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  #1  
Old 02-15-2016
CoachMatHudson CoachMatHudson is offline
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Default Mat's 3-Month 100y Sprint Improvement Project

The long and sad move away from my beloved Mediterranean sea at the New Year, back to Oregon and into the very short 25 yard pool has prompted me shift focus to short distance work for a few months, to take advantage of that short and very precise distance.

So, out of curiosity to see what I can do with my 40+ body, I'm working on improving my 100 yard sprint time. I have this window from January through April. In May I will be preparing again for open water camp season (going back to the Med for several weeks), so I have a time-frame for this project.

For the last 20 years I have been drawn to increasingly longer distances and the last 8 years I've been training almost exclusively in the sea (no walls, hundreds and thousands of uninterrupted strokes), though my competitive pool-skills (turns, push-off, breakouts) are still quite strong. It appears my nervous system and muscles are wired for swimming strong, but in a conservative way to distribute energy for 1 to 3 hours. So, I've got some re-wiring to do.

In winter (in the Med sea) I am normally dropping my cruising tempos down to around 1.00 second and lower (to stay warm), so it turned into a good segway as I returned to the pool, and continued to work that range.

I did a 100y test in the middle of practice a couple weeks ago and hit around 72 seconds. I felt like I was going up to the limit my nervous system would allow, not my actual strength. It's as if I have a governor on my system, not allowing me to push over a certain intensity per stroke. That's the interesting thing I am exploring. I am not really out of breath when doing my repeats, though it feels like I can't drive harder - I mean, I could move harder, but it wouldn't create more speed, just more turbulence.

I am posting the practice here because it should tie in nicely to the practice ideas we will explore that the TI Coach 2.0 Fast Forward training in Clermont Florida, starting 23 February, which I will be at.

My general practice outline to follow.
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Mediterra International Swimming
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Email: mat@mediterraswim.com

Last edited by CoachMatHudson : 02-15-2016 at 02:24 AM.
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  #2  
Old 02-15-2016
CoachMatHudson CoachMatHudson is offline
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So my weekly schedule calls for 3 practices, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while I run on the other three days (up to 12 km) and on 2 or 3 days a week I have a variable conditioning routine for spine, core, joint mobility and some body-weight strength work (pull-ups, push-ups, air squats, etc).

I can give about 90 minutes for these swim practices.

I keep a fairly standard tune-up and finish to my practices:
Warm-up - 1500 swim (divided into mental intervals of 5x (3x 100) with three focal points I rotate through on those 100s). I start extremely gentle ('Silent Swimming') for 300-600, then go into specific focal points and may vary tempo. I tend to use synchronization focal points to keep enhancing connection of body parts.

Finish - 6x 50 Backstroke (either drills or whole stroke), followed by 6x 50 underwater dolphin w/ Positive Drive fins, and a 200 FR pure pleasure swim.

My main set is around 1500 total distance, and the practices come to around 3800-4000 yards.
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~ Mat Hudson

Head Coach
Mediterra International Swimming
mediterraswim.com

My blog with over 400 posts on TI technique and mindful training: Smooth Strokes Blog

Email: mat@mediterraswim.com

Last edited by CoachMatHudson : 02-15-2016 at 03:12 AM.
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  #3  
Old 02-15-2016
CoachMatHudson CoachMatHudson is offline
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For the main sets in those three practices each week these are my objectives:

Practice 1 - SL refinement

Practice 2 - Tempo adaptation

Practice 3 - SPL x Tempo intervals (Pace Intervals)

I have a certain SPL and Tempo range I am working in each week, and then the next week I incrementally increase my challenge level in just one variable (maybe two).

Last week's SL Practice 1 Main Set looked like this:

5 rounds (2x 150) hold SPL at 15 for every length. Alternate 150 no TT, 150 with TT at 1.05 and compare SPL consistency. 30 second rest between rounds

Last week's Tempo Practice 2 Main Set looked like this:

4 rounds 300 with TT at 1.01, 0.99, 0.97, 0.95.
Objective: slip into sweet synchronized rhythm as quickly as possible and maintain at each increased tempo. Monitor SPL but do not constrain.

