As a triathlete you try to get a leg up, pun intended, on the competition during the swimming part of the race, which makes it all the more frustrating if your legs are the problem. If your legs are dragging you down, you may have a case of runner’s kick. So grab a pair of fins. Time to head to the pool to give your ankles a turn ... at working out.
Choose Your Fins
If your flutter kick makes you go backward, as is the case for many runners, Beginner Triathlete suggests working out with swim fins to improve your speed and overall stroke. Shorter fins designed for competitive swimming rather than longer fins used for snorkeling are best, and they will help not only by supporting your kick so you can focus on the rest of your stroke, but also by putting your foot into the correct position for effective kicking.
A great exercise to help loosen those ankles is vertical kicking. Find a spot in the deep end of the pool where you can't touch the bottom, and just hang out for a while in a vertical position with your feet and fins pointing to the pool bottom. They need to stay pointed down for this exercise for your feet to be in the correct position for effective kicking. Make sure your legs are straight but your knees and ankles are loose, and start doing some small, rapid flutter kicks. Once you have the hang of it, let the kick get a little bigger, but keep it nice and easy. Focus on kicking from your hips while always feeling your feet wave in the water. You'll know it's working if you feel yourself being almost lifted out of the water as you kick.
Best Foot Forward
How you kick with the fins, and how you hold your feet while you kick, make all the difference, as the vertical kicking exercise demonstrates. The point of kicking with fins is to feel your feet in the fins as the fins wave back and forth in the water. If you are kicking from your hips, with legs straight but loose and toes pointed to the bottom, you will have your feet waving from the ankles, right along with the fins.
Just For Kicks
When training for a triathlon, according to Amateur Endurance, fins are used for ease of kicking, to strengthen the right muscles, and for ankle flexibility, not so that you can keep up with faster swimmers. Fins are tools, not crutches. Once you have a feel for how to kick, put the fins aside and kick without them. The key, though, is to kick as if you were still wearing the fins. Be aware of how your feet push against the water with the top of your feet on the down stroke and with the bottom of your feet on the up stroke. if you can feel your feet waving, ankles loose and more flexible than before, then you're on your way to kicking the problem.
Christy Ayala writes about recreation, sports, aquatics, healthy living, family and parenting, language development, organizational change, pets and animals. Ayala holds a master's degree in recreation administration from Aurora University’s George Williams College, a graduate certificate in organizational change from Hawaii Pacific University and a bachelor's degree in Spanish from the University of Missouri, St. Louis.