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Old 07-18-2015
Danny Danny is offline
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Default my first attempt at interval training

Last night I got lucky. The 25 m pool I sometimes visit often has so many kids playing in the lanes that it is impossible to do any serious swimming. But bad weather at the beginning of the day seems to have scared them away, so I got a lane all to myself to try interval training.

A couple of people on this forum have asked me what my goals in swimming are, and I have been a little embarassed to admit that I just want to swim well, nothing more. But vague goals like this probably donít promote much improvement, so I have decided to invent some arbitrary goals, just to give me something to shoot at. My tentative goal in a 25 m pool is to swim 300 m at a pace of 2:00/100 m. In a 25 yd pool, where I spend most of my time, I guess I will try to swim 300 yd in 5:24 min, which is a pace of 1:48/100yd. Hopefully I have done my conversions correctly.

So, after skating 50 m, I swam 50 m freestyle at a pace that I didnít think I could hold for 300 m. I came in at 1:02, and I decided to use this as my target pace for interval training. I gave myself 1:20 min for each 50 m, aiming to finish each lap in 1:02 and use the rest of my time to rest. The way I do this seems easier to me than working with a pool clock, so perhaps it is worth mentioning here. I bought a $25 waterproof digital watch with a stop clock on it. So, when I push off the wall, I start the stop clock. When I finish my lap, I note the time on my stop clock, but I leave it running. When it gets to 1:18, I stop and reset it, then I push off the wall and restart it. This seems to work really well, and it has the advantage that you can set your intervals to whatever you like without having to do the arithmetic on the pool clock, which can become prohibitive.

I swam 20 intervals (1000 m) this way without ďfailureĒ. That is, most of my times hovered between 59 s and 1:01 and my SPL was between 17 and 18. I could have gone further, but I was starting to get bored. When I was done, the question became ďWhat do I do now?Ē Of course, I couldnít resist trying to swim 300 m this way to see what time I would get. I came in at 6:19, which I think is a PB for me. In this context, I have to mention some mitigating factors: First, I needed to work pretty hard to hold this pace toward the end of the 300 m, whereas I usually just swim it at a comfortable pace. My comfortable times usually range between 6:30 and 6:50. The second factor worth mentioning is that I just got back from vacation where I was swimming every day in a 50 m pool. As a result, my conditioning and my technique are probably as good as they ever get for me, if the past is any indication. Usually my times start to decay within a week or two of getting back from vacation.

I swam another two 300 m intervals at a much more relaxed pace and came in at 6:24 and 6:36. Towards the end of my last interval, I started getting cramps in my calf. I played around to try to see what was causing them and came to the conclusion that when I focus on timing my kick to my spear I am pointing my foot and the strain of doing this was what led to the cramps. So the last few hundred I swam were intentionally backing off on my kick to avoid cramping.

So where does this leave me? Well, one session of interval training is a little early to render final judgement, but what I liked was the feeling that I was swimming with good technique the whole time, whereas I start to notice my technique deteriorating in the course of the workout when I swim longer intervals. Since I got no failures, I should probably up the ante. Not sure if this means a faster pace or less rest time. My instinct is to cut back on the rest time, since I am aiming at holding this pace for 300 m. So next time (in the 25 yd pool) I will aim at times of 54 s/50 yd and total interval time of 1:05. See what that brings me.

Of course, I am hoping for advice from all of you out there who have more experience with this than I. In particular, what kind of things should I be trying once I have enough failures to end my interval training?
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Old 07-18-2015
Streak Streak is offline
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Great job Danny.
I would suggest reducing the rest time in increments until you start failing. The keep the rest time you used just before you failed and do a bunch of sessions at that rest time. Once you can do this easily then you could either reduce further or do a longer distance depending on what you want to achieve.

Last edited by Streak : 07-19-2015 at 06:03 PM.
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  #3  
Old 07-19-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Congrats on the good results--that quickly becomes addictive.

This, though, strikes me as much more complicated than using a poolside pace clock:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
The way I do this seems easier to me than working with a pool clock, so perhaps it is worth mentioning here. I bought a $25 waterproof digital watch with a stop clock on it. So, when I push off the wall, I start the stop clock. When I finish my lap, I note the time on my stop clock, but I leave it running. When it gets to 1:18, I stop and reset it, then I push off the wall and restart it.
With an analog pace clock, there are all kinds of little tricks once you get used to it. For instance, if I want to swim 12 x 50m at :45 each, with :20 rest in between, I just chase the clock hand around the clock. That is, first repeat starts on the 0, second on the :05, third on the :10, etc.

