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-   -   A great speed/SPL practice (http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/showthread.php?t=2871)

tpamperin 11-14-2011 11:12 PM

A great speed/SPL practice
 
In case you haven't seen my "Crazy SPL/speed breakthrough" thread in the Freestyle forum, here's a great set Terry showed me.

I started my tune-up with a TT set at 1.2, which is a little too fast for me to be comfortable. I swam 10 x 25, first slowing (1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5) then speeding up (1.45, 1.4, 1.35, 1.3, 1.25, 1.2). The idea here is to decrease SPL as the tempo slows, then hold as much of those gains as you can when you speed up again. I started 1.2 at 15 SPL, and finished at 13 SPL, so that part really works.

Next, speeding up: 4 x 25 with TT at 1.2, 1.1, 1, 0.9.

Then the real fun: without a TT, I swam 4 x 100:

1st 100 at 12 SPL, 2nd at 13, third at 14, and 4th at 15 (obviously other values work for other people; I'm tall, and can usually hold 12 SPL for 100's). This was PURE MAGIC. As I added to my SPL count, it felt like I was cheating, and had to really cut back on my effort to fit the extra strokes in. Yet I was MUCH faster. At 12 SPL, I swam a 1:26. At 14 SPL, I swam a 1:20 and with a GREATLY reduced effort--the kind of effort that would normall give me a 1:35 or so. The 100 at 15 SPL set a new PR for me of 1:16, though it felt like a very uncomfortably fast SR.

Clearly, this workout gave me a new cruising gear: 14 SPL. I then swam a 7:47 500 in my new low gear--easy! And within 8 seconds of my best 500 ever, which was NOT easy.

Then I swam 10 x 50 on 1:00 in my new low gear--easy, yet without even trying I hit :40 seconds every time, which should have been much harder for me.

If you haven't played around with adding strokes on purpose, you should try it. It was the biggest breakthrough I've had in a long time. I think it's particularly good that the session started with TT work to really bring out the relationship between tempo, speed, and SPL--but then moves to increasing SPL on purpose without a TT. The effect is the same--tempo increases--but doing it without the TT highlights the feel rather than the beep.

Let me know how it goes if any of you try this!

Tom

andyinnorway 11-15-2011 10:34 AM

I do a set sometimes for training new TT thresholds.

set a comfortable SPL, probably 14 for you.

Then swim repeat 25s inside that SPL with decreasing TT. You have to swim 3 in a row at a TT before decreasing increment of ,02 or ,03.

Set yourself a time limit and see how far down you can go in that time.

e.g. start TT at 1.2 and try to reach 0.8 in 45 minutes. As the TT speeds get quicker, i find the body naturally gets more focused, my leg kick timing improves, my symmetry is better and my recovery quicker.

I can also keep precise focus because I know I only have to succeed the task over 25m *3

the 3 in a row is great focus training too, as you get really annoyed with yourself if you blow the 3rd length when you are holding 2 successes.

Lots of marathon swimmers seem to have SR in the range 60-80 so,

As stroke length conscious swimmers we may be in that lower range but I do not think the demands on the body of moving from SR 50 to SR 60-65 are as much as we think they are, just getting used to the new rhythm.

Thats going to be my goal for the next couple of weeks, SR 61 and hold SPL under 18 in perpetual motion.

tpamperin 11-15-2011 04:32 PM

Andy,

thanks--that sounds like a great TT set. Yesterday's success has definitely showed me I'm ready to try some higher tempos, so I'll try it later this week and see what happens.

One interesting thing: after doing the TT pyramid slower and faster back to tempo 1.2, I dropped from 15 SPL to 13. When I continued increasing speed to 1.1, 1, 0.9, I held 14, 14, and 15 SPL. So at 0.9, I hit 15 SPL, which is where I started at a TT setting of 1.2.

So, my SPL doesn't increase with faster tempos as much as I expected. As my neurons get used to faster tempos, I'm betting I'll hold SPL even better at these fast tempos. Which is all very exciting!

