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  #1  
Old 05-02-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Default Benefits of Big Yardage

Cranking out lots of distance for its own sake runs counter to the TI approach for very good reasons. Still, the 10 mile swim I am doing in July is a big step up for me, and I figured I would benefit from occasional high-yardage sessions.

Today I swam 5,000m (25m pool), broken mostly into sets of 5 x 200 with intense focus on switching SPL up and down from 14 to 16, experimenting with different combinations. By the last few repeats, I found myself settling into my stroke in entirely new ways:

1) I found myself being more patient with my lead hand, and as a result, having a better anchor with my forearm.

2) I remembered the "Engaged Core Results" thread posted recently and started to direct awareness there with (I think) good results--it felt like my body, especially my abdomen, was stretched out much longer in the water, and tighter, with better productive body tension helping balance and streamline.

3) I started to feel less rotation in my upper body, a flatter swim, and more rotation in my hips--felt like a good combination.

These three sensations were quite new (or in case of #1, something I hadn't paid attention to lately). I'm sure that it was only swimming so far basically without interruption that let them rise into my awareness. I never get around to feeling these sensations with shorter sessions--similar to open water, where you don't have a wall interrupting the feel every 25m.

So, mindless yardage for its own sake = bad; big yardage swum mindfully = good. Has anyone else experienced this?

Any thoughts on how to best incorporate occasional big yardage sessions? Or advice NOT to do it? I'm making this 10-miler training up as I go along, but I think longer sessions will bring a level of confidence and comfort that will be essential to me as a first-timer.

What do you think?
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  #2  
Old 05-02-2015
trysixty trysixty is offline
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Not sure why long distance workouts is counter to TI? The more time your in the water the harder mentally it is (for me at least) to keep perfect TI form. I want to experience that in practice and not be surprised in a race.

Why do runners do at least one 20 mile /long distance run each week preparing for a marathon? Why do triathletes do at least several/many 80-100 miles rides before an IM?

Your 10 mile swim is equivalent to a 40 mile run or a 120 bike ride, a very significant athletic achievement........I'd be doing several 5+ miles OW swims and/or 10,000 yd/m pool workouts before I'd attempt a 10 mile swim. Best of luck!!! and be safe!!
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  #3  
Old 05-03-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Originally Posted by trysixty View Post
Not sure why long distance workouts is counter to TI?
Check out Terry's Spring Training thread--where he is accomplishing a LOT of gains on very low yardage. His last post in particular addresses this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trysixty View Post
The more time your in the water the harder mentally it is (for me at least) to keep perfect TI form.
And maybe this is why I perceive long yardage sessions as counter to TI--it's more likely to lose focus and start practicing struggle?

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Originally Posted by trysixty View Post
Your 10 mile swim is equivalent to a 40 mile run or a 120 bike ride, a very significant athletic achievement........I'd be doing several 5+ miles OW swims and/or 10,000 yd/m pool workouts before I'd attempt a 10 mile swim. Best of luck!!! and be safe!!
Thanks--that's definitely my plan, at least for this first attempt--open water might be warm enough here in a couple of weeks. I'm curious how my long-swim training will evolve, maybe toward less yardage, less need to practice long swims once I'm confident of being able to complete the distance. I think Terry has done marathon events on some pretty low yardage training because of tight mental focus, and that's something that intrigues me.

But I am curious about whether the occasional long yardage session might let people "settle into" their stroke in new ways and bring new insights, even if they're not training for a long event--that's what I found myself with my 5,000m session Friday.
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  #4  
Old 05-04-2015
trysixty trysixty is offline
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-there is always exception...guys who can run sub 2:20 marathons on 50 miles a week or do a sub 5 hour IM bike on just a couple 50 mile rides every week.If your one of them, you are luckily (I wasn't).

-losing mental focus on TI stroke in practice is not a bad thing IMO. It provides me with an opportunity to do my 4R drill (Relax,Rethink,Refocus,Relax).

- the water is cold here also now (48-52F) and i have very low body fat. I did 2500m in the lake yesterday and struggled with my technique/stroke because of the temperature for the first 400m. Eventually got it together thru a lot of self evaluation.....glad I did it
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Old 05-04-2015
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post

So, mindless yardage for its own sake = bad; big yardage swum mindfully = good. Has anyone else experienced this?
Yes Tom! And I would also add that (imho) "building the engine" does not necessarily mean being mindless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post

Any thoughts on how to best incorporate occasional big yardage sessions? Or advice NOT to do it? I'm making this 10-miler training up as I go along, but I think longer sessions will bring a level of confidence and comfort that will be essential to me as a first-timer.

