Terry's "Zero-Cancer Zone" Practices
I had the great fortune between 2011 and 2013 to help my most loyal student, Jeanne Safer through two successive bouts of cancer. First she had breast cancer. Then, within weeks of completing treatment, she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.
Treatment for the latter was incredibly draining. Jeanne maintained a strong body, mind, and spirit during her recovery by maintaining an identity as an 'athlete in training' -- rather than a patient-in-treatment. After being diagnosed with prostate cancer in Nov, and metastases in Jan, I knew it was essential to do the same.
One great lesson I took from Jeannie was captured in her phrase for the pool--my Endless Pool where we continued weekly lesson through the hardest phases of treatment, the Endless Pool at her weekend home near New Paltz and the Baruch College pool in NYC where she and her husband Rick live during the week.
She called any pool in which she was swimming her "Illness-Free Zone."
Since becoming involved with a prostate-cancer activist-and-information group called ZeroCancer, I've decided to adopt that as the name and theme of my practice. Any pool or body of water in which I happen to practice is my "Zero-Cancer Zone."
I mean this in two ways.
1) While swimming I feel so imbued with vibrant health--feeling better in body, mind, and spirit than at any other time--that I DO feel as if I have zero cancer.
2) This feeling turns swimming into a form of 'active affirmation' in which my actions and spirit say: "My body is strong and healthy and has the resources it needs to heal itself."
In this way--going beyond what the interventions of the most cutting edge medicine currently promise--I feel great conviction that I literally can zero-out cancer, by returning dis-eased cells to their natural state of health.
The short-term focus of my practices, and this thread is my preparation for swimming a 1650y (equivalent of 1500m but in a 25y pool) freestyle at the New England Masters Championship at Harvard Univ March 12.
This will be my final meet in the 60-64 age group before aging up to the 65-69 age group March 25. My first meet in the 65-69 age group will probably be Masters Nationals Apr 28 to May 1.
My goal for this 1650 is to swim it more efficiently and strategically than any mile race I've done in the past 48 years (I swam my first 1650 in March 1968, at age 17.) If I do I feel I'm capable of holding a pace of 1:25/100y for a final time of 23:45.
But I also hold out the possibility I might go a bit beyond that, and maintain a pace of 1:23/100y for a final time of 23:20 or faster.
In my last Masters meet, Jan 23, while feeling somewhat poorly, I averaged 1:23 for a 1000y freestyle, which was my 3rd event--following a 200 FR and 500 FR--within less than 3 hours.
I'll log my practices here, starting with three I've already completed this week.
Zero Cancer Practice #1 Finding my Tempo Threshold
Monday Feb 29 2000y in Clermont FL
I'd begun keeping Terry's 2016 Q1 Training Log Jan 21. At the time I was just resuming training after an interruption due to pool closings over the holidays followed by 10 days of travel related to TI work.
However that was also interrupted soon after I began (but not before swimming one of the best meets of my life--though my times in two events were my slowest ever; I'll post about that here in the coming week) by a disabling attack of sciatica. At the time I worried that it was related to the growth of tumors in my pelvis, but that turned out not to be so.
On Feb 11 I began treatment and have begun to feel better--well enough to set and pursue swimming goals.
This day's practice was on the final day of a 6-day Triathlon Swimming Camp at which I coached. I'd swum most days during the camp. All previous practices had mainly been devoted to Mindful Swimming, tuning my stroke with series of Focal Points. On at least two of those days I felt literally amazing in the water--as good as I have ever felt while swimming. I also swam the length of a 50m pool in 33 strokes, a high-efficiency SPL I had not achieved in several years.
That did amazing things for my spirit and psyche too.
My practice this day was fairly simple. Swimming in a 25y course, following a 400 yd Tuneup with Focal Points, I decided to swim 100y repeats with increasing tempo to test how long--and over how large a tempo range--I could hold my stroke count at 15SPL . . . 1-2 strokes lower than the 16-17 SPL I hope to maintain for most of my 1650 race on March 12.
Main Set 16 x 100 increasing Tempo
I chose 16 x 100 because it's close to the distance of my race.
I chose 1.2 strokes/sec as my initial tempo because I guesstimated (correctly) that I would be able to swim 15 SPL easily at that tempo.
I decided to increase tempo by just .01 sec each 100, so my tempo on the final 100 would be 1.05.
My goal was to see how long I could maintain 15 SPL as tempo increased.
I swam with featherlight touch on #1 and held 15 SPL quite comfortably (this means actual SPL of 14+15+15+16). I was able to keep my touch featherlight and still hold 15 SPL by stroking with steadily increasing control, integration, and precision.
In the end I did manage to complete the set without increasing stroke count--though the last 4 to 5 x 100 were quite effortful and I allowed myself a bit more rest between repeats to accommodate that.
