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  #71  
Old 05-19-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Today I completed the 6th week of my 12 weeks 100% usrpt macrocycle with the following sets:

1) 30x50m on 1:00 at 39.5s. Hit one failure at the 27th rep. 19SPL on way out, 20SPL on way back (sometimes 21 in the last reps).

2) 27x25m on :30 at 84SPM/21SPL (17.14s). Failed at reps 18th, 22th and 27th (when I failed I hit 22SPL and 17.85s).

I swam 3 times a week (a couple of weeks only 2 sessions because the pool was closed) and never more than 10k per week. Despite this little volume (I used to swim 12-15k per week before, mostly aerobic training), the times on the 50's and 25's are still improving. I believe the quality of my swims is improving too: when I started warming up today (from scratch and on early morning), I suddenly felt my arms on recovery lighter than usual and could easily pick up the rhythm and get easy speed from the beginning (hit the easiest 1:30/100m ever). There must be a consequence of all the fast 50's and 25's I practiced this week. On the other hand, I already know that if won't swim this weekend, on monday this light feeling will be vanished.

Anyway, for the 2nd half of my macrocycle I hope I'll be able to add a 4th open water weekly session to get more continuity. Only then I'll replace the 50's with the 75's. At only 3 session per week I prefer sticking with the 50's and improving speed.
I'm really enjoying USRPT, each session is challenging because you try to beat your score of the previous session (ie number of successful reps bf the first failure) and, when you complete a set, it's time to try faster. Sometimes you also find some technical adjustments on the fly and this is great because it works at race pace (that's specificity). No drill can teach you these kind of technical improvements.

Salvo
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  #72  
Old 06-16-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Today I completed the 10th week of my 12 weeks 100% usrpt macrocycle.

To recap, this is what I experienced so far (hope some usrpt experts like Gary will read this): at week 1 I transitioned from previous longish aerobic sets to usrpt which meant shorter sets and less weekly volume at higher intensity. I basically found myself in a taper condition and, on week 3, I hit a peak performance on the 75's at 400m race pace. Then I started feeling some lack of aerobic endurance because of the less weekly volume. However speed kept improving so, at week 5, I decided to surf this wave and replace the 75's at 400m race pace with 50's at 200m pace. Again, in 2 weeks (ie week 7) I hit a peak performance on the 50's at 200m race pace.

From then, I couldn't improve anymore. Not only, I also started going slightly backwards: as the race pace increased, the sets became shorter because I hit failures sooner, so I also swam less and less quality lengths. Meanwhile I also tried some interesting technical tweaks to the stroke which gave me either some more speed or some more efficiency, but in the end the essence didn't change much: if speed still improves while aerobic endurance doesn't, sooner or later speed will stall too. This week I decided to back off 1s per 50m to be able to complete 30 to 40 reps and gain back some fitness and confidence, anyway I'm not sure I'll beat the peak performance I hit on week 7. My feeling is that, in order to keep improving, I'll need another 4 weeks of high yardage aerobic training and then dive again into usrpt with a bigger engine. Or, alternatively, swim more usrpt sessions ie increase yardage anyway. Perhaps Dr. Rushall would say that I'm wrong and the only thing I need is a technical improvement because fitness is what it is and, after 12 weeks, it doesn't improve anymore.

I believe USRPT is up or out: once you succeed/complete a set you increase race pace, so that the next time you'll fail sooner. Now, if the next week you're not able to succeed/complete the sets again, you'll have swam less quality yardage and then got your fitness slightly worse. And less fitness of course won't help you get better the next week, so you start going backwards.

All that said, I still believe usrpt is one of the best investments you can do in the pool. I think I'm a better swimmer than I was 10 weeks ago and also hit 2 PBs on the 50m and 100m.

Any thoughts?

Salvo

Last edited by s.sciame : 06-16-2017 at 01:19 PM.
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  #73  
Old 06-17-2017
Danny Danny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s.sciame View Post

I believe USRPT is up or out: once you succeed/complete a set you increase race pace, so that the next time you'll fail sooner. Now, if the next week you're not able to succeed/complete the sets again, you'll have swam less quality yardage and then got your fitness slightly worse. And less fitness of course won't help you get better the next week, so you start going backwards.

All that said, I still believe usrpt is one of the best investments you can do in the pool. I think I'm a better swimmer than I was 10 weeks ago and also hit 2 PBs on the 50m and 100m.

Any thoughts?

