Monday Masters: Measuring Baseline Fitness

This workout comes from Jim Hallberg of D3 Multisport.jim-hallberg
Jim says this workout is important because it measures baseline fitness here at the beginning of the season. “It will provide you with some numbers to work from throughout the season, and allow you to measure improvement in swim times,” he says. Jim points out this swim time trial is a common one, and widely used. According to, “(The) 3 x 300 T-pace test…comes from Swim Workouts in a Binder, and I have since seen it many places. This is very similar to the 1000 yard test except that it has a built in measure to make sure you are pacing well.”

Here’s the workout:
500 easy warm-up: Jim says to make this easy, fluid, and relaxed. Don’t push too hard during the warm-up, because you want to save your effort for later.

8 x 25 drill: This is just a mix of drills to capture feel for the water and continue the warm-up. Suggested drills include kick work, one arm drill, sculling, fist drill, etc.

6 x 50 descending. As was explained in a previous Monday Masters article, descending means each 50 is slightly faster than the previous 50. So in this set you want to start at about 70% of maximum effort, then the next 50 would be about 75%, the third 50 would be about 80%, etc. Your last effort is pretty much all out. Jim says the purpose of this set is to “blow the carbon out.” This will get you ready for the timed sets that come next.

Timed sets for baseline fitness:
This series of timed sets include 3 x 300 freestyle with 30 seconds rest interval. The goal here is to go as hard as you can, but with an even effort between the 300s.
Jim cautions not to go out too hard on the first 300 and then have to slow down on the second and third. These 300s are for time, so keep an eye on the clock. You’re looking for an even effort, with the highest exertion you can hold over the whole set. Be sure if you’re swimming with others to allow plenty of room between swimmers so you don’t get bunched up. Again, according to, “Swim 3 trials of 300 yards each with 30 seconds rest in between. Each 300 yard swim should be within 15 seconds of each other. This ensures that you are not starting out too fast and fading for the third. If you’re pacing the 300s well, then just add the total time together for the 3 trials and divide by 9 to get your time per 100 yards/meters. This is your T-pace time for triathlon swimming.”

Once you’ve completed the three 300s and documented your times, you’ll take an average of three. Then you figure out your time per 50 or 100 based on average. You will use this time to determine your leave time for pretty much all upcoming sets throughout early spring training.

Then, in early spring, you will repeat this work out and see how you have improved on your average times.
Jim says this is a great workout to do here in January because it gives you some hard numbers that are fairly accurate in terms of race pace that you can measure against during your training in the coming months.

To finish this work out to complete a solid effort for the day, do a 200 easy following the 300s to bring your breathing back down, and then do 6 x 150 choice, for a total of 3000 yards for the work out.

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