Last week's Pace Practice 3 Main Set looked like this:

5 rounds (3x 100) SPL x Tempo, Timed. Hold 16 SPL, then adjust tempo per round - 1.05, 1.03, 1.01, 0.99, 0.97. 1:45 send-off (gave me about 20 seconds rest), and 50 BK easy between rounds. Insist on last 25 being as precise as the first and second ones.

****

As part of my routine, I set little markers on the floor of the pool, one at each end 1 meter farther than the flags, and one half-way. I used these to make sure I hit about the same breakout point on each push-off the wall, and I can check to see if I am on target to hit my SPL goal at half-way and at the flags by the approaching wall. So, I am monitoring SL quality along every single length.

During the tempo sets I do not use these markers so I can stay loyal to the internal rhythm of the stroke, rather than the markers on the bottom. The loyalty to internal rhythm and loyalty to a certain SL are competing with one another in my brain/body.

Then, in the Pace Interval practice, my task is to marry both that imprinted sense of SL and the sweet internal rhythm for the assigned tempo. It has to be precise and it has to feel sweet/flowing - that is what I am aiming for.
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Mediterra International Swimming
mediterraswim.com

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Email: mat@mediterraswim.com

Last edited by CoachMatHudson : 02-21-2016 at 05:03 AM.
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  #4  
Old 02-15-2016
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachMatHudson View Post
I did a 100y test in the middle of practice a couple weeks ago and hit around 72 seconds. I felt like I was going up to the limit my nervous system would allow, not my actual strength. It's as if I have a governor on my system, not allowing me to push over a certain intensity per stroke. That's the interesting thing I am exploring. I am not really out of breath when doing my repeats, though it feels like I can't drive harder - I mean, I could move harder, but it wouldn't create more speed, just more turbulence.
Mat
First of all I LOVE your project. Second, I love your analysis of the central problem to be solved during your project. In fact I've been thinking for a time of starting a podcast, in which I talk about a topic of current interest with a TI coach or enthusiast and your Sprint Improvement Project is one about which I could get excited for the premier podcast. So much juicy material, from the concept of the Improvement Project (and choosing one outside your comfort zone) to the analytical problem-solving approach to it, to the use of metrics as empirical feedback -- but most of all to the combination of neural training and acute sensitivity to the water that is at the heart of your efforts.

The graf I quoted above reminds me of something I heard Bill Boomer say at least 25 years ago. He talked of swimmers being stuck in a 'rate rut.'

By that he meant that their training concentrated in such a narrow range of Stroke Length and Stroke Rate that anything outside that range felt totally alien should they attempt it.

As soon as he mentioned this I was taken back to my college swimming days in the late 60s and early 70s. One of my keenest memories is how utterly ineffectual and discombobulated I felt when the coach would put me on a 4 x 100 relay (usually the B or C relay, never the fastest quartet) at the end of one of our dual meets in which we'd already won the meet on points prior to that event.

My 35,000+ weekly yards of training was in a combination of SL and SR that produced a pace of 1:04 to 1:06 per 100. On Saturdays I would race quite well and very comfortably at that pace.

We literally never did any max-pace 25y repeats so when I was suddenly called upon to swim 10 sec/100 faster on the relay, my nervous system was absolutely clueless how to manage that demand. I never figured out, until I heard Boomer talk about 'rate ruts' nearly 20 years later, why that was so.

You are aiming straight at the heart of this critical capacity with your training.
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  #5  
Old 02-15-2016
CoachMatHudson CoachMatHudson is offline
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Thank you for the encouraging words, Terry.

The whole project for me is about addressing several larger questions too.

Namely, what can I accomplish on only 3 practices per week, with only about 11-12,000 yards per week? The practices are meant to test and develop both my neurologic and metabolic systems, gradually pushing them each week. Already I am running into performance puzzles that involve both interacting with each other.

