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terry 07-15-2011 08:16 PM

Reposted to this Thread
I'd originally posted this on the Building Endurance thread. But it really belongs here.

Tues July 12 3000 LCM at Ulster County Pool
I had a busy weekend, swimming the Greenwich Point (CT) Mile in LI Sound on Saturday. I placed 1st in 60-64 with a time of 20:40.
On Sunday I swam Stage 3 of the 8 Bridges Swim, 13.2 miles in the Hudson River from the Mid-Hudson Bridge in Poughkeepsie to the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. In that I tied for 7th (or last) in 5h 11m. More on this experience in my blog.

My total of 22,000 meters in just over five hours (albeit aided by a 1.4 knot current for about 4 hours) is about what I normally swim in two weeks, so I felt a bit knackered and creaky on Monday, and took a day off from swimming. (I did weights in the afternoon though.) A main priority this morning was to swim for restoration, yet seek improvement at the same time. I did a single set of 30 x 100, though I broke it up into sets of 5, then 3, and changed tempo each set. I chose to do only 100s because I felt longer repeats might remind my muscles how much I'd asked of them 36 hours earlier.

Here's the set:
First the ascending (slowing-tempo) part of the Pyramid.
5 x 100 @ 1.06
5 x 100 @ 1.08
5 x 100 @ 1.10
Then the descending side where tempo gets faster.
3 x 100 @ 1.09
3 x 100 @ 1.08
3 x 100 @ 1.07
3 x 100 @ 1.06
3 x 100 @ 1.05

As you can see, the final set of 100s is at a tempo slightly faster than the first set.
I usually begin a set like this at a tempo that feels a tiny bit rushed. My goal on that first group of repeats is to "slow time down" - to do enough repeats that, by the end, I feel as if I have more time between beeps, even though the beep frequency doesn't change.

What do I used that extra 'perceived time' for? To extend my bodyline a bit more before catch, to take a bit more care with the catch, to calm both myself and the water.

On that first set, I reduced my total strokes (for 100m) from 89 to 86. What I especially love about using the Tempo Trainer is how counter-intuitive it is. I put my focus on slowing down, easing up, relaxing, taking more time to cultivate my catch. As a result, I was moving the water less, and my body more. At 89 strokes -- and 1.06 tempo -- my 100 time (including 6 extra beeps for the pushoff and turn) was 1:40.7. At 86 strokes my time was 1:37.5. So by slowing down and easing up, I swam 3.2 sec faster (which is 48 sec faster on a 1500m pace.

As I slowed tempo over the next two rounds, my stroke count dropped to 81. At 81 strokes and 1.10 tempo, my time is 1:35.7. So again, I saw my time get faster as my stroke got slower because the increased leisure allowed me to stroke with more care, precision and sensitivity to water flow.

Then came the getting-faster part of the Pyramid.
I call this an Asymmetrical Tempo Pyramid because I don't descend in the same way I ascend. I've found that if I descend by smaller increments -- and in this case fewer repeats per group -- I can do a better job of maintaining the Stroke Length I've gained as tempo slowed.

To cut to the chase, I held stroke count at 81 @ 1.09 and 1.08, at 82 @ 1.07, at 83 @ 1.06.
When I began the set @ 1.06 my stroke total ranged from 89 to 86. But after slowing down to increase efficiency (and speed) I improved to 83 strokes here. Which converts to a 100m time of 1:34.3, And I was still swimming at only about 80% of maximum.

For the final set of 3 x 100 @ 1.05 I raised my effort to 90%-plus, as I would at the end of a race. The main change was to finally apply firm pressure on my stroke; until this point I kept it as light as I could.
My stroke count was 82-82-81. My time at 81 strokes and 1.05 was 1:30.3.

To put this in goal-perspective, I'd like to hold 81 strokes at a tempo of 1.00 or faster before the Betsy Owens 2-Mile Cable Swim Aug 13 in Lake Placid. I see this as a challenge in neural adaptation more than anything. Today's practice was one solid step toward it.

terry 07-15-2011 08:18 PM

Also here are my responses to comments from Coach Suzanne on the previous practice.

Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne (Post 20622)
What really stood out was that I could also choose to simply rest LONGER prior to trying the 150m with the aim of keeping my stroke counts at 37/38.

A key difference between TI and the traditionalists is they consider rest intervals sacred. We think of them--in the words of sociologists, engineers, and other empirical types-- as just a 'data point.'

Training sets become far more interesting--and produce far more valuable insight--when you think of them as little experiments.

