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Old 04-08-2009
AWP AWP is offline
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[quote=CoachEricD;2662] I don't believe doing 20 x 100s on 1:10 matches any portion of your race.

Would it make a difference if that 20x was done with a tempo trainer?
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Old 04-09-2009
udes86 udes86 is offline
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Hi all> I was using a friends login (bugmenot) earlier to post and finally have my own account now! I have found this website so helpful that I intend to return for any questions I will have. This is a great community, everyone helping to improve the sport!!

To CoachEricD,
That kind of set is something we would do well into taper. We were still doing did several broken swims 1-2 weeks out from conference. We probably had 3-4 days total of broken swims within the last 3 weeks.
For example one day in a set of 4x50s on 1:00, I went a 1:36.5...and then at conference I go a 1:43.
The same with my 100; we had a one day doing 50/50, 50/50, 75/25...and I was going 46.lows
And another day doing a 200/100 & 50 broken. All of these swims each of these days at race pace.

Everyone's muscles seemed fully recovered by the time conference rolled around, but if it really takes 6 weeks to recover the nervous system then we need to be sprinting a lot less during our taper. Should the taper be focused more strictly on technique? How much 'all out' swimming should be included in the final weeks before the meet?

I like the way you describe cat/dog training too...I don't know where I would categorize myself yet either. I definitely didn't mind doing 9-10k a day during the college season because I know I'm going to have something to taper from, but then again I am really enjoying the way I am training now doing only 5-6k.
I might also tend to agree that there was simply too much aerobic traing for myself and not enough focused towards quality, technique and kick. It's funny that you mention 20x100s on 1:10 too, because that is the exact set that we did today (holding 1:05s and :59 for the last 100)..haha.

Last edited by udes86 : 04-09-2009 at 02:57 AM.
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Old 04-09-2009
terry terry is offline
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Default Incredibly Useful Advice

The quality and diversity of discussion and thought on this Forum -- as always -- exceeds that you can find anywhere else on the web. A superb example is Eric's reminders of (1) "cat and dog" athletes, as suggested by Bill Boomer, and how it emphasizes the importance of individualizing training, avoidance of cookie-cutter approaches, and (2) the critical and little-understood distinction between nervous system fatigue and fatigue in other systems.

Cats and Dogs
While instinct would suggest that sprinters are cats and distance swimmers dogs, Eric mentioned an example of two sprinters, one a cat, the other a dog. I believe many coaches also generally think of women as dogs (sorry -- in the athletic sense) and men as cats.

Thirty years ago I began coaching two very promising distance swimmers, both male -- from age 10 to 16. From age 13, they began participating in a very heavy week of training over Christmas holidays 100km in 8 days (something I would no longer do as a coach). We always swam a meet on the final weekend of this period. One would just get stronger and stronger throughout, and would usually swim astonishingly well in that meet. The other would just get more and more tired, and would be incredibly flat at that meet. I didn't grasp it at the time, but the former was clearly a dog and the latter a cat.

You'd think the "dog" would have enjoyed greater success as a distance swimmer, but it was the "cat" who broke a long-standing national age group record for 800m and later earned world rankings in 400 to 1500. This occurred because I realized I needed to coach them differently, and -- except for Hell Week -- I've always been more strongly inclined to "cat coaching." When I took care to avoid driving him into staleness, and gave him sufficient rest, he performed amazingly.

Unfortunately his college coach (at Arizona) trained everyone like dogs. This cat swam faster in practice on many sets than George Dicarlo and Jeff Kostoff who preceded him there. Both, being dogs, thrived on that kind of training and broke American records and won NCAA titles while there. The cat had a disappointing college career, though some of his training performances suggest at least the possibility that he could've been faster than either, if trained differently.

Nervous System Training
This is probably the least understood - by both coaches and swimmers - of all aspects of swim training. Few appreciate how critical it is to performance, nor how much more quickly it can respond to the right kind of training -- or how slow it is to recover from the wrong kind -- compared to the aerobic system, which has been far more heavily studied and is therefore better understood.

