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Old 02-17-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Tom Pamperin
Default Gearing Practice (No TT)

Not sure this is worth a new thread, but I'll put it up here as there hasn't been that much new here lately. While a TT is obviously incredibly valuable to explore and manipulate speed/tempo variables once the basics of the stroke are solid, I've found myself getting a bit annoyed at the beeping lately. I wanted to move back to something a bit more low-tech and intuitive for a while.

So I've started doing this set as a warm-up lately:

1 x 50 @ 12 spl
1 x 50 @ 13 spl
1 x 50 @ 14 spl
1 x 50 @ 15 spl
1 x 50 @ 16 spl

Then I repeat in reverse order--total distance 500m.

What I find is that 12 spl feels like slow motion--very long push-off, slow smooth motion, as if I'm drilling in whole stroke (if that makes sense). Not really swimming yet.

13 spl starts to feel like real swimming, though it's challenging to stretch out enough to make it. Standard 5m push-off, 2bk.

14 spl feels comfortable.

15 spl--here I have to shorten up my push-off a bit and shorten each stroke to fit them all in. Believe me, this is a really nice feeling! Doing this set has made me adopt 15 spl as my standard cruising speed spl for repeats up to 400m. It's a nice easy gear.

16 spl--this gets a bit silly. I feel like I'm really shortening my push-off, and I have to drastically shorten each stroke to fit them all in. I often end up having to take a couple of abbreviated, extra-short strokes at the end to fit them in before the wall. It's ridiculously easy, and the SR seems a bit higher (as is logical).

By the time I'm back to 12 spl on the descending side, it feels like real swimming, not slow motion. And in fact, my time has dropped a few seconds from my first 12 spl length when I've remembered to check a clock (I usually haven't looked).

What's interesting is how EASY the 15 and 16 spl repeats feel doing this set (I've done the same set with 100m repeats instead of 50m, and felt the same ease). And yet, at the end of a 400m repeat, I'm definitely NOT feeling the same ease. If I'm doing relatively high-effort repeats, my spl will creep up to 16 or 17 by the end of 400m sometimes.

That tells me that one of my biggest priorities needs to be maintaining the kind of ease for a particular spl value that I have in my warm-up set over longer distances. Of course, my warm-up repeats are probably much slower than my other repeats, so that's a factor, too. But I think it's cool that I have the potential to work toward this kind of ease.

So, what do you think? Has anyone else ditched their TT and gone old school with gearing practice lately? How do you balance TT and non-TT training? What works?

Thanks!

By the way: I'm tall (74"), with a big wingspan (76.5"), which definitely helps with lower spl values. As Coach Mat explains in this link (https://smoothstrokes.wordpress.com/...stroke-length/), my positive ratio between wingspan and height, and my focus on longer events/repeats, probably explains why I tend to favor longer strokes at slower tempos.
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Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 02-17-2015 at 06:32 PM.
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Old 02-17-2015
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Hi Tom,

That all looks great and clearly you are getting a feel for the water and tempo without wearing a tempo trainer.

Make sure your wall push is consistent though. Pushing longer and dropping a stroke or two doesn't mean a lower stroke count, only a longer push. I have my swimmers streamline push off the wall for 5y, or first hand entry just after the flags. Also, you can use 1/2 strokes, e.g. 14.5 instead of trying to squeeze in a full stroke at the wall for stroke's sake only.

Assuming you are swimming a 25y pool and 5y push (20y actual stroking), 15spl, your stroke length = 1.33y or 4'. At 72" tall you are moving forward 66% of your height which is an excellent range, i.e. 48/72=.66. You should be at least 50% but not go too far above 70% of height, this is known in TI as the 'Green Zone'. Coach Matt also refers to this as wingspan conversion percent (SL/Height)

It's not necessary to always swim with a TT. I may swim an entire set with TT, and often I'll preset (warmup) with tempo trainer, then turn off TT since I know my internal easy, moderate, and quick tempos paired with SPL.

If you find in last half of a 400 (no TT) and SPL is creeping +3 or +4, something is changing or going wrong. You may be increasing tempo, shortening stroke length to maintain stability, increasing drag profile, or some combination of the aobve. I believe a good range for you to be in 15-17spl at whatever tempo you may be using. That puts you in in the range of 59-66% and squarely in the 'green zone'.

Here's a tempo practice I frequently give to my masters group (or some variation) that uses TT both on and off: Tempo Pyramid Practice: Changing Gears & Managing Pace

Stuart

Last edited by CoachStuartMcDougal : 02-17-2015 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 02-17-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Coach Stuart,

thanks for your input. Just in the past couple of weeks I have disciplined myself to be consistent with a 5m push-off on each turn--it's only at the beginning of the practice that I do my first 12 spl repeat with a longer push--that's kind of to test my streamline and glide, too. It's interesting to see that at the end of the set on my last 12 spl repeat, I can hit 12 spl without the exaggerated push-off; and usually a bit faster for the same effort, too.

Your numbers for my stroke are just about what I came up with, though I'm 74" tall, not 72", and swim in a 25 meter pool--that puts my stroke length at 15 spl pretty close to 65% of my height, I think. When I recently measured my wingspan and saw the positive ratio with my height, I felt a bit reassured that there's a reason I tend to end up with a slower SR and lower spl than typical of shorter, or shorter-armed, swimmers I see.

