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  #1  
Old 02-11-2012
terry terry is offline
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Default How to Develop Ninja-Level Pacing Skill

In another thread on this conference, TI Coach Steve Howard reported the results of his first experiment with doing a set that targeted briskly-paced 200y repeats, in place of a relatively plodding 30 min swim. Steve was highly encouraged by his significant improvement in average pace and grasped how that would be far more likely to convert into better race times.
However, as I noted to Steve, he could probably have achieved the same average with significantly greater ease if his pacing were more consistent, with less variation from the average.

So that post gave me an opportunity to talk about Principles of Pacing Mastery and how to apply them in repeat sets. The simplest way to improve your time for any distance over 50m is to improve your pace control or skill.
Here are three general pacing goals
1) Minimize variation from the average pace.
2) Minimize up-and-down. Maintain the same pace or get faster from beginning to end of the set -- or round.
3) Be able to choose your pace, then hit the pace you chose.

Here are four levels of Mastery in Pace Control. It may take months to master all four.
Good- Swim a set of 5 to 10 repeats holding the same time on each
Better- Swim a set of 4 or more repeats, improving slightly on each.
Expert- Swim several rounds (I.E. 3 rounds of 3 x 100) descending each round.
Ninja - Any of the following:
  • Descend by precisely controlled amounts - deciding in advance what those will be. [I.E. Set of 6 x 100: 1:25-1:24-1:23-1:22-1:21-1:20]
  • Progress from descending within a moderate range of speed to descending with equally-precise control very close to your maximum speed. [I.E. If your fastest 100y repeat is 1:15, initially descend with precise control from 1:29-1:25, later from 1:24-1:20, and eventually from 1:19-1:15 with precision equal to that in slower sets.]
  • Descend without adding strokes. [I.E. Set of 6 x 100: 1:25-1:24-1:23-1:22-1:21-1:20 all at 14SPL]
  • Descend multiple rounds - each round precisely faster than the previous. [I.E 4 rounds of 3 x 100 -- 1:25-1:24-1:23/ 1:24-1:23-1:22/ 1:23-1:22-1:21/ 1:22-1:21-1:20]
  • Descend across a very wide range of paces - without changing SPL [IE. I've swum a set in which my fastest 100 was 16 seconds faster than my slowest -- yet both at 13SPL]
  • Descend-Ascend-Descend I.E. 1:20-1:19-1:18-1:19-1:20-1:19-1:18 -- initially with 'floating' SPL, later with unchanging SPL.

As you can see the the number of Pacing Skill Exercises you can devise will be limited only by imagination.
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Last edited by terry : 02-11-2012 at 11:38 AM.
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  #2  
Old 02-11-2012
CoachToddE CoachToddE is offline
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This is where I believe the application/use of the tempo trainer is an invaluable training aid to the novice or non-competitive swimmer and in some cases, long time swimmers (including myself). I have found that most of my master’s swimmers have never paid attention to what they are doing in the pool other than just swimming for time and for them I have found the tempo trainer to be a valuable tool to help them to start understanding and mastering pace control.
As you state, this “Ninja” level is a high level skill in swimming but can be achieved by everyone. It does take practice to be precise in feel or effort over the repeats. I utilize the tempo trainer to help my master’s swimmers to learn how to control and descend through repeats as you mention. It helps take the guess work out of how to do that without jumping around from 1-2 seconds on the first one to 5 seconds on the second or successive repeats. I have also found it very useful for myself as I often use the tempo trainer during my practices. Just yesterday during our masters practice we did a set of 8 x 100 (descend 1-4 and then 5-8) and the same for a set of 8 x 50 later. I used the tempo trainer to precisely descend by 2-3 seconds every distance holding SPL constant. This Ninja level pacing requires a learned feel to your swimming to be able to apply precise effort to achieve these results.
Of course the ultimate goal is for them to be able to do this type of disciplined swimming without the tempo trainer which I have them do periodically to give them a check on how they are doing mastering their pacing without an aid.
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  #3  
Old 02-11-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Terry, I love this, love it, love it.

Here's the thing...this actually FITS into a periodized training plan right alongside the HR zones approach for cycling & running. These ideas you've outlined can and should cross over to new & intermediate runners & cyclists to create the full package of TI Type triathlon training. Learning pace control and effort control is equally as valuble in the other 2 disciplines. But there are so many more aspects than just watching HR, such as technique, feel, focus, distraction (lack thereof), attitude, desired outcomes, etc...

I sense that this is what Shane is trying to teach in his Zendurance among other things, and I hope what we are able to convey in everything we teach.
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  #4  
Old 02-11-2012
ian mac ian mac is offline
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Default TT and beyond

Todd,
I completely concur with the use of the tempo trainer as an exceptional tool for race pace /neural threshold training. I heartily agree also that it is important to have a periodic reality check by doing pace swimming without any devices at all.

Novice or expert, it is fundamentally important to ALWAYS COUNT STROKES! This one simple focus will always be a good barometer for efficiency.

Following Terry's post, the main set of today's practice was 7 x ( 3 x 100) short course metres- easy/medium/hard @1:40 interval- xtra 1 min rest between each set of 3.

