Ironman swim sets – This may just be the toughest mentally

Ironman swim sets – This may just be the toughest mentally

On this edition of The Kona Edge, we chat to Chris Montross about his Ironman swimming schedule and his favorite workouts. We discover here that a crazy work schedule is no excuse for not training. He reveals how he established his mental discipline and talks about how he still gets his Ironman swim training in when he is on the road.

Subscribe to The Kona Edge:

Subscribe on iTunes

Download via RSS

Swim faster without spending more time in the water

Discover the 4 most common swim killers and how to fix them so that you can shave minutes off your swim time.

Resources:

Need an Ironman Swim Coach, check this out

Become a Patron of The Kona Edge

Transcription:

BRAD BROWN:  Welcome back onto another edition of The Kona Edge and we’re going to be chatting some swimming today. I’m Brad Brown and we’ve got Chris Montross on the podcast with us once again, based out of California, but as we speak, in Miami, Florida on a layover.

Chris, welcome back, nice to touch base once again.

CHRIS MONTROSS:  Thank you Brad, it’s always a pleasure.

BRAD BROWN:  Chris, you were telling me that you went for a run along the beachfront a little bit earlier today and if you had known what the water temperature was, you would have packed a wetsuit in. Is that something you do on your travels often? Do you have the wetsuit in your travel bag or do you tend to leave that at home?

CHRIS MONTROSS:  It’s bulky and I tend to leave it at home, but this time of year there’s a lot of cold pools and cold water and I like to try to get swim training in while I’m away from home. At home I try to focus on bicycling, cause that’s where my bicycle is, but I should have put my foot in the water just to see. Or I could have looked it up online, but I am considering bringing my wetsuit in my suitcase.

Cold weather and water should not stop you in your Ironman swim training

It takes up some space, so it depends on how long the trip is and how much other things I have to bring. You’d probably be surprised at how much I do bring for training, but to have that in my suitcase, if I do encounter a cold pool and decide it’s time for a swim, that I can throw the wetsuit on and even jump into a hotel pool. I use a swim tether quite often to train, but then I wouldn’t be deterred from getting in the water cause it’s too cold.

BRAD BROWN:  Chris, the first time we chatted you mentioned that you did a lot of swim squad growing up and you were more into the endurance stuff. Do you think having spent much time with a swim squad has made a big difference to your swim performance?

Your swim split in Kona was fantastic, 58:50 in 2015, under the hour, which is a great effort.

CHRIS MONTROSS:  I think it absolutely does and for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which are, people have a concern about open water swimming which I don’t have. I don’t particularly like not being able to see the bottom or anything, but I’m not deterred by it. I’m very comfortable in the water. I’m very comfortable in surf or choppy water.

If I’ve got a wetsuit, cold water, I can tolerate it pretty well. But I do believe that growing up, going to the beach all the time, going in the surf, I surfed in Hawaii as a kid growing up, that I am more comfortable than most who say have a biking or a running background, in the water. I’m very comfortable in the water.

BRAD BROWN:  Let’s look at your swim performance and what you do to maintain that level of swimming. What would you say has been the biggest thing that you’ve done that’s given you the most benefit in your swim performance?

Information online can help improve your Ironman swim

CHRIS MONTROSS:  I think I am, stroke-wise, a better swimmer now that I was as an age group, high school or college swimmer, from reading information online.

I’ve done my own self-analysis based on what I’ve read on my strokes, so I’ve focused more on my stroke. I think it’s much smoother, much more efficient and powerful than it was when I was competing in my teens and early 20’s.

And, I think I get a little bit better workout balance than perhaps I did as a distance swimmer in high school where pretty much it was just high volume, high volume, high volume, here’s your workout and in 2 hours I’ll see you in the shower.

On the other hand though, I do believe, I swam high school in Nebraska and Michigan and particularly the pool in Michigan was all shallow, it was very dark, it was always cold. I would get up and it was dark and drive to swim practice before school in the morning, when it was dark, go to swim practice, school, after school swim some more and I’d come home and it was dark.

