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  #1  
Old 01-30-2013
terry terry is offline
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Default 30 Day Improvement Project - Freestyle

This will be an unusual month. Rather than a single improvement project I'll be doing two of them concurrently. The second will be to see how much I can improve on the baseline set I did today
100 + 200 + 300 + 400 FR at a tempo of 1.2 sec/stroke.
I'm assigning this project to coaches who will attend TI Coach Certification Course later this month, so I decided to do it alongside them. I invite anyone else who would like to participate to join in.
I rested 15 seconds after the 100, 30 seconds after the 200 and 45 seconds after the 300.
My times were
100 1:27
200 2:57 (100y pace of 1:28+)
300 4:25 (pace of 1:28+)
400 5:50 (pace of 1:27.5)

My goal was to maintain constant pace as distance increased. Since tempo was constant, I must strive to maintain constant SPL to accomplish that. I definitely found my neural threshold on this set.

Here's the complete practice
Wed Jan 30 2600y at SUNY
Today my practice included several sets that featured breaststroke
Tuneup Set:
3 x 400 3-Stroke Medley.
I've adopted this as a standard tuneup set in the last two months.
It's 25FR @ 13SPL + 25 BK @ 14SPL + 25 BR @ 7 SPL continuously.
I did #s ! & 2 in those stroke counts and my times were 7:31 and 7:16
On #2 I improved 15 seconds, without increasing effort. I simply felt better tuned to the task, and completed each length in the assigned SPL more easily.
On #3 I added 1SPL to each stroke (14FR15BK8BR) and improved my time another 18 seconds to 6:58, a nice return for adding 16 strokes.

Set #2 Freestyle Baseline Set - summarized above

Following the 'effortful' baseline set, I did 200 Long Axis Combo as a recovery then finished with this set
4 x 50 BR on 1:15 I held 6+7SPL throughout and tried to descend. My times were 56-55-54-53, making this a better set than my 4 x 50 BR yesterday, on which my total time was the same, but today I took 3 fewer strokes on each 50.
See yesterday's practice, with my breaststroke baseline set.
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Old 02-01-2013
AWP AWP is offline
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Terry,
I've happily and eagerly jumped on this wagon having begun my backstroke improvement a bit late due to several things, regardless...
I've also taken to your 3 stroke medley warm up and have made big improvements since. Your practices come timely, as usual, as I too look to segue into breast stroke focus and (now) freestyle 'distance' practices. I usually play with some level of practice in the other strokes this time of year but have thus far excluded any fly focus, perhaps next month?
I'll share some sets I've used to help me make improvements, your examples included, as well as part of your Wednesday session and my go and results.

3 stroke medley:
25FR @14spl 25BK@15spl 25BR@9spl for 400 yds continuously.
Began this set at the start of the new year strictly as an acclimation to a smooth transition between stroke changes and more to get use to it on a continual set for 400 yards. Could I have done it at a shorter distance? Sure, but I wanted to set a higher mark for myself having been side tracked over all in my practices over the past year or so. This would help re ignite my interest and focus and so far so good. I did begin with a broken 400, pausing after each 100 until I felt I could put it all together. Then I would mark my time and head for improvement.
My first marked time was @ 8:30s+. Next marked time 8:23 about one week later. From there I was able to begin with the set, continually, with out any broken warm ups and improved my time to just over 8:00 (+5-10sec). At this point I focused on stroke length, holding to it and trying to make it feel 'easier' each time as a whole set or as sgments of backstroke or freestyle practice (no real focus on brst at this point).
Last week I was happy when I broke the 8:00 min mark for 7:50s. Now, in yesterday's session, in two consecutive 400 repeats of this set ( wpart of Terry's practice) I was thrilled to come in on an improved time of 7:38 on the first and 7:17 on the second!
Now, I did allow myself to add strokes on my backstroke lengths on the first and on all strokes' lengths on the second. My spl on the 7:17: 400 as 25FR@ 15spl 25BK@ 18spl 25BR@ 9spl.
Because I feel my breast stroke is the stroke I want to support at my current spl and effort, I tried to 'speed up' my backstroke lengths to primarily make it, at this stage, feel easier, more rhythmic and help me transition more supportive of the following breast stroke length, holding at 9spl.
I may experiment next with each of the strokes' lengths, allowing added strokes on one stroke style at a time and mark any 'observation' or outcomes.I already know what's happened with added backstrokes!

