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Old 07-06-2012
terry terry is offline
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Default Terry's Practices Summer 2012

I previously posted this practice in Suzanne's thread Easy Masters Style Swim Sets and am reposting on this thread which will serve as my training log for this summer. I will practice either in the 50m Ulster County Pool or on the 200-yard line in Lake Minnewaska. Both close on Labor Day, as will this chronicle. Discussion is most welcome, as are reports from anyone who tries a set--or a version inspired by a set--posted here.


Fri June 29 3200m at UCP
Warmup

400m No Tempo or Time. My sole focus was to find my mojo and establish initial count - I easily maintained 36SPL with great mojo.

Set #1
8 x 200 on 4:00 advancing tempo .01 on each, and timing them. I counted strokes for first few then decided I'd be better off just giving full attention to synchronizing and stroke sensations.
I descended very steadily (-1 sec on every 200). Tempo went from 1.10 to 1.03 and times from 3:18 to 3:11

Set #2
10 x 50 Asymmetric Tempo Pyramid
I slowed tempo by .04 1-4 then speeding it by .02 5-10.
Tempo went 1.03-1.07-1.11-1.15-1.13-1.11.1.09-1.07-1.05-1.03
SPL was 40 on #1 (1.03), 38 on #4 (1.15), 39 on #10 (1.03)

Set #3
6 x 100 on 2:00 without TT.
My goal was to hold or improve SPL while descending.
#1 was 82 strokes @ 1:37. #6 was 79 strokes @ 1:34.

The most valuable outcome of doing this practice was that I came up with a standard protocol to transfer the neural efficiency program from beep-driven to feel-driven. I.E. To imprint a high efficiency stroke pattern with the aid of the TT, then be able to replicate it without the TT--which is essential for racing success.

The protocol is to repeat the pattern I followed above in sets 1-2-3 on a regular basis.
First do a set in which your metrics are Tempo + Time
Follow it with a set in which your metrics are SPL + Tempo
Finish with a set in which your metrics are Time + SPL.

PS: Despite having my training volume and intensity strictly limited from Jan through May--first by torn meniscus which made pushoffs -- and therefore pool swimming -- out of the question from Jan to March, and after that by a rheumatoid arthritis flareup my first two 'measured' practices of Summer 2013 -- one in Lake Minnewaska, then this one in the 50m Ulster Count Pool are WAY ahead of last summer.

I credit that to the intense focus on increasing the artfulness of my stroke -- in particular better streamlining my 2BK.
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Old 07-06-2012
terry terry is offline
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Default June 20 Descending 400s at Lake Minnewaska

I swam this practice along the 200y line
400 Easy tuneup, followed by:
5 x 400 on a 7:00 interval, advancing tempo 1.20-1.15-1.10-1.05-1.00

Notes: I aimed to swim the entire set with a light-pressure feeling- both on my hands/arms and in the sense of muscle-loading. I.E. I wanted to have a similar feeling to a cyclist 'spinning' lightly in an easy gear. If I maintained high stroke efficiency--traveled a good distance on each stroke despite light pressure--then the increasing tempos should result in significantly faster times over the course of the set.
Here are my results
Tempo - Time - Total Strokes
1.20 sec/stroke - 6m25s - 321 strokes
1.15 - 6:11 - 322
1.10 - 5:57 - 324
1.05 - 5:42 - 325
1.00 - 5:32 - 332
I calculated stroke count for each 400 by dividing time in seconds by tempo. E.G.385 sec/1.2 = 321 strokes. I do this occasionally, not always. It requires me to remember time and tempo for each repeat in a set. That's manageable for a set of 5 repeats, but probably not 10 reps or multiple sets.)

Takeaways: The minimal change in my stroke count -- and therefore significant improvement in my times -- as I increase tempo from 1.20 to 1.05 shows I'm well adapted in that range. This is no doubt due to having practiced so much during the past six months at quite moderate tempos due to physical limitations (I'm feeling better now).

My ability to adapt broke down at 1.00. At each previous interval I'd improved my time by 14-15 seconds, and added only 1 stroke on average to my count. Between 1.05 and 1.00 I added 7 strokes and took off just 9 seconds. Still a good outcome, but this shows I'm approaching a tempo point where my adaptability isn't so good.

When you Identify your tempo inflection point, adjust your practice in two ways.
1) Spend more practice time at tempos just above that range
2) Make smaller tempo adjustments from repeat to repeat.