I was elated at this set, and the degree of 'stroke discipline' it revealed.
ZCP #2 Extended Tempo Threshold with 100m repeats
Wed Mar 2 at Jupiter FL
I swam this practice in a 25m pool, which meant a different SPL range from my previous practice in a 25y pool. But it was easy to find my best SPL range since my tempo range closely overlapped with the one I used in my previous practice
Tuneup - I swam 400 meters super-relaxed with my best possible form. My SPL range was 15 to 17. However at 15 SPL I was gliding slightly into turns so I felt 16 to 17 was better.
Main Task Extended Tempo Pyramid -- 20 x 100m repeats
A tempo pyramid is usually 10 repeats. In this set I swam twice as many by extending both the slowing-tempo, and the increasing-tempo legs of it.
I started with tempo at 1.15 sec/stroke. My initial 100m stroke count was 72 or 18 SPL.
I decided to slow tempo in .04 sec increments continuing until my stroke count reached 15 SPL. This occurred after 6 repeats, at 1.35 tempo.
Then I reversed tempo in .02 sec increments, continuing until I reached my starting tempo of 1.15. My 100m stroke count was 68--4 fewer strokes (and 4.6 sec faster) than when I started.
I decided to continue increasing tempo until I reached my initial stroke count. From this point I increased tempo by only .01 sec per repeat to improve my chances of minimizing added strokes.
I finally reached 72 strokes, or 18 SPL, at 1.08 tempo.
I.E. At the conclusion of the set I had the same SPL as at the start, but at a tempo .07 sec faster.
Doing the math 72 strokes x .07 sec means I swam 5 seconds faster in the same number of strokes as I had at the beginning.
This set gives me more useful information on my tempo/SPL thresholds. I will use this information to plan future practices and continue adapting to faster tempos while maintaining an efficient--and relaxed--stroke.
ZCP#3 Two SPL + Time problem solving exercises
Friday 4 March 3500y at North Shore Aquatic Center St Pete FL
This practice is the longest I've swum since learning I have cancer -- and probably the longest since last summer.
I did only two sets. The first was an extended Tuneup and pacing exercise.
Set #1 Distance Pyramid at Constant SPL
In a Distance Pyramid distance increases in 1st half of set and decreases in 2nd half.
I swam the entire set at an average 15 SPL
4 x 50
3 x 100
2 x 150
1 x 200
2 x 150
3 x 100
4 x 50
My goal was to maintain the pace I attained on the 50y repeats as distance increased to 200y then increase pace as repeat distances decreased on 2nd half.
I accomplished that with fastest 50 on 1st round at 45 sec and fastest 50 in final round at 41 sec, but SPL still the same.
Set #2 Repeated Rounds of 100y repeats, descending each round
4 x (4 x 100).
On this set my goal was to connect more of my body to propulsion on each successive repeat within a round of 4--and by doing to generate a bit more speed.
I maintained an average of 15 SPL (14+15+15+16) on 1st 3 rounds and increased to 16 SPL on 4th round.
In each round I did the 4 x 100 as follows:
1. I focused on just holding my place, or applying feather light pressure to the water.
2. I increased pressure to firm, trying to apply it with great precision--but consciously minimized action of core/hips and legs.
3. I maintained firm hand pressure, but added a Hip Slide -- a controlled and very directed drive of hips in direction of where I was aiming the 'spearing' hand.
4. I added a crisp, compact, and firm 2BK while maintaining everything I'd done on #3. (On 1st 3 x 100 I consciously minimized kick.)
On 1st 3 rounds I did improve my times each time I connected another part of my body to the propulsive effort. Paces started at 1:30 or 1:29 on #1 in each round and improved to 1:25 -- my projected target pace for 1650 on Mar 12.
On 4th round I added one stroke per length, raising SPL to 16, where I intend to swim first half of 1650. I also maintained firmer overall feeling of water pressure over my entire body.
On this I descended from 1:25 to 1:22.
I was fighting off calf cramps on this round.
A Challenging, High-Purpose Valuable 20 Minute Practice
Sunday 6 Mar 1000y at North Shore Aquatic Center, St Pete FL
At the conclusion of a weekend workshop at the North Shore pool, I had only 20 minutes to swim before the pool closed.
Along with TI Coach Joe Novak--who I coached 20 years ago at West Point--I swam 4 rounds of 5 x 50.
We each held a consistent stroke count throughout the set.
For Joe that was 8+9 strokes. For me it was 14+16 SPL.
We each descended each round of 5 x 50 (i.e. swimming each successive 50 faster than the one before).
We also made each successive round slightly faster than the preceding.
Joe--despite taking 13 fewer strokes/50 also swam strikingly faster than me.