Salvo
Hi Salvo, I don't have any wise words to add here, but I'm glad you posted this and I'm waiting to hear what insights others have to offer...this is a main issue I worry about when following these strategies.
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  #74  
Old 06-30-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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So I finally completed my 12 weeks of pure USRPT training. Yesterday I did a 200m test from a pushoff and, as I was expecting, I came in 2:45. It's a PB. However, given that I swam 100m in 1:13.5 a few weeks ago (always water start) and that I also swam a lot of 50's in 40s or less (eg 40x50m on 60s coming in 40s without failures), I hoped for something better. As I reported earlier, during these weeks I basically improved speed but lost endurance. I clearly felt it in the 2nd half of the 200, although I had started quite conservatively. From what I experienced so far, the 50's on 20s rest are quite misleading not only for the 400m, but for the 200m too. Succeeding 40x50m at 40s seems to be still not enough for a 2:40 on the 200m (I already noticed it when I tried to translate the same pace over the 75's). Or better, not enough at 3 sessions per week. Probably a 4th session could have helped at keeping more aerobic endurance.
Anyway I'm pretty sure that if I had spent these 12 weeks on aerobic training as I used to do, I wouldn't have done any better than 2:45 and 1:13.5. I guess periodization makes sense because the body - or the mind - just wants something else every x weeks. And in the path of improvement you sometime need to sacrifice something in order to improve something else.

So what's next? Since I enjoyed it, I think I'll go on with the USRPT approach but I'll shift the focus toward 75's and 100's at 400-800 pace while keeping some fast 25's at the end of my sessions if time allows.
Hope this report could help Tom or any other swimmer who wants to take the plunge on USRPT.

Happy swimming everyone,
Salvo
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  #75  
Old 06-30-2017
Danny Danny is offline
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Hi Salvo,

I'm disappointed that your last post didn't get more feedback. I'm not nearly as organized as you are, and I haven't tried the strict USRPT regime, but what I did try (a year or two ago) was swimming short intervals at the fastest speeds I could hold and waiting to recover before continuing. This was a brutal regime, but I set PB in the 50 m, the 100 m and the 300m at the time. At least for the 300 m, I haven't come near that time since then. At some point I started dreading my upcoming swimming sessions, and I knew that it was time to back off. I'm built for comfort, not for speed :o)
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  #76  
Old 07-02-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Thanks for the reply Danny. I guess you didn't apply USRPT protocol properly. With USRPT you quit the set when you reach neural fatigue, you don't go on until you reach that exhaustion state which leaves you totally empty. So no brutal regime, nothing to dread.

As for being built for speed or not, actually I wouldn't say I'm doing this strictly for speed. I'm mostly after good swimming. I think everybody here is after good swimming. But the point is that good swimming can't be slow :)

Salvo
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  #77  
Old 07-02-2017
Danny Danny is offline
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Hi Salvo, you're right, I didn't do it correctly. But the trick about doing it correctly is to set your goals judiciously enough so that you don't fail right at the start and get no chance to swim. This (I think) is the hard part. Any criterion for success or failure can, on a given day, be off, and I don't like having to shorten my swim just because I misjudged these things. So any insights into choosing a goal that gives you the swimming time you want might be helpful.

In this regard, I think a moving target might not be what USRPT is about, but it works for me. If I see that I am failing in what I set out to do, then I regroup and on the fly adjust my goals to what I am capable of on that day. As I tire during the workout, my goals will need to shift as well. I do this mostly by intuition, but any rational approach to something like this would be very helpful to me.
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  #78  
Old 07-03-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
But the trick about doing it correctly is to set your goals judiciously enough so that you don't fail right at the start and get no chance to swim. This (I think) is the hard part. Any criterion for success or failure can, on a given day, be off, and I don't like having to shorten my swim just because I misjudged these things.
First of all by "shorten my swim" I suppose you mean shorten your race pace swim, right? Because after you quit a USRPT set prematurely, you still can do a lot of non race pace work and, once fully recovered, eventually start another USRPT set.

If any criterion for success/failure can on a given day be off, this is strange and only you can and should understand why. I know for instance that on mondays (after 2 days off swimming) I'm usually slightly worse than on wednesdays and fridays, but this is only slightly and it's deterministic, it doesn't affect my program in the end.

As for setting reasonable targets: at the beginning it's as simple as just choose a pace which is easy enough to complete most of the prescribed set (eg 20 reps out of 24).
Then, in a few weeks, if you're consistent your pace should improve until you reach a peak. Here comes the tricky part. I try to share what I experienced so far: first, if you did your sets mindfully, you hopefully improved not only from a specific fitness standpoint, but also from a specific technical standpoint. This already is a "permanent" gain and a little step forward for further improvements. However you're on a (temporary) plateau, which means that both your current fitness and technique are stuck. Here you should change something before you start going backwards (you could go backwards for instance because in your latest sets you failed earlier in the attempt to swim faster and your sets got shorter, which means less race pace training). What to change? Increase workload if you can: more sessions per week, more sets per session etc.. If increasing workload is not an option, I guess it's better to change training stimuli: for instance refresh your mind and body with something different (as long as it's active training and not drilling all the time) for a few weeks and then get back to your usrpt sets with a hopefully better attitude. With USRPT you have plenty of ways to vary your training: you can vary by changing "event", change stroke, you can even do USRPT sets at kicking!

