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Old 02-10-2012
terry terry is offline
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Default How to Design Neural Threshold sets for any Physiological Consideration

In the previous Neural Threshold thread. TI Coach Stuart McDougal also raised a question that seems to deserve a dedicated thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal View Post
I have always thought of periodization as physical and metabolic - not neural. Periodization is simply change with a plan, change occurs with physical plateaus occur, switch gears and "trick" your body into building stronger through rest, then changing up the next phase. It seems like the same must occur with our neural system whether we think about it or not. We know how to build the physical adaptations using periodization model, but how do we incorporate the neural?
The idea of neural periodization is intriguing, but my instinct says periodization considerations are probably peculiar to physiology. Neural adaptations occur differently. Much of the rationale for periodization in physical work is the need for restoration. You stress the muscles with harder work. Muscle fibers are slightly damaged - microtears, etc. You also suffer general fatigue.

If you continue stressing, the body goes into Failing Adaptation Syndrome. We increase physical capacity not during the work phase, but during the recovery phase, when 'Superadaptation' occurs. So it's essential for high-performing, hard-working athletes to carefully program alternating bouts of work/stress and rest/recovery.

To a very limited extent, the brain and nervous system may need periodic rest, but because 'fatigue' is far less pronounced and physical damage non-existent, for the most part, you can go on tackling neurally-arduous and cognitively-difficult tasks day after day with little concern for recovery.

Here's how to serve Neural and Metabolic considerations at the same time. Certain Neural Tasks will be cognitively difficult but metabolically easy. E.G. Holding an SPL of exceedingly high efficiency, at fairly leisurely Tempo, in a set of relatively brief repeats
For me a fairly basic example could mean:
12 to 20 x 100 @ 13SPL and 1.30 Tempo. My strokes would be careful and precise, but gentle. My muscular activation and HR would both be moderate. And because HR would never rise very much, I could do these on pretty brief rest intervals - maybe 8 to 10 TT beeps (10 to 13 sec at 1.3 tempo)

While the set above would require me to pay attention and execute an exacting task, albeit at minimal exertion, I'd get good neural value from it. However, I'd be even more likely to raise the neural ante a bit more, via frequent change-of-task. So a higher-value restorative set would be:
3 to 4 rounds of [50-100-150-200] or [4 x 50 + 2 x 100 + 1 x 200] at 13 SPL, either staying with 1.30 tempo, or making slight changes in tempo from round to round.

Such a set would (i) wire in efficiency; and (ii)promote physical restoration, while sharpening mentally and neurally even more than the previous example.

However, for someone just starting out on this kind of training, it would be better to first tackle more basic set examples. I've done thousands of hours of such training, so I can manage the demands of the more difficult example.

And when I decide it's time for a metabolically taxing set, it would probably look like this:
4 rounds of [250 + 50] striving to hold 14 SPL @ 15-16SPL and a Tempo of 1.0 on the 250s, and swimming recovery pace on the 50s.

I actually did this set back in December. I chose the SPL and Tempo empirically from a 1000y race on Dec 10 at Ithaca College. (Read my account of the race here.) I'd gotten my splits and recalled my SPLs and was able to calculate my Tempo/SPL 'failure point' in that race. My Tempo stayed in the 1.0 range but my SPL's increased from 15 to 18. So my goal in the set was to swim that tempo but not exceed 16SPL.

A month hence I could raise the ante on that set a bit harder by challenging myself to do any of the following--but only one:
- Swim 300y, rather than 250y repeats
- Swim a 5th 250.
- Stay @1.0 but try to swim more laps at 15SPL and fewer at 16.
- Stay at 15-16SPL but reset TT to somewhere between .95 and .99.

Performance-oriented swimmers, should devote their metabolically taxing sets to targeting a failure point from a recent race or benchmark time trial, and aim to strengthen it. They should not repeat sets like this more frequently than every 72 hrs or so, to avoid over-stressing the metabolic processes. On the intervening days they should do sets like those I outline above.
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My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 02-10-2012 at 01:15 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-10-2012
ian mac ian mac is offline
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Default Strategy for pacing a 1500

Terry,
As I prepare for both a 1500 and 800 in 7 weeks, I have been taking to heart (no pun) your ideas regarding neural threshold. I am getting closer to my goal pace of 37 sec/50m through a variety of sets listed in previous posts.

Going forward, I am looking for a strategy for how to swim the race. I am becoming comfortable holding 50's at 36-37 seconds for 20 repeats with 3-4 sec. rest ( 40 sec interval) while maintaining a stroke count of 31/50metres and a SR of .95.

I was thinking of doing various sets of gradually longer distances maintaining this pace and occasionally attempting faster than race pace intensities by adjusting the variables of SPL & SR.

As well I intend to mindfully adjust my SR faster 2 strokes in and 2-4 strokes out of the turn/100, so that I would be focussing on 300 repeats (ie. 2 strokes at slightly higher tempo on 1st 100,3 strokes on 2nd 100, 4 strokes faster on 3rd). I will try doing this once per week in an overall 1500 metre set over the next 5 weeks with the final repeat each week being a multiple of 3. So the 1st week I would finish with a 300, the following week 600 etc...

