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terry 03-20-2013 07:48 PM

Mile Swim (1650y or 1500m) Improvement Project
I haven't yet completed three other improvement projects I've been dipping into since early Feb. One is for 100+200+300+400 FR. We call it the Pace Maintenance Test. A second is for 400 Max FR + 100 Max FR. We call it the Pace Decay Test. The third is for 4x50+2x100+1x200 BR.

Even so, today I did my initial baseline test set for a fourth Improvement Project. I'll do final baseline test sets for the other three projects in mid-April after returning from our OW camp in Kona--I'll give myself a week or two to 'retune' my pool swimming after a week of swimming only in OW. Then I'll focus exclusively on the Mile Swim Project.

I plan to continue this one for two months--doing my final baseline on or about May 20--as preparation for open water racing which will begin in June. Here's today's practice with the baseline test set as my main task.

20 March 2700y in 50min at SUNY
600 EZ Medley 25FR25BK25BR @ 13-14-7SPL

Baseline Test Set
3 x [550 + 50 Recovery] on 10:00
#1 @ 14SPL Time - 8:07 (times are for 550y)
#2 @ 15SPL Time - 7:57
#3 @ 16SPL Time - 7:44
Total (1650y) 23:48

From time and SPL I can calculate tempo for each:
#1 Pace/100 = 1:28 Tempo = 1.25
#2 Pace/100 = 1:26 Tempo = 1.13
#3 Pace/100 = 1:24 Tempo = 1.03

So my project will focus on getting comfortable at
14SPL at tempos faster than 1.25,
15SPL at tempos faster than 1.13, and
16SPL at tempos faster than 1.03.
And at swimming gradually longer repeats at those combinations.
I'll log my practices on this thread. I invite anyone with similar goals -- i.e. preparing to swim OW races of 1500 and longer this summer -- to join me.

Task #2
5 x 50 Brisk @ 15+16SPL on 1:15 interval.
My times were:
glimpse of 37
glimpse of 36

Summary: I wasn't feeling great today, a bit achy and feverish (polymyalgia rheumatica symptoms), so I expect I should be able to make solid progress on this in the next two months.

AWP 03-20-2013 09:02 PM

T, uncanny how our minds run parallel as I began my distance focus just yesterday. However, I took a more modest approach. Anytime I miss three or more days of swimming I allow myself to re-boot beginning a new week with gentle swimming, focusing on awareness. I did so on Monday and followed up with a series primarily focused on getting comfortable swimming longer.
1400 @ 20:50s then 700 @ 10:50s then a set of descending 100s : 1:28- 1:23 (glimpse of 1:22) BUT all @ the same avg spl! Arduous to say the least.
Btw, I 'challenged myself today (having a limited timed practice) with an extended medley set ( I'm so infatuated with this) as:
(2x 100FR 100BK 100BR 100FR continuous)
A modest 15:something
Followed by 4x 100 descending 1:48-1:40:
I'll be 'following' close behind ; )
(I neglected to mention that I'll be progressing similarly by breaking down my repeat distances as you have laid out or close to it)

CoachGeorgeRandall 03-21-2013 01:19 AM

I'm in as I have 2 OW races in June 1-Olympic Aquabike and 1- HIM AquaBike.
One of my goals this year is to learn to focus on pacing at will. I like your plan working from your baseline. Should be a fun project!

terry 03-22-2013 10:44 PM

200 Yd Repeats as Main Task
Fri 22 March 3000y in 55 min
400y EZ Medley
Today I varied it, doing 100FR100BK100BR100FR @ 13-14-7 SPL for FR-BK-BR. I neglected to check my time.

Main Task: 3 rounds of [3 x 200] + EZ 50 between rounds.
I planned this based on my results in the baseline test set. I decided on rounds of 3x200 because each round equals 600y, slightly longer than the 550 repeats in the test set. My plan was to swim one round each at the same stroke counts as the 550s with a goal of seeing how much faster I could swim than I had the other day. Here are results:

Rd 1 @ 14SPL (my interval was 3:10) 2:52-2:50-2:48
Rd 2 @ 15SPL (interval of 3:15) 2:47-2:45-2:43
Rd 3 @ 16SPL (interval of 3:20) 2:43-2:41-2:39

14 SPL - Avg pace 2:50 (1:25/100) Avg Tempo 1.17
15 SPL - Avg pace 2:45 (1:22.5/100) Avg Tempo 1.06
16 SPL - Avg pace 2:41 (1:20.2/100) Avg Tempo 0.98

Following my baseline test set I wrote:
>>My project will focus on getting comfortable at
14SPL at tempos faster than 1.25,
15SPL at tempos faster than 1.13, and
16SPL at tempos faster than 1.03>>
So clearly, after just one practice I'm well on my way.

