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  #61  
Old 01-23-2018
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Originally Posted by sclim View Post
Sorry to go back so far, but I remember a question that puzzled me. I know now that the incredibly low SPLs (13,14 SPL) that you shoot for and achieve in 25m and 50m repeats are not the same range that you achieve in longer distance swims like the 1650s -- that kind of reassured me, because for me I could never sustain my 25 and 50m spl values when I went longer.
Keep in mind my green zone is 15-19, so I'm not really that extreme in my SPL work.

But for sure--I view the 14 SPL and under as almost a drill, or very leisurely paced swimming for active recovery. Very good for focusing on the feel of the stroke and working balance, slowing tempo for timing and coordination, etc. It would be an interesting experiment to see if I could, say, swim a 500m at 14 SPL. I am sure I would need to work on it, at least.

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But when you say you did 15-18 spl during your long swim, did it vary symmetrically and randomly like a bell distribution curve through the 15 to 18 spl range (in a uniform manner, peaking in frequency at the middle 16, 17 same at the beginning as near the end of the swim)? Or did it start out at the 15 end and gradually drift to the 18 end and tend to stay at the high 17-18 range as your fatigue set in?
In this particular swim, it varied kind of randomly based on how effectively I was able to maintain focus on each length. I did the first few lengths at 15, then hit mostly 16s, with maybe every 3rd or 4th coming in at 17 or 18, then back down to 16. Probably the last 200m it dropped to 15-16 again. Near the end of a long repeat I find that it gets psychologically easier for me, so SPL typically starts coming down again as I see the end in sight and relax enough to follow through on my intentions to lengthen my stroke.

I should really prioritize that long stroke, holding to 15 SPL no matter what. I suspect a few sessions like that would teach me a lot about how to swim long repeats. I would relax into it and gradually increase speed each time I repeat the set as I get more relaxed about the distance.

So, for me it's almost completely a mental focus issue when SPL goes up, not a fatigue issue. Fast sets like my USRPT session have taught me that--no matter how tired I get, if I prioritize maintaining SPL, I can keep hitting the target times even when my body is getting tired. But it is an intense mental effort.
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Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 01-23-2018 at 10:24 PM.
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  #62  
Old 01-24-2018
sclim sclim is offline
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Near the end of a long repeat I find that it gets psychologically easier for me, so SPL typically starts coming down again as I see the end in sight and relax enough to follow through on my intentions to lengthen my stroke.
Interesting! There's so much to unpack as I sort out what's mental, what's physical.

As I mentioned before, on long swims, everything falls to pieces and my SPL goes through the roof, and I get fatigued and I'm sort of barely hanging on.

But I've often wondered if it's really that my SPL collapses because I'm physically tired. Maybe it's the other way around -- my mental focus goes, my spl slips, and that tires me to keep on trying to maintain the same pace despite the great drop in efficiency?

Your comment about how you can improve at the end -- I can sort of do the same for the last 1-2 lengths. I take a mental breath, really dig in and stretch for long spears, and my spl improves for those last 2 laps that I'm concentrating. Why is that difficult when I'm tired and only possible when I know I only have a few more to go??? Is it exactly the same "sucking it up" at the end of a long run when I'm fatigued and hurting and yet I'm able to crank up the last kilometer, and even sprint the last 100m? Is it physical tolerance or mental??? I really can't tell for sure!

When I juggle three balls I can do it ok for 3 or 4 "juggs" (even looking pretty relaxed too) then I panic and I flail and lurch and finally inevitably drop a ball. So it's not because the muscles are overworked. It's just that the brain gives up. Is it the same thing?

Last edited by sclim : 01-24-2018 at 12:12 AM.
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  #63  
Old 01-24-2018
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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sclim,

I'm enjoying this discussion a lot. I like your analogies to running and juggling, and how the mental affects the physical.

I think of it this way:

My brain is lazy, and sends all kind of "I'm exhausted! I can't go on!" signals to my body. So yes, I feel tired. I suspect that's an evolutionary survival scheme embedded deep within human DNA--conserve energy!

