I have a question about swimming long as part of my training for my first Ironman distance race this September. So far so good with training. Biggest problem is trying to fit it all in, but so far (touch wood) no major issues. My life/work schedules dicates that I run long on a Thursday evening, ride long on a Sat/Sun and swim long on the non- riding weekend day. I come from a running / cycling background and am confident in my training in those areas.
My long swim is a sea swim. I try and get 3/4 other swim pool sessions in during the week. (One spped focused, one technique focused with drills etc and the other 1 or 2 mixed speed/tecnique. If I can I try and get a pool session in where the emphisis is on yardage but at a moderate pace - but focusing on form especially as I tire.)
I am not a swimmer. I could always "swim" but have only every really learnt about stroke mechanics etc in the last couple of years. I'm slow but am improving and realsise that I can only gain so much over the next four months. For the IM I'd be delighted with around 1.20 and think it's a reasonable goal given my current pacing.
My question is this - is there much of an advantage to ge gained by building my long swim up to distances beyong the IM distance - say 5k/6k plus. As I mentioned above I swim long in the sea (without a wetsuit). My IM distance race will also be a non-wetsuit race. My sea swim times are a good deal slower than my pool times. When I'm in the sea and going long I find it difficult to dial spped into the workout. However I'm quite comfortable and maintain a more or less consistent speed throughout the workout (Depending on the tides/current this can be anything from 2.15 - 2.50 p/100m. (Goal is to get this to 2.00 - my fastest pace in the pool would be 1.30 p/100 m although I would tire of this after 5 - 6 sets at this pace and my times would gradually start pushing up to 1.45/1.50. I find if I push it a little faster I begin to lose my form.)
I suppose what I'm asking is should I focus more on building power/speed up in the pool or would it be better to keep on plouging away in the sea once a week. Should I cap my sea swims at say IM distance and just focus on getting my time down?
I should add that after long swims at present I feel pretty wasted. Not, in pain, or uncomfortable, but put me on a couch and I am asleep in no time.
All help much appreciated.