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  #1  
Old 05-24-2010
ewa.swimmer ewa.swimmer is offline
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Default Tempo trainer and an Open Water Race

My goal was to increase my tempo while still keeping my efficiency. In the pool I was used to a leisurely 2.5 tempo to work on my stroke. I found that I could get to 1.0 and keep my baseline SPL but only for a short distance. I thought a good goal would be to maintain a 1.5 tempo for a race. Today we had a 1 mile race (which is relatively short for open water). I teflon taped my TT to my goggle strap, set it for 1.5, and set off.
For the first 1/3 of the race the tempo was too slow which surprised me. The second 1/3 it was spot on. The final 1/3 I had to push a little to maintain it but I didn't feel that the TT messed up my "flow". I think I need to push up my goal.
In the pool I was using the beep to time my toe flick because I'm working on my 2B kick. I thought I'd continue that in the race. That didn't work out. The water was so rough that I was using oddly timed toe flicks to stay balanced. I switched to my arm extension on the beep. My back is sore from all the long extensions, so I guess I need to work on that too.
Anybody else have experiences to share and learn from using the TT in open water races?
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Old 05-24-2010
terry terry is offline
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The part about getting back soreness from holding a long stroke during a race was revealing. It demonstrates how physical training "happens" when you focus on technique. Because your focus and the TT combined to help you maintain stroke length under the combined "duress" of racing and rougher water, your muscles were tasked with work they apparently are not used to.

I have had similar muscle soreness from situations that called upon me to swim with a somewhat greater level of challenge or exertion. I think it makes an important point that there's more than one way to work on technique.

Many non-TI people - and particularly those who feel TI doesn't give swimmers what they need to swim "fast" (it's seldom clear how "fast" is defined) - pigeonhole technique-oriented swimming as "looking pretty while you swim slowly." But in fact your experience illustrates there are two kinds:

1) Learning or improving skills. This requires both acute kinesthetic awareness, to distinguish between "not quite" and "just right," and the imprinting of memory neurons. Both kinesthetic awareness and the formation of muscle memory are known to be greatest when movement is slow and exertion is low.

2) Testing and "hardening" new skills. Once a skill has been learned, you test it and increase its permanence by using it in more demanding circumstances - particularly if competing is among your motivations to improve. Not all at once, but steadily and incrementally.

As for the tempo of 1.5, I expect there's ample opportunity to raise it. I averaged 60 strokes per minute (1.0 sec/stroke) for 10 miles and nearly 5 hours in swimming Maui Channel. It never felt hurried and I still felt strong in the final mile.
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  #3  
Old 05-26-2010
ewa.swimmer ewa.swimmer is offline
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Default Perception

What really struck me in the above post was that 1.0 tempo felt "leisurely". To me that meant I needed to experience much faster tempos so that 1.0 would feel slow.
This morning after warming up I did a 500 at 1.15 which was much faster than my last race pace. I kept my baseline SPL but was a little winded at the end. I then did 25s at .75 really concentrating on staying relaxed and keeping the bubbles to a minimum. Not very successful but I'm only beginning that journey. I then went back to 1.0 for some 50s. It did feel a little better. At the end of the workout I did some 50s at a slow tempo. I don't know if it's possible to get that wonderful relaxed flowing feeling at higher tempos. It can be addictive I think, like chocolate.
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Old 05-26-2010
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewa.swimmer View Post
What really struck me in the above post was that 1.0 tempo felt "leisurely". To me that meant I needed to experience much faster tempos so that 1.0 would feel slow. <snip>
I don't know if it's possible to get that wonderful relaxed flowing feeling at higher tempos. It can be addictive I think, like chocolate.
I can distinctly recall the first time I used the Tempo Trainer in practice. I had two reactions to this experience:
1) Wow, my nervous system is really adaptable -- and I can actually feel the adaptation the moment it occurs; and
2) The combination of the enhanced focus created by the beep and the thrill of feeling adaptation occur -- at that point I'd been swimming some 40 years and had never experienced adaptation so clearly -- would very likely prove addictive.