But whatever works is fine, of course--just maybe getting used to the clock is what you need. (Unless it's a digital pace clock--then you can't do these kinds of tricks).

Sounds like you're enjoying some good success with your training--fun, eh?
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  #4  
Old 07-19-2015
Danny Danny is offline
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The pool clock at the high school where I swim is digital, but that shouldn't really matter, once you get used to it. I don't even know where the pool clock is at the 25 m pool used in this post. It's always entertaining that what at first seems like an insurmountable difficulty becomes the main advantage, once you get used to it!
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Old 07-20-2015
gary p gary p is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
My tentative goal in a 25 m pool is to swim 300 m at a pace of 2:00/100 m.

I gave myself 1:20 min for each 50 m, aiming to finish each lap in 1:02 and use the rest of my time to rest....I swam 20 intervals (1000 m) this way without “failure”. That is, most of my times hovered between 59 s and 1:01...When I was done, the question became “What do I do now?” Of course, I couldn’t resist trying to swim 300 m this way to see what time I would get. I came in at 6:19, which I think is a PB for me...So where does this leave me?
If you did a 6:19 after doing twenty 50's at your targeted pace on 20 seconds rest, I'd say you're probably closer to your goal than you think.
Next time you're at the pool, do a warm up, a few 50's (maybe 4) at your target pace on ~30 seconds rest to get into the zone, take a breather, then try your 300. I suspect, when fully rested, you'll be damn close to 6:00.

One variable here is your turn speed. Are you doing flip turns or open turns? How quick are they? A quality flip turn adds about .8 seconds to the time of a length compared to a hand touch. So if you can do a good flip turn, you need to target :59 on your 50's to have the pace right. If your flip turns aren't so good or you are doing open turns, you probably need to target :58 on your 50's to get a pace that will give you 6:00 for a 300.

Last edited by gary p : 07-20-2015 at 01:04 PM.
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  #6  
Old 07-20-2015
Danny Danny is offline
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Hi Gary, thanks for your insights. I am hoping to be back in the same pool this afternoon after work. Of course it all depends on how many kids are clogging up the lanes on a particular day. There's nothing like being well on your way to a new PB and then some kid paddles into your path without even looking to see if you are coming. If I get too far into my times, fights are likely to break out and I'll get thrown out of the pool. So I am trying not to take this too seriously.

I can do flip turns, but I'm not accustomed to them. If I were competing, I would be motivated to overcome that, but for now I'm content to do it the old way. I'll follow your advice, do about 4 50s on pace with 30 s rest and then try a 300. I'll let you know what happens. If you don't hear from me, it may be because I let some poor kid who didn't know what he was doing have it 25 m short of my goal!
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Old 07-21-2015
Danny Danny is offline
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Default day 2

Today I swam at the same pool I swam at on day 1 (Friday), but it was much more crowded. This created some stress, but I donít think that was the main issue. I tried to follow Garyís advice: Start out by swiming 4 or 5 50 m intervals on pace with 30 s rest and then try a 300 m interval fresh. Right at the start I could tell that there was a problem today. My times were essentially the same for the warm-up 50s, but my SPL was higher and my stroke didnít feel as smooth. I swam the 300 in 6:18 today compared to 6:19 on Friday after I had already swum 1000m of intervals. But that wasnít the real difference. I needed an SPL of 19 or 20 in comparison to 17 or 18 on Friday, and my stroke didnít feel right. That said, swimming it fresh today was a lot easier than swimming it after 1000 m of intervals on Friday.

Anyway, I then swam 1000 m of 50 m intervals with 20 s rest again. I had originally intended to cut the rest time back to 10 or 15 s instead of 20 s, but I didnít like the way my stroke felt, so I kept it at 20 s and spent most of the time trying to figure out what was wrong. I think I eventually figured it out. I separated my right shoulder around 25 years ago, and my recovery on the right side has always been a problem because of a limited range of motion on that side. Seems like I need to really pay attention to hip rotation on the right side; otherwise I have trouble keeping my elbow up during recovery. Anyway, I came to the conclusion today that I was spearing on the right side too early so that my body rotation wasnít properly synced with the spear. I spent the rest of the workout trying to correct this problem. Obviously there are two ways to try to do this, either kick and rotate earlier on that side or spear later. I didnít seem to be able to kick earlier Ė I had the feeling that my hip rotation was on a good cadence Ė but my spearing seemed to be too early. So I focused on trying to spear later by slowing down the recovery on that side and trying to match the spear to my hip rotation. It seemed to help in that my stroke started to feel smoother again as a result, but my SPL remained at the higher level the whole time. My times didn't change: on average 1:01/50 m in contrast to about 1:00/50 m on Friday.