Tom

andyinnorway 11-15-2011 06:00 PM

and addictive :)

rbs24h 11-16-2011 01:10 AM

[quote=tpamperin;23356]Andy,


One interesting thing: after doing the TT pyramid slower and faster back to tempo 1.2, I dropped from 15 SPL to 13. When I continued increasing speed to 1.1, 1, 0.9, I held 14, 14, and 15 SPL. So at 0.9, I hit 15 SPL, which is where I started at a TT setting of 1.2.

So, my SPL doesn't increase with faster tempos as much as I expected. As my neurons get used to faster tempos, I'm betting I'll hold SPL even better at these fast tempos. Which is all very exciting!


Tom,

I have been following your posts since I am about the same height as you. I will give the pyramid workout a try, I think. I feel stuck at 16-17 SPL for 25yd and about 1:55/100. If I push, I can swim a 1:45 or two.
I just started swimming in May and was thrilled that I could swim the
1500m in an Olympic distance Tri within a couple of months after starting TI (at 2:02/100 pace). When I started Tri's this year, I had to stop swimming after 75 yds, I was so tired and I struggled to finish my first couple of Sprint Tri swims. So I am at a crossroad now that TI has provided me with an "all day pace" that I enjoy swimming at in races. Do I do swim "workouts" to try and get faster? My speed "bang for buck" improvements for overall time will come in bike and run so I am tempted to keep swimming just for enjoyment and "flow". Ahh, but I want to be faster too......I'm human. Anyone have thoughts?

andyinnorway 11-16-2011 07:08 AM

One of my big motivations is that I know there are a lot of swimmers, many of them in senior age groups that can swim 25km at pace splits of 1.25/100m or under.

I do not believe they are either mega human beings or infinitely fitter than me, they have just taught themselves to swim easier and more efficiently.

I would set your goals as high as you dare. Personally, I think a sub 24 minute mile is within most peoples ability, even though I am not there yet myself (28.08)

Its also encouraging to look at the 1500m masters world records and see just how fast the 70+ age group swimmers are still going.

Once you accept how effortlessly some people swim it becomes a question of solving the easy swim puzzle rather than a challenge of physical endurance or fitness.

If you are already at a 2.02 pace since starting in May then you will make the speeds mentioned above no problem, 1% of efficiency at a time.

enjoy the water.

terry 11-16-2011 01:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rbs24h (Post 23360)
So, my SPL doesn't increase with faster tempos as much as I expected. As my neurons get used to faster tempos, I'm betting I'll hold SPL even better at these fast tempos. Which is all very exciting!

The benefit of adapting to faster tempos can be both in the ability to sacrifice less SL as SR increases and in discovering the least-effort combination of SL and SR (or SPL and Tempo) that allows you to maintain a particular pace.

I.E. To swim 24 min for 1500m, you need to maintain a pace of 1m 40s per 100m. (Approx 1m 30s per 100 yds).

If I allow 15 sec for the initial pushoff and three turns (25m pool), you could achieve that 100m pace in all the following ways:
14SPL at a tempo of 1.5 sec/stroke (85 sec divided by 56 strokes)
15SPL @1.4
16SPL @1.3
17SPL @1.25
Etc.

Whichever of those combinations you can maintain with the least effort is the one you're most likely to be able to maintain for the entire distance. There is no single 'right' combination. That combination will vary from one individual to another -- even between two swimmers of the same height. It can also vary for one swimmer as they proceed through the 1500. Holding 15SPL @1.4 might feel best for the first 500m, but 16SPL @1.3 may feel better in the middle to latter stages.

You can only discover that via organized experimentation. A large percentage of your practice should be devoted to sets designed to:
1) Explore different combinations to find those that feel easiest.
2) Teach your brain and nervous system the adaptability to be able to change both SL and SR at will and do so effectively.
3) Imprint and incrementally improve your current optimal combinations.

terry 11-16-2011 01:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by andyinnorway (Post 23364)
One of my big motivations is that I know there are a lot of swimmers, many of them in senior age groups that can swim 25km at pace splits of 1.25/100m or under.