Of course he's 40 and I'm nearly 65. And he swam 44.0 sec for 100y free while I was coaching him, while my best for 100y was 10 sec slower and occurred 45 years ago.
However I was exceedingly pleased with how I swam
My first 50 in the first round was 48 sec.
My final 50 in the 4th round was 38 sec.
And I took 30 strokes in both.
Joe's 1st 50 in 1st round was 38 sec.
His final 50 in 4th round was 29 sec.
And Joe took 17 strokes in both.
Can you calculate our tempos?
Here's how. We allow 3 beeps on initial push off and 4 beeps between final stroke on one lap and first stroke on next, when turning.
To roughly calculate tempo subtract 7 seconds from time and divide that by # of strokes.
I'll offer a complimentary video analysis to first person to post my and Joe's starting and finishing tempos below--and get them right.
ZCP#4 Long Course - Mostly 100m repeats on Tempo+SPL
Mon 7 Mar 4400m in 50m pool, North Shore Pool, St Pete FL
This morning at 0530 I swam with the St Pete Masters because it gave me an opportunity to swim in a 50m course. The pool was to be converted back to 25y following the Masters session.
However I didn't do the Masters workout. I slipped into a lane with only 4 other swimmers. They swam on each other's feet, leaving a lot of space in the lane for me to do my own thing.
I didn't see a pace clock visible from the lane until late so I decided to do a practice based on Tempo and SPL.
Tuneup 8 x 100 at 1.2 sec/stroke
I haven't done tempo work in a 50m pool since last summer. I chose 1.2 tempo because it's at the upper end of the tempo range I've used over the past week. My goal was simply to see how many strokes I could subtract over the course of my 800m tuneup.
My 100m stroke count was 86 on #1 and 79 on #8.
Doing the math, my 8th 100 was 8.4 sec faster than my first.
I decided to swim short series of 100s at progressively faster tempo to see how long I could complete 100m in 80 or fewer strokes.
4 x 100 @ 1.19
4 x 100 @ 1.18
4 x 100 @ 1.17
5 x 100 @ 1.16
5 x 100 @ 1.15
5 x 100 @ 1.14
5 x 100 @ 1.13
I was able to hold 79 strokes through 1.17, then held 80 strokes (with an occasional 100 at 81 strokes) through 1.13
Comparing speeds, my first 100 of this practice the math for 86 strokes @ 1.2 tempo = a time of 1:51.
The math for 80 strokes @ 1.13 tempo = 1:38.
I finished up with 8 x 50 increasing tempo from 1.12 to 1.05, trying to hold 40 strokes. I succeeded at that. 40 SPL @ 1.05 = a 50m time of 45 sec.
4 rounda of 5 X 50
It was only 20 minutes of swimming together on Sunday, but it was the best swimming I have done in 20 years!
Great to see you this weekend coach and I look forward to seeing you again soon.
A high-value 900y practice
On Sunday I did a 20-min, 1000y practice that was completely engaging and satisfying and high-value at the same time.
Today I did another such practice, even shorter, but crammed with even more value.
I guest-coached a Master's group (called Tarp's Total Training) at Nassau County Aquatic Center this morning. (I'll post the practice I gave them in another thread.)
I coached the first 20 minutes from the deck, then swam with them the rest of the practice - a total of about 900y.
After I was finished with coaching, I had only 15 minutes to swim myself. Here's what I did
Tues 8 March 900m (in 25m pool) at Nassau County Aquatic Center
I did a single set as follows:
4 x 50
4 x 75
4 x 100
I set tempo at 1.2 sec/stroke.
My rest interval for all repeats was 8 beeps of TT (nearly 10 sec.)
I counted strokes--making this a Tempo+SPL set.
On the 50s I took 16+18 strokes. This was the self-assessment/info-gathering part of the set. I.E. At 1.2 tempo, what SPL can I comfortably hold.
Once I had this info, I set my goal for the rest of the set
To hold a stroke count of 16+17+18 on the 75s, and 16+17+17+18 on the 100s.
I did that pretty easily, something I have practiced often.
There were two 'metric' challenges inherent in this set
1) To maintain an average of 17 SPL at 1.2 tempo as repeat distance increased
2) To do this as ratio of work:rest increased. 8 beeps represents 1/3 less rest on 75m repeats, and 50% less rest on 100m repeats, compared to 50s.
I was looking for two outcomes
1) To feel just as relaxed on 75s and 100s as I had on the 50s.
2) During the round of 4 x 100, to feel more ease on the 4th 100 than on the 1st--to feel as if I could literally keep repeating this combination of 17 SPL @ 1.2 tempo indefinitely.
That's exactly how it went and I left the pool excited over how I'd swum.
According to my calculations, that would be...