Wednesday is my next chance. If I can start out with a smooth stroke and hold onto it on Wednesday, I will be happy. I would like to get my SPL back down as well, but I will probably be swimming at a 25 yd pool instead of the 25 m today, so it will be a little like comparing apples and oranges.
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Old 07-22-2015
Danny Danny is offline
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Default day 3

Todayís workout was in the 25 yd pool instead of the 25 m pool. It was frustrating, because I had the sense that my technique and rhythm were still off, and Iím still battling with diagnosing the problems. I wound up aiming at swimming intervals of 50 yd with a target time of 55 s. I tried for a total time (with rest) of 1:10. I never reached a comfort zone, which is what I want. Eventually I turned on my Tempo Trainer because I felt like I was searching for a rhythm that simply wasnít there. I played around with the timing and eventually set it to 0.68 s/beep and 2 beeps/ stroke, so 1.36 s/stroke. This seemed like a good continuous pace for me, but my movements lacked smoothness and balance. At this setting, I was hitting between 53 and 54 s/ 50 yds, 16 spl after pushoff, 17 spl on the return. I worked at this for most of the hour, trying to figure out why the movements lacked smoothness. On day 2, I started to sense a problem with spearing on my right side, that it was occurring before my body rotation. Today I started to suspect that the problem may be that I am rotating too far with my hips on the right, and thus, when I spear, I am not in a good position to rotate back. So I started trying to damp my rotation on the right. Again, because of an old shoulder injury, my timing on the right is always more difficult than on the left. I think that these strategies may have helped, but it was difficult to tell. I also came to the conclusion that it is NOT a good idea to start recovering my back hand while leaving my forward hand stationary. Instead I need to be linking the back recovery with an active catch motion of the other hand. In other words no pauses on either side. This seems similar to the kayak paddle principle I have seen discussed.
The problem with 50 yd is that I can muscle my way easily through 50 yd with lousy technique and still hold my pace. So I am starting to think that maybe I should start doing 100 yd intervals, which might help me to find my rhythm and smooth out my stroke. Those damn walls keep showing up too often and integrating the turns into the rest of my stroke seems to be a problem for me.
Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome.
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  #9  
Old 07-28-2015
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Danny,

FWIW. Think everyone knows "These Days"... Remember Terry's:

- Never practice struggle.
- Take only one FP at time.
- Effort in conentration sometimes is of more worth than physical challenge.

And for myself: Take "These Days" as numbers and informations and look forward to next sessions...

Best regards,
Werner
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Old 07-28-2015
Danny Danny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WFEGb View Post
Hello Danny,

FWIW. Think everyone knows "These Days"... Remember Terry's:

- Never practice struggle.
- Take only one FP at time.
- Effort in conentration sometimes is of more worth than physical challenge.

And for myself: Take "These Days" as numbers and informations and look forward to next sessions...

Best regards,
Werner
Hi Werner,

Thanks for your encouragement. My own interpretation of "these days" is that I was using the wrong methodology to correct my problems. if I try something for a while and it still isn't working then I need to think if there is an error in my approach. So here is my new modified "interval training" which I will hopefully get to try tomorrow morning. As noted above, I seemed to have the right cadence in my armstroke at 1.36 s/stroke. So I will set my tempo trainer to this rate and have as a goal to swim 16 or 17 SPL in 25 yd and 18 SPL for 25 m. I will define failure as when my SPL falls below my goal at this tempo, regardless of whether my times are still within my targeted times.

Since I wasn't failing in my times during previous attempts (only in my SPL) this structure seems to make more sense. I will let you know what happens tomorrow! The advantage of this approach is that, if i start failing in my SPL, then I know I have to slow my stroke rate to keep the same SPL or rest more in between. The failure is important, because it prevents you from making the same mistakes over and over again without responding to them!

Last edited by Danny : 07-28-2015 at 09:53 PM.
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