In water race start
Think for a minute. You're in your local triathlon. Nervous as all get out as your wave is about to go for an in water start. (Or it could be on land, dock, etc. but we'll use in water for our example.)
Your goggles are set, you're warmed up, seeded correctly (you think) when almost out of nowhere, the air horn blasts from the race director and it's go time! But as you saw from the above video, the athletes in this equally seeded group all have very different starts. They haven't gone 20 seconds and already one racer is way ahead and one way behind. Which one are you? Is there an easy explanation for that? Can it be fixed?
Certainly. I guess if you take a step back and ask, "I know I'm warmed up, ready to race, but am I a one speed swimmer? If I am, can I change it?"
Pace. This gets back to one of the absolute key issues in this sport. One that I guarantee every single person reading this has learned the hard way, more than once. Hopefully just not recently. Your goal is to have enough energy left to run the run, regardless of the race distance be it a really short sprint tri or Ironman? Or, will you have pushed a little (or a lot) too hard on the bike due to the absolute joy of being out the water, hair still wet, flying on your steed on a beautiful summer day while the police and race volunteers stop traffic? Yes, they're holding up traffic for YOU! Pretty easy to see why this feeling of super powers can go to your head when you might benefit more from thinking about what your current pace will leave in your inner gas tank as you bust out of T2. You want to run out of energy the step over
the finish line, not any step on this side, right?
So back to the problem at hand. Like most things triathlon related, the solution comes from three things. Preparation, practice in training, trial and error. If you train for a slightly higher race pace at the gun, make several pretend race starts say the first Saturday of every month at a variety of efforts, you can figure out if you can do this slightly increased pace for 25 yards, 50 yards, etc. before slowing back to race pace looking for another pair of feet upon which to draft. (You do draft, right?)
So lets come up with two routine swim workouts that will accustom our bodies to this higher level of output initially. Ever swim "pig in a python?" Let's think 125 yards, 5 times. The first
round, the first 25y is fast, the remaining 100y at your pace. The second
125y is swum 25y at pace, 25y fast, and the remaining 75y at pace. Starting to get it? We'll do one more. The third
round, 50y pace, 25y fast, 50y pace, etc. The fast 25y is moving through the effort. Pick some fairly short rest interval in between 125s like 5 or 10 seconds.
Try that as your main set one day a week for a few weeks. Once it's old hat, we're going to make one small change. Again we're thinking 5 X 125y. Again, our first
round is 25y fast, 100y pace. But here's the change. Second round is now 50y fast, 75y pace. Third
round becomes 75y fast and 50y pace etc until round five
when all 125y is fast.
Come summer, when the gun goes off, you'll have trained your body to push a little at the beginning of the swim and you won't get to 400 yard mark wondering why there's this truck on your back and you can't catch your breath.
Good luck and happy racing!