As the weather cools down, for most of us anyway, our swim sessions move indoors. Are there advantages or disadvantages to your swimming environment, and if so, how does that impact your training and performance? Let's take a look at a few key differences between training indoors vs. training outdoors.
One of the advantages of training indoors is that you have a controlled temperature, both of the water and the pool area. This is helpful because you can have a more consistent training atmosphere. On the other hand, training outdoors exposes you to different elements - literally. You may be swimming with the sun in your eyes, or during the rain, depending on the season. While this may seem like a disadvantage of swimming outdoors, you might be better prepared to handle any swimming environment when it comes time for an out of town meet or competition.
Vitamin D Exposure
An advantage of training outdoors is that you are more likely to get exposure to that critical mineral, Vitamin D. Beyond just being important for bone health, this vitamin is especially important for swimmers because it increases your VO2 max. Having a higher VO2 Max means that your body is more efficient in getting and delivering oxygen to your muscles thus enabling you to train harder and push your performance to the next level. Vitamin D also improves your immune system, with studies showing that people who had a vitamin D deficiency are more likely to catch colds. So if you're not having your swim sessions outdoors, make sure to try and get some sunlight throughout the day. This will pump up your immune system in these colder months while giving you a competitive edge with the VO2 max. A diet rich in vitamin D sources like salmon, tuna, eggs, and fortified cereals is also a good way to increase your intake of this super important mineral. Read more about this important vitamin on our blog here.
Ultimately, there are some pros and cons to both training environments, but some things should stay standard. Check on these things at your training facility, or inquire about them before joining a new swim center. Factors like length of pool, minimum water depth, lane markers, water temperature, starting block height and placement, and others should be considered to ensure that your training environment mimics where you'll eventually be having meets and competitions.
Whatever environment you train in, make sure you are getting a balanced diet, enough sleep, and cooling down properly to ensure the best practice sessions.