First and only entrant in my impromptu little contest. And your calculation is correct. You win the video analysis. Post a clip of 20 to 40 seconds on the Forum--in its own thread on the freestyle conference and I'll post my analysis.
Distance Pyramid -- Tempo and SPL
Wed 8 March 1800m (25m pool) at Nassau County Aquatic Center
Today is probably my final practice before the 1650y race I'll swim at New England Masters Championship at Harvard on Saturday. I'll rest the next two days -- although I will take a 60-minute yoga class each day.
I did a single set -- a Distance Pyramid, starting with 50m repeats, progressing to a 200m repeat, then reducing distance to 50m repeats again. I held constant tempo as distance increased, with a goal of also holding SPL constant. Then I increased tempo each time distance decreased, challenging myself to continue holding SPL constant.
Here's the set:
Tempo held constant at 1.18 sec/stroke from 50s to 200.
4 x 50 @ 1.18 . I took 38 strokes on the first 50, and improved to 35 strokes by the 4th.
3 x 100 On this set, though distance was 100% greater and tempo the same, I managed to bring SPL down to 17 by the 3rd 100.
2 x 150 I held 17 SPL, with tempo still at 1.18.
1 x 200 I held 17 SPL--and found it easiest of all repeats so far, though it was my longest swim and tempo was still 1.18.
2 x 150 - I increased tempo to 1.17 and maintain 17 SPL. This wasn't difficult at all.
3 x 100 - Increased tempo to 1.16 and still felt quite controlled, holding 17 SPL.
4 x 50 - I increased tempo by .01 each 50. Tempos were 1.15, 1.14, 1.13, 1.12 and I managed to maintain 17 SPL (actually 16+18 for average of 17) on these 50s. This took concentration.
I would guess the tempo would be.83...
if he posts his answers and his explanation, could you find time to do another video analysis? :)
There's a slight error in the math. You should add seven to the stroke count instead of subtracting it from the time.
In Terry's first 50, he had 30 strokes plus 7 beats during push off and turn. That's 37 beats on the Tempo Trainer in 48 seconds, or 1.3 seconds per stroke. By the last 50 he increased his tempo to about 0.97 seconds per stroke. (It was probably 1.0 or 0.95 sec/stroke, with some measurement error.) If I had to guess the full set, I'd say he did 1.3, 1.2, 1.1, 1.0, 0.95
By the same math, Joe had a tempo of 1.6 in round one, going to 1.2 in round 5. (Probably 1.6, 1.5, 1.4, 1.3, 1.2). He had a slower tempo, but made up for it with his crazy SPL. How is that even possible?
Based on my estimation the Tempo would be between 1.17 and 1.18 for his final 50.
Tempo = (total strokes + tempo*(3+4))/time) . the 3 is for the first 25, 3 beeps pushoff. the 4 is for the turn...4 beeps on the turn
ANOTHER way to estimate Tempo "non swimming" time per length and subtract that from the total swim time * # of lengths.We can also use 4.5 seconds per length as non-swimming/stroking time. So tempo = ( (total time in seconds - 4.5 seconds/length)/total strokes ) ( 2 lengths so subtract 9 seconds).
This is what our coach in Pittsburgh has taught us. Thanks Suzanne!
>>There's a slight error in the math. You should add seven to the stroke count instead of subtracting it from the time.
In Terry's first 50, he had 30 strokes plus 7 beats during push off and turn.>>
I don't think one can calculate 'beats' during turn and push off since I wasn't responding to the beep of a Tempo Trainer during this set.
ADMS 60-64 Record for 1650 Free
Earlier in this thread, I wrote that my immediate practice goal was to prepare for a good performance in 1650y (1500m equivalent) freestyle at the New England Masters Championships at Harvard.
I swam that race on Sat. 3/12. I hadn't swum a 1650 in 10 years so I had to guesstimate my seed time. On Jan 23 I swam 1000y in 13:56, a pace of just under 1:24 per 100.
Based on that I projected that if I swam really well for the 1650 (65% longer than the 1000) I might hold 1:25, so I seeded myself at 23:45, which I thought a reasonably accurate estimation of my capability.
However, as a member of Adirondack Masters, I also had my eye on the ADMS 60-64 record of 23:20. This would be my final race in the 60-64 age group. Could I break an ADMS record in my 'swan song?'
Considering how irregular and modest my training had been since my diagnosis, I believed I would have to swim absolutely lights-out to have a chance. Having a goal that would require me to swim a near-perfect race excited me.
I'll provide more detail on this race in my next blog, this coming Friday. In any case, when I hit the touch pad I looked up and saw 23:10 for my lane on the display board. I've been on something of a high ever since.
Not only from setting the record, but from the mental and physical excellence I was able to apply for every second during that swim. That gives me confirmation
I have the necessary resources to zero out cancer.