Andy
This could discourage people who find their pace is much slower. There are indeed many people in younger age groups - at least those swimming at a fairly high competitive level -- who can swim 25km at a pace of 1:25 per 100m, but there are almost none in 'senior' age groups who can maintain that pace for even 1.5km. At least if by 'senior' you mean 40+

In 2006 when I broke the USMS 55-59 record for the 2-mile (3.2km) cable swim, my time was 47:00 which is 1:28+/100m. In 2007 I swam that event in 46:20 or 1:26+/100m. At 60 I'd be delighted to do it at a pace of 1:30/100m. For 25km I'd likely hold 1:45 or slower.

ian mac 11-16-2011 03:10 PM

I agree with Terry that incremental adaptation is the key to faster swimming. I have the good fortune to have a 55 year old training partner who earlier this year swam a 18:38 for the 1500 metre short course at the Canadian Masters championships. At every practice, we are mindful of doing different sets to experiment with varying SPL and SR. I have sent Andy examples in another forum. I am 53 and we have set our sights on doing a sub 18:30 for the 1500m.
Yesterday we did the following main set:
7 x [3 x 100m] starting the first set @ 2:00 and removing 5 sec of rest on each successive set, so the last 3 x 100 were @ 1:30. In order to me mindful, I completed the sets in the following manner:
1. @ 2:00 - concentrate on an SPL of 12/13, avg. time 1:23
2. @ 1:55 - concentrate on an SPL of 14, avg. time 1:21
3. @1:50 - using a TT, set SR at 1.08, avg. time 1:21
4. @1:45 - using TT, set SR at 1.04, avg time 1:18
5. @1:40 - using TT, set SR at 1.0, avg time 1:16
6. @1:35 - no TT, avg. work 2 strokes into and 3 strokes out of each turn, then look for "easy speed" - avg. time 1:15
1 min rest
7. @ 1:30 repeat above, avg time 1:14
We feel it important to never use a TT on the final sets in order to concentrate on the adaptive "feel" - the TT is a great tool, but the fastest swimming should also be the most concentraing and mindful.

tpamperin 11-16-2011 05:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rbs24h (Post 23360)

I just started swimming in May and was thrilled that I could swim the
1500m in an Olympic distance Tri within a couple of months after starting TI (at 2:02/100 pace).

so I am tempted to keep swimming just for enjoyment and "flow". Ahh, but I want to be faster too......I'm human. Anyone have thoughts?

First off, to complete 1500m at 2:02 per 100 is a big achievement; most people with so little swimming background couldn't finish a 1500--well done.

I've practiced TI for several years (though I took a 5-year break until 3 months ago), so keep that in mind--it didn't come quickly for me, but steadily. And that slow steady practice sets you up for periods of seemingly sudden advancement, which is where I'm finding myself right now. I just started TT work and I'm finding that it's really important. At the same time, you want to start from a nice long SL as you start trading stroke length for speed so you never have to leave your efficient range as you increase tempo. I spent 3 months without a TT doing this set (one of Terry's) every day (often twice):

4 x 25, 3 x 50, 2 x 75, 1 x 100--the idea is to try and hold the same SPL throughout the entire progression; I rest as much as I need to to swim a high quality repeat. This is some of the hardest swimming I've done (concentration-wise), but it got easier, and though I started at 14-15, now I can hold 12 SPL on the whole set (though I'll often slip to a 13 in the final 2 lengths). Before doing this set, I'd typically swim 300-500 yds with fistgloves--usually when my fistglove 25's hit near (1-2 above) the target SPL I knew I was ready for the set.

Maybe it's best to concentrate first on increasing SL until you are deep into your efficient range (which for my height, I think, is 12-16 SPL). That way when TT work begins, you have more room to trade SL for speed. To do that, I highly recommend sets like the one I described above. Anyone have thoughts on that?

Tom

andyinnorway 11-16-2011 07:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 23368)
Andy
This could discourage people who find their pace is much slower. There are indeed many people in younger age groups - at least those swimming at a fairly high competitive level -- who can swim 25km at a pace of 1:25 per 100m, but there are almost none in 'senior' age groups who can maintain that pace for even 1.5km. At least if by 'senior' you mean 40+

Apologies for overexagerating, just trying to express that form and efficiency can keep you fast whatever your age so don't accept a low 'ok plateau'. Rather, see fast swimming as a technical puzzle to be solved rather than a test of physical endurance? You can solve a puzzle at any age. It was meant to be encouraging.

