If you’re like me, you learned early on that distance runners are the healthiest people on the planet.

Anyone who can complete a marathon is surely in the elite level of fitness.

And triathletes? Get out of here! Those people are next level fit!

But, as it turns out, merely being able to do a triathlon or marathon doesn’t mean much in terms of your level of fitness.

Nor does it mean anything about your speed, in running, or swimming. You can “do” a marathon in 7 hours, but you likely walked most of it.

The other concept that came out of the 80s (I think) was LSD- Long Slow Distance.

Are you still doing this outdated, wasteful training?

You really don’t need to! Not only is it wasting your time, it’s not good for your health and fitness- and, it’s slowing you down.

So what to do instead? 

Well, I’m not saying there’s never a time to not train hard. In fact, I recommend the Phil Maffetone training method- which means keeping your heart rate fairly low, most of the time, when you are training.

The solution- if you want to shed more fat, and be able to “shift gears” in a race is…sprinting!

And, it doesn’t take much to turn on this engine.

You don’t need to be exact about it. But going out about once a week and doing a few all out sprints will do wonders for you.

(This can be in the pool, but I prefer running all out).

A recent study showed that a single sprint session can increase post-exercise fat oxidation by 75%.

Other benefits:

-It’s more efficient than doing more cardio
-If you do it near water (preferably the beach!) you will likely get in the water after and cool off, so you get to work on your swim!
-It’s fun! You don’t have to just limit it to all out 100 meter sprints. You can do your sprints in the pool, or on a bike (even indoors), or even lift weights really quickly (i.e. 20 air squats)

You will also notice that, even with a few 20-30 second sprints, you will feel like you did a pretty major workout!

I recommend starting with just 1 or 2 sprints if you haven’t done them, or haven’t in a while.

If you can build up to about 6-8 or so, you’ll really find yourself in good shape for racing, and overall.

You can do this once a week but even better, I say, when you feel like sprinting. Sometimes I do 2x a week or once every 10 days. The idea is to sprinkle them into your training.

So drop the obsession with “yardage” or “mileage” or “meterage”, cut down on the time you need to train, and sprint to your heart’s content! (or again, when you feel like it :))

In our swim success programs, we include sprinting as part of your training. Our 12 week plans typically have you sprinting about every other week- but you can do more, assuming you’re running and cycling as well.

Having said all this, if you haven’t built up an aerobic base, I recommend spending a good solid 3 weeks doing that before implementing any sprinting to your routine.

And of course, check with your doctor if you have any concerns (even though sprinting is extremely heart healthy).

Happy going fast!
Coach Kevin
Tri Swim Coach