An account of that will form the core of this week's Zero Cancer Swimming post.
Have you read my last post, The Defining Event of My Life?
Distance Pyramid -- Tempo and SPL, plus Time
Mon 14 Mar 2500scm at Nassau County Aquatic Center
With the 1650 behind me, I now turn my attention to preparing for Masters Nationals, where I plan to swim the 200, 500, and 1000 freestyle--and maybe the 100, which is definitely not my strong suit. Shorter faster events call for shorter, faster repeats and sets.
For today's practice I wanted to do something that would challenge me--cognitively and neurally--but not be too taxing physically, allowing me to recover from the effort of swimming a record-breaking 1650 less than 48 hours earlier.
I did a Distance Pyramid as follows
I rested 20 to 30 seconds between swims.
I started with Tempo at 1.15 and counted strokes on the 1st 100.
My stroke count was 18 SPL
My goal was to maintain that stroke count as I increased distance from 100 to 500.
Keeping two metrics the same--SPL and Tempo--while raising the bar on a third--Distance--would be a good challenge in itself.
However I decided to make the challenge even stiffer by keeping one metric the same, while raising the bar on two.
While increasing distance, I would also increase tempo . . . and still challenge myself to hold 18 SPL.
I increased tempo by .01 after each swim
100 @ 1.15
200 @ 1.14
300 @ 1.13
400 @ 1.12
500 @ 1.11,
then decrease distance, but keep increasing tempo
400 @ 1.10
300 @ 1.09
200 @ 1.08
100 @ 1.07
I did succeed at holding 18 SPL the entire set.
I also checked times. Here are some samples
1st 100 1:40. Last 100 1:32
1st 400 6:29. 2nd 400 6:25
500: 8:04 -- for 1500m pace pf 24:12
Either way it's an estimation but I think it's fair to be fluent in both ways to estimate tempo (subtract seconds from the or add strokes to the count). Adding strokes to the count would seem to be a slightly more accurate way for TI swimmers who are accustomed to swimming with the tempo trainer, even when they aren't.
I don't think I had a logic error, but I may have misunderstood the initial message. You wrote: "We allow 3 beeps on initial push off and 4 beeps between final stroke on one lap and first stroke on next, when turning." It sounds like you were varying your push off and turn along with the Tempo Trainer setting. If you always had seven seconds for push-off and turn, your formula was correct. But if you always had seven "beeps" on the Tempo Trainer, my formula would work better. (At 1.6 seconds per stroke, 7 "beeps" would take over 11 seconds of the total lap time). My formula was just a simplified version of John Torhan's, which tried to account for the variation in push-off/turn time:
1) tempo = stroke-time/strokes
2) stroke-time = total time - push-off/turn time, so
3) tempo = (total time - push-off/turn time)/strokes
If push-off/turn is always 7 seconds, you can stop here. This is your formula. But if it's always 7 " beeps" on the Tempo Trainer, you have to keep going:
4) tempo = (total time - 7*tempo)/strokes --John's formula
5) tempo*strokes = total time - 7*tempo
6) tempo*strokes + 7*tempo = total time
7) tempo*(strokes + 7) = total time
8) tempo = total time/(strokes + 7) --my formula
Anyway, this was a fun exercise. I enjoy reading about your swim practice. I used to live in Poughkeepsie about 10 years ago, but I didn't swim back then. I wish I had known about TI when I lived nearby. I've learned a lot from your approach via Suzanne, and I adopt the mental elements to my running and biking, too. It has changed my approach to many aspects of life.
(I actually earned my tough-guy nickname, Keith Stone, as a result of TI. But that's a story for another day.)
On that day I wasn't using a TT. Just counting strokes and taking time. Most accurate would be if I had someone watch me training a set like that and timed the interval between final hand-hit going into turn and first one coming out.
Gradually Raising Tempo
Tues 15 March 3200scm at Nassau County Aquatic Center
This pool offers both 25y and 25m courses, whenever it's not set up for 50m swimming. I always opt for scm on those days because it's a tiny bit more challenging and I like to cultivate a 'meters mindset.'
I did two sets today. one without Tempo Trainer and one with. But my goal on both was the same--to encode the ability to increase tempo (and speed) while maintaining consistent Stroke Length.
Set #1 Tuneup
3 rounds of 4 x 100 at 17 SPL as a 'cascading' descend. I.E. Descend each round. Make subsequent rounds a bit faster.
1-4 on 2:00 interval. This was wholly a tuneup, done entirely with a featherlight touch. I descended from 1:50 to 1:40 without trying at all to swim faster.
5-8 on 1:55 interval. I descended from 1:40 to 1:37.
9-12 on 1:50 interval. I descended from 1:39 to 1:36.