Any thoughts on different sets that would be fun to experiment with during this process? Anyone, anyone...

Ian
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Old 02-10-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
The idea of neural periodization is intriguing, but my instinct says periodization considerations are probably peculiar to physiology.
Actually I would characterize neural periodization like this.

The brain also gets tired from working the same thing over and over again. My tri-coach used to think I was nuts running or cycling the same workout for longer than normal, sometimes upwards of 3 weeks for the exact same workout. I would experiment to see if I could improve speeds and watts on the exact same workout and under very similar conditions. However, after 2-3 weeks, I would burnout not only mentally, but I would also see a levelling out of improvement physically.

I would make the same characterization that the brain and nervous system requires variety too, and also rest.

So in neural periodization, I would say that we could take some block of time, say 2 weeks, and work only one aspect of the stroke. It could be engaging a faster (or slower!) tempo, it could be making sure I drop into the same mail slot every time, it could be practicing EVF. Or it could be something like swimming the exact same or similar workouts BUT with a neural goal of improving efficiency in one aspect like SPL. At the end of the block of time, you would either take a week off and do a light week of swimming, or you would switch to some other aspect.

If you didn't switch, your brain might get burnt out on working on one thing for so long and your performance might actually suffer because of that.

I am reading about a different type of periodization which is not what triathletes usually use (ie. base, prep, build, peak, taper, race, rest), but something called block periodization (see Block Periodization 2: Fundamental Concepts and Traini... by Vladimir Issurin). Russians have found out that if you're trying to build up two or more different physical qualities, like strength and endurance, you can't focus on one too long or else the other one suffers. So if an athlete needs both qualities, they use a 2 week block training method and have found that within that time period, the other quality doesn't erode so much. There may be some useful knowledge transfer here I wonder...
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Old 02-10-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachDavidShen View Post

I am reading about a different type of periodization which is not what triathletes usually use (ie. base, prep, build, peak, taper, race, rest), but something called block periodization (see Block Periodization 2: Fundamental Concepts and Traini... by Vladimir Issurin). Russians have found out that if you're trying to build up two or more different physical qualities, like strength and endurance, you can't focus on one too long or else the other one suffers. So if an athlete needs both qualities, they use a 2 week block training method and have found that within that time period, the other quality doesn't erode so much. There may be some useful knowledge transfer here I wonder...
Coach Dave Denniston of the US Paralymic Swim team uses block peridization in a 4 week rotation with his swimmers at the OTC. They are amazing.

Triathletes are easily seduced by what is preached in the Training Bible series, but even Joe, I've heard, doesn't stick by what he's written.

Kudos to you for looking outside the box and getting additional education for your coaching. And the answer is yes, it all transfers.
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USA Paralympic Triathlon Coach
Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
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  #5  
Old 02-11-2012
CoachSteveHoward CoachSteveHoward is offline
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Default 6 x 200 - Steve Howard

Terry,

Following your recommendation of last week (after the T30 discussion), I have made two pool swims performing the 200 yard sets. I did the first 200 yard practice set last weekend and a second 200 yard x 6 sets this morning (5 days later). The pool practice this morning is part of final preparation for my upcoming Corpus Christi swim - bike - run event. The event begins with a 2.4 mile open water swim in Corpus Christi Bay.

In the past at this point in my race training preparation, I would have jumped in the pool like a mallard duck and swum continuously in the pool till I hit the 2 plus mile mark. Today I did NOT do that – instead I completed the 200 yard x 6 sets with 25 to 50 yard recovery between the sets. Total time in the pool warm up, warm down and swimming the 6 x 200 yard sets was 45 minutes.

I was shocked with the results. Instead of my usual age 59 2:33 mallard duck pool pace – for the 6 x 200 yard sets, I maintained 4 minutes (2 minutes per 100 yard pace). My tempo trainer was set at 1.45. At the completion of each set, I was repeatedly surprised to glance at the time clock and see I was maintaining the 4 minute per 200 yard pace goal.

During each 200 yard set, I felt I might have been swimming much slower because I was so relaxed (physically and mentally NON-HURRIED or maybe I was physically and neurologically “re-wired” for efficiency?). Reflecting after the swim, I feel my brain and body were totally in sync. On each 200 yard set I could concentrate and consciously maintain hand, arm, leg, head and body positions and motions! I have always felt that at age 59, the key to any improvements in short or long swims would be TI efficiency – not more muscles.

So, Terry in only two practice sessions, I have improved – no doubt I did not get stronger (as a matter fact this morning I had tired legs from a 9 mile x 10:38 pace run completed on Wednesday). However, since I use a two TI beat kick – quiet and slightly tired mellow legs contributed to good swim results. Since I did not get stronger in 5 days, I feel I must have swum smarter!