I began my backstroke focus about the same time as the medley and had worked my way from a seemingly effortful 50 yards for a 1;10 marked time @ 15/14 spl. Eventually I was able to improve focus and effort with sets like this:
4x50 backstroke
1x50 EZ free
4x50 backstroke
1x100 EZ free

I would play with spls on all and on adding as a ladder within each set and within each repeat.
Then, what felt like the best set I'd had to date, descending a round smoothly and evenly from 1:03- 1:02- 1:01- 1:00 @ 16spl and again from 1:00- :59- :58-:57 @ 15spl I was able to repeat the 'effort' from :59 to :56 @ 15-16spl.
My goal is to have a set @ the same spl or perhaps one plus. And a marked time of :51/52- :48.

Likewise, my breast stroke focus is following a similar path, as I transition focus, bringing me a bit of improvement with yesterday's base sets of 4x50s descending :59- :59 (glimpse :58)- :57- :55! I'll look to make that easy with complete spl control and check for improvement.
I took 9spl on that set but for the last, where I added at least one more but also added more focus on a firmer 'hold' before the recovery to spearing forward. I definitely felt this in my lower torso.keeping the a focus on relaxed and streamlined legs behind during this phase I fond essential. I'll also experiment with this because I feel I may be on to something that will help with further improvement and ease. The focus part, on multiple things, will be the work for my brain to make habit.

Some other sets I use:
550s free practice
50- 100- 150- 200-50
Since I haven't replaced my TT, mostly spl focus, with w/o pace time eg on 1 min. Per 50

3 stroke 550s
25BK
50BK+ 25BR
25BK+ 50BR
50BK+ 50BR
50BR+ 25FR
25BR+ 50FR
50BR+ 50FR
25FR

Or

2x25BK
50BK
75BK or (50BK+ 25BR)
100BK or (50BK+ 50BR)
100FR or (50BR+ 50FR)
75FR or (25BR+ 50FR)
50FR
2x25FR

Thanks for the continued inspiration, I'm having fun and staying sane ; )

Cheers
Alan

P.S. Give me a break I haven't posted in a while. I'll be posting practices more precisely : )

Last edited by AWP : 02-02-2013 at 07:56 PM.
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  #3  
Old 02-01-2013
terry terry is offline
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Alan
I smile when I see you post, and when I think of you doing the most purposeful and most enjoyable practices of any swimmer on Long Island! I'm delighted to have you join me on this journey. As usual, you have inspired ideas about designing sets-as-tasks.
You should rent a lane and offer a coached practice-with-purpose group once a week. You would soon need a second lane, then a third. Then another day. Then . . .
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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  #4  
Old 02-02-2013
terry terry is offline
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Default My Mission: Not one lap @ 15SPL

Fri Feb 1 2600y in 50 min at SUNY

I swam yesterday in the Endless Pool, 30 min repeating cycles of 80 strokes BK, 40 strokes BR and 60 strokes FR. I started at a very gentle current speed and slightly increased current after each cycle -- trying to maintain the sense of leisure and relaxation in my strokes. I'll continue this pattern of swimming six days a week, alternating one day in the Endless, doing 30 min at restorative paces, with one day in a lap pool (SUNY), doing about 50 min at brisker paces, trying to improve the metrics (SPL/Tempo/Duration) of a new improvement project every 40 days.

I should also share here an update on my resolution shared in my blog post First 2013 Resolution -- A Regular Yoga Practice

My resolution -- intentionally modest to enhance my chances at success -- was to do yoga for a minimum of 25 minutes on five consecutive days. Once I'd completed that, I decided to carry on with a goal of doing yoga at least 5 days a week. With January over, I count that resolution a big success.

I did yoga 26 days out of 31, never missed more than one consecutive day, and today was my 11th consecutive day of practice, carrying the streak into a new month. You can see the whole report in this blog post.