I did the last two rounds as follows:
1st 100 Hold, don't pull/push. Featherlight touch.
2nd 100 Apply light but precise pressure.
3rd 100 Add a conscious hip nudge.
4th 100 Add a conscious toe flick.
Set #2 Main Task
3 rounds of 3 x 200 at 18 SPL.
Round 1 at 1.09 Tempo. I averaged 3:09/200
Round 2 at 1.07 Tempo. I averaged 3:08
Round 3 at 1.05 Tempo. I averaged 3:06.
It took noticeably more effort to hold 18SPL for 200m at 1.05. I was pretty close to my 'neural threshold' there.
Terry, I read your amazing blog post, congratulations!!
Returning to Practice
I was away from the pool for nearly two weeks. I severely burned my right hand in a cooking mishap on Mar 12, the morning of the 1650 race in which I broke the Adirondack 60-64 record. Though the burn was quite painful I thought immersion cool water would be good for it. My hand hurt the first few lengths of the race, but I never noticed it after that.
On Wed the 16th I had my doctor look at it and he said I shouldn't swim until it healed. Otherwise I risked both infection and not healing properly, with the possibility of some loss of mobility in my thumb, which was part of the burned area.
Today was my first practice since Tues Mar 15. I swam fairly cautiously, not wanting to overdo. My whole practice was 100m repeats in a 50m pool.
Monday 28 Mar 3000m at Nassau County Aquatic Center
Tuneup 6 x 100 on 2:00
My first 100 was 1:57 and 79 strokes. I think that's the slowest 100m repeat I've swum in 50 years. But I took only 3 seconds rest and started on the 2nd.
That was 1:57 also, but one less stroke.
By the time I reached #6 I'd improved to 1:53 and 77 strokes. I was pleased with that and decided I was ready to begin a more exacting task.
Set #2 Swim 10 x 100 on 2:00 Tempo Pyramid
I started with Tempo at 1.2. I took 81 strokes on the 1st 100 and my time was 1:46.
I slowed tempo by .04 each 100 for the first 4 x 100. Total strokes dropped to 75 and time was 1:48.
Then I increased tempo by .02 for next 6 x 100. Finished the set (at 1.2 tempo) at 78 strokes and 1:43.
Set #3 Swim 14 x 100 1-6 on 2:05; 7-14 on 2:10. Tempo Pyramid
On this set I slowed tempo by .02 for 5 x 100 and increased by .01 for 7 x 100.
This time I improved to 77 strokes and a time of 1:41 at 1.20 tempo.
After completing this practice I went home and completed my entry for USMS Masters Nationals Apr 28 to May 1 in Greensboro NC.
I entered 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 1650 free.
Both 1000 and 1650 are on the same day.
I'll only swim one of them, most likely the 1650.
I'm excited already.
Hi Terry, you gave a beautiful description of the perfect race in your blog. A flow state experience. More in detail, what made the difference mostly, what made you 35s faster than planned? You focused on doing everything right, ok, every stroke, every turn, every breath.
I assume you planned and counted SPL: did you always match your planned count? Or took fewer strokes than expected?
Stroke rate: do you think you stroked at a higher than planned rate?
Pacing: even, negative splits?
What was your breathing pattern?
Turns: did you turn better than usually?
I'm sure you analyzed all these details, congrats again!
These are great questions. In fact your questions and the answers to them probably give me enough material for another blog.
SPL: did you match your planned count? Or took fewer strokes than expected?
I had planned to swim 500 or so at 16 SPL, 800 or so at 17 and the final 250 or so at 17. When I make such a plan, I anticipate I won't do it exactly that way. I always want to feel the stroke count is right--allowing me to maintain or increase pace, to go into each turn strongly, and minimize effort and fatigue.
I was pretty close to that plan.
Stroke rate: do you think you stroked at a higher than planned rate?
I didn't plan for rate in this race. In fact most of my training was at lower counts and slower rates than the race. Since my plan was to control my pace via SPL, stroke pressure, how much I kicked, etc, then rate would simply result from whatever pace I achieved by doing those things. Since I averaged 17 SPL and a tiny fraction over 21 sec/25, my tempo ended up being pretty close to 1.0.
Pacing: even, negative splits? Definitely negative. Probably a bit more negative than I would aim for in ideal conditions, but under the circumstances my priority was to maintain a feeling of ease and sustainability until pretty late, then bring it home with whatever I had left in the tank
To give you an idea of pace
1st 500: 7:08 Last 500: (1150-1650) 6:54
1st 1000: 14:10 Last 1000: (650-1650) 13:55 -- about a second faster than I swam for my last 1000 race on Jan 23. Which I thought was a fantastic race.
What was your breathing pattern?