In upcoming practices at Minnewaska, I'll work between 1.00 and 1.10 or possibly 1.08. I'll adjust tempo by .02 or .03 instead of .05. My goal in the next two weeks is to move my point
of weakening adaptation down to, say, .98 -- and or to increase repeat distance.
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Old 07-06-2012
terry terry is offline
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Default July 4 - 6 x 400 descend by increasing SPL

2400m at UCP

In this practice I did a single set, increasing SPL by 1 on each successive 400, with a goal of improving my time with minimal effort.
This is very similar to the set I did at Lake Minnewaska on June 20. In both my goal was to make the maximal time improvement on a set of 400s with the minimal effort. At the lake I did so by increasing tempo. Here I did it by increasing SPL. Obviously this set requires a greater ability to self-calibrate stroke length.
I swam the first 400 as warmup/tuneup with the idea that my time and SPL would set improvement parameters for the rest of the set.
I swam the 6th 400 as a cool down. My goal was to return to 36SPL, but I couldn't hold that because I was a bit fatigued.

6 x 400 on 8:00
36SPL 7:22 (= 1.4 tempo)
37SPL 6:59
38SPL 6:52
39SPL 6:48
40SPL 6:40 (= 1.1 tempo)
36-37SPL 7:02 Cooldown
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Old 07-06-2012
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Default July 4 PM 2000y at Lake Minnewaska - Easy and Efficient

This was my 2nd practice of the day, something I've not done in about a year. I was a bit fatigued from the morning practice, and was intending to swim again the following morning, so I swam at a restorative pace.

When swimming super-easy, I can still give myself an exacting task by aiming for super-high efficiency. I counted strokes along the 200y line (I actually counted breaths; breathing bilaterally I'll know my stroke count by multiplying breaths by 3.)
A little history on my Lake Minnewaska stroke counts. I've swum there each summer since 2001. In previous years I averaged 160 SPL along the line on moderate effort, tempo or speed. I could occasionally get 152-156 strokes and feel great about it. On rare occasions I dipped under 150.

In this practice, the first two lengths were 156-152 and the last eight lengths were 146-148. This is a really significant increase in my efficiency over prior years. To what do I attribute this?

As I noted earlier, from Jan through May I did far less training volume and intensity than in previous years, because of a torn meniscus, followed by an inflamed supraspinatus, and finally by a bout with rheumatoid arthritis. I could neither swim for very long, nor with anything more than the mildest exertion. I swam most of that time in the Endless Pool at home, usually for 3 x 30-min sessions a week -- very gently in a very slow current.

Since I couldn't exert myself anyway I decided to tackle a 'project' to make my 2BK more Shinji-like. Much more streamlined, and gentler, using as little leg muscle as possible. I focused on feeling the kick as driven almost entirely by weight shift. I definitely reached the most acute level of mental focus I've ever experienced. My focus on fixing small errors had demonstrably lifted me to a strikingly better level of efficiency -- even after 20 yrs of working intently on it.
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Old 07-06-2012
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Default July 5 AM 2500 LCM at UCP Finding Best 'Easy Speed'

Conditions were sub-optimal for this Friday morning practice. The pool was crowded with age groupers, with only a single lane available -- in the middle of the pool with a set of stairs blocking the wall. I could push off one of the bottom steps to start a repeat, but not do a turn on it. So I decided to swim 100m repeats for the full practice. Also I was still a bit fatigued from two practices totaling about 5000y the day before -- about half again farther than I'd swum in any session all year. So, a perfect day for Easy Speed -- or Finding my Bottom-End Speed.

All swimmers are familiar with chasing their top-end speed -- how fast you swim when going all out. But few have any idea of their best bottom-end speed -- how fast you swim when striving to swim as easily as possible. It's ideal for a day when your energy quota is low, or when you plan on a restorative practice. If you do it right, it requires intense focus -- trying to squeeze as much speed out of mental, rather than physical energy.

It's also a great practice for middle-aged athletes, because doing more with less is essential as we age. And finally, it's a great practice for triathletes because the payback for working hard in the swim is nil, while the reward for saving energy to spend on land is great.

The Set(s)
Swim 6 x 100 on 2:00 @ 36 SPL – Descend from 1:57 to 1:42
Swim 5 x 100 on 2:00 @ 37 SPL – All @ 1:40
Swim 5 x 100 on 1:55 @ 38 SPL – Avg 1:40+
Swim 5 x 100 on 1:50 @ 39 SPL – Avg 1:41
Swim 3 x 100 on 1:45 @ 41-42 SPL 1:36-1:37

Notes
I began with one of my favorite warmup/tuneup sets -- a series of 100s, all done easily, with an intention to feel as if the seconds just 'melt away.' Allowing myself to swim faster -- as my neuromuscular system gets tuned up and operates more efficiently -- not trying to swim faster.

I don't pre-determine how many 100s I'll do. I just continue as long as my time continues to improve without effort. I stop when any 100 is no faster than the one before. Today that was 6 x 100 and descending from 1:57 to 1:42 (I dropped 8 of those seconds on the 2nd 100.) I also didn't pre-determine what SPL I'd swim at, but recently it's been 36SPL naturally at warmup pace.

