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Old 03-03-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Tom Pamperin
Default Project: 500m in 7:30

I thought I'd start a thread here tracking recent progress on a rather arbitrary goal I've decided on: to swim 500m in under 7:30 (in a 25m pool). A 500m time trial was a standard Coast Guard test 17 years ago when I first started swimming seriously, so I figured it'd be fun to be swimming faster now than I ever managed then when I was young, training hard, and seriously fit and strong (for me, that is). But I never managed a 500 faster than 8:04 that I remember, and that was in a 25y pool.

I've been swimming TI for 11 years now, all self-coached except one lesson with Coach Dave Cameron, and I'm a FAR better swimmer than I was when I was at my fittest. So, should be a fun project! Also aiming to swim a short non-sprint distance like 500m will be a great way to add speed, something I have not much concentrated on in my TI practice. Then I can put that speed to good use, maybe, in later long OW swims (I did my first 10-mile swim in 2015 and loved it, but swam very slowly and conservatively--finished in 6 hours exactly).

Some recent elbow pain (gone now!) got me focusing on my 2BK, engaging my hips much more. I also feel like I've got a lot more core stability in my stroke than ever before, and just overall feel like lots of good things are happening in my stroke. It's time to start actually training for speed!

So, my first report:

Today finished up two+ weeks of extreme focus on kick and technique, mostly short repeats with plenty of rest for good mental focus to reinforce neural pathways for my new improved kick.

I also swam a 5 x 100 on 1:05 just as an initial check-in to see where I'm starting from. I tried to hit an effort level that I knew I can't hold right now for 500m, but that seemed like I could work up to. I didn't aim for a particular SPL (something I have spent years doing, so kind of a new thing to direct my focus elsewhere) and just kind of let my body find an easy relaxed tempo. Came in around 16-18 spl for each repeat, right in my Green Zone.

First 100m came in at 1:29, a big surprise as I kind of expected a 1:33-35.

Second 100m I pushed a bit more, hit 1:27.

Third 100m I held 1:28.

Last two were slower (1:33-ish).

Just barely a start--next week I will prioritize pool time to reducing rests while holding pace. I will add some USRPT sets as well. Later I will increase distance of each repeat (200m?) and again work to hold pace and reduce rest.

Anyway, I welcome any and all ideas about how to refine my rather nebulous training plan. I look forward to sharing updates here on what I'm learning.

Thanks!
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Old 03-03-2017
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Tom,

very first thought: Do you have a standard warm up procedure to become stretched and operation warm?

Mat's hint to me once was: If you are short in time better shorten your exercises than your warm up...

And for well being afterward a cool down won't be bad too...

Best regards,
Werner

PS: Might be carrying owls to Athens, you're swimming for long time and will know. But I know for myself, I often can't see the forrest because there are so many trees...
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  #3  
Old 03-04-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Werner,

thanks for the reminder about warm-ups and such ("owls to Athens"--I like that!). The wisdom of warming up has imposed itself upon me as I got older--I enjoy it, maybe my favorite part of many sessions. I generally start with a relaxed 10 x 25 with plenty of rest, rotating FPs and checking in to see what might be helpful to focus on.

Then I ramp up slowly, often repeating this set holding strictly to 15, 16, then 17 SPL to gradually build speed and work on SPL maintenance, and also continue any FPs that worked well from the 10 x 25 set:

1 x 25, 1 x 50, 1 x 75, 1 x 100

By the end of all that, I've swum 1000m at gradually increasing speeds and exertions, so it's off to main sets!

I welcome any feedback or ideas about other ways to approach a warm-up as well--thanks, everyone.
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Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 03-04-2017 at 05:02 AM.
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  #4  
Old 03-06-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post

I also swam a 5 x 100 on 1:05 just as an initial check-in to see where I'm starting from.
Hi Tom, you mean 5x100 on 2:05, right? To me, the best way to see where you are - before start doing USRPT sets and other stuff - is to swim the straight 500 and take the splits. 5x100 on 2:05 is too vague (and takes more time by the way :) ). If you don't have somebody to take the splits, use TT in mode 2 and set it at 1:30. For each 100m see if you are ahead or behind the beep. You'll learn something more from this basic and more accurate test.