Every cycle to the left the entire race--plus an extra breath before turns on laps with even-numbered SPL. I.E. I breathed left, then immediately to the right, as I went into turns when SPL was 16 and 18. Couldn't do that at 17 SPL since final stroke was left.
Turns: did you turn better than usually?
Better than in all past races. As well as I had in practice during which I really focused on them.
Distance Ladder--Maintain SPL and Even or Better Pace
Wed 30 March 1700y at SUNY New Paltz
I had only 30 minutes for this practice, due to delays in getting to the pool prior to end of open swim at 1:45 pm. Also I was sore from lifting weights the night before and feeling a bit under the weather. So I decided to do a simple, fairly relaxed pacing problem.
Here's the problem: Increase Distance. Maintain constant SPL. Keep pace even. In the end I actually improved my pace a bit as distance increased.
Tuneup 300 Perfect
I usually swim tuneups at 14 SPL, but my count rose to 15 on the 2nd lap, and I was finding it difficult to maintain--losing momentum into turns and having to delay my flip slightly. So I decided to go with the flow and do today's practice at 16 SPL
Main Task Swim 100-200-300-400 at 16 SPL. Try to keep pace even.
Here are my times
100 - 1:30
200 - 3:02 - my pace slowed slightly from 1:30 to 1:31/100. This is still excellent pace maintenance. Not many people can do this. Even fewer while keeping stroke count constant.
300 - 3:03 - My pace remained the same - still at 1:31/100. Very pleased.
400 - 5:56. Fastest pace yet - 1:29/100.
After finishing this it was still only 1:39. Six minutes to go before pool closed. Time enough to swim another 400. And I thought I could improve pace still more.
Final 400 - 5:49 -- Pace of 1:27/100 and still at 16SPL.
I (finally) posted my video on the forum! I'm really looking forward to your feedback on it. Thanks already!
Practicing Care-full and Hyper-Focused Swimming
Sat 9 April -- 3100m in a 25m pool
I haven't posted in over 10 days. I think I only had the opportunity to do 2 practices in that time--not optimal practice frequency with just weeks to go before Masters Nationals. However I'm not terribly concerned with how fit I'll be, because my goal is to use efficiency and focus to get out 100% of what my physical capability allows during each of my four races at distances from 100y to 1650y during the meet.
Thus in each practice I rehearse swimming--and feeling--the very best of which I"m capable with quite care-full and focused swimming.
Today I had limited time so I did a single set of
(5 x 300 + 5 x 200 + 5 x 100) with 50y easy for a bit of quick recovery between rounds. I swam all repeats on an interval of 2:00/100m
Here are the details
In each round I swam as follow
1st repeat with featherlight and very precise catch
2nd repeat with firmer and equally precise catch
3rd repeat - Add a conscious Hip 'Slide'
4th repeat - Add a conscious Toe Flick
5th repeat - Feel highly integrated whole-body power originating in my dan tien (where chi originates in tai chi. Also called the Powerhouse in Pilates.)
This is a rehearsal/imprinting of how I plan to swim my races at Nationals.
5 x 300 on 6:00. I held 17 SPL and descended to 4:56 (1:39/100)
5 x 200 on 4:00 I held 16 SPL and descended to 3:13 (1:36/100)
5 x 100 on 2:00 I held 17 SPL and descended to 1:33.
Consistent-Pace 100m repeats on diminishing rest
Sunday 8 April -- 1300m in a 25m pool
Today was quite a busy day, but I was just able to squeeze in a 25-minute practice at the Nassau County Aquatic Center. I made the most of it with a very simple Pace Mastery set.
The set was 13 x 100m @ 1.10 tempo and 18 SPL.
I began with 1 x 100 very easy at 17 SPL.
Then I set the Tempo Trainer at 1.10 and started swimming 100m repeats. I would simply continue until I was out of time and had to leave for my next engagement.
I took 72 strokes (18 SPL) on the 1st 100, then rested for 15 beeps.
My goal was to maintain that stroke count for the rest of the set, while feeling progressively more relaxed at the combination of 18 SPL and 1.1 Tempo.
As a test of how well I achieved my goal of progressive relaxation I subtracted one beep from my rest period after each 100
By the end of the set I was resting for only 5 beeps, but experienced no difficulty in staying relaxed and completely consistent.
I only checked my pace on the final 100. It was 1:33. Very happy with that. This was a very restorative practice. Tomorrow I'll practice at higher intensity and speed.
hi Terry, I guess in the final 100 you took less than 4 beeps on avg for the turns, correct? That's pretty fast turning to me, and I guess you weren't even rushed or overpowered the pushoff like in a sprint effort.
I find TT a great tool to improve turns as well. By allowing yourself a given number of beeps for turn + pushoff you can find many improvement areas within the turn: somersault speed, feet reaction, body rotation speed, optimal pushoff length etc.