It does appear that I have a 'rut' in distance swimming parameters, though those are 'wide' relative to that genre - I can use tempo ranges comfortably from 1.30 down to 0.95 (1.05 would have been my December cruising tempo in open water) and I can hold consistent chosen SL in my Green Zone for 60 minutes easily. But my muscles are not used to going anaerobic and my brain is trained to prevent that and protect a certain level of precision in the stroke so I can go for hours. I have to break out of the rut to permit myself to burn energy at a much more intense (but still controlled) rate for 60 seconds.
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  #6  
Old 02-20-2016
gary p gary p is offline
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Training for the 100 by doing 150s & 300's? You're still going at this like a distance swimmer!

You need practice swimming at the tempo and intensity a 100 free sprint demands. You'll never get that swimming 150s and 300s....or even 100's. If you're doing sets of 100's, you have to be swimming slower than your maximum effort 100 pace because you can do exactly one 100 at 100 race pace before you're spent.

Think short, real short! I use the principals of Ultra Short Race Paced Training (USRPT) to train for the 100 by doing 25's at 100 race pace on 15 seconds rest. That allows me to get somewhere between 400 and 600 yards worth of work in at that pace. If you did a set like this 3 times a week for 3 months, you'd get somewhere around 10-13000 strokes of repetition swimming at a speed that you should be able to sustain for max-effort 100. That's in the neighborhood of what you need to start grooving some muscle and CNS memory.


The set doesn't take long, maybe 10-15 minutes. There's still plenty of time for the slower, more thoughtful stuff you have in mind. But if you want to maximize your performance for a sprint distance race, you're going to have to do some actual sprinting!

Last edited by gary p : 02-20-2016 at 11:43 PM.
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Old 02-21-2016
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gary p View Post
Training for the 100 by doing 150s & 300's? You're still going at this like a distance swimmer!

You need practice swimming at the tempo and intensity a 100 free sprint demands. You'll never get that swimming 150s and 300s....or even 100's. If you're doing sets of 100's, you have to be swimming slower than your maximum effort 100 pace because you can do exactly one 100 at 100 race pace before you're spent.

Think short, real short! I use the principals of Ultra Short Race Paced Training (USRPT) to train for the 100 by doing 25's at 100 race pace on 15 seconds rest. That allows me to get somewhere between 400 and 600 yards worth of work in at that pace. If you did a set like this 3 times a week for 3 months, you'd get somewhere around 10-13000 strokes of repetition swimming at a speed that you should be able to sustain for max-effort 100. That's in the neighborhood of what you need to start grooving some muscle and CNS memory.


The set doesn't take long, maybe 10-15 minutes. There's still plenty of time for the slower, more thoughtful stuff you have in mind. But if you want to maximize your performance for a sprint distance race, you're going to have to do some actual sprinting!
Mat, I havn't had a chance to hear your whole outline, but based on what you've included so far, I have to agree with Gary P. Even if you did this type of set once per week in addition to what you have going on above you'll be on a better course to improve your 100 time.

By doing those main sets totaling 1200-1500 with 20-30" rest...those are miler's sets. You're building a better mile, but not a better 100 sprint.

I'm sure you've already considered this so I'm curious what your overarching plan is.
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  #8  
Old 02-21-2016
CoachMatHudson CoachMatHudson is offline
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Hi Gary P,

I had to laugh at your observation - yes, it is likely my distance bias will exert its influence on my practice design. It is not just my body but also the mind that needs some expansion and refreshment!

And, I appreciate the challenge of your recommendation. Coach David Shen also recommended that I get much more aggressive in the tempos I am working with, and I think that was timely advice. I started to apply it this last week.

I have just obtained a stack of USRPT videos and am going to study them. This is all a personal research project/experiment, because I only knew of sprint training pre-TI, and have done virtually all distance training since entering the TI paradigm. It has been a desire of mine to go back to sprint and see how the same TI principles apply, if they truly are principles.

I don't know what I will find in those USRPT materials - perhaps the producers will address my concerns - but as I pondered your comments about short race pace work I found myself agreeing in part, but also feeling something is missing in that recommendation, or assumed. No doubt my metabolic and muscular systems need to get conditioned for anaerobic work only obtained in short, high intensity work, but USRPT must require some assumptions about a swimmer's neuro-muscular fitness to work at that intensity with a decent return on the effort.