Swimming a 500 is also about pacing strategy, it's about knowing how to swim the distance. If you do this test today, I'm pretty sure you'll then say something like "if I do it again tomorrow I can do better by just going out a bit less fast". And perhaps that's right: you could shave some seconds just by having more experience on how to split the distance according to your characteristic.

And if splitting evenly is the common good practice (and the one we practice with interval sets), it's not necessary the best for you. I for instance (on a 400) prefer swimming the first and last 100 a bit faster and the 2nd and 3rd 100 a bit slower. If my splits are all equal, I'd swum a good 400 but probably not my best.

So I encourage you to do the test and get familiar to swimming a straight 500.

Regards,
Salvo
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Old 03-06-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s.sciame View Post
Hi Tom, you mean 5x100 on 2:05, right? To me, the best way to see where you are - before start doing USRPT sets and other stuff - is to swim the straight 500 and take the splits.
Yep, good catch--5x100 on 2:05 (otherwise I wouldn't need to train for a 7:30 500!) And I agree that a straight 500m is a far better indicator of where I'm at, so I'll definitely do that as a next priority to set a baseline.

I may play around with splits later as you suggest--obviously if I were racing that'd be important--but generally pay more attention to perceived exertion than split times for pacing, as I'm more keen on long open water swims. Mainly it doesn't feel too important to me at this moment as this project is just a little fun experiment to get me swimming faster than I normally do otherwise.

Good trick with the TT, though--an easy way to check splits. Thanks for your thoughts!
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Old 03-06-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Mon, March 6: my first experiement with a USRPT session

Read over the USRPT philosophy and understand it thusly:

1. Pick a race pace--for me, that's 1:30/100m, a pace I picked by instinct rather than a baseline test to see where I'm actually at. But I think it's a good target.

2. Swim short repeats (50m in this case) at your race pace with a 20-second rest interval. That 20 second interval is apparently crucial to achieve a maximal training effect according to USRPT.

3. Swim as many as you can while keeping a good purposeful mental focus on your stroke (I was quite happy to see USRPT endorse this idea, which seems very similar to TI in its insistence on mindfulness).

4. Any time you fail to hit your target time, skip the next repeat entirely to rest, then keep going.

5. If you fail 2 repeats in a row, or 3 repeats total, the set is over and you have achieved your maximal training effect.

I plan to start out with 1-2 USRPT sets per week to begin my experiment. So, today went like this:

30 X 50M on 1:05, target pace :45, rest interval :20

Chosen FP: maintain momentum/speed with spearing hand on entry ("throw" the arm) and feel that link to opposite hip. I did not aim for a particular SPL but just monitored--came in mostly 17-18, so in the upper Green Zone.

500m tune up (100m in long fins) concentrating on hips (some 13 SPL on this, some 14, mostly 15)

1. Came in at :40, felt strong and smooth but... way too fast!

2-9: Came in under :45 on all repeats, mostly around :43

10: first failure, a :46. Skipped next repeat for an extra 1:05 of rest.

11-12: Hit :45 or under on each.

13: Second failure, again a :46/:47. Skipped next repeat for extra 1:05 rest.

14-17: Hit :45 on each. Getting very hard, feeling neural fatigue and difficulty maintaining SR.

18: Third failure, set over. Leisurely cool down.

What did I learn?

I wasn't sure how this would go, but discovered (as usual) that I have more capacity to suffer through a challenging set than I usually use. On the last couple of repeats it felt like I couldn't possibly do it in :45--but it was comforting to go anyway, knowing that I only had to try my best, and a failure would mean the end of the set! Got a couple extra repeats this way--definitely more discomfort than in my usual swimming routine. But neural fatigue, as predicted by USRPT, seems to be the main limiter in this set. My stroke felt increasingly sloppy in the last few repeats, with SR hard to maintain.

Letting my body "choose" it's own SPL gave me a much higher SR than I normally choose (first few repeats were 16-ish, then almost all 17-18, with some 19s at the very end of the set). That, in turn, seemed to reduce effort to keep pace, so I think the trade-off was effective today. It will be interesting to see if my SPL comes down on later repetitions of the set.

