Running in a wetsuit and swimming in shoes… Sounds like fun right!? But how do you go about training for entering the eccentric world of swimrun? This is the first question I asked myself when Stuart, my twin brother, asked if I wanted to take on the Lock2Lock Swimrun in September. I say asked, but being twins, one of us often makes decisions for the both of us! I didn’t really have much of a say in the matter, but I like a good challenge so was ready to take on something that actually, I didn’t really know a lot about! We have been invited to take on our first swimrun adventure by Darrin Roles, race director over at Swim Oxford. Being our first ever swimrun, alongside the excitement, there is definitely also a slight sense of apprehension, I have a feeling this isn’t the type of event where I can just ‘wing it’ on the day!
Training for a swim run is not a solo endeavour
I’m really lucky when taking on an event like this. I never have to worry about who fancies joining me, what their capability is, or any of the other problems people have when choosing a parter to compete with. I guess this is one of the benefits of having a twin brother. It also helps that we have the kind of relationship where we just tell each other they’re doing something. He tells me we’re learning to kite-surf, 6 years later and we’re both pretty good! I tell him we’re doing a triathlon, and now we have a few under our belt. It really helps cut out the excuses.
I should mention that although a lot of swimrun events require you to run as a team of two, the Lock2Lock Swimrun can be entered as a single entry event. This makes it really accessible to anyone wanting to try their hand at this sport.
Having similar experience and strengths really helps
Our experience is evidently matched, having acquired skills growing up together, typically matching training plans and taking on the events together. In fact the only time we haven’t done the same event was when I was lucky enough to get a place in the London Marathon. I didn’t let Stu off the hook though, and still insisted on him joining me on all the events I used for training, including the Wokingham half & a few others.
In terms of strengths, we’re also pretty similar. We would probably both agree Stuart is slightly faster when it comes to swimming and the transitions, whereas I’m generally stronger on the runs.
I’d also say that we typically take the same view when it comes to training. Sometimes we just wing it and other times we realise we’re in over our head and need to dedicate some real time to our training. I’ll always remember our first triathlon, a sprint distance. We did no training and hadn’t properly swam in a few years. We bought new bikes and didn’t test any of our gear. We decided to ride our bikes to the race and half way there, Stuart’s pedal sheared off having cross threaded it when building the bike! Having missed our wave, we luckily managed to join a later one. Finally in the water and a few strokes in, my googles filled with water and I couldn’t see a thing. I ended up ripping them off and swam without them! Let’s just say the whole race was a disaster (entirely our own fault!), but it did teach us the value of proper training.
For our second Triathlon, this time an olympic distance, we learned from our mistakes. I decided to really work on my swimming technique and took some coaching sessions with Ray at Swim Canary Wharf, giving me some invaluable tips for improving my strokes. We both worked on our running, as well as getting out on our bikes, and testing all our gear properly! Race day was a much more pleasant experience to say the least.
Where to start training for a swim run?
So like with anything new, I’ve done some research and gained some useful knowledge from the wild open swim blog along with reading up on swim runs and what to expect. I felt pretty comfortable and more at ease after reading Alan Scott’s experience of the Lock2Lock swim run.
Due to the current situation with Covid-19, we won’t be able to train together, but by using Strava and incentivising each other with a bit of friendly competition, we hope to be able to beep the motivation going. Stuart lives in Portugal and is lucky enough to have the coast on his door step, so has already been working on his swimming (or at least that’s what he tells me…). He is currently hitting the water 2-3 times a week for some open water swimming in between the odd surfing session. I’m however in landlocked Hertfordshire, so have had to take a slightly different approach by enjoying the countryside runs along with getting out on the bike a few times a week to give my knees some much needed rest in-between the runs.
It will be interesting to see when we finally do get to meet up as to how we compare in each discipline. Hopefully we’re not a million miles apart, but either way I’ll be sure to fill you in on my next update. If you fancy taking on a swimrun yourself ,then check out some of the upcoming events by clicking on the below link.