My plan now is to cycle through the following series of Main Tasks, probably progressing to the next set every 3 to 4 days.
3 x [3x200]
3 x [4x150]
3 x [6x100]
3 x [8x75]
In each instance, I'll do one round each at 14-15-16 SPL.
I'm confident that each time I step down in repeat distance, my average pace will get faster--without increasing effort--and thus my avg tempo will also get faster.

After completing a cycle, I'll start again at the top, anticipating that my paces (and thus tempos) for the sets of 3 x 200 at each SPL should be faster than before, etc. I will probably complete 4 cycles of 4 Main Tasks during the 2 months this project will last.
Follow my progress here.

Secondary Task 4 x 50 BR - with 50 EZ BK between.
This is part of my ongoing Breaststroke Improvement Project
I swam these at 8+9 SPL. My times were 50-49-48-47 sec, for a cumulative 200 total of 3:15. Best broken 200 I've done yet.
I added one more 50, doing FR @ 15+16 SPL in a time of 36 sec.

terry 04-07-2013 12:41 AM

Finding My Limits
Sat 6 Apr 3100y in 60 min at SUNY

This is my first update in two weeks -- bcz today was my first pool practice in 15 days. I swam in open water for 7 days at our Kona OW camp, but in the following week have only swum once, for 30 minutes, in the Endless Pool. Partly because I had work to catch up on, but more because a flareup of autoimmune symptoms has left me achy and tired most of the time.

I felt poorly from my first lap, so decided to set modest goals.
1) Short repeats to avoid fatigue.
2) Look for a modest sustainable pace at 13-15 SPL
3) Incrementally increase the distance for which I could hold that pace and SPL.

Set #1 3 rounds of [6 x 50]
On this set, I was looking to find my best effortless pace @ 13+14 strokes.
1-6 on 1:00 - I descended from 48 to 42 sec. with the pace improvement entirely from stroke-tuning, without increasing effort.
7-12 on :55
13-18 on :50
I managed to hold 42 sec and 27 strokes with slightly increased effort on Rd 2, so decided to try decreasing rest interval one more time for a 3rd round. This time I held pace again, but added a stroke here and there. Also felt slightly feverish - which happens when I cross an 'exertion threshold.' When I'm symptomatic, I have to take care to avoid that.

Set #2 2 rounds of [4 x 75]
Rd 1 on 1:15 I held same pace (63 sec for 75y) and SPL. Happy with this.
Rd 2 on 1:10 As on the 50s, when 1st round went well, I tested my luck by adding a round on a slightly faster interval. As happened on the 3rd round of 50s, I held the pace, but SPL went to 15.

Set #3 5 x 100 on 1:40
I eased up the rest interval (1:40/100 is equivalent of 1:15/75). I held same pace (1:24 for 100s = 42 sec for 50s), and avg SPL remained 15. Effort felt OK. Pleased with this.

Set #4 4 x 125 on 2:00/2:10
I set interval a bit tighter at first then needed to ease up after 2 x 125. I did manage same pace (1:45 for 125) and held 15SPL as I had on the 100s. I began to feel more fatigue here -- getting to the edge of unsustainable -- so decided not to push my luck by increasing repeat distance any further.

Summary On today's 'experiment' I found I could hold a pace of 21 sec/25y at an SPL of 14-15 from 50y repeats up to 125y repeats. Though I felt poorly, which limited effort, distance and speed -- and rather achy for some time after this practice -- I was pleased with the rigor and discipline I showed on a difficult day.