Forgive my lengthy reply following, but this thread is a documentation of my actions and my reasons for it. And, being open like this on the forum, it subjects my actions and reasons to peer review. So I would like to explain further...

As Coach Terry has explained, and as we teach in coach training, there are three systems to address in effective training:
  1. Motor (Neuro-muscular)
  2. Metabolic
  3. Muscular

The training requires all three to be working together. All three systems have to be somewhat parallel in their development. Because they are interdependent, if there is significant imbalance in the interworking of the systems, then there will be resistance, limitations and/or injury.

In my case, I have been conservative in my approach in the first few weeks - demonstrating my extreme loyalty to motor-control excellence - and likely being too gradual about hitting the metabolic and muscular conditioning I need.

However, it is an intended part of my experiment that I will also develop my motor-control parallel to those other two. And, that is the part that TI has taught me, which either was missing in the traditional sprint training I was indoctrinated into in my early competitive years, or somehow I failed to notice.

That motor-control development requires gradual increase of intensity to hold myself at the edge of my motor-control capabilities and push it a little over - just enough failure, but not too much. Rest and adaptation and challenge again. I want not merely speed, but efficient speed - speed at the lowest cost (and lowest risk of injury). But, frankly, it can be assumed that I have really good motor control and know how to preserve it at any intensity. So, although I have concerns with that recommendations in generic application, personally, I suspect your recommendation for me is timely.

Attention to motor-control is a critical addition to the training for me because I ripped up my shoulders 27 years ago doing short, high intensity work, without the understanding and coaching guidance for the motor-control system. And when I get back into short, high intensity work I can sometimes feel the vulnerabilities stirring in those shoulders. So, I cannot afford to have any slop in my stroke whatsoever, when running such force through the shoulder joints.

What stirs some hope for me in the USRPT approach is that I may see a way to minimize quantity of short, high intensity work, while maximizing the return on that effort. And then I use the majority of my practice time for precision, and strength/stability work for the shoulders to handle those short loads. Even if USRPT doesn't show a lot about how to maintaining quality, that is an understanding I bring with me into the equation.

I have no problem with pain (I just don't feel it or mind it much in the water - and that is my achilles heel) - my shoulders just start aching after too much high intensity work, and (forgive my immodesty) I have pretty tight control over my stroke quality. I am as careful with my shoulders as I know how to be while still swimming a lot. I crave hard work, it is incredibly satisfying. But TI taught me to be smart, which saved my swimming career.

That's what this experiment is all about - going back into short distance work and removing some errors, and adding what was missing during my first (and unsuccesseful) tour through many years ago.
__________________
~ Mat Hudson

Head Coach
Mediterra International Swimming
mediterraswim.com

My blog with over 400 posts on TI technique and mindful training: Smooth Strokes Blog

Email: mat@mediterraswim.com

Last edited by CoachMatHudson : 02-21-2016 at 05:09 AM.
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  #9  
Old 02-21-2016
CoachMatHudson CoachMatHudson is offline
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Here are my three practices from this week, which have reflected the advice I received to be more bold with tempo work:

Practice 1 Main Set

9x (2x 100) with Tempo at - 1.01, 0.99, 0.97, 0.95, 0.93, 0.91, 2x 0.89, 0.87. Hold tempo and establish desired rhythm. Do not monitor SPL.

Results: I hit the rhythm I was seeking down to 0.95. Then I started to feel rhythm challenge at .93, but not too bad. I did a double round at 0.89 to improve rhythm, since I was not satisfied. On the last round at 0.87 tempo I felt a bit tired at last, but could have done a couple more. It was good to push tempo like this without SPL constraint just to get the muscles working at those speeds. No strain on shoulders.

Practice 2 Main Set

3 cyles (3 rounds of (2x 100) each at tempo - 1.01, 0.99, 0.97). Establish rhythm and monitor SPL. Do 50 bk easy between rounds.