With pace and SPL set by the warmup, it was a simple matter to plan the sets to follow. I decided I'd swim sets of 4 x 100 adding 1 SPL to each set, while subtracting 5 seconds from my interval, aiming to stay as close to the 1:40 pace throughout, without increasing effort.

If time remains the same and SPL increases, then tempo must also be increasing. I wasn't trying to increase tempo, just adjusting to a slightly faster, yet slightly lighter way of swimming -- like a cyclist working from bigger to smaller gears one by one.

I did finally apply a little bit more effort on the last 3 x 100 when the interval was 1:45. I was really pleased how easily I was able to swim a 1:36-1:37 100m pace. The extended series of easy 1:40s -- each in a different gear -- were a perfect setup for swimming a little faster with minimal effort. Which is a valuable skill in itself.
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Old 07-06-2012
terry terry is offline
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Default July 5 PM 2400y at Lake Minnewaska - BEST SWIMS EVER

I culminated two days of swimming two practices a day -- a cumulative total of about 10,000 yards in two days -- by having my best swims ever in 11 years of swimming at Lake Minnewaska.

After swimming 2500 pool meters in the morning, I took a client up to Lake Minnewaska in the afternoon to test how his pool skills would hold up in OW. He'd never swum farther than 500m but swam a mile with me.Then I did another 800m on my own. Here's what happened.
I did 3 x 200 on 4:00 progressing tempo 1.0 - .95 - .90. I descended times 2:48-2:41-2:35. The last was the fastest lap I've ever swum there in 11 years.
I calculated stroke count from time and tempo and it was 168 , 169, 172, which is remarkable control of stroke length for that much tempo increase.

Then I did a 200 cooldown . . . 138 strokes . . . the most efficient lap I've ever swum there.

The fastest, then the most efficient - on two consecutive laps. A magical Kaizen day.
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Old 07-07-2012
ian mac ian mac is offline
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Default Working on tempo inflection point

Glad to see you blogging again. Now that summer is here, I am moving from the post racing easy swimming phase to early season aerobic phase. However I occasionally throw in some increasing intensity practices as well.

Although I haven't absorbed all your posts yet, regarding post#2 and the problem of tempo inflection points, I have found a particular set that helps me with gradually adapting to that point where things begin to break down.

I suspect that the inflection point is at a tempo slightly faster than what we would call current threshold pace. I absolutely agree with you that "When you identify your tempo inflection point, adjust your practice in two ways.
1) Spend more practice time at tempos just above that range." This is what George Leonard would refer to as "enjoying the plateau".

Regarding your 2nd assertion to,"Make smaller tempo adjustments from repeat to repeat," the following set has been helpful to me:

3 x (4 x 100, 4 x 50) give yourself a rest interval between 20 - 25 sec on 100's and 10 -15 sec on 50's.

Terry you claim that your current inflection point is at TT 1.00. So:
Set 1 - start 100's with TT @ 1.06 and then descend TT to 1.04 for the 50's
Set 2 - start 100's with TT @ 1.04 and then descend TT to 1.02 for the 50's
Set 3 - start 100's with TT @ 1.02 and then descend TT to 1.00 for the 50's

Rest for 2 min, then do 8 x 50 with TT @ 1.00 with 10- 15 sec. rest between 50's. Count your SPL and time per 50 and then compare the aggregate of each to your 400 swim when you felt the breakdown from post#2.

This is a way to gradually or incrementally improve your threshold pace. Enjoy the plateau. Glad to know that you are having fun in the water.
ian mac
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Old 07-07-2012
terry terry is offline
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Default A Few Practice Principles

What I'm posting here are 'Measured' Practices. By this I mean designing sets that give me concrete feedback on how I'm doing, or more specifically a way of linking efforts to outcomes.

Most of the sets I post here will be measured by one of three sets of metrics
Time + Tempo -- most appropriate when repeats are longer than 100m.
Tempo + SPL - most appropriate for repeats of 25-100y/m
Time + SPL - more appropriate for shorter repeats
The two other metrics I can include to measure, or adjust, the difficulty of a set are Duration -- how long is the set or repeats; and Rest Interval -- how much recovery do I allow myself between repeats.
And yet one more metric, this one subjective. I'm always aware of the 'mojo' of a set. Did I feel awesome--mentally, physically, emotionally--or struggle a bit. I'm always aiming for great mojo, because I feel great mojo in practice leads to the same in races. This is, of course, a striking contrast to traditional training where some measure of suffering or exhaustion is often an explicit goal.

I recommend shorter repeats when SPL is one of the metrics because of the difficulty some experience counting strokes for longer repeats--or remembering strings of stroke counts. If you've made stroke-counting a habit for as many years as I have, it becomes automatic and is easier to manage for longer distances.