Establish a mental discipline to get you to Kona

Sometimes it was snowy, it was always cold during swim practice and the point I’m trying to make is, I think that helped establish a mental discipline. I had no idea at the time, it was just what I did as a competitive swimmer. I didn’t think anything more of it.

That has translated into a good mental discipline, attitude, focus for Ironman racing.

BRAD BROWN:  Drills and sets in the pool, what are some of the things you love doing? What would your favorite workout in the pool be?

CHRIS MONTROSS:  It varies and it depends on time. For Kona 2015, all of the pool swimming, every single swim was done on a swim tether. So I would set my, I have a Garmin 920, and I would set it to beep every 5 minutes and most of the sets I did were based on that.

A favorite workout for me, then depending on where I was in the training, I would swim for an hour, an hour and a half or two hours. But probably one of my favorites would be, I would do a 10 minute, two beep warm up and then I would count strokes where I’d swim say 10 easy strokes, actually I’d start out 10 hard strokes, 10 easy and I’d go up in increments of 10, up to either 80 or 100 and then I’d go back down. And then on some days I would reverse that where I would start out at 80, go down to 10 and then back up to 80 or 100.

Mixing up your Ironman swim training will make it easier

Then I would swim 15 minutes breaststroke, 15 minutes backstroke, 15 minutes butterfly which I can’t do 15 minutes of butterfly on a tether, but I worked my way up from starting to do 20 strokes of butterfly with freestyle in between. Up to now, I do 50 strokes of butterfly and then I’ll do a little freestyle to kind of recover a little bit, and then I’d do 50 more and I’d do that for 15 minutes.

I have some tier paddles that I use and they’re small because I’m on a tether, so I’d get in a 10-15 minute paddle set and then I’d typically do a cool down. And now I’m starting to do more lap pool swimming and I’m starting to throw in a lot more sprints that I had really not typically done in the past, but that’s a very standard template for me.

It’s something I kind of enjoy every once in a while, just for simplicity, I would do, I do the 10 minute warm up, then I’d do 15 minutes at race pace, 5 minutes easy, 15 minutes at race pace, 5 minutes easy and things like that. But kind of, if I just change it up a little bit, it would not get super dull.

I would say, not any particular workout, but keeping it changing all the time was always valuable for me.

BRAD BROWN:  I think that’s one of the big things I pick up as well, people mixing it up to not let that boredom set in in the pool. Just on that tether, the thinking behind that, is that often you’re in hotel pools that aren’t really long enough to be doing lengths, so it just allows you to get proper training in?

CHRIS MONTROSS:  That is the exact thinking and trying to maximize the training available to me. Based on where I am, and what always struck me was, whether it was an hour or a two hour workout in a pool, depending on the time of year, sometimes it’s an indoor pool in Boston, Massachusetts with 4 feet of snow outside, there’s clearly nobody at the pool.

Or I could be at a hotel pool near the airport in Miami in the winter where it’s pretty warm and there’s people outside, but people will come up to me and ask: how do you do that? They don’t understand how one could swim on a tether for an hour or up to two hours and I think what is lost, and I see articles all the time about how to entertain yourself while swimming.

Keep to the plan set for your Ironman swim sessions

Well, I think having the mix up set is huge, just to swim endlessly for two hours, I don’t think I could do. But I do sets and it breaks it up and I’m always surprised that wow, that two hours is over and I’m done and when I plan a workout, I execute it and when I’m done, I’m done. I don’t try to add more or do more because I feel good cause I don’t want my body or my mind to get in the thought of the never-ending workout.

I make a plan and I stick to it.

BRAD BROWN:  Brilliant Chris, I love that, I think that is fantastic and I look forward to finding out what you do on the bike and how you squeeze that in with your travel schedule, but we’ll save that for the next time we chat.

Chris Montross, thank you so much for your time here today on The Kona Edge.

CHRIS MONTROSS:  You’re welcome Brad.

Subscribe to the Podcast – iTunesStitcherRSS

About Us

Brad Brown is a 40 something age grouper that dreams of one day qualifying for and racing on the big island (He may have to outlive everyone in his age group though).

