Learning to love the Ironman swim – Even when you swim like an anchor

Learning to love the Ironman swim – Even when you swim like an anchor

Learning to love the Ironman swim – Even when you swim like an anchor

Today on The Kona Edge we chat to Joe Duckworth once again and find out how he deals with the necessary evil of his Ironman swim training.  Starting out late in life with his Ironman swim training and living in a climate not conducive to spending much time in the water, Joe shares with us his love of Ironman swim training and how he values the information from his research.

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BRAD BROWN:  Welcome onto this edition of The Kona Edge, it’s good to have you with us and we head back to the UK to catch up with Joe Duckworth. Joe, welcome back, nice to touch base once again.

JOE DUCKWORTH:  Nice to be back, thanks for having me.

BRAD BROWN:  Joe, let’s talk about swimming. In our first chat you mentioned to me that the swimming is not your best of the three disciplines and probably not your fastest either and the one you don’t like the most, you love running. Is it a case of just a necessary evil, that you have to do it in order to do triathlon or don’t you really mind swimming that much?

Seek motivation for your Ironman swim training

JOE DUCKWORTH:  Do you know what, I love the swim training. I have a friend Chris who says: Duckworth, you swim like an anchor and that keeps me motivated quite honestly! I love the training aspect of it. I love being in the pool. I think it’s just one of the things, if you’ve never swum as a kid, I started swimming seriously in 2010, I just haven’t got the flexibility, the suppleness and it kind of, I do the training in order to get out of the swim in the best possible shape I can.

So rather than not do the training and it nearly cripple me and let it affect my bike and then my run, I put the training in simply to get through that swim in between it and the one hour sets, in one piece, in good shape, so I can put a decent bike together. So, yeah, it is a necessary evil, I don’t dislike it, I just train to get round in one piece in the most efficient way possible for myself.

BRAD BROWN:  Joe, in our first chat you told me that your running was really strong and the biking was good, but you felt you needed to get a coach. Have you got a swim-specific coach or is it the one coach that helps you out across all disciplines?

JOE DUCKWORTH:  No, I just have one coach, Ian Murphy. He’s not swim specific, so he puts my sets in and I do drills and stuff. Believe it, I do a lot of research on swim moves and stuff like that, again, going back to the first talk we had about me being a bit of a bookworm. I sort of go from that. I’m never shy of asking people in the pool who are really good swimmers, if they can give me instant tips and help out. It’s just, he’s basically a general coach, triathlon-wise, but he’s not an expert on the swimming, by his own admission, that’s kind of where we’re at.

BRAD BROWN:  Do you swim in a squad or do you swim train on your own?

JOE DUCKWORTH:  I swim train on my own or with my friends. I don’t do any master swimming or any squad swimming, no, just by myself and with friends.

BRAD BROWN:  As far as drills and sets and that sort of thing, is it all according to your coach and what he says you do?

JOE DUCKWORTH:  Yeah, it is, but I’ll try and input stuff too. If I see things and I talk to people in the pool who are actual swimmers, per se, they swim competitively, you sometimes get like little gems off of them, like 40 x 100’s with 10 second recovery and things like that, which frighten you half to death, but you know, they do the job and that’s where we go really. Obviously if I’ve got a certain set and I’m feeling really, really jaded, then we can adjust that.

Again, the coaching is a two-way communication type of thing. Sometimes he tells me to just get on with it, stop being so soft, other times, he’s like, we’ll ease it back then and we’ll try something different. Yeah, that’s how we do it.

BRAD BROWN:  I think that says a lot about you, Joe, when you say you get little gems off of other swimmers, like 4 x 100’s with 10 second rests between, that’s frightening.

JOE DUCKWORTH:  I thought so, especially when I first tried it, yeah, the 4 x 100’s is horrific quite honestly! You hear the pros doing more than 10k-sets I know the pros and that, but you know, if it works for them, then why not for me and also I’m not swimming anything like the pro’s do but you just go in slightly over that 3.8km and you’re pushing that little bit and if you get these wonderful finish tempo trainers under your swim cap beeping at you, you know, and you were competitive, that’s another training tool to absolutely cripple yourself with, quite honestly, as I found.

BRAD BROWN:  What’s your favorite workout to do in the pool?

Correct stroke and pacing will improve your Ironman swim

JOE DUCKWORTH:  My favorite workout, we do a pyramid session of, it’s obviously, not so much speed, but it’s variations in distance. It’s just a 400m easy one, with mixed strokes, then I’ll do 4-6 x 100m drills, be it catch up, be it doggy paddles, whatever parts of the stroke I’m working on and then I’ll do a 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 500, 400, 300, 200,100 with 20 seconds rest in between and that kind of, that’s nice.

The aim is basically, the first 100 you supposed to swim the last 100 the same sort of pace. It’s a bit about pacing over different distances, but also you’re working hard. That takes a while, the speed actually matters, it takes a heck of a while, but yeah, I tend to enjoy it. I enjoy the last 100 where you’re trying to, you know your first 100 time and you know you’ve got to go at it to try and maintain that pace, so that’s probably my favorite set.

BRAD BROWN:  As far as open water goes, do you get to swim much open water where you are?

JOE DUCKWORTH:  Yeah, I’m a bit soft when it comes to open water. Not as soft as, I just don’t like the cold. I think I was born in a warmer country really. Up to April/May, it’s freezing, quite honestly, in my world it’s freezing anyway. Some of the guys are swimming and they get on with it really well, but yeah, from May onwards we have a couple of venues where you can swim, obviously swim at the Pennington Flash where the UK event is, which is nice to swim on the course, with a place called Eccleston Delph which is an old quarry, which is nice, really clear, lots of fish to look at. Yeah, so we do a bit, we try to get out twice a week if we can, when the weather permits.

BRAD BROWN:  Brilliant stuff. Joe, it’s been great catching up once again, look forward to touching base about your bike the next time we speak, but until then, take care.

JOE DUCKWORTH:  Fantastic, take care everybody.

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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.


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