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andyinnorway 10-18-2012 10:26 AM

Weird Science - A threshold set
Here's a nice threshold set if like me you find it hard to commit to doing regular 800m time trials.

This starts fairly easy and gets progressively harder. You can also use it to train up a brisker stroke rate whilst keeping focus on form.

I find this physically challenging but mentally less daunting than swimming a non stop for 15 minutes at pace.


set your TT towards the sprinting end of your range or a setting you want to develop endurance for (this for me is tt=1.0), then swim

1 length - 15 seconds rest
2 lengths - 15 seconds rest
3 lengths - 15 seconds rest
4 lengths - 15 seconds rest
5 lengths - 15 seconds rest
6 lengths - 15 seconds rest
7 lengths - 15 seconds rest
8 lengths - 15 seconds rest

The last set of 200m/yds will be somewhere in between your 200m and 400m pace. No need to be strict on stroke count but be aware of it and try to keep it consistent.

The weird science bit is that I guarantee interval 8 wont be the hardest physically or mentally, more likely pushing off for interval 6 after 15seconds precise rest is the toughest.

You can repeat this up to 3 times according to your fitness and pool time. Rest circa 5 minutes between repeats or until you feel significantly recovered to start again. Too much rest is better than too little as its the swimming inside the 3 threshold intervals that counts.

You can also change the number of continuous lengths you stop at e.g. 4,5,6,8 or more, whatever keeps the set length between 10 and 20 minutes.

So in my example above. 40 lengths @22.5 seconds per length +7*15s rest =total set time of 16:45 (almost spot on my 1000m pace anyway).

nicka 10-22-2012 12:27 AM

This one looks great, I'm gonna give this a try on my next swim unfortunately will not be till next week but I will post the results .
Also would be interesting to count the laps back down from 8 to 1 to know mentally each set will be easier and not harder to finish off
The swimovate will be perfect for this also as it will record every set and gives the pause time between sets and an efficiency value of each set.
Thanks Andy
Also this only adds up th 36 laps and not 40

terry 10-26-2012 11:19 AM

Attention - then Neural - Threshold

Originally Posted by andyinnorway (Post 31832)
The weird science bit is that I guarantee interval 8 wont be the hardest physically or mentally.

I love this set suggestion of yours. Two reasons:
1) It observes the critical Improvement Principle of Progression. As I've written previously my favorite such set is
4 x 25 +
3 x 50 +
2 x 75 +
1 x 100.
This version is best when working on a task that's newer or more challenging. It gives you more opportunities to prepare for the next step. The very simple progression you've outlined here is a bit more arduous, since you increase duration on every repeat.

2) Your observation that the longest repeat wasn't the hardest supports my contention that the most important 'threshold' we must strive to develop isn't the Aerobic Threshold of old-school training, but first the Attention Threshold -- your capacity to maintain unblinking and laserlike focus . . . which leads naturally to the Neural Threshold -- the point where your nervous system masters a task.

When you focus on aerobic training, performing a particular set gets harder as distance increases, because your muscles fatigue.

When you focus on neural training, adding more duration or repeats to a set often makes it easier to execute it well, because the more times you 'run a circuit' in your brain, the more your brain learns and optimizes that task.

I've done this set quite often as my tuneup swim. I use the first couple of repeats to decide what metric I'll aim to maintain as repeat distance increases. It could be SPL. It could be SPL+Tempo. It could be Pace+Silence. It always includes 'mojo' or ease.

Virtually every time I've experienced what you did -- at a certain point though the lap count continues to increase, the difficulty of the task levels off -- and sometimes decreases. That's golden for anyone whose goal is mastery of distance swimming.