If I'm going to be in managing fatigue and inflammation mode for a while--and find it difficult to improve on the initial pace I set for 1650--at least I can learn something about swimming with physical limits.

terry 04-08-2013 09:08 PM

Encouraging Improvement
Monday 8 Apr 2800y in 55 min at SUNY

I saw the rheumatologist today and he gave me a shot of an anti-inflammatory medication he promises will have me feeling back in the pink by tomorrow. I was so encouraged by this news that I went direct to the pool to celebrate. Also I was feeling much better today than Saturday, so I had strong expectation for a good practice. Indeed it was very good.

Tuneup Set 6 x 100 EZ IM (25 ea: FR-BK-BR-FR @ 12-14-7-13 SPL) on 2:00
I descended these 1:46 to 1:37 without adding a single stroke. 9 sec. faster for 100y on same stroke count is always good.

MIT (Most Important Task) 3 rounds of [4 x 150 on 2:30] + 50 EZ BK between rounds.
This set/task is a followup to the set I described in post #4. I did the set as follows:
Rd 1 @ 14 SPL. I descended 2:08-2:07-2:06-2:04.
Rd 2 @ 15 SPL. Times: 2:07-2:05-2:03-2:01
Rd 3 @ 16 SPL. Times: 2:06 - 2:03 - 2:01 - 1:57***

How did I descend these rounds?
In each round I swam #1 with featherlight pressure, #2 still light pressure but emphasizing integration between pull and kick; #3 moderately-strong pressure on both pull and 2BK; #4 with highest pressure I could apply, while still feeling that I my pressure was moving me forward, not moving the water around. It took great discipline and focus to maintain Stroke Length as I added power. But that leads to flow AND hardwires that habit for races.

14 SPL - Avg pace 2:06 (42sec/50) Avg Tempo 1.17
15 SPL - Avg pace 2:04 (41.4sec/50) Avg Tempo 1.08
16 SPL - Avg pace 2:02 (40.6sec/50) Avg Tempo 0.98 (.94 on #4)

This is the same range of tempos as I'd done on the 3 rounds of [3x200].

My next practice main set will be 3 rounds of [6x100].

Breaststroke Set
My Breaststroke Improvement Project remains ongoing so I finished this practice with a standard set -- 4 x 50 @ 7+8 strokes on 1:30
I added 15 seconds to my usual rest interval to see how much additional speed it might yield.
I descended these 50s (I strive to always descend)
52-50-49-48 sec for a cumulative 200 time of 3:17 -- one second off my best for this set, but I hadn't swum any BR repeats in 2+ weeks.

terry 04-11-2013 07:19 PM

Swimming with Susan
I had the rare treat of company during my practice today. Susan Helmrich of Berkeley CA visits New Paltz regularly to look in on her parents -- who are neighbors of TI legend Paul Lurie, the ageless wonder. Tomorrow, Susan--and her daughter Aly, a Williams College swimmer who just made All-American in 100-200 Fly and 4x100 Medley Relay--and I will synch-swim with Paul. But today Susan joined me for this practice, and we were remarkably in synch on how we swam this set.

Thurs 12 Apr 2600y @ SUNY
6 x 100 FR on 1:45. Hold 13SPL and descend effortlessly.
Times 1:36-1:27. Pleased to improve 9 sec. by focusing only on feeling my stroke become better tuned -- no increase in effort.

Main Set/Task
Do this twice: 3 rounds of [3 x 100 on 1:45] 25 EZ BK between rounds.
1-3 @ 14SPL
4-6 @ 15SPL
7-9 @ 16SPL
Second time through this set should be better due to nervous system being better attuned to the task. Times were about 1.5 sec/100 better on 2nd round.
14 SPL Average of 1:22/100 = 1.14 tempo
15 SPL Average of 1:20+/100 = 1.03 tempo
16 SPL Average of 1:19+/100 = 0.95 tempo

terry 04-13-2013 10:55 PM

Pacing with 75y repeats
Sat 13 Apr 2300y in 45min at SUNY
Tuneup Set
5 x 100 EZ IM
Main Set 4 rounds of 3 x [75 FR at pace + 25 BK recovery]
In each round
1st 75 @ 13 SPL
2nd 75 @ 14 SPL
3rd 75 @ 15 SPL

This completes one cycle of swimming gradually-shorter repeats for my main set. In previous practices my main set was 200s-150s-100s and today 75s.
My plan is to swim progressively faster paces at the same range of stroke counts (14-15-16) as repeats get shorter. That translates into progressively faster stroke rates, with the expectation my nervous system will adapt gradually to holding faster tempos - and thus paces -- as I repeat this cycle 3 to 4 times.

