Getting in Gear: tools of the swimrun trade
When we design a swimrun course, we spend hours pouring over maps, first on Google Earth and then with detailed topographic maps. We always start by building the idea of a course on a topographical map to see if we can create a good balance. This usually looks quite good on paper and we can calculate times and distances based on the data we have on all the races since 2006.
However, things change quite dramatically when we are out in the field. A measured trail in the virtual world is never the same as the real distance, no matter how detailed the map. Nor is the real time anything near the calculated time due to the nature of the trails: smooth or rocky, flat or up and down. This is actually the best part of creating a race, as we have to go out and do every metre of every course ourselves.
When it comes to the swim sections, it’s easy to measure on a map as it’s a straight line but, as most of us know, very few swim in a straight line and therefore the swim sections are slightly longer in real time.
Until 2016, it was impossible to get accurate data but, together with Garmin, we’ve been working on getting a swimrun app for their training devices for some time. The swimrun app in the Garmin Fenix 3 and in the Fenix 5 (out March 2017) is a great help to us as we now can measure all parts of every course.
For anyone training, we highly recommend this Garmin-only Swimrun App. If you upload the activity to Garmin Connect and make it public, more and more people can see how fast others are moving on different types of terrains. Together, we can build a bank of great swimrun locations around the world through Garmin Connect by adding #swimrun to our courses.
As swimrun is a new sport, a lot of people spend a lot of time trying to figure out what kit to use and how to adapt existing gear. One of the most important pieces of equipment is the wetsuit; today there are several brands that are made swimrun-specific, which have been more or less adapted to the sport. Depending on the brand, some wetsuits are pre-cut while others are long and you have to decide how and where to cut.
Some swimrunners choose to use a non-swimrun specific wetsuit, and this is usually fine in the beginning but, as you progress, you’ll want to get faster and modify your suit to the sport.
Head Swimming Nordic has put together a few guidelines of how to adjust wetsuits and other equipment on YouTube. Check out this clip to see how to cut your wetsuit.