Because quality neural imprinting is more critical to sprinting success than any other events -- because high-skilled movements must be performed at exceedingly high rates and under heavy loads -- and because the potential for overstimulus and thus fatigue is so great -- because of increased reliance on intensive training -- it's far more challenging to get it right when training sprinters.
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 04-09-2009 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 04-09-2009
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 384

To answer your question on taper, Coach Kredich suggested to me that they did not stop hard training 6 weeks out, they just stopped that hard of a set. He would prescribe lots of 25s practicing each portion of the race, for example, just not the whole race, a few times through, all at once.

Do you have any suggested resources to study more on nervous system training? Kredich suggested Tudor Bompa's book on periodization. It has some interesting ideas. I still haven't found comfortable answers to a few questions such as:

1. Why does it take the nervous system so long to recover?
2. What exactly is nervous system fatigue? Using up neurotransmitters? Messing with Na/K levels? Messing with Ca levels?
3. Could part of the aerobic base concept be training the nervous system to recover faster?
4. How can you recognize nervous system fatigue from muscle fatigue? (my guess is that nervous system fatigue would prevent you from ever reaching max speed where muscle fatigue would prevent you from maintaining it. But I have not found any reading that supports that idea.)
5. What is different about cats and dogs that makes them different?

The only readings I have found on nervous system training discuss coordination, weight training with multijoint movements, etc. Not recovery.
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Old 04-09-2009
terry terry is offline
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Default Nervous System Training

You seem to have studied this subject with admirable depth. When I heard the term "nervous system fatigue" I was deeply intrigued, and sensed it might be incredibly important, but -- typical of my right-brain makeup -- was more inclined toward practical experiments in coaching application, rather than an academic study delving into considerations like neurotransmitters, Na/K and Ca levels -- the last two of which I can only respond to with a blank look.

What form did these practical experiments take? While coaching sprinters at West Point , I figured trial-and-error would be the only way to understand how much nervous system stimulus would be "about right" and how much would qualify as "overstimulus." Being a "cat coach" by inclination and feeling that overstimulus could be a far greater danger with sprinters, I was naturally cautious.

As well, I intuited that nervous system stimulus would need to be more finely calibrated during taper than in mid-season and at meets than in workouts.

Here's how I handled it: In mid-season training, I came into practice with a general plan, but regularly adjusted it during practice. When I saw the sprinters lacked "snap" or were struggling to execute a task they could normally do with controlled effort (whether because of muscular, neural -- or even mental -- fatigue) I'd initially modify the task by shortening repeats, increasing rest intervals, etc. If that didn't work, I'd simply replace all the intense stuff with restorative, easy, technique work (fistgloves a favorite).

In mid-season meets, conscious that they were always dealing with some level of fatigue -- often due more to the routine demands of cadet life, than to anything I'd asked them to do -- I was particularly careful to avoid "oversprinting" in warmup.

I often saw sprinters on opposing teams doing repeated max-effort 25s from a dive start, with their coaches timing each one. In contrast, I gave our sprinters these instructions:
1) My stopwatch stays in my pocket until the race. Do your speedwork only for feel.
2) The feel you are seeking is what you hope to experience during the race.
3) "Rehearse" in short crisp segments:
- Start, underwater, breakout, 2-3 cycles at race speed, then ease off,
- Build into a turn, then turn, breakout and 2-3 cycles at race speed, then ease off. Etc
4) Give your nervous system "advance notice" of the task you'll ask it to execute by swimming a few repeats of just 3-4 cycles the way you'd like to swim during the race. Never sustain this to fatigue.

This warmup plan also took into consideration that most would swim three races, requiring three repetitions of some part of this warmup. I reminded them to be mindful of this during the initial warmup.

The upshot was that they usually seemed reasonably sharp -- considering it was midseason -- during races and could sustain a consistent performance level to their last event. PS: Restorative warmdowns after intense races were just as critical, guessing that the nervous system, as much as the muscles, could benefit from a "cooling-off" period after intense activity.

If I'd been coaching the distance swimmers I would not have felt the need to be nearly so meticulous in planning to accommodate stress or overstimulus.
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 04-09-2009 at 07:04 PM.
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