What do you think?
I use to do a descending 10x400m main set once every 2 weeks. I find it very beneficial (maybe I'd better do it every week): it gives me confidence as you say, and plenty of time to think to different focal points, pay attention on technique and assess what works best (the real challenge often starts in the last 2 reps).

Last but not least, I enjoy it. Actually I think anyone interested in long distance swimming should by definition enjoy some long swims every once in a while, not only short reps and short yardage, no?

Terry's approach is indeed brilliant and fascinating. I tried something similar 2 years ago but it didn't work for me. Anyway I'll want to give it another try again (perhaps the next fall, when I'll be done with my current experimentation, which is devoting a full year to solid aerobic/CSS training).
It's also incredible how he could swim the MIMS with only 15k/week training. But I think you need to really have mastery to achieve his outcomes with such low yardage. Someone like me and you would feel way more confident with some more yardage under the belt.
I also think that improving pace by 4% in less than 2 weeks is possible only when you start training, then the more you improve the harder it is to improve more of course. It would be interesting to measure the overall improvement after one entire season (as I'm doing this year with CSS/aerobic training) or a reasonably long period anyway.

Cheers,
Salvo
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  #6  
Old 05-06-2015
terry terry is offline
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Default Questions to consider when you think about Yardage

Tom
Thanks for posing the question that started this thread. Salvo and Trysixty, thank you for contributing. I would love to see this thread draw in far more people. I'll promote it on the TI Facebook page in a way that will draw the curious.

For sure, your comments are helpful at reminding me that my ability to not only create tremendous change with a very minimal amount of yourdage--and my confidence to attempt long swims on quite minimal training is probably fairly rare and I must keep in mind the concerns and needs of the largest number when writing my "Swim Less" book. Comments in this thread are thus invaluable to helping me clarify my thinking on what questions to address in there.

My favorite quote on a justification for doing Big Yardage training came from Gennadi Touretski in a NY Times article prior to the 2000 Olympics. The reporter asked why Popov occasionally trained 5 hrs per day for an event that lasted only 48 seconds.

Touretski replied: "More opportunities to practice correct technique." I guarantee that 99% of coaches would answer instead "Superior fitness."

So let me clarify that doing higher volume training is in no way counter to TI thinking or methodology.

Rather doing more purely for the sake of 'getting the yards in' (an incredibly common catchphrase among coaches and swimmers) IS antithetical to our thinking. As I think you know, most people who think big yardage is important do it to try to get a bit more fit.

But they award no medals for fitness in swimming races. They award medals for swimming at faster paces than others--and that is inarguably due to being able to maintain better combinations of SL/SR at the least effort and least energy waste.

When one proposes to do more yardage, one must consider it from multiple perspectives:
1) The length of the repeat
2) The duration of the set.
3) The total volume of the practice
4) The weekly total and its effect on your freshness, staleness or general fatigue level.

I won't get into all of those here--though I'll answer all such questions clearly and completely in the Swim Less book. Suffice t say I believe pretty strongly in the efficacy of relatively short repeats. I do 10% of less of my training in repeats longer than 200m. Plain and simple: I swim the same yardage markedly faster (i.e. imprinting better combinations of SL/SR) as, say, 8 x 100, rather than 2 x 400 or 1 x 800.

What I consider very good reasons for increasing yardage -- whether lengthening a repeat, set or total practice -- include:
1) You're pretty confident it's improving your swimming--tweaking or imprinting a skill, deepening focus.
2) You enjoy it--and feel as if you are at least maintaining good skill and focus.
3) It's building your confidence--again without compromising efficiency or focus.

I completed my first MIMS in 2002 (age 51) on 12 weeks of approximately 15,000 yds per week (a third to half or less of the training done by other participants). I did that to test the thesis that one could comfortably complete an ultra swim on quite ordinary training--by focusing intently on swimming with economy. I swam very easily during most of it, and that was how I swam the MIMS.

However, included in that total were two practices of 3hrs and 10,000 yards, which I did three weeks and two weeks prior to the event. In both instances my objective was to test my readiness by being able to complete these practices feeling MORE energized at the completion than I had at the start. I achieved that and it was a big confidence-builder. My total yardage in those two weeks was closer to 20,000 because of the inclusion of the longer Friday practice. (Note: Those practices were composed mainly of short-yardage, short-rest repeats at quite low HRs, with very strong focus. The FLOW experience was incredible. I was also trying to train myself to enter Flow states at will, wanting very much to maximize that aspect of the MIMS.

In contrast, in 2010, at age 59, I completed three cycles of one week at 25,000m, one week at 30,000m, and one week at 38,000m (the best-route distance across English Channel) in preparation for a planned series of four marathons--I completed two and abandoned the last two. However I also did that training program as a learning experience--to learn how I could not just survive, but thrive on the highest training volume of my life near the end of my 6th decade.