Hope that helps,
Salvo
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  #79  
Old 07-04-2017
Danny Danny is offline
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Hi Salvo, thanks for your feedback. I think that everything you mentioned makes sense. I must say that fitness for a particular type of swimming (e.g. race pace for a given distance) is not all that interesting to me. In my case, I believe that I still have some fundamental stroke flaws which, if corrected, would improve all of my swimming. In this sense, I seem to be not as far along in my swim evolution as you are, even though I may have been swimming for a longer period of time.

As far as my fluctuation from day to day, these variations tend to be small enough so that I don't worry too much about them. What I have found is that swimming at the outer edge of my speed capabilities for a given distance improves my technique, not just for that distance but much more broadly. I think this is because I have gotten used to stroking too slowly over the years and I have some unneeded hesitation in my stroke which needs to be cleaned up. So for me, the key question I play around with now is whether to up the stroke rate so that I am somewhat out of my green zone (which I have been doing lately) or to only up my stroke rate to the point where I can stay in my green zone. For the past few months, I have been somewhat out of my green zone, say, for 25 m lengths I have been swimming at 21-23 SPL for 300 m intervals. If I do 50s, I can cut the stroke count down, but I can't hold it.

All interesting stuff to play with. Occasionally I briefly go back to swimming at slower stroke rates with my new technique just to see how it feels. At some point, if I feel I have plateaued on my current strategy, I may go back to spending more time doing this.
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  #80  
Old 07-05-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
I think this is because I have gotten used to stroking too slowly over the years and I have some unneeded hesitation in my stroke which needs to be cleaned up. So for me, the key question I play around with now is whether to up the stroke rate so that I am somewhat out of my green zone (which I have been doing lately) or to only up my stroke rate to the point where I can stay in my green zone.
Hi Danny, this thread has become a private conversation btw you and me :)

I believe getting used to stroking too slowly, maybe in the attempt to fit the green zone or imitate Shinji, is a trap many TI self coached beginners with no swimming background fall in. At least this was my case when I started swimming in 2011. I had hardwired ultra slow swimming at 12-14SPL to the point that a stroke rate of 40SPM already felt fast! If I was chased by a shark my brain refused to swim at anything faster than 60SPM (which now is a slow rate for me).

Green zone is a general indicator of stroke efficiency but I wouldn't be too concerned about it because:

- if you hardwire super slow rates just to fit the green zone you're not doing yourself a favour
- it's based on the fact that your DPS should be 50-70% of your wingspan. Translating this to SPL depends on the individual and it's never precise: how long are your pushoffs? Are all identical within a session? Flip turns or open turns? These variables affect the amount of distance you actually cover by swimming within 25m.
- it's based on stroke efficiency (ie 50-70% of wingspan rule). I prefer thinking of efficiency in terms of outcome/effort, where outcome is the pace you swim at and effort is in term of heart rate and perceived effort (RPE). I always like to play with different gears that yeld a given pace and I notice that often times the most sustainable gears are the ones where I'm above the green zone (20-21SPL, I'm 183cm).

Today for instance I did the following usrpt(ish) set the TI way:

3 rounds of 10x75m at (under) 1:26/100m pace on 20s rest with TT in mode 3 (SPM).

I currently have 3 favourite gears to hold this pace: 67SPM/19SPL, 70SPM/20SPL, 73SPM/21SPL. I changed gear on each round (10 reps), starting with 67SPM/19SPL. Given the fixed rate, the goal was to always keep the target SPL and target turn time (hence target pace) and compare the gears in terms of efficiency = outcome/effort. Differently from a strict usrpt set, I took full rest after each round because I wanted built fatigue to affect gears comparison as little as possible (ie I wanted to start each round as fresh as possible, knowing anyway that it's impossible to be exactly as fresh in the 3rd round as in the 1st after 1500m of anaerobic work).

Results: the outcome was the same in that I hit target SPL and target pace in each round. Actually in the 2nd and 3rd round I sometimes hit 1SPL less than the target, so the outcome was even better in 2nd and 3rd round. Effort: heart rate was 160 at the end of the first round (my theoretical max HR is 180), 168 at the end of the 2nd round, and again 160 at the end of the 3rd round. Perceived effort was about the same throughout the set, I had to kick a bit more in the first round to always match 19SPL and I almost didn't kick at all in the 3rd round (which felt really pleasant and funny). All in all the most efficient gears were the 2nd and 3rd, ie where I swam at 20-21SPL. The next time I'll repeat the same set inverting the gears order: I expect the 3rd round at 19SPL to feel harder than today.


Salvo

Last edited by s.sciame : 07-05-2017 at 12:20 PM.
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