely not the least important. Each discipline feeds into the next. The fitness you build in swimming carries over into cycling and running – you only have one engine! Swimming allows an athlete to build low-impact fitness without the pounding of running, it can be an excellent recovery workout from tougher sessions of the week, and for run- or cycling-focused athletes, swimming is a terrific cross-training exercise.
Want to become a faster swimmer? It’s time to focus on form. Inefficient technique makes you tire faster in the water and can even lead to injury long-term. Improvements in form = faster swimming, but also less energy expenditure prior to the bike and run legs of a triathlon. And the best way to focus on form is to swim as often as possible. For some athletes, a short block of swimming with as little as 15-20 minutes per day can have a huge impact on their swim times.
When is the best time of the year to schedule a hefty swim block? Early in the season, when the bike and run workouts are shorter and fitness is in early stages. Mix it up to keep it interesting in the water: challenge yourself to swim bands-only for a stronger core, to add sculling and drills to your warm-up as form focus, to add paddles for strength development, and fins because going fast is FUN! If swimming is your weakest discipline, now’s the time to tackle it. You will be rewarded all year long.
In January, Team Amazing Day celebrates the new year with the Green Box Challenge. The goal: make every box in training peaks turn green for the whole month. This is accomplished by doing the workout for the planned duration or distance. However, this challenge is not only about putting in the time. It’s also about completing the workout as intended. The goal of the Green Box Challenge is this:
Setting yourself up for success – January 1st marks the time many people start a New Year’s resolution. Within a few weeks, most have failed. Instead of focusing on a big goal, focus on setting good practices which will help you reach that goal. The Green Box Challenge helps you create a practice of doing the work daily that is needed to reach your goals. It teaches you to bring good intentions and be present for each workout. It takes 30 days to create a new habit. By the end, if you successfully complete the Challenge, you have created good habits which will carry into rest of the year.
Balance – At TAD, we believe in having a balance between training and everything else in life. We create training plans based on the time available to train – taking into account work, family, travel, etc. The goal is to respect the stress life brings by carefully fitting training into your life versus overcommitting and causing unwanted stress. For an athlete to successfully complete all their workouts, they must be upfront and honest about the time they have available to train. If it’s difficult to complete the workouts based on the time you committed to, it shows that it’s time to reevaluate your time management. Are you over committing? Are there unnecessary, unfulfilling areas of your day that can be removed?
Doing the work – At times the work just needs to be done. Do the work. Plain and simple. Yes, balance is important but an imbalance in life is not always the reason why workouts are skipped. Sometimes after work you’d rather Netflix and chill. We all have those days. However, if you have a goal, you need to be willing to put in the work every day even if it means dragging yourself off the sofa. If you sign up for a race, you made a commitment. By checking every box green, doing the workout as intended, and putting in post workout comments, you are doing what is necessary to reach that goal.
It’s a new year and time to chase big goals by putting in the work. Happy 2020 athletes!