Here's today's practice
Set #1
2 rounds of 400 3-Stroke Medley
#1 7:47; #2 7:31
I found it difficult today to hold my prescribed stroke counts so a bit of gliding into walls on #1. I adjusted stroke length on #2 and thus went faster simply by swimming into each wall, not gliding in.

Set #2 'Asymmetric Tempo Pyramid'
10 x 50 - 1-4 tempo slowing by .1; 5-10 tempo getting faster by .05
I started and finished with tempo at 1.20 - the tempo I held on my baseline set of 100+200+300+400 on Monday.
I took 28 strokes for the first 50, 23 strokes on #4 (at 1.50) and only 26 on #10 (at 1.20 again).

Set #3 Challenge Set
Swim 3 x 100 + 2 x 150 + 1 x 200 @ 1.20 tempo. Then swim 150 @ 1.19, 100 @ 1.16 and 50 @ 1.14
The challenge I gave myself was to never take 15SPL as repeat distance increased (but tempo remained the same) and repeat distance decreased (but tempo got faster). It took great focus but I never exceeded 14SPL, a significant improvement already over Wednesday's baseline set.

I planned to finish with 4 x 75 BR at 7+8+9 SPL, but felt knee strain on #2 so I called it a day.
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  #5  
Old 02-05-2013
AWP AWP is offline
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My practice for Monday February 4 YMCA 25 yd pool

Tune-up 400 medley
25FR @ 14 spl
25BK @ 16 spl
25BR @ 9 spl
25FR @ 14spl
(7:58)
After a weekend off I eased back into this set as I would repeat it again in this practice at least twice. My intent was on, well, tune-up.

1000 Freestyle 'Base'
100FR (1:34)
200FR (3:14)
300FR (4:44
400FR (6:14)
(100FR (1:30))
I began my PFI (plan for improvement) on this set modestly, hoping to progressively and steadily improve my "metrics" as I test and retest along the way. I wanted to set myself up for successes (aware that i can swim better times) as motivation as well as ingraining any gains better. This is my "fall back line", I do not want to swim slower than this, as I proceed, considering the effort level.
I took short breaks after each repeat, maybe 15 sec.,and will extend the breaks on each successive repeat as I retest.
I felt my pace from the initial 100 would be off on the 200 and the time confirmed it, +6 sec.. On the 300 I improved a bit, same metrics, but still +2 sec. off pace. On the 400 I improved again, this time -2 sec. from pace.
I'll need to get a new TT to assist me here but hopefully I'll continue to be able to control my efforts and metrics through spls, time and mojo.
I did an added 100 @ the end of this set to continue my 'improved' pace and did. I wanted to leave the set confident.

400 medley broken
2x2x200
3:39- 3:36 (7:15)
3:36- 3:34 (7:10)
Made some adjustment to spls but felt good on the long axis strokes.

200 backstroke
4x50
16spl :59
15spl :58
14spl :56
13/15spl :52 !!
This set put a smile on my face. It's 'hard' enough to develop a sense of control on more than one metric and descend time, but do it and decrease spl!? I just sensed during the medley sets that my backstroke lengths were improving (I'll have to nail just why), that's why I tried this set. My feel was there, and although I took an added two strokes on the return length of the last repeat, I had never marked that time so easily; quicker times yes, but not that control.
Now, push offs were a focus on all as I wanted a smooth, streamlined beginning, and I guess got it. had my BK mojo on so I continued with the next set of single lengths @ the same spl.

4x 25 BK
:27 > :25
Smoother, quicker, stronger turns next...

Long Axis Combo
2x 100FR/BK as
100 @ 25FR 25BK on 14/15spl (1:42)
100 @ 25LAC 25BK 25LAC 25FR

Bonus 50FR @ 14spl (28) and :41
Wanted to leave the session confident

Last edited by AWP : 02-05-2013 at 08:48 PM.
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  #6  
Old 02-05-2013
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWP View Post
200 backstroke
4x50
16spl :59
15spl :58
14spl :56
13/15spl :52 !!
This set put a smile on my face. It's 'hard' enough to develop a sense of control on metrics and descend time, but do it and decrease spl!? I just sensed during the medley sets that my backstroke lengths were improving (I'll have to nail just why), that's why I tried this set.
Alan
I love this rationale. I do get the impression from reading your practices that your approach to planning is--like mine--highly intuitive. And your decision to progress from here to 4 x 25 bk then finish up with a Long Axis combo strikes me as very similar to a thinking process I might have followed.

