Be careful what you wish for!


As countries start to allow us outside and there are limited swim times at pools, I'd like to caution all that we should hurry back slowly. This is important to make sure we don't garner an unwanted injury in our exuberance to get back to normal training routines. Now is not the time to be like a bull charging at a gate!

I want to point out especially for swimming and running that tendonitis connected injuries can be acquired even with the lightest of mileage. To combat that, in normal times for poorer swimmers we advocate to swim every second day. With athletes with competent swims we still take a day off the arms after two swim days. Same with the running, even some of our champions basically only run every second day.

What is misinterpreted by many reading magazine articles, is that they fail to understand that the ideology they are reading pertains to specialist swimmers and runners. If you don't have a background in either, you will not have the strength in the tendons capable of coping with certain work loads. To a lesser degree, but also similar, you won't have the bone structure / density built up over the years by those specialist athletes.

In my early days, being a specialist swim coach, one of my first lessons was harshly taught to me by my first age group squad. This was the abundance of shoulder, and believe it or not elbow injuries. With experimentation, thankfully I found answers to these problems.

Yes, I used to incorporate around 30% of swim with medley work. At this time we also had many knee problems which as a new Triathlon coach I put down to the bike training. After much experimenting I found this wasn't coming from the bike but actually was from the breastroke kick. Thus even in recent years while trying to reintroduce some medley work back into my programs, we do fly kick, instead of the frog-like kick that is the traditional breastroke kick.

I did have many different strokes in my initial swim program but once I dropped these from workouts of our non-trained swimmers, all the shoulder problems quickly disappeared within 3 weeks. Touch wood for the next 30 years we have had little to no shoulder problems at all.

However, it still holds true for freestyle swimming that if one increases both the distance swum while also swimming faster times, then injuries are increased.

As we break out of lockdown, it dismays me that some athletes that have been doing 45 minutes of stretch cords out of the water, or in water on a stretch cord, are wanting to increase the water swim sessions by adding 30 minutes 'to catch up', to be ready to race... This madness is taking hold; same with running where athletes who have been doing 1 hour long runs on the treadmill, suddenly want to hit the trails and lengthen their long runs to 1 hour 30 minutes or even 2 hours.

Again madness. You will slow your progress as you deal with the injuries this will certainly induce. I want to make it very clear that 2km can give you tendonitis if you have only been swimming 1km consistently. It's a 100% increase in distance!

You don't, I repeat, don't have to be swimming 5 or 6 km to promote shoulder problems, just as running 1 hour can induce similar tendon problems if 30 minute runs were your normal program these past months.


We have a saying in our private squad 'hurry slowly'. This is the quickest way to better performance. Enjoy your new old reality, but do it with caution. Races are still a long way off. Build, don't break.

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