In the set example I gave above, I changed the rest interval in the 2nd half of the set, as tempos were getting faster, to give me a bit better chance at success. During the 3 rounds of 5 x 100 increasing tempo, I rested for 10 beeps between 100s. While the traditionalists think the demands of physiology should receive first consideration, I think the requirements of neural adaptation that allows a better combination of SL/SR come first.

Yet I don't ignore physiological considerations. So resting for 10 beeps after swimming for nearly 90 beeps, a 9:1 work:rest ratio is solidly aerobic. That lets me know the set will prepare me for the metabolic demands of distance swimming.

As tempos got faster I increased rest to 20 beeps between 100s. A bit more recovery yet -- at a better than 4:1 work:rest ratio still solidly aerobic. The bit of extra recovery gave me a better shot at maintaining efficiency. And that's always my #1 priority.


Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne (Post 20622)
Once a test set has been done (like I mentioned above), "training" sets can be designed with specific goals in mind that will be unique to each swimmer in the group...yet all can share in the same workout, or practice as we like to refer to them.

In essence my first round of 5 x 100 was a test set, as Suzanne calls it. Most days I do exactly this. I use my first 8 to 10 minutes of swimming as a test set, which sets the parameters for improvement. In this case the parameters were
Distance - 100m
Rest - 10 beeps (10+ seconds)
Stroke Length (86-89 strokes/100)
Tempo - 1.06

ANY improvement on any combination of those parameters in subsequent sets tells me I'm going in the right direction.

Some time ago on this Forum there was a lengthy discussion of what are "slow" and "fast" times. I took the position that such labels mainly serve to limit us or make us feel bad, and are essentially meaningless without specific context. What is 'slow' for a 35 y.o. man might be incredibly fast for a 55 y.o. woman? Conversely what is 'slow' for a 65 y.o. woman who is a world-ranked Master could be massively impressive for a 25 y.o. male who has just swum his first mile.

So I prefer to just establish MY parameters for TODAY's practice and work on improving them. Whatever they are.

terry 07-15-2011 08:36 PM

Thurs July 14 3000 Long Course Meters
Yesterday I did a single set of 3000 meters -- or actually 5 rounds of the following 600 meter set [4 x 50 + 2 x 100 + 1 x 200]
I did one round each at tempos of 1.09 – 1.10 – 1.11 – 1.10 – 1.09 sec/stroke

When I started I had a 'blue sky goal' of doing each round at progressively faster tempos I.E. 1.09 - 1.08 - 1.07 - 1.06 - 1.05.
However, this is a good example of letting your first set in a practice be a test set that let's you know what your capacity is for that day.

My Efficiency Benchmark this summer is 41 strokes/50m. Each practice I try to swim a tiny bit farther (longer repeats) or faster (brisker tempos) or some combination at that SPL> Going much over it tells me I'm exceeding the adaptive capacity of my nervous system.

So when I averaged 43 SPL on the first round @ 1.09, I decided to do the set as an Pyramid (slower, then faster, tempos) rather than a Ladder (continuously faster tempos). That decision worked out well since my SPL improved to 42 on the 2nd round, 40+ on the middle round, then held at 41 on the last two rounds. I wasn't timing myself but taking 8 fewer strokes on the final 200 means I swam over 8 seconds faster than I had at the same tempo in the first round.

If I can leave the pool every day having improved a combination in the course of an hour or so, I'm happy the rest of the day.

terry 07-15-2011 08:50 PM

Friday July 16 3600 Long Course Meters
Today I swam another single-set practice, but broke it up as I describe below. In simplest terms it was a set of 9 x 400, using Tempo and Time as my parameters. I counted strokes, as I always do, but had a pace clock to display my time on each 400.
Here's how I did them.

400 Cruise @ 39 SPL
My sole goal here was to feel relaxed, balanced and try to hold stroke count below 40 all the way. The clock showed 7:18 when I finished.

Then I swam 5 x 400 "Tempo Pyramid" on 7:30 Below you see tempo, then time, then average stroke count for each 400.
1.06 6:38 44 SPL
1.08 6:36 42 SPL
1.10 6:33 40 SPL
1.08 6:31 41 SPL
1.06 6:27 42 SPL
In a Tempo Pyramid, my goal is always to use the extra time to reduce strokes (improve efficiency) as tempo slows. If I do a great job, my time will improve even as tempo slows. As you see, I swam 5 seconds faster @1.10 than @1.06.
Then I strive to maintain the 'sense of leisure and length' I've gained at slower tempos, as I make them brisker again. If I do that successfully I'll take fewer strokes and swim considerably when I return to my original tempo. I swam 11 seconds faster on the 5th 400, because I took about 11 fewer strokes for 400m.

