I did race Saturday and had an unexpected gift - becoming national 60-64 champion for 5Km - fall into my lap. This summer my priority has been to swim in a completely engaged way and practice such that I always anticipate it eagerly and never feel that a sense of obligation. In previous years, when I set ambitious goals for either speed or distance (records and titles in the former instance, marathons in the latter) I sometimes felt like I was responding to a self-imposed schedule rather than listening to my heart and spirit. This summer I've responded to that inner voice - and therefore did not set achievement goals.
I'm swimming another USMS National Championship this coming weekend, the Betsy Owens 2-Mile Cable Swim in Lake Placid, the race to which I've given the most thought this summer. This morning was my final pool practice. it was all about Relaxing and Tuning.
Wed Aug 10 3000 LCM at Ulster County Pool
This was a simple practice. I did a pyramid, of 400-meter sets, keeping tempo consistent as distance increased and increasing tempo as distance decreased. The goal was to keep SPL as nearly constant as possible. Here's the set
8 x 50 (rest 5 yoga breaths between) @ 1.04
4 x 100 (rest 8 yoga breaths) @ 1.04
2 x 200 (rest 10 yoga breaths) @ 1.04
1 x 400 (rest 15 yoga breaths) @ 1,04
2 x 200 @ 1.03
4 x 100 @ 1,02
8 x 50 (1-4 @ 1.01, 5-8 @ 1.00)
I averaged 41-42 SPL throughout the set.
As I wrote in today's blog Swim Artfully Not Physically
, when swimming at constant tempo and trying to 'save' strokes (which could mean reducing strokes if swimming a series of repeats of constant distance -- or trying to avoid adding strokes if distance is increasing, as above, an emphasis on smoother, quieter, more precise movements is the best course.
In both instances, swimming faster over a constant distance or maintaining pace over an increasing distance, your instincts usually lead you to work harder.
In today's set each time I inadvertently felt myself increasing effort, my SPL increased. When I focused on finding a sustainable effort, I could sustain stroke count - i.e. avoid adding strokes.
I did allow myself to make subtle effort increases as distances got shorter in the 2nd half, but strived to make that feel seamlessly integrated.