END RESULT - The 6 x 200 sets not only allowed me to improve my swim stroke – it really has built my confidence that I am physically and mentally ready for the upcoming 2.4 mile swim.

Also, following your recommendation, I will go to Indian Creek Lake this weekend and make a very enjoyable open water swim.

Coach Steve Howard
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  #6  
Old 02-11-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Steve,

Congratulations! Can you post, as a reminder, what your previous (before today) 200 x 6 results were? I believe they were a bit slower than today's result?

Also, the Indian Creek OW swim is your reward for a well spent day in the pool.
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Suzanne Atkinson, MD
Level 3 USAT Coach
USA Paralympic Triathlon Coach
Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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  #7  
Old 02-11-2012
CoachSteveHoward CoachSteveHoward is offline
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Default Previous Results

Coach Suzanne,

Thank you! The previous results (first group of 200 yard sets) are shown below from Sat. Feb. 4. These sets were much more variable and overall slower compared to today.

Set 1 - 200 yards swim time - 4 :05 minutes
Set 2 - 200 yards - swim time 4 min
Set 3 -200 yards - swim time 4 min 18 seconds
Set 4 - 200 yards - swimtime - 3 min 55 seconds
Set 5 – 200 yards -swim time 4 min
Set 6 – 200 yards -swim time 4 min 10 seconds
Set 7 - 200 yards - swim time 4 min 20 seconds
Set 8 - 200 yards - swim time 4 min 15 second

I am really looking forward to the swim at Indian Creek Sunday. Coach Suzanne, as you say the swim is a reward. The Indian Creek objective is simply to have a mindful relaxing swim and enjoy being in the lake. I will post a photo or two of swim Sunday evening.

Respectfully - Coach Steve
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  #8  
Old 02-11-2012
terry terry is offline
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Steve
I'm glad Suzanne asked you to post the results for each 200 since it points the way to your next Kaizen goal -- reduce, then eliminate, the variation.
There are so many Mastery goals for swim training that receive little mention at Suzanne's FILTH (Forum I Love To Hate - how perfect is that acronym?)

The prevailing advice you hear there can be summed up as "Go Hard or Go Home."

In actuality the lowest-hanging fruit of improving your time for any distance above 50m is learn to pace more evenly. As you well recognize repeatedly pushing the accelerator then brake while driving would destroy fuel economy, so does a set on which your pace goes up and down on every repeat. And where the variation is as large as 25 seconds.

I'm going to start an entirely new thread under the heading of "How to Learn Ninja-Level Pacing Skill."

PS: Your Tempo of 1.45 also allows significant room to improve your average pace without swimming any harder. So here are goals for future repeats of this set
1) Set TT @ 1.40 next time -- and increase tempo by .05 on every subsequent trial until you are @ 1.20 or faster. If you cannot do both of the following on any trial, keep tempo the same on your next trial.
2) Never lose pace from a previous repeat - either maintain or improve pace from beginning to end.
3) Reduce variation from the average from 12 sec (half the 25-second difference between slowest and fastest 200s in the set) to 5 sec or less (i.e. difference of 10 sec or less between slowest and fastest repeats). And strive to further reduce that variation in the weeks ahead.
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Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 02-11-2012 at 12:18 PM.
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  #9  
Old 02-11-2012
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
Coach Dave Denniston of the US Paralymic Swim team uses block peridization in a 4 week rotation with his swimmers at the OTC. They are amazing.
Thanks for reminding me of Dave and the Paralympic Team. I'll try to arrange an opportunity to spend some time with Dave and the team while I'm there.
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Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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  #10  
Old 02-13-2012
CoachSteveHoward CoachSteveHoward is offline
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Default Sunday Feb 200 Yard Sets

Terry and Suzanne, (Sunday Feb 12, 2012)

I was not able to travel to Indian Creek this morning, so I swam in pool 8 x 200 yards sets. Sets were more consistent today. I changed tempo to 1.4 secs as recommended by Terry. On set 7 went to 1.3 secs but could not hold pace so went back to 1.4 secs and held pace. I will have oportintiy make a open water swim on Wednesday or Thursday of this week In Corpus Christi.

The results of todays 200 yard sets are below.



Set 1 - 200 yards swim time - 3 minutes 55 Seconds (1.4 Tempo)
Set 2 - 200 yards - swim time 4 min 3 seconds (1.4 Tempo)
Set 3 -200 yards - swim time 4 min 5 seconds (1.4 Tempo)
Set 4 - 200 yards – swim time - 4 min 4 seconds (1.4 Tempo)
Set 5 – 200 yards -swim time 4 min (1.4 Tempo)
Set 6 – 200 yards -swim time 4 min 5 seconds (1.4 Tempo)
Set 7 - 200 yards - swim time 4 min 15 seconds Changed Tempo (1.3 Tempo)
Set 8 - 200 yards - swim time 4 min 5 second Changed Tempo (1.4 Tempo)


Coach - Steve Howard
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