But my brain is lying when it says the body can't go on. So for me, when I am successful at maintaining form and pace and SPL for longer distances, it is a matter of allowing myself to step back and just NOTICE all those messages from my brain being sent, more and more frantically--the way I might ignore a 5-year-old child who is desperately trying to get my attention while I am doing more important things. I just let the "I'm tired" commentary roll past me, noticing it. But meanwhile, I am directing my attention to specific (the more specific the better) things that I can control, like kick timing, patient lead hand, slow steady pressing motion, etc.

I can't stop my brain from shouting at me. But when everything is working, I don't have to do what it wants me to do. But having a SPECIFIC plan for what exact focal point I will direct my attention to is what helps me side-step the fatigue messages best.
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  #64  
Old 01-24-2018
sclim sclim is offline
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Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
sclim,

I'm enjoying this discussion a lot. I like your analogies to running and juggling, and how the mental affects the physical.

I think of it this way:

My brain is lazy, and sends all kind of "I'm exhausted! I can't go on!" signals to my body. So yes, I feel tired. I suspect that's an evolutionary survival scheme embedded deep within human DNA--conserve energy!

But my brain is lying when it says the body can't go on. So for me, when I am successful at maintaining form and pace and SPL for longer distances, it is a matter of allowing myself to step back and just NOTICE all those messages from my brain being sent, more and more frantically--the way I might ignore a 5-year-old child who is desperately trying to get my attention while I am doing more important things. I just let the "I'm tired" commentary roll past me, noticing it. But meanwhile, I am directing my attention to specific (the more specific the better) things that I can control, like kick timing, patient lead hand, slow steady pressing motion, etc.


I can't stop my brain from shouting at me. But when everything is working, I don't have to do what it wants me to do. But having a SPECIFIC plan for what exact focal point I will direct my attention to is what helps me side-step the fatigue messages best.
Astounding clarity showing what is really going on when you describe it like that!

To take it a step further, especially in preparation for strategizing how to further delay the onset of sabotaging fatigue (whether mental or physical, or both, but in this focus mostly mental), perhaps the most useful strategy is not to completely ignore the frantic 5-year old child brain, but to try and not aggravate the factors that upset that 5 year old brain. So try and cut off the panic feedback signals going back to that brain, which is already overloaded. Calmly maintaining your carefully trained, even and balanced stroke mechanics in the face of all this noise is your fundamental underlying task.

In this context it is easier to see that it is best done with the minimum of demand for complicated brain input. Hmmm, but the correct swimming stroke algorithm is quite a complicated formula, or it was during the learning and analysing phase. OK, I just realized I am merely restating what has been more elegantly described as a progression through the 4 stages of 1) Unconscious incompetence 2) conscious incompetence 3) Conscious competence and 4) unconscious competence, and the desired state that I am trying to describe is really number 4), which is really the goal of TI training; and this goal can only be reached through focussed mindful practice. Damn! I was hoping that by all this mental parsing I would surely stumble upon an easier way.

Trouble is, I can't remember how I got good at running, so I can't use the recall of those moments of difficulty, fatigue causing bad technique etc., to help me in the swimming. But it does help a little to understand what's really going on in the brain-co-ordination-body interface, especially as things break down. And recover agian, too I suppose.

Last edited by sclim : 01-24-2018 at 07:40 PM.
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  #65  
Old 01-24-2018
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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To take it a step further, especially in preparation for strategizing how to further delay the onset of sabotaging fatigue (whether mental or physical, or both, but in this focus mostly mental), perhaps the most useful strategy is not to completely ignore the frantic 5-year old child brain, but to try and not aggravate the factors that upset that 5 year old brain. So try and cut off the panic feedback signals going back to that brain, which is already overloaded. Calmly maintaining your carefully trained, even and balanced stroke mechanics in the face of all this noise is your fundamental underlying task.
I agree: keep to the task and let the feelings happen without giving in to them. I don't think of it as "ignoring" the child, but kind of stepping back and watching its efforts to gain my attention grow more and more frantic. By "watching" I mean an intensely curious but detached kind of observation, really fully inhabiting the feelings, and trying to describe them to myself as completely as possible, and even kind of analytically musing about "Hmm, a panicky compulsion to lift my head with each breath is occurring right now" kind of thing. Feel it, but just don't react to it. Easier said than done! But very effective, and simple (not easy).