It is at least the reason why I have gone to the pool 7 times a week for the last 8 months, where other fitness regimes have petered out after 2-3 months of 2-3 times a week.

rbs24h 11-16-2011 09:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tpamperin (Post 23373)
Maybe it's best to concentrate first on increasing SL until you are deep into your efficient range (which for my height, I think, is 12-16 SPL). That way when TT work begins, you have more room to trade SL for speed. To do that, I highly recommend sets like the one I described above. Anyone have thoughts on that?

Hey Tom,

Thanks a lot. I will give that set a try. Warm up? Main Set? I guess a repeat of that set would be a decent main set. I think I will play around with TT today too. Theoretically, that decrease-increase tempo set (count strokes for 25's at 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 etc..) is to help SPL, no? Finding a good starting Tempo for me may be the challenge today. Thanks again

Paul

ian mac 11-16-2011 09:37 PM

To RBS: I have used Tom's set and repeated it 4 times, set 1 doing the lowest possible SPL I can manage, set 2 increasing my SPL by 1, set 3 I use the TT at a SR .04 above my lactic threshold and set 4 using a TT set the SR at threshold.
I will usually watch my 50m times on set 4, and then do a main set of 10 x 50m @1 min descending the pace to 2 sec below my threshold pace for the final 2 50's of the set. In order to keep the adaptation process going, it is important to occasionally swim faster than your goal/threshold pace for your goal distance.

to Andy: fast swimming is BOTH a technical puzzle and a test of physical endurance- by constantly adapting your threshold pace, you will get into better aerobic condition. As a 50+ masters swimmer, I would caution about swimming too hard if you are swimming every day. Make sure that you only "push the envelope" 2-3 times weekly, while enjoying the mindful development of beautiful technique the rest of the week.
Ian

tpamperin 11-17-2011 02:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ian mac (Post 23383)
As a 50+ masters swimmer, I would caution about swimming too hard if you are swimming every day. Make sure that you only "push the envelope" 2-3 times weekly, while enjoying the mindful development of beautiful technique the rest of the week.
Ian

Ian,

thanks; you've got great ideas for how to approach practice, and I'm stealing them all. This one is especially important--I've just started working toward speed this week and I am tired--I sure can't practice every session like I have these last few (I'm 40).

Tom

tpamperin 11-17-2011 02:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by andyinnorway (Post 23377)
It is at least the reason why I have gone to the pool 7 times a week for the last 8 months, where other fitness regimes have petered out after 2-3 months of 2-3 times a week.

I agree 100%--TI is utterly addictive and completely engaging.

Tom

tpamperin 11-17-2011 02:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rbs24h (Post 23380)
Hey Tom,

Thanks a lot. I will give that set a try. Warm up? Main Set?

Paul,

let me know how it goes. As for the warm up/main set question, I've been doing about 200-500 yds in fistgloves (25-yd repeats) beforehand, nice and easy. That made it easier for me to get a nice low SPL on my gloveless 25's.

It took quite a while before I could hold my best count through the whole 500-yd set, but I always wanted to start it at my absolute best for those 25's. And I didn't use a TT at first--just swam as slow as I had to and really pushed for low SPL.

Tom

rbs24h 11-17-2011 07:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tpamperin (Post 23373)
Maybe it's best to concentrate first on increasing SL until you are deep into your efficient range (which for my height, I think, is 12-16 SPL). That way when TT work begins, you have more room to trade SL for speed. To do that, I highly recommend sets like the one I described above. Anyone have thoughts on that?