Despite this thread being about no TT sets, I plan to prioritize a lot of TT work now--so thanks for the link to the Tempo Pyramid. I'm excited because I am swimming at some pretty slow tempos, and I think as I work to increase tempo and maintain most of my spl, that my speed will go up and effort may even come down as SR increases. We'll see!
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Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 02-18-2015 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 02-17-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal View Post
If you find in last half of a 400 (no TT) and SPL is creeping +3 or +4, something is changing or going wrong. You may be increasing tempo, shortening stroke length to maintain stability, increasing drag profile, or some combination of the aobve. I believe a good range for you to be in 15-17spl at whatever tempo you may be using. That puts you in in the range of 59-66% and squarely in the 'green zone'.
Thanks again--nice to have some specific suggestions from knowledgeable people. I find in my most effortful 400m repeats that my SPL increases to +2, which seems on the edge of what I should let myself accept. Then again, at +2, I'm still in the green zone at 17 SPL, so perhaps I should swim a full 400m at 17 SPL and see what happens. I still have a bit of a mindset that preserving a lower SPL is advantageous, so I'll need to expand my range a bit (on purpose) to test results at different lengths, effort levels, and SPL numbers. It'll be interesting to see which work the best. I don't necessarily need increased speed as much as I need increased ease and sustainability.
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Old 02-17-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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One last question for anyone interested in sharing their thoughts:

I'm curious about how easy 15-16 SPL feels in my slow warm-up set compared to being hard enough that I can't hold it at the end of an effortful 400m repeat.

I'm wondering if this is a muscular endurance issue, or a focus/concentration issue. Like, what EXACTLY is the cause of such a difference in perception?

Not sure it matters in any practical sense, but I'm really curious at how much perception, rather than physical ability, affects performance. Just a few weeks ago a 400m repeat would have felt VERY long; now they are routine. I know I haven't changed physically enough to make that difference.

Thoughts?
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Old 02-23-2015
sclim sclim is offline
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I have some questions about the Green Zone and how you measure the parameters etc. I was aware that my own numbers were less than optimum, but I took the view that the numbers are what they are, and I shouldn't beat myself up if I'm doing the best that I can, and as my balance improves the SPL numbers will look after themselves. But that does not seem to be happening despite other indicators of increasing ease in the water and subjective feeling of relaxation, over the last few months.

I should go over some biometrics first. I am 5' 3" height = 63 inches, (and weigh 51-52kg if that matters) and I was going by the graph values that indicate my green zone is between 23 and 18 SPL in a 25 m pool. Well, at TT =1.40 seconds I seem to remember I could do 22+ when fresh, but only 23-24 consistently. I have inched the TT up to 1.18 seconds, and it's a struggle to get 24 SPL over 50 and 75 metres, although every now and then I manage to pull off a 23+ when swimming regularly, and get the timing and relaxation just right.

Well, I just measured my wingspan, and to my dismay, it is 65 inches, which means my green zone is actually between 22 and 17-1/2 SPL, so I'm actually falling quite far out of the green zone.

But how do you measure and count? I push off, and start my first pull out of the both-hands-overlapped-in-front streamline position at about 4 metres. I count "one" as this first arm pulls back, and when that arm recovers and stretches forward after the entry I count "two".

I guess I am looking for standardised methods for measuring SPL. My numbers are what they are, and I guess it won't really change my slow and steady, plugging away at the drills and repeats, unless there is no further change for a few more months.
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Old 02-23-2015
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Hi Sclim, count hand entries not arm pulls. Green zone is a stroke length that is 50-70% of height (or wing span). In other words, you travel forward at least 50% of your height on each stroke. 50% represents the high SPL range

Stuart
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Old 02-23-2015
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post
Not sure it matters in any practical sense, but I'm really curious at how much perception, rather than physical ability, affects performance. Just a few weeks ago a 400m repeat would have felt VERY long; now they are routine. I know I haven't changed physically enough to make that difference.

Thoughts?
Hi Tom, I sometimes experience, during a challenging set (eg 10x200m at even pace), that the toughest rep in my perception is not the last one, but one in the middle of the set. In the last rep I'm mentally eager and satisfied, so I don't feel physically more challenged then I was in the first half of the set. Not sure what you mean by "perception", does it make sense?

That aside, I guess your routine 400 is more about getting physically used to do it. In a few weeks (swimming around 12km/week if I remember well) aerobic fitness can improve to a good extent.

Regards,
Salvo
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Old 02-23-2015
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal View Post
Hi Sclim, count hand entries not arm pulls.
Hi Coach Stuart,
just out of curiosity, is there a particular reason for counting hand entries and not arm pulls, other than simply a convention? I count hand entries as per TI tradition, but if I had to calculate my DPS I would count arm pulls or just add a +1 on arm entries count (which gives the same result).

Don't know if I miss something but this is the way I see it: counting hand entries means counting each stroke at its completion (ie the first underwater pull is the beginning of the first stroke). This way, If I count for instance 20SPL, after my 20th hand entry I typically spear the same hand/arm forward to touch the wall, but in order to do this I'm already using my 21th stroke (21th pull) that I'm not counting. So I should include that 21th (underwater) stroke or, alternatively (and maybe better), subtract from stroking-distance the space remaining from the 20th hand entry mark to the wall. Does it make sense?

Thanks,
Salvo
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Old 02-23-2015
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Hi Salvo,

Good question. I have used both too, each will give you a count. Hand entry to hand entry has always been a crisp count given the fingertip feeling the two mediums moving from air to water, whereas counting pulls, your hand is always submerged. Hand entry to hand entry is precise and I count 1/2 strokes too. Tempo trainer too, hand entry on the "beep" while holding a focus like enter on "wide tracks". Maybe most important, counting hand entry shifts focus to finishing forward & driving body forward reducing the human instinct to "pull" (first) with the hand.

Stuart
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