I swam these sets a little differently today. I reduced my stroke count range by 1 (13-14-15 today) to make it a bit harder to achieve a brisk pace on the short repeats.
And rather than completing a full round at each count, I swam one repeat at each count in each round.

On Round 1 my times were
13 SPL - 64 sec
14 SPL - 63 sec
15 SPL - 62 sec
I improved my times each round.
On Round 4 my times were
13 SPL - 58 sec (1.14 tempo)
14 SPL - 57 sec (1.03 tempo)
15 SPL - 56 sec (0.95 tempo)

With one cycle complete, I'll repeat the benchmark set of 3 x 550 in my next SUNY pool session.

Breaststroke Pace Set
4 x 50 on 1:30 1-3 @ 7+8 strokes, #4 @ 8+9 strokes
Times: 49-48-48-47 sec or 3:12 cumulative 200 - best so far.

terry 04-14-2013 08:22 PM

'Hacking the Mile': 28 sec faster 5 practices!
Tim Ferriss has become a multimillionaire by teaching people how to 'hack' work, your body and cooking. Well if there's such a thing as hacking your time for a mile swim, I think this qualifies. Nearly half a minute faster in just 5 practices. Can you do it?

13 April 2900y in 50 min at SUNY
Descend 6 x 100 EZ Medley 25FR25BK25BR25FR @ 12-14-7-13 SPL

Revisit Baseline Test Set
3 x [550 Timed + 50 Recovery] on 10:00
On Mar 20 I did
#1 @ 14SPL Time - 8:07 - Pace/25 22.1 sec - Tempo 1.25
#2 @ 15SPL Time - 7:57 - Pace/25 21.6 sec - Tempo 1.13
#3 @ 16SPL Time - 7:44 - Pace/25 21.1 sec - Tempo 1.03
Total (1650y) 23:48

Today I did
#1 @ 14SPL Time - 8:02 - Pace/25 21.9 sec - Tempo 1:24
#2 @ 15SPL Time - 7:46 - Pace/25 21.2 sec - Tempo 1.11
#3 @ 16SPL Time - 7:32 - Pace/25 20.5 sec - Tempo 1.00
Total 23:20

This encouraging outcome gives support to two insights about effective training -- i.e. creating maximal improvement with a minimal investment of time and energy. My mile (1650y) pace improved by 28 seconds in just 3 weeks -- and 5 practices. (I was in Kona for one week of this period, swimming at generally quite slow paces in open water. The other two weeks, I also swam 2 to 3x/week for 30 minutes in the Endless Pool -- all of it at quite gentle paces.)
1) Improvement Projects work. Do an assessment or baseline set. Record time and SPL or time and tempo. Then design every practice around a main set that targets the metrics you recorded.
2) Even very small changes in tempo add up to significant improvement when multiplied by many strokes. Tempo improved by only .01 at 14 SPL, .02 at 15 SPL and .03 at 16SPL, but mile pace improved by 28 sec.

I'll repeat the cycle of 5 practices two more times before this project concludes in early June. Stay tuned to see how much more I can improve my mile pace. But don't just watch. Start your own Improvement Project and share it with us on the Forum. When you make your progress public, you turn an Improvement Project into an Accountability Project.

terry 04-18-2013 09:31 PM

A Restorative -- but Exacting -- Practice
I've been feeling a bit more tired and achy the last few days. (Perhaps in part because of doing 'effortful' practices two consecutive days last weekend?)

In any case I've not felt up to the exertions of a Main Set focused on my Mile Swim Improvement Project for the last few days. Even so, I had a great practice today while keeping effort between gentle and moderate. Also, because the pool opened at 11:30 and I had a chiropractic appt at 12:30, I had only 40 minutes to swim. It was a great 40 minutes!
18 April 2000y in 40 minutes

4 x 100 EZ Medley (25 each of FR-BK-BR-FR at 12-14-7-13 SPL) on 2:00
4 x 50 BK at 13+14 SPL
3 x 200 EZ Medley (50 each of same strokes and counts)
4 x 50 BR at 7 SPL
3 x 200 EZ Medley (as above)

I descended each of these sets, increasing speed slightly in each repeat, while holding stroke count the same.
After the set of 4 x 50 BK I was looking for the 50 BK on my 200 EZ Medley to feel much better tuned. Ditto for the set of 4 x 50 BR. In both cases I achieved what I was seeking.
Throughout. I was striving to tease out each second of improvement from feeling acutely in tune with the water and my body.
With each repeat and set, my strokes and overall flow felt better and better.