Tom

So I started at 1.4 for 25 yds.
1.4 16
1.5 16
1.6 15
1.7 14
1.8 13
1.9 13
2.0 12
2.0 12
1.9 12
1.8 13
1.7 13
1.6 14
1.5 15
1.4 15
So the more I work with TT, the more I get it. There were times that I kind of felt all over the place, mostly at faster tempos. Slower tempos were very relaxing to do, though my recovery arm was many times cocked and ready to slice...waiting for the beep. I think my discovery is that by doing drills like this or the 25/50/75/100 100/75/50/25 and trying to keep the same SPL, I can do both swim for enjoyment and "flow" while assuming that each of these sets:1) Gets me in the water another session
2) Allows me to use these drills to improve my swimming in each session.
3) Convinces me that over time, practices like these will ultimately make me faster through improvements in balance/form (less drag)/relaxation /technique. Key part of this is "over time". And good news is that I am enjoying TI so much, that it is not urgent that I get fast in the next two months. But I can realistically see 10 seconds improvement in 100 splits over a year. I'm cool with that. I couldn't finish 2 laps 6 months ago without standing, or rolling over to my back in a Triathlon race swim.

Thanks Tom, (and Terry too) please keep posting. and Good Luck.

Paul Holcomb

terry 11-17-2011 03:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ian mac (Post 23371)
6. @1:35 - no TT, avg. work 2 strokes into and 3 strokes out of each turn, then look for "easy speed" - avg. time 1:15

The smart - and thoroughly unusual --aspect of what Ian and Andy are doing in their training is their focus on seeking the easiest way to accomplish a particular task - rather than blindly working 'harder' which is the norm, and mainly leads to practicing struggle.

When using a TT it becomes almost instinctive to focus on finding leisure and relaxation during the interval between beeps, particularly as you shrink that interval.

terry 11-17-2011 03:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rbs24h (Post 23398)
by doing drills like this and trying to keep the same SPL, I can both swim for enjoyment and "flow" while assuming that each of these sets:1) Gets me in the water another session
2) Allows me to use these drills to improve my swimming in each session.
3) Convinces me that over time, practices like these will ultimately make me faster through improvements in balance/form (less drag)/relaxation /technique. Key part of this is "over time". And good news is that I am enjoying TI so much, that it is not urgent that I get fast in the next two months.

Bingo!

I have noted countless times that I design sets like these initially because they hardwire my brain for a pattern that is proven to enhance success in racing -- i.e. the capacity to minimize loss of efficiency (Stroke Length) while increasing Tempo. This neural capacity correlates more strongly with high performance at elite levels than any physiological marker (i.e. VO2max, etc.)

But the far more compelling reason I keep doing them isn't the possibility I might have a great race in 2 or 4 or 6 months, but the fact that sets like this produce a massively enjoyable Flow state TODAY - and every day.

Intrinsic motivation from the quality of your daily experience is the most important effect to produce in practice. The rest will take care of itself.

I watch other people training - Masters teams and people training solo - and ask myself how they can bring themselves to keep doing generic, unfocused exercise day after day.

tpamperin 11-17-2011 04:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rbs24h (Post 23398)
There were times that I kind of felt all over the place, mostly at faster tempos. Slower tempos were very relaxing to do, though my recovery arm was many times cocked and ready to slice...waiting for the beep.

Paul,

I know exactly what you mean about feeling "all over the place" at first, but I'm doing better with each TT practice--actually my progress toward being comfortable at new tempos has been surprisingly quick.

As for the slower repeats, what you describe above is exactly what happened to me. I adjusted by REALLY slowing down my recovery but making sure the motion never stops, so at slower tempos it feels like super slow motion. I've been paying a lot of attention to recovering as slowly as I can so there's no dead spot in the stroke where I have to pause. That slow recovery also really encourages me to extend my lead arm even further and glide for a longer time, really resisting starting the catch too soon.

Tom

rbs24h 11-17-2011 06:34 PM

Thanks, really good points Tom. Yes, on some strokes i would lose concentration and realize that I had recovered too fast so I would just wait for the beep to spear. More practice... Good news is, I HAD THE OPTION TO WAIT. Right? I laugh when I think about this. No way, just a couple of months ago, that I could have stopped in mid-stroke, still at a glide forward until I either
a)lost momentum or
b) "chose" to complete stroke.
There were no options to wait back then, I WAS TRYING TO SURVIVE! :)

Thanks again for your input. Keep em coming.. Enjoy your easy swims and rest.

Paul


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