The adaptation of which I speak was of experiencing a particular tempo - in this instance 1.20 - as "Jeez I feel like I'm just spinning my arms" when I swam my first 50m with TT. Then, about 20 min later - after backing up to 1.30 and coming down to 1.20 in increments of .01 sec - experiencing 1.20 as "I've got all the time in the world to make my catch."

Here's the excerpt from p. 68 of the Outside the Box ebook.
>>I first used the TT in a 50-meter pool in the summer of 2006. Its first invaluable service was to alert me to how slow my tempo had become. I’d spent more than a decade focused single-mindedly on increasing Stroke Length. As I related earlier, that required tradeoffs--primarily giving up some SR. After so many years of trading SR for SL, I had a more efficient stroke but had imprinted a habit of stroking rather slowly. I did my first lap with the ST at a relatively unhurried 1.20 sec/stroke but felt like I was spinning my wheels trying to keep up.
So I reset the TT to 1.30. That felt more manageable, similar to 2nd or 3rd gear. I then swam 10 x 50, advancing beep frequency by .01 between 50s. (I.e., 1.29, 1.28 . . . 1.21, 1.20). That 500 meter set, which took only about 10 minutes, was as eye-opening as any set I’d swum in 40 years. Here are six reasons why:
1) At 1.30, I took 34 strokes to swim 50 meters. As I increased frequency, I discovered I could hold my SL surprisingly consistent. Through constant focus on Patient Catch, by the end I’d added only one stroke. Though there was no pace clock, I mentally calculated that 35 strokes @ 1.2 was faster than 34 strokes @ 1.3. (Later, using a calculator, I found it was exactly 2.5 seconds faster. Allowing 3 beeps for pushoff, 37 beeps x 1.3 = 48.1 seconds; 38 beeps x 1.2 = 45.6 seconds.) Analyzing this set was the first time I fully appreciated the math of speed and realized that the combination of stroke count and beep frequency (SR) made the pace clock almost irrelevant. If I could keep SPL fairly constant while speeding up the beeps, I had to go faster.
2) I was surprised at how quickly my nervous system adapted to an audible stimulus. A change in SR of .1 second may seem trivial, but it can add significant speed at a sufficiently high Stroke Length. Swimming 2.5 seconds faster over 50-meters converts to 75 seconds faster for 1500-meter pace and 3:10 faster for a 2.4-mile Ironman swim. Even without considering how much it improved my 50-meter pace, I was struck by how a 1.20 tempo that felt rushed only 10 minutes earlier, had quickly become comfortable. I realized the secret was adjusting by hundredth-of-a-second increments.
3) I was particularly excited that I had simply gone faster just by keeping up with the beep as it went faster. (Caution: If my SPL had increased by three, I’d have swum slower at the higher tempo.) I’m always excited when I discover a new way to cultivate Voodoo Speed that just happens rather than by trying to go faster.
4) I realized the true cost of inefficiency. Few swimmers count strokes consistently enough to know when they’ve added one. Having counted for years, I was always alert to lost efficiency. This was the first time I grasped that every additional stroke represented lost time since, at a beep frequency of 1.2 seconds, every additional stroke adds that much to my time.
5) Conscious that every added stroke increased my final time, I became even more focused on each stroke. In particular, I became aware of how even a single stroke that felt slightly rushed would add strokes-–and seconds.
6) Though I’d practiced Mindful Swimming for years, this set exposed me to a deeper level of focus. By synchronizing hand-hits to the beep stimulus, I was focused purely on what matters-–how SL and SR combine-–and the sensations that tell me I’m keeping my strokes efficient as SR increases.>>

Chapters 11 and 12 describe the systematic approach I developed for "marrying" Stroke Length and Stroke Rate to improve pace while controlling effort. That helped me "turn back the clock" on my distance swimming times by about 12 years in 2006. My times, at 55, were faster than any I'd done since age 43.
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Last edited by terry : 05-26-2010 at 10:40 AM.
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  #5  
Old 05-26-2010
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Default Open water race requirements

I'd also check to see whether it's legal to use in each particular race

The goal of using the tempo trainer should be to experiment and sharpen your focus on the optimal rhythm in each pace of swimming, but (unlike most triathlons), most open water races do not allow timing aids or tempo monitors. Check with a race director before using one in competition.
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Old 05-26-2010
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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I love this thread. I love the original poster's revelations, his description and insight into how the feeling of the tempo changed as his race evolved, the physical manifestations of the increased exertions, Terry's comments on how physical training "happens", and the OPs repeated experimentation with the TT.