I find that when I can create this kind of detached but curious and non-judgmental mindset, that I am too busy analyzing the feelings to actually suffer from them.

I'm assuming in these posts that this works because I already know how to swim well. When I am learning a new skill, like my recent exploration of kick timing, then it's a bit different. There I am much more interested in the cause of the feelings, and finding ways to minimize them by perfecting technique, as you describe. But still, it's a curious nonjudgmental observation process, kind of detached and not really aiming for a goal as an end in itself.

Once I feel like my technique is solid when I am at my best, and it's a question of extending the time and distance I can hold my best, then this mental process becomes more about fully inhabiting the discomfort I am feeling as I get those messages of fatigue, but upholding my intentions to swim well despite the feelings.

I do mean to get back to running with the same mindset and see where it takes me--have you read Chi Running? I think I am readier now to follow that approach compared to how I did with it about 10 years ago.
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  #66  
Old 01-25-2018
sclim sclim is offline
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Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
I agree: keep to the task and let the feelings happen without giving in to them. I don't think of it as "ignoring" the child, but kind of stepping back and watching its efforts to gain my attention grow more and more frantic. By "watching" I mean an intensely curious but detached kind of observation, really fully inhabiting the feelings, and trying to describe them to myself as completely as possible, and even kind of analytically musing about "Hmm, a panicky compulsion to lift my head with each breath is occurring right now" kind of thing. Feel it, but just don't react to it. Easier said than done! But very effective, and simple (not easy).

I find that when I can create this kind of detached but curious and non-judgmental mindset, that I am too busy analyzing the feelings to actually suffer from them.

I'm assuming in these posts that this works because I already know how to swim well. When I am learning a new skill, like my recent exploration of kick timing, then it's a bit different. There I am much more interested in the cause of the feelings, and finding ways to minimize them by perfecting technique, as you describe. But still, it's a curious nonjudgmental observation process, kind of detached and not really aiming for a goal as an end in itself.

Once I feel like my technique is solid when I am at my best, and it's a question of extending the time and distance I can hold my best, then this mental process becomes more about fully inhabiting the discomfort I am feeling as I get those messages of fatigue, but upholding my intentions to swim well despite the feelings.

I do mean to get back to running with the same mindset and see where it takes me--have you read Chi Running? I think I am readier now to follow that approach compared to how I did with it about 10 years ago.
Wow! This exquisite description of the ideal calm mindfulness and detachment we should aim for is so exciting I want to jump out of bed and go swimming, but it's 11pm.

OK, seriously, I really have something to shoot for now. This is really, really good stuff. I'm going to try visualizing the process you describe so well, and try slowing it down in my mind to help dissect it out further.

Last edited by sclim : 01-25-2018 at 04:42 AM.
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  #67  
Old 01-25-2018
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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sclim,

if this kind of mental experimentation interests you, I highly recommend you check out Pema Chodron. I have been listening to her "Getting Unstuck" audiobook, and plan to read lots more of her stuff. It's all about this kind of minfulness and mental development.

https://pemachodronfoundation.org/pr...ory/audio-cds/

Lots of free articles about/by her HERE.

Another good one is Arno Ilgner's "The Rock Warrior's Way" which uses rock climbing as a means of exploring mindfulness and mental focus.

Nowadays I find this kind of thing far more interesting than the merely physical aspects of swimming.
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Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 01-25-2018 at 09:35 PM.
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  #68  
Old 01-31-2018
CoachBillGreentree CoachBillGreentree is offline
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I quite often use mindfulness meditation techniques when instructing. It makes a whole lot more sense to help them learn how to listen and feel their form than to repeat "Patient lead arm" for the 300th time (Though that happens too).

In the long run helping people to spot inefficient form is as important as instruction in correct/efficient form.

Pema is great for that technique as well. Love her books.

Aloha.
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