My First Masters Meet in 3 Years
I decided to repost my meet report on the Racing Forum to make it easier to find for those who do not happen to be following my Autumn 2015 Training Lab thread.
Sunday 13 December Masters Meet at Ithaca College
This was my first time racing in a pool in three years.
I went into this meet with fairly low expectations as to how fast I'd swim (I expected most of my events to be 'lifetime slowest') but very high expectations in every other regard. Some might see a conflict there.
I anticipated that regardless of the times I swam, the meet would be thoroughly enjoyable and very valuable.
My specific goals were to:
1) Learn exactly where I stand now, compared to past years. Nothing reveals this quite as fully as racing head-to-head with fellow swimmers.
2) Give a good effort (if not maximum, very close to it) in all five events and still be swimming well in my final event.
3) Come away from the meet with 'data' on my current capabilities that I can use to (a) set improvement goals for the next several weeks to two months (or whenever I swim another meet) and (b) to plot a course from here to the goals I have for Masters Nationals April 28 to May 1.
I was thrilled overall with how I responded to the environment of being in a meet and racing other swimmers--which is quite different from the solo practice I customarily do.
Here are results, splits, and my review of each event in the order I swam them. (All distances are in yards):
200 Free 2:31.59
50 Splits: 35.5 38.2 38.9 39.0
(1st 100: 1:13.7 2nd 100: 1:17.9)
Comments: Not my best splits. I slowed a bit every 50. I prefer my slowest 50 to be the 2nd, then get slightly faster on the 3rd and 4th. Consequently my 2nd 100 was over 4 sec slower than my first. Optimal splitting is to keep them within 2+ sec. I slowed this way because I felt 'acidotic' (lots of lactic acid in my muscles) during the final 100.
Even so I was pleased with my time, my time on a 'broken' 200 in practice last Wed was only 2:39.
100 Back 1:31.66
Comment: I was thoroughly pleased with this as it was more than a second faster than the last time I raced 100BK in a meet, over four years ago. I was also pleased with how well I split this--swimming the 2nd 50 in virtually the same time as the first. This came with 15 minutes of swimming a max effort for 200 Free. This showed how quickly I've responded to an increased emphasis on backstroke in practice--which I did after a pulled adductor muscle limited me to training only back and free.
500 Free 6:48.72
50 Splits: 39.0 41.6 42.0 41.8 42.1 41.5 41.0 40.5 39.7 39.6
1st 250: 3:25.5 2nd 250: 3:23.7
Comment: Another excellent race. For one thing I was in a racing situation on this with a swimmer in an adjacent lane and responded well to it. For another this was quite a bit faster than I'd expected. I'd done one 'broken' 500 in practice within the past two weeks and was very pleased that day to swim a 6:58. Going 10 sec faster was very satisfying. And the reason I swam a good time, and came from behind to finish ahead of the swimmer in the next lane was how well I split this.
I did my slowest split on the 5th 50 (coming into the halfway point of the race) then improved my pace slightly on each of the last five 50s. Consequently I swam the 2nd half of the race nearly 2 seconds faster than the first half--which is precisely how I aim to split 400m/500y events.
100 Free 1:10.95
50 Splits: 34.17 36.78
Comment: This is the race I feel I have the most room to improve. My stroke felt great for most of the 500. It felt ragged and discombobulated virtually the whole way in the 100. That's because I've done virtually no high-speed (i.e. 100y/m type speed) training or racing in years. I plan to do it quite regularly between now and April.
200 Back 3:12.2
:48.4 :48.7 :48.8 46.4
1st 100: 1:37.1 2nd 100: 1:35.4
Comment: I thought I was capable of swimming a bit faster than this--I'd swum 3:10 on a 'broken' 200 BK in practice two weeks ago, but I think the fact that it was my 5th event somewhat excuses that. And it was another event with very good splits -- pretty consistent over the first three 50s and 2 sec faster on the final 50. Consequently I negative split this.
How I'll use Information from these races
What I most look for in races is information. How do I respond to a competitive situation? How well do I pace? What is the 'math' of the paces I swim?
Let's take two of yesterday's races--500 FR and 200 BK to examine how I'll do that.
I have two critical pieces of data from these races--stroke count (I counted strokes in every race but the 100 FR) and time.
In both races I swam essentially the same stroke counts -- 17 SPL on 1st half and 18 SPL on 2nd half.
Over the next few weeks I can improve the 500 by doing the following
Swim 150y repeats in 17 or fewer strokes at paces of 2:04-2:05 or faster (slightly faster than the 50y paces I was holding in mid-race.
