I want to preface this post by saying that nothing in it is set in stone. The information can be used as a guideline, but there will always be exceptions. I am gearing this information towards adult swimmers and triathletes versus swimmers on club, high school, or collegiate teams. The information will be most useful to athletes who are in charge of their own training plans or athletes who are interested in some of the science behind their current training plan.
It is not my intention to trump, supersede, conflict, challenge or interfere with the swimmer/ triathletes current training plan or coach’s advice. Trust your coaches! With that being said, It is my opinion that not every swimmer/ triathlete needs to know their threshold pace.
Who should know their threshold pace?
- I think any swimmer/ triathlete who is doing interval work in the water should have an idea of their threshold pace – especially if they are training alone (without a coach).
- If the swimmer/ triathlete doesn’t know their threshold pace, the person writing their swim practices should have a good enough idea that they’re able to provide target distances, effort and rest intervals to suit the swimmer/ triathletes individual needs.
- Anybody with a basic handle on swimming technique that wants to improve their swimming endurance.
- I think swimmers/ triathletes who want to win their races or have specific time goals will benefit more if they have an idea of their threshold pace.
- Triathletes training for a half or full Ironman should know their threshold pace*.
- It is a good idea for triathletes training from Olympic distance down to Sprint triathlons to know their threshold pace, but not at the expense of technique. It is possible to estimate threshold pace and improve greatly.
- Swimmers/ triathletes who can swim for 30 minutes or longer without a break.
- Swimmers/ triathletes who can swim all four strokes.
- Swimmers/ triathletes who think they’ve hit a plateau.
- Swimmers/ triathletes interested in the science behind their training.
- Swimmers/ triathletes who are invested enough in their races that they need to know they trained as efficiently as possible.
Who doesn’t need to know their threshold pace?
- Novice swimmers and novice triathletes. I think novice swimmers/ triathletes should focus on technique before swimming to improve their endurance**.
- Arbitrary number alert: I don’t think swimmers/ triathletes who can’t swim 500 yards/meters without stopping or 6 x 100s holding a steady pace with a heart rate around 80% of their max heart rate on :10 seconds rest need to worry about their threshold pace.
- Swimmers or triathletes who compete for fun and without specific goals in mind.
- Swimmers and triathletes on masters teams or training under a coach who are seeing good improvement and feeling challenged in the pool. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, trust your coaches!
- Triathletes who are satisfied to get through the swim and want to focus more energy on their bike and run.
*Endurance training is more important to endurance athletes. You can’t fake a distance event.
**Novice athletes will see many improvements almost in spite of how their sets are designed. It is not until an athlete has reached a certain amount of proficiency and skill that they will begin to plateau and their training will really begin to matter.
Categories: Threshold Pace