I just love it.

And I love Dave for reminding us of the rules.
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  #7  
Old 05-26-2010
sasquatch sasquatch is offline
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Wink TT addict

I think I hate Dave for reminding me that I'm a cheater. Only joking Dave, I think it's a good point.

Back to my cheating...I used the TT in a 10k last summer. Not the entire time, I just wanted to have it available to check my SR every so often, and make sure I wasn't slowing down towards the end. It was my first timed open water "race" and I justified my use because I wasn't competing, just trying to reach my personal goal. Prior to the race I set it at 1.20 (my goal SR for the swim) and slid it up in my cap. I turned it on a couple of times for 2-3 minutes to check how I was doing, then shut it back off and went back to playing in the waves. I checked it for the last time with about 1000 m to go then shut it off and swam at a slightly higher SR for the rest of the race. (I have no idea what that higher SR was).

I was generally pretty close to the 1.20 each time I checked, but in portions of the race I added a slight "limp" to my stroke to help me breathe at the crest and surf down the back side of the waves to get a little extra rest. I don't know that using it really helped me too much during the actual race. But the time spent training with it at my goal pace helped me to know the feeling of a pace I could reasonably maintain over a long swim.
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Old 05-26-2010
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Default Hey now

I'm glad I can inspire love and hate
There ARE open water races without as many rules. Not every open water race is USMS sanctioned, and most USAT events allow for pacing tools like monitors and the like. Tempo trainers are OK in those situations. I'm not an advocate for SwiMP3s in busy (boats and such) waters, but tempo trainers and MP3s are amazing open water tools. Most people need better planning and appreciation of detail work in open water.
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  #9  
Old 05-27-2010
ynotcat ynotcat is offline
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I use the TT in 2 different ways in open water swimming. In addition to the traditional one beep per stroke method, sometimes, I'll set it to beep every 60 seconds. Then I can count strokes between beeps to see what my natural stroke rate is. I did this recently after not using my TT at all for about 6 months. I was surprised to see that my comfortable long distance open water SR had creeped up from about 55 to over 60, with no resultant increase in speed. I can check my speed in OW, because I usually swim at Ala Moana Park, where the swim course is marked off every 500 meters. I also normally swim with two friends who swim almost the exact same speed that I do.

So, I developed a plan to swim with the TT set at about 1.14 to 1.16 ( approx. 52 SPM) for the next couple of weeks while trying to keep pace with my swim partners. Then, once I can do that easily, I will gradually increase the TT setting by .01 increments to see if I can hold a longer SL at the higher SR, and pull away from the others on the 500 meter segments we normally swim.

My first session at the lower TT setting was a couple of days ago on a 6 X 500 m swim with my 2 swim partners. It was a good challenge for me. The extra time spent on each stroke gave me good opportunity to concentrate on maximum efficiency (good body roll, patient catch, head low while breathing, relaxed recovery, active streamlining etc) Since stroking faster was not an option for me, I had to really work at maximizing everything I got from each stroke in order to keep up with the others. I was able to keep up for most of the swim, so I believe that I was swimming about as fast as I do at the higher SR. The next morning, I woke up with a slight soreness in my abs and lats. I took this as a good sign that I was engaging my core muscles more. Now, I believe I need to swim at this lower SR for a few weeks to build up some solid layers of myelin before I start gradually increasing my SR back up to 60.

Any thoughts or alternate ideas on how I could work on this over the next few weeks?
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  #10  
Old 05-28-2010
ewa.swimmer ewa.swimmer is offline
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I like the idea of setting the TT to 60 sec and then counting strokes. In Kona
I swim part of the Iron Man course 3-4 times a week. It too has marked distances. I am worried about counting for a minute. I can see me forgetting what number I'm on when I'm concentrating on my stroke or "Look at that turtle." or "Ooh, what a pretty fish." or "Is that dolphins I hear?"
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