Then I continued, with 3 broken 400s on an interval of 8:30.On the first I rested for 20 sec after 200m. On the second I rested for 20 seconds after each 100. On the third I rested for 20 seconds after each 50. Each time repeat distance got shorter, I made tempo faster, striving to keep SPL near 41. My tempo and time (with rest subtracted) were:
1.04 6:19
1.02 6:10
1.00 5:59

I'd love to be able to swim 5:59 for a continuous 400 @ 41 SPL in a month's time. If so I'll feel primed for a very good swim in the Betsy Owens 2-Mile Cable Swim August 13 in Lake Placid.

This Sunday I'll swim Grimaldo's Mile from Coney Island to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn.

terry 07-26-2011 09:18 PM

Back to the Pool
I hadn't practiced in the pool in at least a week, but got right back in the groove this morning. This was another single-set practice, though I divided it into three parts.
The set was 30 x 100 - actually 3 rounds of 10 x 100 - all on a 2:00 interval.
The tasks I challenges myself to execute were:
1) Hold a consistent 100m stroke count for 10 x 100.
2) Hold a NEW consistent count in subsequent sets of 10 x 100.
3) Maximize the difference in my speed at one stroke count.

1st round
10 x 100 @ 77 strokes. Descend from 1-10.
I descended from 1:59 (just look at the clock and push off again) to 1:42. I think the difference of 17 seconds, without changing stroke count, is the best I've ever done in a 50m pool.

2nd round
10 x 100 @ 79 strokes. Descend 1-5. Descend again 6-10.
On 1-5 I descended from 1:44 to 1:38
On 6-10 I descended from 1:43 to 1:37
Smaller difference between slow and fast, but a shorter set. The 1:44 and 1:43 with which I started the two rounds felt MUCH easier than the 1:42 I swam at the end of the first set. I did allow myself two more strokes, but it was really effortless.

3rd round
10 x 100 @ 81 strokes. 1 Easy, 1 Fast
The easy 100s ranged from 1:43 (on #1) to 1:45 (on #9)
The fast 100s got progressively faster from 1:33 to 1:29.

This was the most interesting set because there was such a contrast between consecutive 100s, though all were at same stroke count.
#9 was 1:45 - swimming with exquisite lightness at 81 strokes.
# 10 was 1:29 - feeling power course through every movement, still at 81 strokes.

The key thing I want to get across about these practices is that my original reason for designing such tasks was because I felt they build key skills for racing. Particularly a 'nimble' neural network that can respond to any condition or situation I experience in an open water race.

But I would continue doing them even if I had no racing goals, because they bring the exquisite pleasures of experiencing Flow, Purpose and Mastery as I challenge myself to execute these physically and cognitively difficult tasks.

How many of these tasks can you execute?
How much faster can you swim without changing stroke count?

terry 07-26-2011 09:43 PM

What was my Tempo on last 2 x 100
I wasn't wearing a Tempo Trainer this morning. Just swimming with combination of Stroke Count and Time.
But just for fun I calculated my Tempo on the last 2 x 100. Both were at 81 strokes, but times were 1:45 and 1:29.
How to calculate? All I had to do was add 6 (for the number of extra beeps I would allow myself on pushoff and turn) to the # of seconds, then divide by stroke count.
At 1:45, my tempo was 1.37
At 1:29, my tempo was 1.18

Descending without changing stroke count is an interesting way to work on changes in tempo - without needing a TT.

terry 07-28-2011 05:00 PM

Thurs July 28 3200 LCM at Ulster County Pool

I felt tired and a bit sore this morning--mainly from strength training last night--so I began with a long-ish easy swim to take inventory and see if I could develop a relaxed-feeling stroke that would allow me to maintain decent SPL/Tempo combinations without increasing fatigue. I'm racing an ocean mile on Saturday at Point Lookout LI so I want to recover somewhat from my current fatigue in the next 48 hrs.

Tuneup: 800 meters @ 38 SPL.
I began swimming with Balance Thoughts - relaxing, focused on feeling cushioned by the water and trying to 'caress' the catch to move my body forward, not move water back, as I stroked. I didn't pick a distance to swim in advance, just to continue as long as I felt the overall feel of my stroke improving. My average SPL was between 38 and 39 for 600m and improved to 38 over the last 200. I felt satisfied with that so I stopped after 800.

Main Set
2 rounds of [4 x 50 + 2 x 100 + 1 x 200 + 2 x 100 + 4 x 50]
My two metrics on this set were Tempo and Stroke Count
On 1st round, I swam the 50s @ 1.04, 100s @ 1.06 and 200 @ 1.08.
My goal was to maintain same SPL throughout the set, easing up tempo a bit as distance increased so I didn't have to work too hard to do so.
I averaged 41+ SPL on the first round.

