Although many of us have taken time off from structured training over the holidays (and might be feeling deconditioned), now is the ideal time to do a few baseline tests across swim, bike, and run so you can see where your fitness is—and set goals accordingly. This simple swim set will help you do exactly that and it’s worth repeating in four to six weeks time to see how you’re progressing. (Note, if you are looking for more structure with this, we are currently in Week 1 of Run month for our Benchmark a Better You Challenge; February will be bike month and March will be swim.)
Begin with an easy five-minute warm-up, nothing hard, just relaxed swimming, building to a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of no more than 5-6 out of 10. Next up is a prep set that’s a straightforward swim/pull progression: 500 swim, 400 pull, 300 swim, 200 pull, 100 fast swim. Progress your effort as you progress through these distances, so the 500 is easy (5/10 RPE), the 400 is easy/moderate (6/10 RPE), the 300 is moderate (7/10 RPE), the 200 is moderate/fast (8/10 RPE), and the 100 is fast (9/10 RPE). This should get you ready for the main set! (Note: if you are short on time or prefer to pare this back slightly, drop the initial 500).
With the main set of 10 x 100, you want to aim for each 100 to be as fast as that final 100 from the prep set. This isn’t easy and will require some pacing—and don’t be surprised if you simply lack the fitness and muscular endurance at this time of year to hold pace. But that’s OK, that’s the purpose of this workout! Take at least 20 seconds rest between each 100. Record/remember your times and aim to beat them when you repeat this set in four to six weeks.
Wrap it up with 200 easy swimming to cool down.
One-Hour Workout: Baseline Swim
5 min. easy swimming, building to RPE 5-6/10
500 easy swim, RPE 5/10
400 pull, easy/moderate, RPE 6/10
300 swim, moderate, RPE 7/10
200 pull, moderate/fast, RPE 8/10
100 swim, fast! RPE 9/10
10 x 100, aiming to swim each 100 as fast as you did in the final 100 of the Prep Set. Take 20-30 sec. rest between each 100. Record your times.
200 easy swim