Ask Coach Sara: Battling Foot Cramps

Your Twitter questions about swimming as a triathlete, answered by coach Sara McLarty.

Photo: Dana E. Fry

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Your Twitter questions about swimming as a triathlete, answered by coach Sara McLarty.

Q: What is the best way to return to swim training after an injury or illness? –@RaceVault

A: The most important thing is to start with short sessions and low intensity, and don’t watch the clock. Swim 20–30 minutes per session, 1–2 times per week. Listen to your body and don’t push through any pain, discomfort or fatigue. Slowly increase total time in the water and number of swims over a four-week period.

RELATED: Dealing With An Illness

Q: I often get brutal foot cramps when swimming laps. Especially long sets, but never in long, open-water swims. What gives? –@bquinnterest

A: There are no walls in open water! Your legs are probably cramping from pushing off the walls. Do “No Walls” long sets in the pool by turning or flipping at the “T.” When you do push off the wall, don’t push as hard and try not to point your toes excessively.

RELATED – Quick Set Friday: No Walls

Q: I can swim comfortably at one pace forever, but my all-out/race effort is not that much faster. What’s up? –@runningonpace

A: Just like getting better at anything, you have to specifically train your sprint speed! Incorporate short, fast efforts with full recovery into 1–2 practices per week. Example set: 6×25 fast swim with 30 seconds rest.

More “Ask Coach Sara.”

Pro triathlete and swim coach Sara McLarty has 25-plus years of experience and knowledge about swimming mechanics, efficiency and technique.

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