I did it by swimming two periods per week of 40 minutes at very brisk paces--and everything else at recovery pace. And probably 49% or more of my training volume was in open water. My longest swim during that period was a 15K in LaJolla Cove (with brief hydration breaks at 5K and 10K. It's 5K from the cove to the Scripps Oceanographic Institute pier.) I left my water bottle on the beach in the cove.
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  #7  
Old 05-06-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Terry,

thanks for sharing your thoughts here in such detail. It all makes sense to me. I've run a bunch of marathons and a few ultras as well, which makes me think there's another justification for including longer sessions, and longer repeats within those sessions:

More opportunities to practice technique and mental focus when you are already tired.

That, after all, is when focus and technique really start paying big dividends--and when they are most likely to be abandoned if you haven't practiced applying them under those conditions. I used to wish there were a way to skip the first 20 miles of a long run just to get to the really useful part--maintaining the target pace and relaxation when tired. I'm kind of thinking of my 10 miler training the same way (although I enjoy the swimming so much I don't ever feel like skipping the first couple of hours of a distance session).

I'm curious about the relationship between wanting to imprint better SPL and SR combinations (suggesting shorter repeats/sessions and longer rests) vs. wanting to practice holding on to SPL and SR combinations and retaining relaxation as you get more and more tired (suggesting longer repeats/sessions, and shorter rests).

Anyone have thoughts about that?
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Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 05-06-2015 at 11:30 PM.
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  #8  
Old 05-07-2015
trysixty trysixty is offline
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Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
It all makes sense to me.

LOL.......
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  #9  
Old 05-07-2015
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CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
...It all makes sense to me. I've run a bunch of marathons and a few ultras as well, which makes me think there's another justification for including longer sessions, and longer repeats within those sessions:

More opportunities to practice technique and mental focus when you are already tired.

I'm curious about the relationship between wanting to imprint better SPL and SR combinations (suggesting shorter repeats/sessions and longer rests) vs. wanting to practice holding on to SPL and SR combinations and retaining relaxation as you get more and more tired (suggesting longer repeats/sessions, and shorter rests).

Anyone have thoughts about that?
Hi Tom,

Running a marathon and swimming a marathon are at opposite ends. Although I often read 26.2 run is equivalent to a 10k swim. I have found at the end of 26.2 run - that's it, can't go any further, walking back to my car is a painful chore. After swimming a 10k, feels like I could jump in and do another, and once did a 2 mile swim with a student shortly after 10k (his event was held just after my event)

In running, each step is 3-5g depending on your stride length, a lot of pounding on the legs and body. Running marathons has been one of the toughest physically for me, especially the last 10k. I'm no Boston qualifier, but normally around 4h pace. Swimming you are near weightless, no pounding on the body having to support 3x body weight each stride (or stroke).

I have not done a 10 miler yet, but several 10k's. The swim has never been physically tiring, but remaining metal focused has been my biggest issue, especially when hitting 2 hours into the swim. My mind will drift and my stroke gets a bit sloppy, but then I'm aware something is going sour and will snap our of it and refocus on priorities. My longest (continuous) ow swims before 10k were usually 2-3 miles once a week, daily pool time 45-60 mins of short focused practice sets. As Terry noted previously, practicing 'economy of movement'; whether pool sets or ow continuous swims, each stroke I took had a specific thought and economy consequence, minimum effort - maximum result. This all measured through SL, SR and PE (perceived exertion).

That said, when I do a channel swim, Anacapa or Catalina, my ow practice swims will move into the 3h - 5h hour marks primarily to train my brain to remain mentally sharp, not necessarily for physical endurance. Although the physical part will happen as a consequence.

Stuart
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Old 05-07-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal View Post
Hi Tom,

...

I have not done a 10 miler yet, but several 10k's. The swim has never been physically tiring, but remaining metal focused has been my biggest issue, especially when hitting 2 hours into the swim. My mind will drift and my stroke gets a bit sloppy, but then I'm aware something is going sour and will snap our of it and refocus on priorities.

...

That said, when I do a channel swim, Anacapa or Catalina, my ow practice swims will move into the 3h - 5h hour marks primarily to train my brain to remain mentally sharp, not necessarily for physical endurance. Although the physical part will happen as a consequence.

Stuart
I think I know what you mean about the difference between running long vs. swimming long. I'm about a 4 hour marathoner/11+ hour 50 miler myself, so no speedster at all, but it always feels physically tougher than swimming. It'll be interesting to see how well I can maintain focus and comfort on a long swim, that's for sure. That, more than physical endurance, is why I'll include longer sessions.

Any idea when you're going to do a channel swim? I'm curious whether this first big swim for me will be something of a gateway drug to other, bigger, swims. I suppose I have to finish it first before I worry about that!

Tom
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