On the second round, I increased tempo slightly to 1.03, 1.05 and 1.07. Again I averaged 41+ SPL and felt only a bit of fatigue during the 200.

This felt like a good set for a day when I wanted to avoid making myself more tired just 48 hrs before a race-- yet tune my stroke for efficiency and rhythm.

'Strong' 50s
I finished with 8 x 50, 2 each at 1.03, 1.02, 1.01, 1.00
My goal was to keep SPL at or under 41. I had to add some power to accomplish this @ 1.00 but it felt good and didn't make me tired.

AWP 07-29-2011 01:11 AM

Sounds like you're ready!
I've been mimicking similar practices when at the pool this past month (30 yd outdoor pool) unfortunately with inconsistency, in practice time that is, and yet with some marked successes. 'Suffering' from a bout of heel spur/plantar fisciitis so reluctant to hit the pool and its walls. Have down graded the pool for now and been trying to get to OW more (another challenge as I've promised no more solo swim practice). Will hit the Sound in the morning though (escorted) and 'lament' another lost opportunity this Saturday (had to pull out of Grimaldo's too), major golf tourny this Saturday puts me at work @ 5:30 am, blah.
Good luck @ PL, love that one, should be a nice day. Hope to see ya on the 6th!


terry 07-29-2011 02:12 PM

So, Alan, what will be your responsibility during the golf tourney. I spent the years from 13-17 as a caddy at Cherry Valley in Garden City. That was enough to put me off anything to do with golf the rest of my life. Now to today's practice.

Friday July 29, 3000 LCM at Ulster County Pool

Set #1 100+200+300+400+500 @ <40SPL

I did this without prior warmup or tuneup, which is a pretty common way for me to begin practice. I like to be doing something purposeful and cognitively difficult from my first lap - and just assume that whatever metrics I'm focused on will improve as I warm up and tune up.

The challenge I chose was to keep average SPL below 40/50m and try to steadily improve pace as distance increased.
I started with 1:50 for the 100 and finished at 8:25 for the 500, a pace of 1:41/100.
Obviously it takes a high level of pacing skill to increase pace (and keep SPL unchanged) as you swim faster. An equally critical skill is to be able to do this while minimizing any increase in perceived effort. So on a set like this my emphasis is always to improve pace by putting more care and precision into each stroke. I really focus on maintaining a sense of leisure and relaxation.

Set #2 12 x 100 'Asymmetrical' Tempo Pyramid
I've described this type of set previously. I start by gradually slowing tempo, then gradually make it faster again. But I increase tempo by smaller increments than I slowed it.
Here are the tempos I swam at
1.00 -- 90 strokes
1.09 -- 82 strokes
0.95 -- 88 strokes

On the first 4, I decreased tempo by .03/100. On the next 8, I increased tempo by .02/100. Increasing by smaller increments makes it easier to maintain the efficiency I gain as tempo slows.
The efficacy of this set is demonstrated by the fact that I took fewer strokes at a tempo of 0.95 at the end than I'd taken at 1.00 at the beginning.

Set #3 The Sun Yang 50s
This set was inspired by the Korean swimmer Sun Yang who won the mens 800 Free at the World Championships, holding 28 SPL at a tempo of 0.90.
I decided to work toward his tempo in a set of 6 x 50, to see what my SPL for a single 50 would be when I reached 0.90.
Here's my set
0.95 - 41 strokes
0.94 - 42
0.93 - 42
0.92 - 43
0.91 - 43
0.90 - 44

44 strokes for ONE 50 compared to the 28 strokes he maintained for FIFTEEN CONSECUTIVE 50S (he increased to .80 and 32 strokes on his closing sprint.)
It gives you an appreciation of the skill required to win a World Championship.

AWP 07-29-2011 09:05 PM

Well Terry I can appreciate your feelings towards anything golf after 5 years and yet I'm still at it after 25!
I manage the 'Golf House' so beginning with assisting pro staff at registration, greeting and daily logistics, while supervising all F&B operations (brkfst-lnch-cktls-dinner) in my department as well as the Main Club House venues for the weekend long event. after all that juggling I still manage to sometimes 'cut a window of time' out to sneak to the open water! sometimes : )
So if your not completely satisfied with just a mile race pop up to the North Shore for a twilight swim either Sat. or Sun.

I love these sorts of practice sets and have based most of my own accordingly, can't get enough and can't wait to be back in the pool. Keep 'em coming!


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