Since I was having my 1st swim after a very demanding practice on Wednesday, I wanted to swim purposefully, but not red lining. With Terry's thoughts in my mind, I set out to do the following, with no TT:
1. start the easy at 1:25 and descend 1 second every 2 repeats
2. start the medium & hard at 1:21 & 1:17 respectively and descend every 2 also by 1 second
3. maintain an SPL of 14/15 on easy, 15 on medium, 15/16 on hard
Resuts:
1. 1:25/1:21/1:17
2. 1:25/1:21/1:17
3. 1:23/1:20/1:16
4. 1:23/1:20/1:16
5. 1:23/1:19/1:15
6. 1:22/1:18/1:15
7. 1:21/1:16/1:14
While most of this was right on the money, in the cases where I didn't hit the time exactly, the time achieved in each case was 1 second faster than intended. Given that all my hard times were precisely what I intended, I am relatively pleased with this effort.
Ian
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  #5  
Old 02-12-2012
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ian mac View Post
Resuts:
1. 1:25/1:21/1:17
2. 1:25/1:21/1:17
3. 1:23/1:20/1:16
4. 1:23/1:20/1:16
5. 1:23/1:19/1:15
6. 1:22/1:18/1:15
7. 1:21/1:16/1:14
I've done sets like this countless times.
In a contrast that could not be more profound--with droning through an unfocused set of 20 x 100--sets like this leave me feeling exhilarated because they (1) provide a clear sense of purpose (2) require intense and unbroken focus, and (3) leave an empowering sense of being in control.

The additional result is an ability to pace with atomic-clock precision in races.
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My TI Story
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  #6  
Old 02-13-2012
Joe Novak Joe Novak is offline
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Default Would this be a Ninja set?

Good: 3 X 600 - Maintain the same time for each
Better: 3 X 600 - Descend
Expert: 3 X 600 - Negative Split and Descend
Ninja: 3 X 600 - Negative Split and Descend as follows:
#1 - 300 @ 13 SPL / 300 @ 14 SPL
#2 - 300 @ 14 SPL / 300 @ 15 SPL
#3 - 300 @ 15 SPL / 300 @ 16 SPL
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  #7  
Old 02-13-2012
AWP AWP is offline
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Although I've done similar practices too, with similar successful results, I can't bring myself to consider myself an "expert" let alone "ninja" level swimmer. I guess it would be the 'effort' level to which we're capable of successfully completing such a set that would determine such a status, eh?
I do enjoy so being able to nail a descending set by say every 2 sec. a repeat by feel, very empowering.

My practice on Saturday with this approach in mind...
1 x 400 tune-up
5 x 200y as
50y @ 13 spl
50y @ 14 spl
50y @ 15 spl
50y @ 16 spl
(I had wondered if this was a good way to do the set or if it would be better to dedicate each spl to its own full repeats?)

5 x (2x50 + 1x100)
TT settings:
1.08
1.10
1.08
1.04
1.02

4 x 50
TT settings:
1.04 x 2
1.02 x 2

2 x 100
TT
1.04
1.02

I didn't concern myself with time on this go, main focus on control and stroke length maintenance.
I stayed within a relatively narrow scope on the tempo sets as I acclimatized and built towards finishing at the higher tempo rate and longer repeat distance with a goal of great control and relative ease; always careful to maintain awareness, in my periphery, of balance, streamlining and smooth propulsive (at times strategic) movements.
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  #8  
Old 02-14-2012
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Novak View Post
Good: 3 X 600 - Maintain the same time for each
Better: 3 X 600 - Descend
Expert: 3 X 600 - Negative Split and Descend
Ninja: 3 X 600 - Negative Split and Descend as follows:
#1 - 300 @ 13 SPL / 300 @ 14 SPL
#2 - 300 @ 14 SPL / 300 @ 15 SPL
#3 - 300 @ 15 SPL / 300 @ 16 SPL
Joe
The example you gave is Expert+. To qualify as Ninja you'd have to execute this instead:
Negative split and descend 3 x 600 as
#1 15 SPL - i.e. go faster second half without adding strokes.
#2 14 SPL
#3 13 SPL

Or a bit easier, but still Ninja.
#1 15 SPL
#2 500@15SPL+100@14SPL
#3 400@15SPL+200@14SPL

To be explicit, one way to reach Ninja ranking is to improve two metrics while keeping others constant. In the examples above,both pace and SPL improved. Distance and interval remained constant.

Here's another example
3 x 600 Descend
#1 @ 1.20
#2 @ 1.21
#3 @ 1.22
Tempo gets slower but you still figure out a way to go faster.

Quickie Quiz: How would you do that?
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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 : 02-14-2012 at 08:15 PM.
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  #9  
Old 02-14-2012
AWP AWP is offline
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By utilizing those extra 'nano' moments (as tempo slows) to better cultivate your hold/feel of the water employing nuances such as a firmer stroking arm (applying 'light' but steady pressure on water) while focusing on a bit more oomph to hip drive and assisted by clean Shinji snap 'Ps (kicks) all the while keeping unwaivering attention to your balance and streamlining.
Concerning a tempo set, these aspects become strategic for me.
Keeping your swimming quiet while doing this is, for me, the ultimate "Ninja" aspect; disturb the water not!
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  #10  
Old 02-15-2012
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWP View Post
1 x 400 tune-up
5 x 200y as
50y @ 13 spl
50y @ 14 spl
50y @ 15 spl
50y @ 16 spl
(I had wondered if this was a good way to do the set or if it would be better to dedicate each spl to its own full repeats?)

5 x (2x50 + 1x100)
TT settings:
1.08
1.10
1.08
1.04
1.02

4 x 50
TT settings:
1.04 x 2
1.02 x 2

2 x 100
TT
1.04
1.02
I notice all your TT's are even, are you putting it on double time like me or is it just coincidence?
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