Results: The trick was to establish the rhythm I desired and maximize stroke length. The first length was always -1 SPL lower, then I was consistent between 15-16 SPL, with a few final lengths of 0.97 repeats around 17 SPL.

What's the point of doing 100s? I want to extend my '4th length strength'. I can experience the conditions of the 4th length of a race by swimming 3 lengths first then demanding higher quality from myself during that 4th length. (that's one of my reasons).

Practice 3 Main Set

7 rounds of 3x 50 each at tempo plus time - 0.99, 0.97, 0.95, 0.93, 0.91, 0.89, 0.87. Hold tempo, take time, don't monitor SPL, allow 20+ seconds rest or until optimal recovery point.

Results: I held tempo easily, and hit the rhythm I desired- hitting rhythm quickly on first length was easy, while I had to concentrate for it on the second length. I noted particular details in how I shaped the catch and recovery that I want to preserve. Average consistent times per round - 40-39 seconds, 39, 38.5, 38, 37.5, 37, 36.5-37 seconds. I was pleased with the effort, with the quality in the stroke, and the times were encouraging, since I haven't done short work like this yet.

However, I felt a slight ache warning in my right shoulder after round 6. I will search for any anomalies in my mechanics, otherwise, I need to limit how much I do in one session and continue with shoulder stability exercises (I didn't do much this week).
__________________
~ Mat Hudson

Head Coach
Mediterra International Swimming
mediterraswim.com

My blog with over 400 posts on TI technique and mindful training: Smooth Strokes Blog

Email: mat@mediterraswim.com

Last edited by CoachMatHudson : 02-21-2016 at 05:10 AM.
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  #10  
Old 02-21-2016
gary p gary p is offline
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I think you're going to like what you find when you dig into USRPT. Despite what many people unfamiliar with the system think, there's a strong emphasis on good technique. And the whole concept is built around ingraining specific patterns into your CNS. For a program that's often perceived as all about power, it's actually very cerebral. For a program that's perceived as all about swimming as hard as you can, it's actually more about pacing and making improvements through incremental changes.

One of the key principals, and this is where USPRT diverges from how I was trained in the 80's, is the abandonment of the "press on regardless" mentality. I remember as a high school swimmer doing sets like 40x100 on an aggressive interval. By about rep # 25, I was touching as soon as it was time to go again. Not surprisingly, it wasn't long before I couldn't even hold the interval. But we had to keep swimming. I kept going even though I was going slower and slower.

With USPRT, as soon as you can't hold your targeted pace, you take a little extra rest (~1 minute). When you fail to hold the targeted pace for the third time in a set, you're done with that set. You move on to a recovery activity. There's no continuing on in an overly fatigued state. Why ingrain a slower pace into your CNS?

Here is where USRPT and TI can intersect: Once you've reached a certain level of fitness, your best bet for getting farther into a set is to improve your stroke mechanics, particular when fatigued. The sets are designed to tax your ability to hold your stroke mechanics together under duress. People with a good TI foundation are generally much more aware of subtle cues that their mechanics are slipping, and are more apt to be able to make small corrections to keep it together.

Quote:
What's the point of doing 100s? I want to extend my '4th length strength'. I can experience the conditions of the 4th length of a race by swimming 3 lengths first then demanding higher quality from myself during that 4th length. (that's one of my reasons).
A USPRT set will give you exactly the thing you are looking for here, and more of it. After about 6 or 7 reps, every 25 is pretty much like the last 25 of a hundred. The rest interval of 15 seconds is specifically designed to give you just enough recovery to be able to repeat that "4th length demand" over and over.

A 100 free USRPT set for you would be something like this:

30 x 25 on :32, target time of 0:17.00
-One minute extra rest if you miss the target time
-Abandon the set if you miss the target time on 2 consecutive repetitions OR 3 times total.

You probably won't get close to 30 at first. That's OK. The aim is to get a little farther each time. If you get to 24 reps or more 2 times in a row before failing out of the set, you've "mastered" this pace and it's time to move the target time and interval down incrementally. You should expect to be able to swim a single 100 in 4 x the 25 rep target time.

Last edited by gary p : 02-21-2016 at 01:39 PM.
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