So, that's that. No USRPT tomorrow--but I think it's going to be good for me to add this kind of thing in regularly, as the very concrete parameters of the set force me to use (and sustain) more effort than normal. I'm still feeling like my "new" 2BK with more emphasis on hips and more of a "whip" action is working really well.

I also think after today that my target pace of 1:30/100m is a good choice for me right now--challenging enough, but a realistic goal. If anyone reading this is familiar with USRPT, does that seem right to you? Other thoughts on my chosen pace goal?

Got to do an actual baseline 500m test soon...

Cheers!
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Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 03-06-2017 at 08:54 PM.
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Old 03-06-2017
Danny Danny is offline
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Tom, first of all you are much more systematic than I am, which I admire, but some of the things you wrote sounded somewhat familiar to me. I also discovered that I have a higher capacity to do hard sets than I usually take advantage of, and if I push this, I can create new PB times. Over time though, I just couldn't keep this up. So I will speculate here, and I don't really know what I am talking about. If I take the long view, my ability to do hard sets depends on how long I want to keep doing them. I can do hard sets for a couple of weeks, but if I have as a goal trying to push my capacity over a period of several months, I need to back off. So, if you are just trying to create a new personal best time, the approach you are taking is probably a good one, but if you are trying for longer term improvements, turning down the intensity so you can keep up the practices for more weeks might be worth considering.

On the other hand, it sound like you are not doing this exclusively in your workouts, which may give you the breathing space you need in between. When I tried to do this I did it on all of my workouts, and that made it hard.

All food for thought...
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Old 03-07-2017
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Tom,

FWIW some hints, maybe you'll still know...

Suzanne designed a 12-weeks course "Fast Forward" (last two weeks are more repeats of former ones). It should have been published via TI-shop, but can't find it there just now. As I ran through it some time ago, it seemed to be an ideal mixture of TI-technique and metabolic conditions.

Also there are some worthy Blogs on Mat's Homepage. He also wrote some Blogs about the "Zone of Discomfort"...

Last for today: How about planning a week (or one or two days) just for consolidating, such as a "planned Plateau"? (My look into the very old "Cooper" showed, he always set a next step after you worked on a step for a whole week.)

Best regards,
Werner
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Old 03-07-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Danny and Werner,

thanks for your thoughts. I'm definitely not driven enough to always swim hard, but have made enough progress with my stroke that I'm curious to do it for a while and see what happens. For a long time (since my 10-mile swim in 2015) I've been swimming without any real goals in mind other than to practice TI, which is really satisfying--but it's time to add a new dimension for a while.

I'll check out the "Fast Forward"--thanks for the suggestion. And Coach Mat's blog is a frequent stop for me, great stuff.
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  #10  
Old 03-07-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Tuesday, March 7

One of the things I definitely need to develop for this project is my ability to swim longer distances again. I've been doing short repeats (nothing longer than 100m) all winter, so today I planned to do more continuous swimming. In my mind this will help me regain my comfort with longer repeats (comfort is essential for relaxation), and should also help build a good aerobic base. Right now I'm thinking I will do a "continuous swim" day about once per week. I figured I'd go easy to recover from yesterday's speed work.

So, here was today:

500m tune-up

broken mile (11 lengths, then 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 length alternating with short rests)

300m cool-down

Did the broken mile in 35:00 even--took much longer rests than I had intended. Not sure of my pace--perhaps :50-:53/50m?

What did I learn?

It's amazing how quickly panic sets in with longer repeats (the broken mile) when I haven't been swimming them. I know from experience that this panicky feeling will go away as I train longer, but it was in full force today--leading to higher SPL and breathlessness. A few sessions should see me able to relax again at longer distances, but I sure felt inefficient today, an concentrating far more on finishing the set than on technique. SPL varied from 16-18, mostly 17-18.

I was VERY tired after today's session. It's probably a combination of not being fully recovered from yesterday's USRPT session, plus not being comfortable with longer distances swum continuously. Definitely felt like a workout though I tried to go easy. Took a long nap at home afterwards. Still lingering tired--tomorrow will be an easy day to work mainly on SPL.

Hmm... 2,450m total today. Was still able to swim a :43 50m at the end without undue effort during the cool-down. I'll keep an eye on training demands and volume to make sure I'm not adding too much too quickly.
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