AWP 10-26-2012 03:55 PM

Thanks Andy/ Terry
As I find myself back indoors @ the 25 yard pool I'll be looking to apply these practices once again to 'regain' any lost efficiency and perhaps enhance all aspects in the process.
To that,I'll share a part of my last practice and see if it matches in any way the mindset put forth here...
Since it's only my third or forth go back in the pool( after spending most of my swimming time in OW with regular 5K 4K and 3K swims)I 'm still acclimating myself to being in the pool and beginning my sessions thus far with longish tune- ups. Having lost yet another TT to the beach I merely focused on my B.A.S.E. Balance, alignment, streamlining and efficiency/ease.
Beginning my session with a 15 minute swim while counting strokes and after several lengths holding my stroke count and when I felt ease trying to improve on it. Fifteen minutes seemed sufficient to find and maintain that groove. I then wanted to cut the time to approximately 10 minutes and up my perceived rate while staying in my spl range. Now here's some "Weird Science", I stopped at almost 10 minutes on the dime!? I was only counting strokes and relying on perceived time as I do in OW when reaching landmarks. I then wanted to cut the time in half yet again so as not to 'lose' any gained efficiencyand found myself at the wall in just under 5 minutes, now that's weird!
I followed this with a control 'test': I would do a set of 50s, beginning at my low spl, mark time and descend trying to hold spl for every two repeats as I went here's how I did,

:46/ :45
:44/ :43
:42/ :41
:40/ :39
I thought to stop here as I did not want to excede my spl range. Times were not my intended focus, my ability to maintain control with a sense of ease was.
I then took my next and final repeat, before heading into the end of my session, back to my low end spl 12/13 spl and marked my time @ :43
I think I passed my test : )

terry 10-26-2012 04:46 PM

As always a thoughtful, and thought-provoking contribution. I've only had a few pool swims since May -- all of them last week while doing coach training in England. Since returning home on Monday, I've only swum in my Endless Pool. But reading your post has stoked my interest to go to the SUNY pool and try your set of 10 x 15, two each at 13-14-15-16-13 SPL. Next time you might try two each at 13-14-15-16-15-14-13 and maybe 12 to give you 16 x 50. I think I'll give that a go myself.

Any plans to swim in LI Sound this weekend as Hurricane Sandy bears down on us?

CharlesCouturier 11-03-2012 02:37 AM


Originally Posted by terry (Post 31994)
2) Your observation that the longest repeat wasn't the hardest supports my contention that the most important 'threshold' we must strive to develop isn't the Aerobic Threshold of old-school training, but first the Attention Threshold -- your capacity to maintain unblinking and laserlike focus . . . which leads naturally to the Neural Threshold -- the point where your nervous system masters a task.

Hmmm, old school of thought? Different school of thought I'd say.

There are no guarantied correlation between one's neural threshold and one's anaerobic threshold (or CSS), no automatically assumed one, because in reality these two phenomenons will often occurred at drastically different pace among extremely well trained but not talented (ie, very low neural or attention threshold) athletes. Arnies we often call them.

Hywel Davies (not that I suggest he's not talented to swimming.... pfiouf H, you know what I meant right?). This guy is a genetic freak that reports not feeling anything in term of effort level at 1.4 when he first began a DPS process with me. "Yeah but H, go as hard as you can, it's like rowing!" I'd tell him. Nothing would do. It took a whilst before neural threshold could go up, and all of a sudden the performances went up, and the effort level too, at slower rate that is.

So in the same time, I am not willing to deny the works on anaerobic threshold, which in the case of Hywel would have meant stopping working at low rate, and automatically bring his neural threshold much higher (in term of resulting velocity) by increasing the stroke rate. Several people don't like analyzing things like we do, and they get away quite well not even knowing what a neural threshold eats for dine.

That said I confess not having used CSS models for my own athletes yet, can't care less about knowing about their lactate level, always looking for short cuts to trigger better neural adaptation, because my clientele, mostly under 35, are often far from being close to what they should produce at CSS pace. If you're 28, you're a male, and are struggling holding a pace faster than 1:50/m, you will gain nothing continuing hitting your head against the threshold wall. You're already at threshold, and are still slow. It's going to take 10 years going down to 1:30. Simply cut down on energy expenditure to increase time engaged doing something smart, challenge your neuro muscular network in a way that specific to achieve fast swimming when you finally end up increasing the rate, and you'll be down to 1:30 in record time.

terry 11-03-2012 12:28 PM

I refer to metabolic training metrics as "old-school" because
1) They're based on research conducted 50 to 70 years ago.
2) The whole structure of 'energy-system' training has been dismissed by Mike Joyner MD, head of exercise science and Mayo Clinic and one of the most respected exercise physiologists working today as 'pseudo-science.'
3) There has never been any correlation established between metrics such as anaerobic threshold and VO2max and swimming performance.
4) Reliance on it generally leads to rote and generic training.

