So, here's what I noticed:
1) I was able to turn off the stroke counter in my brain quite easily, probably because the aerobic workload soon was taking all of my attention. This makes it a little easier for me to understand how so many fitness-oriented swimmers and triathletes have never thought (apparently) of counting strokes for continual feedback. They are caught up in the "push through the wall of suffering" game, and once you're in that game, it rapidly becomes all-consuming. I had no mental room to think about anything else.
2) There was a great deal of muscle fatigue--much more than I have felt in swimming for a long time.
3) I'm not sure what it looked like to observers, but I felt INCREDIBLY sloppy with my form, as if I were desperately just trying to stroke faster and had no mental room left to monitor and adjust technique and body position.
4) I did not even look at a clock, but I'd guess my 50m sprint times were around 40-42 seconds each. I'd be very surprised if all my extra effort and exhaustion gained me even 1-2 seconds of time per 50m over what I could have achieved with a TI-oriented approach to the same session (e.g. I would have swum 18 SPL on the sprint legs, and maybe 14 SPL on the recovery legs--it would have been nearly as fast, but would have felt MUCH easier).
Here's what the triathletes I was training with noticed (one missed qualifying for Kona by 17 seconds last year, so they're very fit and train seriously):
1) "You're really fast," one of them remarked. I think they had assumed I'd have trouble keeping up, because most of the time when they are watching me, I'm swimming extremely slowly. But instead, I was faster by a body length or two on the sprints, and (interestingly) also much faster on the recovery legs, though I was trying to hold back (honestly, I desperately needed the rest aerobically).
2) They didn't seem to want to believe me when I told them I found the set incredibly difficult and exhausting. Apparently I did not appear to be working as hard as I felt like I was. I was way more out of breath than both of them after each repeat.
This suggests two ideas to me:
A. Some of the smoothness and technique I had focused on at slow speeds must have stayed with me at higher stroke rates, even where it felt like I was completely sloppy and out of control.
B. If A is true, then SPEED is not the reason I got fatigued, as I would have been swimming pretty close to those speeds with at TI-oriented approach as well. The real issue is getting caught up in the "push through the wall of suffering" mentality. Here's why I think that is:
If you have it in your head that you must "push through the wall of suffering" then you have surrendered control of the situation. You are a passive participant who is there to simply let the suffering happen to you.
With a TI approach, you retain control by consciously manipulating variables of tempo, stroke rate, and SPL to pursue your goals. I'd guess that the psychological aspect of CONTROLLING vs. BEING CONTROLLED is a huge factor in how you experience fatigue.
Has anyone else experienced this?
Next post: my contrasting solo TI session from today.
Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 04-08-2016 at 08:34 PM.