Morbidly obese in 2009, Brad clocked in at 165kgs (363lbs) at his heaviest.

He's subsequently lost a third of his body weight on the way to a half Ironman pb of 5:06 and a full Ironman pb of 12:21.

Advertise

If you'd like to advertise on The Kona Edge, download our rate card.

Support Us

If you'd like to find out more about becoming a Patron of The Kona Edge, click here.

Contact Us

11 + 14 =

On this edition of The Kona Edge, we chat to Chris Montross about his Ironman swimming schedule and his favorite workouts. We discover here that a crazy work schedule is no excuse for not training. He reveals how he established his mental discipline and talks about how he still gets his Ironman swim training in when he is on the road.

Transcription:

BRAD BROWN:  Welcome back onto another edition of The Kona Edge and we’re going to be chatting some swimming today. I’m Brad Brown and we’ve got Chris Montross on the podcast with us once again, based out of California, but as we speak, in Miami, Florida on a layover.

Chris, welcome back, nice to touch base once again.

CHRIS MONTROSS:  Thank you Brad, it’s always a pleasure.

BRAD BROWN:  Chris, you were telling me that you went for a run along the beachfront a little bit earlier today and if you had known what the water temperature was, you would have packed a wetsuit in. Is that something you do on your travels often? Do you have the wetsuit in your travel bag or do you tend to leave that at home?

CHRIS MONTROSS:  It’s bulky and I tend to leave it at home, but this time of year there’s a lot of cold pools and cold water and I like to try to get swim training in while I’m away from home. At home I try to focus on bicycling, cause that’s where my bicycle is, but I should have put my foot in the water just to see. Or I could have looked it up online, but I am considering bringing my wetsuit in my suitcase.

Cold weather and water should not stop you in your Ironman swim training

It takes up some space, so it depends on how long the trip is and how much other things I have to bring. You’d probably be surprised at how much I do bring for training, but to have that in my suitcase, if I do encounter a cold pool and decide it’s time for a swim, that I can throw the wetsuit on and even jump into a hotel pool. I use a swim tether quite often to train, but then I wouldn’t be deterred from getting in the water cause it’s too cold.

BRAD BROWN:  Chris, the first time we chatted you mentioned that you did a lot of swim squad growing up and you were more into the endurance stuff. Do you think having spent much time with a swim squad has made a big difference to your swim performance?

Your swim split in Kona was fantastic, 58:50 in 2015, under the hour, which is a great effort.

CHRIS MONTROSS:  I think it absolutely does and for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which are, people have a concern about open water swimming which I don’t have. I don’t particularly like not being able to see the bottom or anything, but I’m not deterred by it. I’m very comfortable in the water. I’m very comfortable in surf or choppy water.

If I’ve got a wetsuit, cold water, I can tolerate it pretty well. But I do believe that growing up, going to the beach all the time, going in the surf, I surfed in Hawaii as a kid growing up, that I am more comfortable than most who say have a biking or a running background, in the water. I’m very comfortable in the water.

BRAD BROWN:  Let’s look at your swim performance and what you do to maintain that level of swimming. What would you say has been the biggest thing that you’ve done that’s given you the most benefit in your swim performance?

Information online can help improve your Ironman swim

CHRIS MONTROSS:  I think I am, stroke-wise, a better swimmer now that I was as an age group, high school or college swimmer, from reading information online.

I’ve done my own self-analysis based on what I’ve read on my strokes, so I’ve focused more on my stroke. I think it’s much smoother, much more efficient and powerful than it was when I was competing in my teens and early 20’s.

And, I think I get a little bit better workout balance than perhaps I did as a distance swimmer in high school where pretty much it was just high volume, high volume, high volume, here’s your workout and in 2 hours I’ll see you in the shower.

On the other hand though, I do believe, I swam high school in Nebraska and Michigan and particularly the pool in Michigan was all shallow, it was very dark, it was always cold. I would get up and it was dark and drive to swim practice before school in the morning, when it was dark, go to swim practice, school, after school swim some more and I’d come home and it was dark.