In contrast, neurally-based training -- designing tasks based on how the brain processes inputs rather than how the body metabolizes energy -- has the following going for it
1) It's based on cutting-edge research, most of it within the last 10 years.
2) There is a very strong correlation established between neurally-guided activities and behaviors and the achievement of excellence , mastery, Flow, happiness -- even better physical health. And these -- not just the time on a stopwatch -- are the central motivation for the vast majority of TI clients.
3) It allows for precise, customized and personalized training approaches.
And that's why I refer to neurally-oriented training as 'New Wave.'

CharlesCouturier 11-03-2012 05:43 PM

Hmmmm this is dismissing the recent discoveries as per the actual role of blood lactate, and to a wide extent to its role in what we now call the lactate metabolism.

That slap in the face (ie, lactate is no longer a waste, it's a fuel, favored by our heart itself over glucose), we mostly received it late 90's for those in the knows. I got mine in 2004 so hmmmmm....

This is also dismissing the works of Dr.Phil Skiba, md, not my best friend but still someone I grant the idea of quantifying very precisely swim training workload using a model that's derived from that propose by Coggan, which is also all about Threshold and that was created in 2003 (so not quite 70y ago).

I'm fortunate enough to coach an exercise physiologist, a PhD who's a teacher at the U where I coach. He's studying the impact of hurting someone other than with training prior testing his metrics (including threshold), this is occurring at the moment of writing these lines.

I collaborated with a team of researchers 15y ago in a study that was aimed at figuring out if you could cross-test, ie, using a score obtained on bike to set running training zones etc....

It seems that this team here are studying the same thing (roughly):

This dates as of 2012.

With all that said, the biggest discovery as for threshold lately is really that blood lactate is seen as a fuel now. As such, it's very important that science continues trying to find what makes us slowing down, vs what makes us swimming faster, metabolically speaking. The whole body is a complex entity of inter-related systems. The neuro-muscular aspect is crucially important, but without understanding how these muscles controled by the brain get fueled and get tired, we only have a fraction of the equation. The most important? This is what Mike Joyner, md, Brent Rushall, phd, you (in a much more modest extent, I) seem to suggest.

Again, I agree with you that neural driven training probably leads to a much smarter use one's time and physical resources.

ian mac 11-03-2012 06:36 PM

A fun hybrid practice
As usual, thanks for the motivation and idea. This morning I started my warmup with Terry's "4321" concentrating on a SPL of 14 (1 stroke below my ideal racing SPL of 15) - short course metres.

Then I tried your "weird science" set with TT @ 1.0 with 15 sec rest between each. My greatest concern was to maintain 15SPL. Your set got me into my neural mode for the main set of 3 x (10 x 100) with 15 sec rest between 100's and 2 minutes extra rest between each set of 10.

On the 1st set, I started TT @ 1.04 and reduced it to 1.02 after five 100's.
On the 2nd set, I started TT @ 1.0 and reduced it to .98 after 5. What I noticed was that at .98 my SPL blew up to 16SPL and 17 on a couple of laps. At that point I was reminded of the great American football coach Vince Lombardi's comment that, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all."
As this was an aerobic/neural practice I decided to concentrate on getting back to 15SPL for the final set without TT, while concentrating on 1 length smooth, 1 build to medium pace, 1 smooth and the final lap strong, but not all out. With this strategy, I was able to get back to 15SPL.

Thanks for the set - it will definitely be added to my repertoire. I will leave the terminology to Terry and Charles to debate over regarding threshold/neural et al. All I can tell you from a guy who enjoys the doing was that any swimmer would find it a thoughtful an invigorating set. Afterward I felt some soreness which I presume was lactic acid after an intense 4500 metre practice. It is what it is.
ian mac

CharlesCouturier 11-03-2012 08:05 PM

Lactic acid being a cause of post session pain, *that* is a dirty old myth.

You simply experience neuro muscular soreness, and that belongs to the world of what TI describes as neural training.

Based on the description you made of your 4500 (given that I see nothing that would trigger an increase above your anaerobic threshold), Lactate in this case (not lactic acid which by the way rapidly looses his strength to become Lactate, ie a salty fluid) was used to fuel your effort, not to hurt you in anyway.

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