At the end I felt physically and mentally refreshed and energized. I have a feeling tomorrow will be a good day to return to my Improvement Project.

AWP 04-19-2013 04:30 PM

Hope the chiro 'straightens' you out ; )
I had a restorative practice myself yesterday with same time constraint (had to get back to work) so opted for a "tune-up". I dug this out of my mental archive, one I recall you posting some time ago, remembering it was helpful then and curious as to how it would feel now. I altered it a bit, I think you had done rounds of 200s, but felt it fell in line with the mile project.
(Note: I'll also share some of what I've done recently, although I've failed to get a really complete/formal session in, focused solely on "mile project metrics", but still feel I've become aware of what I'll need to do to make further improvement.)

Mile Project Tune-up Session
600y FR as
200 balance- 'no' kick (slightest "flick", mostly weight shift/hip nudge)
200 streamlining (timing of 2bk to "spearing" entry on opposite side)
200 propulsion (focus on timing/pressure on anchor arm thru stroke to kick on same side)
This was a continuous swim
Throughout the session, breathed every 3 strokes on balance, 2left 2right on streamlining and 1 length left 1 right on propulsion.

50 EZ BK

2x 300 FR as
2x150 B/S/P continuous, 50 each focus per 150

50 EZ BK

6x 100FR
Each 100 as 25B 25S 25P 25swim
#1 1:29
#2 1:29
#3 1:27
#4 1:25
#5 1:25
#6 1:23
After a quick realization that I managed to maintain 'pace' perhaps improving so slightly, naturally, as repeat distance shortened, I decided to add a bit of intentional "oomph" to each focus after each pair of 100 repeats. That's not to say I tried to swim harder, rather tightened my focus on each successive repeat on each stroke focus and managed to shave 6 seconds within same stroke counts.
Strokes per length
Balance 12/13
Streamline 14
Propulsion 15


Breath every 3
12 spl

AWP 04-24-2013 08:00 PM

At mid distance repeats (150s/200s) I was able to see a maintained and sustainable pace increase throught the sets @ each distance. However, it was the longer repeats where I saw slowed pace overall although successive times for those distances never slowed.
I suspect my turns and approach before turns may play a part in this accumatively; missed turn, a second added, sloppy breakout or added stroke, a second perhaps two added.

For my percieved effort my return remained consistent and I can look to improve, from here, my efficiency then my metrics and my effectiveness in doing so.

Mid distance avg. Pace per 50/100 yd improved from approx. :44/1:28 to :42/1:24.
1650/550s pace avg. :45+/1:30+.

I'll share portions from the past couple of weeks practices...

400 medley 25s FR/BK/BR/FR
A. Descended 3:06 to 3:00
B. Descended 2:50 to 2:48
I had halted this main task because I felt there was too much of a gap in pace difference and didn't want to push it for the sake of times. I wanted a comfortable improvement. (Note: my best marked time with equal spl for this distance is approx. 2:38)
400 medley
A. Descended 2:15 to 2:13
2x200 medley
B. Descended 2:12 to 2:08
2x(4x50s FR/BK/BR/FR)
C. 3x(3x50FR)
Improved pace from :43 to :41
1650FR approx. 25:30
400 medley as 100s FR/BK/BR/FR
Maintain pace (1:26-1:25)
2x(4x50s FR/BK/BR/FR)
6x100 EZ medley
(1:50 to 1:40)
100s FR
Descend, after every 2 repeats add stroke
1:22/ 2x50 (:38)(:41)((1:19))
1:21/2x50 (:39)(:40) ((1:19))

In each case where I broke down or halted a repeat distance,occured when I felt intuitively that I'd squeeked out as much as I could comfortably at my stroke count/PRE for that distance, but wanted to continue to improve pace at those spls.

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