For instance, in order to match my TT constraints, I'm recently getting better at placing my arms in streamline position a bit earlier to prevent them from adding drag at pushoff.
Another one of my favourites recently is flipping with a front snorkel: flip well and the tool won't complain, miss a bit of alignment and it will punish you ;-)
I allowed myself 4 beeps between final stroke going into the turn and first stroke coming out, on all 3 turns. But I did manage to shave a stroke on the 4th lap.
A TI version of USRPT on 50m repeats
Monday 11 April 2000m in a 25m pool
8 x 100m @ 15-16 SPL on 2:00
I swam these with my absolute best form and super-light touch, focused intently on not disturbing the water with arm, torso, or legs.
I descended from 1:51 to 1:39 while actually shaving a couple of strokes from my 100m total.
Set #2 USRPT the TI Way
USRPT is an acronym for Ultra Short Race Pace Training which is all the rage among competitive swimmers these days. The vast majority who do it pay attention only to the pace clock, and ignore stroke efficiency--taking far too many strokes.
In the TI version of USRPT, you keep your stroke count at or below the count you should swim in a race, and swim as fast as you are capable at that count.
3 rounds of 6 x 50m. In each round I swam fast on 1-3, at recovery pace on #4--to allow a faster time on #5. Then recovery pace again on #6 to prepare for the next round.
Round 1 @ 15+16 SPL Times: 45-45-44-43 on the fast 50s
Round 2 @ 16+17 SPL Times: 45-43-43-42 on the fast 50s
Round 3 @ 17+18 SPL Times: 43-42-41-40 on the fast 50s
Set #3 12 x 25 @ 1,1 to .99 Tempo. Count Strokes
I increased Tempo by .01 on each successive 25.
I held 16 SPL from 1.1 to 1.02 and 17 SPL on the final 3 x 25.
it's interesting to see you incorporating USRPT ideas (which to me is a great example of a non-dogmatic approach). I've been just beginning to do the same thing--holding a target SPL as well as target time for 50m repeats.
My own variation so far has been to push the "obsessive focus on stroke length" idea I saw posted somewhere (Coach Mat's blog) as a description of the initial goal/focus of TI philosophy.
So, I've kept my TI-USRPT repeats at the bottom of my personal SPL range for now (13 for 25m, for a :48/49 50m), theorizing that as I gradually let myself add strokes and tempo through the spring, racing will feel that much easier and more relaxed. Obviously my training isn't race-specific right now as far as tempo and stroke rate goes, but I'm curious to see how a super-obsessive focus on low SPL now will pay off.
With no events scheduled, I have the luxury right now of spending as much time on the extreme low of my SPL as I want to--I'd be curious to hear people's thoughts on what that might lead to. I also do some SPL pyramids between 13-16 SPL each week, too, just to keep my gears accessible.
I can't speak for Terry, but to me his reference to USRPT is not one of taking inspiration from it...he's been doing sets like this long before I ever heard of USRPT...but instead it's a way to show people the connection to the TI methodology with what other coaches are trying to incorporate. The connection there is not strong, but interesting comparison none the less.
I think in your case you'll have opportunities to make a lot of improvements in overall endurance and as long as you are also tracking pace as a result (not as aprimary target right now) you'll be able to track your improvments as well.
thanks for the reply. It's a good point that Terry has been writing about ideas like this since the first TI book if I remember correctly. When I think back to pre-TT writings, the same principles were in play with the idea of Swim Golf and sets like that. But it's always nice to see more ideas about how to integrate those TI ideas into more "traditional" training sets, especially since I have recently started to train with some non-TI people occasionally.
As far as progress, I find myself being incredibly patient and focused on the process right now, which I love. I've only been looking at the clock for a couple of weeks (and that only for maybe half of each session), and my 50m repeats have dropped from :51 or so to a best of :47 last week, with :48 consistently today in a 10 x 50 USRPT-type set.
I also find that the leisurely tempo (maybe 1.55-ish--haven't used a TT as the battery died) of my low SPL is giving me lots of opportunities to develop awareness of my stroke and body position, etc.
thanks for the reply. FYI, I'm 6'2" (188 cm) with 77" (196 cm) arms, which must be a big factor in my SPL.
I also have a pretty long push-off in the pool--swimming steadily, maybe 7 or 8 meters (I can manage a 13 SPL 25m with a very gentle push-off, but the tempo drops way down).
As for speeds, last week I did a 16 SPL 50 to see what my speed would be and came in somewhere around :40-41, but I wouldn't be able to sustain that right now.
I'm curious about whether you think I've gotten what I need from so much 13 SPL work right now, and should shift priority to add strokes and tempo? I was thinking another 2 weeks of mostly 13 SPL, but working to up the tempo and maintain ease with lots of TT work.
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