Training question: How many A races are recommended for a season, and how far apart should they be? For example, I want to do an IM, but also qualify for AG nationals, and the IM is after nationals.Answer: Coach Mike replies, as you pick out your A races for the season, keep in mind that peaking is very tricky and really more art than science. Some people love to keep the volume going during training, but cut back on the intensity, while others cut back the volume and add in intensity. Learning what works for you personally, is really the key to peaking correctly. During the course of a season I recommend no more than 2 peaks a season, if you really want to hit those peaks fully rested and firing on all cylinders. For my athletes, I like to see a mid-season peak, say around the end of July, and then another peak about 3-4 months later. This gives you enough time to get a normal training load going, create the fatigue that you need in training, and then dropping down to taper again. When races are very close together as in 1 week apart, you have to either decide which one is the A race, or try to peak for both, which can get tricky. This is why I suggest having several weeks between races in order to have a true peak. Good luck in your 2014 season and if you have any other questions please drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Training question: If I race only doing freestyle, why should I bother practicing the other swim strokes?
Answer: Coach Simon replies, for me swimming thousands of meters in the pool can get a bit boring, mixing up the strokes helps. It can also be used to give your freestyle specific muscles a rest or at least a change of pace while still staying active. Backstroke will clearly tell you if you can kick and swimming this stroke will help, it also helps loosen up the shoulders. One of the worlds top masters swimmers, who has taken up Triathlon in the past couple of years (look-out!) Carlyn Pipes-Neilsen, points out that fly, breast and freestyle have the same initial motion under the water in the catch phase.