And I'd like to give particular recognition to the high level SPL/pace control skill you exhibited in descending from 32 strokes and 59 seconds on the first 50 to 28 strokes and 52 sec on the 4th. Improving two metrics is something few can do.
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My TI Story
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Old 02-05-2013
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No one more thrilled than I on this. I'll look to repeat this , same order, and report.
Thx
Alan
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Old 02-05-2013
terry terry is offline
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Tues Feb 5 3400y at SUNY

I worked mainly on my freestyle improvement project but also did a short set targeting my breaststroke improvement project with very satisfying results on both.
Tuneup Set
4 x 100 Easy Medley (25FR25BK25BR25FR) on 2:00
500 FR at 14SPL
100 EZ
Notes: I started out with the intent to do my usual 400 continuous medley (at 13/14/7 SPL for FR/BK/BR) but felt a bit off on the 1st 100 so I decided to do 4 x 100 instead. I held the assigned stroke count and descended from 1:50 to 1:43, never breaking a sweat.
On the 500 FR I felt silky synchronicity on nearly every stroke and turn. My time was 7:23, which I was pleased with considering it felt virtually effortless. I feel it's valuable to do timed swims striving to explore the best times you can produce on effort-less swims, as much as on effortful swims.

Freestyle Challenge Set
5 x 100 on 1:40 @ 1.20 tempo
4 x 125 on 2:10 @ 1.20
4 x 125 on 2:10 @ 1.19
5 x 100 on 1:40 @ 1.18
Notes: My goal on this set was the same as my goal on my challenge set last Friday -- to avoid exceeding 14SPL. My repeats were a bit shorter, but the overall set was longer and my rest intervals slightly tighter.
I was able to maintain 14SPL on the 1st set of 100s quite easily. It took a bit more concentration when I increased repeat distance to 125, and I could feel a 'creeping edge' of needing to add effort, but still mainly concentration on the 2nd set of 125 (with tempo increasing) and the final round of 100s, again with tempo getting faster.
The most interesting effect, which I've experienced many times on similar sets, was that I had the easiest time (experienced the least strain) finishing each length in 14 SPL on the final repeat of each round. This reaffirms my thesis that, when your training is neurally, instead of aerobically, oriented, the task you set yourself will often become easier as you do more repeats. When your focus is aerobic, you usually feel creeping fatigue as the set continues. I believe, in part, this is because your most conscious goal--while swimming--is to maintain a sense of ease and leisure while continuing to hit the metrics you've chosen.
A noteworthy aspect of this set -- also a key characteristic of neurally-oriented training--is that the task changed slightly (requiring my brain to adapt to new skill requirements) on each round.
From Round 1 to Round 2, tempo remained the same but repeat distance increased.
From Round 2 to Round 3, repeat distance remained the same but tempo increased.
From Round 3 to Round 4, repeat distance decreased, but tempo increased.

Breaststroke Set
4 x 50 on 1:15. Hold at 7+8 strokes. Descend times.
My times were 55-53-51-50 seconds. On Friday I swam the same set at 6+7 strokes with a cumulative 200 breast time of 3:38. Today, by adding 8 total strokes I swam a cumulative 200 breast time of 3:29, which is a very effective trade of strokes for seconds.
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Last edited by terry : 02-05-2013 at 09:21 PM.
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  #9  
Old 02-06-2013
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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I did the assigned test set tonight. Figure a coach should set a good example!!

I did 100-200-300-400 with 30 sec rest between each @ 1.2
Then 300-200-100 @ 1.15 with 30 seconds rest. 1 full minute rest between the up & down

Results:
up @ 1.2 sec/stroke
100 1:36 / 1:36 pace
200 3:20 / 1:40 pace
300 5:05 / 1:41.67 pace
400 6:50 / 1:42.5 pace
1 min rest
Down @ 1.15 sec/stroke
300 5:05 / 1:41.67 pace
200 3:23 / 1:41.5 pace
100 1:41 / 1:41 pace

Notes:
My first swim longer than 300 yards in about 2 weeks, so there's probabaly some fatigue and rust here. Also I didn't eat much today, had a Lara Uber bar about 90 minutes prior, but overall I felt "bonky" on this swim

UP @ 1.2 felt strong for the first 100 then strenuous. SPL was 14/15/15/16 on the first 100. From there SPL was generally 15 on the first length then mostly 16s & 17s.