Swim 100y repeats in 16 or fewer strokes at paces of 1:22-1:23 (lower stroke count and faster paces than in the race.)
Swim 50y repeats in 15 or fewer strokes at paces of :40 to :41
To improve my 200 BK in the coming weeks I'll swim a set of perhaps 3 x broken 200 (4 x 50 with 10 sec rest between) at :47 sec/50 and 16-17 strokes. I.E. Slightly more efficient (on stroke count) and slightly faster than during the race.
By doing this I will program my nervous system to slightly greater Stroke Length and Stroke Rate than I attained during yesterday's races.
I will strive to swim these repeats feeling as controlled, relaxed, smooth, and stable as possible.
To see how successful I am at achieving the practice goals I've set, follow my posts on the Autumn 2015 Training Lab thread.
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist
May your laps be as happy as mine.
My TI Story
Last edited by terry : 12-14-2015 at 08:03 PM.
I also posted this race report on my Training Lab thread on the Favorite Practices and Sets conference.
Forum member Andyinnorway asked:
>>Could you share some information about how you prepare on the day of a meet and any warm up you would do before the first race, or is it actually smart to enter an event prior to your main goal to use as warm up time?
Is it normal to have a second pool for warm up at US masters events?>>
Great questions. I'll answer the 2nd first.
At USMS events, it's required to provide continuous warmup throughout the meet. If there's not a 2nd pool, then 1 or 2 lanes--those on the ends--are reserved for continuous warmup.
Ithaca College has a 50mx25y pool. There were 8 lanes in the racing course. On the other side of a bulkhead, many more lanes for warmup.
Saturday I ached all over and that night my sleep was interrupted by neuropathy (nerve pain) both symptoms of an autoimmune condition I've had for 8 years. So Sunday morning I did 30 min of gentle yoga. I felt much better after that and all day, so I'm going to continue that morning routine. Now to the 1st question
A Brief 'Essay' on Warmup/Tuneup
In college (1968-72), we did the same warmup every single workout for four years -- 800 Swim, 200 Pull, 200 Kick. That was very much in line with what conventional thinking said the body needed--distance and/or duration of activity--to be ready to work hard. Indeed, most club and college teams today--nearly 50 years later--use virtually the same routine: 200SKPS (200 each of Swim, Kick, Pull, Swim) or 200 Swim, Kick, Pull, Drill.
Repeating a rote routine every day starts that process of shutting down cognitive neurons--putting the swimmer on autopilot.
When I began coaching I stuck with what I knew or the first year or so. But, before long I began to introduce far more drill practice, and made it quite rigorous.
When I took up Masters swimming at 39 initially I reflexively warmed up as I had 20 years earlier in college.
When I swam meets I felt I needed an even longer warmup, generally about 30 minutes.
But in the last few years, as calf and foot cramps have limited me from doing more than about 2500y (100 pushoffs) in a practice, I began to feel that every single lap--starting with the first--was a precious opportunity to build, refine, or embed skills. So my swimming was very purposeful and focused from the first length. I noticed that I could feel tuned up MUCH faster than I formerly felt 'warmed' up. I believe this is because of two factors
1) The brain responds to stimuli much faster than do the muscles and circulatory system.
2) My nervous system is so familiar with the tasks of efficient swimming and increasing Stroke Rate/Tempo while maintaining Stroke Length/SPL that it needs only a brief reminder.
On Sunday at the meet I tuned up prior to my first event--200 FR--for about 10 minutes. I swam 500y alternating FR and BK at 14 and 15 SPL respectively. Then I swam 2 rounds of 3 x 25 FR -- one each at 15-16-17, the range of counts I expected to use during the race. I finished each with a flip turn/foot-touch. Then I went straight to the starting block to swim.
Following the event I went directly to warmup pool and swam super-gently for 200 to 250y -- alternating 25BK and 25FR -- to assist my muscles in clearing lactic acid. I never even left the pool since my 2nd event, 100 BK would come so quickly. Before going to the blocks for that I swam 3 x 25 at 15-16-17 strokes. I finished each with a turn and foot touch.
I repeated that routine before and after each event--a cool down to clear lactic acid following a race, a brief tuneup to 'remind' my nervous system of its next task before the next race.
Except the final event, 200 BK. I got deeply engrossed in a conversation which was interrupted when I heard my name being announced for my 200 BK heat, for which everyone else was assembled. I grabbed my goggles and raced to the block, without a tuneup. The event still went well, as my splits show.
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist
May your laps be as happy as mine.
My TI Story