Establish a mental discipline to get you to Kona

Sometimes it was snowy, it was always cold during swim practice and the point I’m trying to make is, I think that helped establish a mental discipline. I had no idea at the time, it was just what I did as a competitive swimmer. I didn’t think anything more of it.

That has translated into a good mental discipline, attitude, focus for Ironman racing.

BRAD BROWN:  Drills and sets in the pool, what are some of the things you love doing? What would your favorite workout in the pool be?

CHRIS MONTROSS:  It varies and it depends on time. For Kona 2015, all of the pool swimming, every single swim was done on a swim tether. So I would set my, I have a Garmin 920, and I would set it to beep every 5 minutes and most of the sets I did were based on that.

A favorite workout for me, then depending on where I was in the training, I would swim for an hour, an hour and a half or two hours. But probably one of my favorites would be, I would do a 10 minute, two beep warm up and then I would count strokes where I’d swim say 10 easy strokes, actually I’d start out 10 hard strokes, 10 easy and I’d go up in increments of 10, up to either 80 or 100 and then I’d go back down. And then on some days I would reverse that where I would start out at 80, go down to 10 and then back up to 80 or 100.

Mixing up your Ironman swim training will make it easier

Then I would swim 15 minutes breaststroke, 15 minutes backstroke, 15 minutes butterfly which I can’t do 15 minutes of butterfly on a tether, but I worked my way up from starting to do 20 strokes of butterfly with freestyle in between. Up to now, I do 50 strokes of butterfly and then I’ll do a little freestyle to kind of recover a little bit, and then I’d do 50 more and I’d do that for 15 minutes.

I have some tier paddles that I use and they’re small because I’m on a tether, so I’d get in a 10-15 minute paddle set and then I’d typically do a cool down. And now I’m starting to do more lap pool swimming and I’m starting to throw in a lot more sprints that I had really not typically done in the past, but that’s a very standard template for me.

It’s something I kind of enjoy every once in a while, just for simplicity, I would do, I do the 10 minute warm up, then I’d do 15 minutes at race pace, 5 minutes easy, 15 minutes at race pace, 5 minutes easy and things like that. But kind of, if I just change it up a little bit, it would not get super dull.

I would say, not any particular workout, but keeping it changing all the time was always valuable for me.

BRAD BROWN:  I think that’s one of the big things I pick up as well, people mixing it up to not let that boredom set in in the pool. Just on that tether, the thinking behind that, is that often you’re in hotel pools that aren’t really long enough to be doing lengths, so it just allows you to get proper training in?

CHRIS MONTROSS:  That is the exact thinking and trying to maximize the training available to me. Based on where I am, and what always struck me was, whether it was an hour or a two hour workout in a pool, depending on the time of year, sometimes it’s an indoor pool in Boston, Massachusetts with 4 feet of snow outside, there’s clearly nobody at the pool.

Or I could be at a hotel pool near the airport in Miami in the winter where it’s pretty warm and there’s people outside, but people will come up to me and ask: how do you do that? They don’t understand how one could swim on a tether for an hour or up to two hours and I think what is lost, and I see articles all the time about how to entertain yourself while swimming.

Keep to the plan set for your Ironman swim sessions

Well, I think having the mix up set is huge, just to swim endlessly for two hours, I don’t think I could do. But I do sets and it breaks it up and I’m always surprised that wow, that two hours is over and I’m done and when I plan a workout, I execute it and when I’m done, I’m done. I don’t try to add more or do more because I feel good cause I don’t want my body or my mind to get in the thought of the never-ending workout.

I make a plan and I stick to it.

BRAD BROWN:  Brilliant Chris, I love that, I think that is fantastic and I look forward to finding out what you do on the bike and how you squeeze that in with your travel schedule, but we’ll save that for the next time we chat.

Chris Montross, thank you so much for your time here today on The Kona Edge.

CHRIS MONTROSS:  You’re welcome Brad.

Subscribe to the Podcast - iTunes - Stitcher - RSS