A common characteristic of those who achieve excellence, and those who experience Flow States--and therefore the most critical principle in my set design--is a continual search for weak spots in their performance. After each set I deconstruct it to see where the weak points if any occurred. These could have occurred as I added distance, reduced rest interval, or tightened tempo. Where I set SPL is less of a factor, since my SPL range (or Stroke Length) is pretty wired in at this point.
Also, among all five empirical metrics SPL is the least elastic. This will be true for all swimmers.
Your weak spot will be reflected in a significant upward shift in SPL or time. I called it an Inflection Point in an earlier post.

So I look for that shift in every set. If there was none -- i.e. I remained in my Zone of Comfort or Control- then I'll plan a future set with greater difficulty in Distance, Tempo or Rest Interval. If there was a shift then I'll plan a future set, or sets, with slightly less difficulty in one of those metrics--just above where the Inflection Point occurred. I.E. Slightly shorter repeats or set length, or slightly longer rest interval or slightly slower tempo. I'll keep doing sets in that range--usually alternating the ease from one metric to another in different sets or practices--until what was difficult becomes easier.
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Last edited by terry : 07-07-2012 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 07-07-2012
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Default June 24 - 3 x 800 at Minnewaska

I overlooked this practice when posting the others so I'm posting it out of order now. However, this is an example of the Principle of Greater Difficulty I noted above -- and how that principle can be applied flexibly.

I planned this set as a followup to the 5 x 400 on 7:00 I had done four days earlier. Though I did experience a weak point on the final 400 at a tempo of 1.0, it wasn't pronounced. The final 400, measured by time, was fairly good.

So I decided to try 3 x 800 on 13:00 within the tempo range where I'd adapted easily on the 400s. I did one each at 1.15, 1.10, 1.05. My results were:
Tempo - Time - SPL
1.15 - 12:15 (159SPL)
1.10 - 12:00 (163SPL)
1.05 - 11:47 (168SPL)

I increased difficulty on this set in three ways
Repeat distance was 2x longer
Total distance for the set increased from 2000 to 2400
I rested half as much. My rest-to-work ratio was 1:12 (1 minute recovery after 12 minutes of swimming) on this set and 1:6 on the 400s.
I also started the set at a faster tempo -- 1.15 to 1.20.

What I learned:
1) Optimal tempo for 800y repeats right now is around 1.15.
My stroke efficiency was actually greater on the 800 @ 1.15 than on any of
the 400s. But SPL dropped off at a much steeper rate here than on the 400s as tempo increased.
.
2) Repeat and/or set distance are a bit greater than I'm ready for. I felt a bit ragged and fatigued on the last 400 of #3 and my SPL shows it.

The outcomes are good -- I swam significantly faster as tempo increased.
But they could be better -- a more constant SPL if I swim a shorter set, or
perhaps don't increase tempo as much. Or both. A set of 2 x 800 + 2 x 400
might have gone better. Or perhaps tempo increasing 1.15 - 1.12 - 1.09. Either
-- or both -- would be worth a try.

One thing I wouldn't change is the rest interval. I felt fully recovered
after a minute's rest and don't think it's likely that more rest would have
improved the set.

This illustrates how simple analysis--and adjustment-- can be when you have the right metrics to assess. Even in open water.
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Old 07-07-2012
terry terry is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ian mac View Post
3 x (4 x 100, 4 x 50) give yourself a rest interval between 20 - 25 sec on 100's and 10 -15 sec on 50's.

Terry you claim that your current inflection point is at TT 1.00. So:
Set 1 - start 100's with TT @ 1.06 and then descend TT to 1.04 for the 50's
Set 2 - start 100's with TT @ 1.04 and then descend TT to 1.02 for the 50's
Set 3 - start 100's with TT @ 1.02 and then descend TT to 1.00 for the 50's

Rest for 2 min, then do 8 x 50 with TT @ 1.00 with 10- 15 sec. rest between 50's. Count your SPL and time per 50 and then compare the aggregate of each to your 400 swim when you felt the breakdown from post#2.
Ian
Thanks for the comment and suggestion. I seem to have made rapid adaptations since post #2 -- indicating how much more quickly the nervous system can adapt than the aerobic system -- so I'll probably adjust the tempos accordingly, but I'll give this set a go one day in the coming week when I swim in the 50m pool, then report how I do.

Today I plan to revisit the set of 800s at Minnewaska. I'm considering 3 x 800 again, or perhaps 2 x 800 + 3 x 400, depending how I swim on the first two 800s.
This is why I no longer swim with the local Masters group. My time and energy are too precious to spend doing one-size-fits-all workouts when I can accomplish far more in less time by systematically targeting my weak --or inflection -- points.
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Terry Laughlin
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Last edited by terry : 07-07-2012 at 12:26 PM.
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