1 min rest hardly felt like enough but I continued down.
Down @ 1.15 felt less strenuous but I also had a fair amount of fatigue by this point. I found I had more mental energy to think about my stroke and SPL was mostly 17 & 18 on the way down.

IN previous weeks 300 @ 1.15 were spot on 5 minutes, so the 5:05 up and down on this set is curious and I'll need further testing to diagnose what's going on...aside from lack of swimming.

What I'm curious about is that at my stroke length which is low for my height, am I better off swimming at faster tempos than Terry has prescribed because otehrwise it's a pure power swim and not fun...I run out of torque. If I ease back on the torque I add strokes which may be more sustainable...but the pace also slows.

Finally, I know from recent previous Time trials and warmups that a pace of 1:40/100 should feel nicely sustainable with a slight amount of push and a pace of 1:42/100 I can carry on for quite some time.

So mentally, peeking at the watch and seeing paces start at 1:40 and creep up was bothersome so I pushed to keep SPL low. Too low??


Terry, curiously awaiting your input on my next steps. My idea is to repeat the test set exactly as I've done, but go up on 1.15 and come back down on 1.10.

Conversely I could do shorter sets at 1.2, but strivng to maintain an SPL of 14/15 just doesn't seem to be the right path for me. I've spent a long time lowering SPL, then maintaining lowered SPL with increasing tempos. I feel I'm now at a place where I can continue to improve by lowering tempos and keeping SPL or allowing 1-2 to be added to find a new sweet spot equilibrium.

Just doing some fun math here:
Total distance 1600
Total time: 30:45
Total rest: 210 seconds (3:30)
Total swim time: 27:15
Avg swim pace: 1:42/100. I think I knew that already. But still...add half of that, 51 seconds to my total swim time for a 1650 time of 28:04. I'll take it for now, and work on improving it.

While I didn't do a 1650 TT, Iknow I was at my limte by the end of this set. Total time input into my swim predictor puts my potential 100PR at 1:21, which is spot on, but suggests I'm slacking on things like 300 & 500 TT.
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Last edited by CoachSuzanne : 02-06-2013 at 05:12 AM.
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Old 02-06-2013
AWP AWP is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post

Conversely I could do shorter sets at 1.2, but strivng to maintain an SPL of 14/15 just doesn't seem to be the right path for me.


It's my feeling from this Suzanne that you're right about spl and doubt Terry would 'prescribe' that for you @ this tempo.
Was 14/15 spl something you strived for or was it in fact the count you received after the initial 100 repeat.
I'd say stick with the prescribed tempo for now, at my most relaxed count, what ever that turns out to be and proceed with the repeats from there.
It may enhance your sense of balance as a bonus and perhaps allow you to scan-as-you-swim other parameters (?)

When doing pyramids/ladders I like to quicken the tempo as I go up, even part way through sometimes, and slow tempo a bit as I come down and see what happens; keeping within (my) spl range, something I may have appointed myself narrowly or broadly (depending on what my body tells me). When I do this I almost always find a good bit of efficiency while maintaining pace or better, quickening it at slower tempos! With this format I also almost always finish with a few lengths of the faster tempos and check my efficiency.
I mark times accordingly never holding myself to "where I should be" only how I felt with those metrics and results. If it was easy and time a bit 'slow' I work on efficiency until that "easy" feeling is quicker. If time was "pretty good" but I strained, I work on efficiency until the strain goes away and matches time; one metric at a time, then two... it aint easy ; )
Also, slowing tempo a bit as you "rise" and picking it up as you "fall" works wonders as you well know.

Just thinking out loud, thanks for sharing, you've given me some ideas. I'm glad you decided to post and hope others (coaches) will follow suit.

Best,
Alan
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