Terry's "Zero-Cancer Zone" Practices
I had the great fortune between 2011 and 2013 to help my most loyal student, Jeanne Safer through two successive bouts of cancer. First she had breast cancer. Then, within weeks of completing treatment, she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.
Treatment for the latter was incredibly draining. Jeanne maintained a strong body, mind, and spirit during her recovery by maintaining an identity as an 'athlete in training' -- rather than a patient-in-treatment. After being diagnosed with prostate cancer in Nov, and metastases in Jan, I knew it was essential to do the same.
One great lesson I took from Jeannie was captured in her phrase for the pool--my Endless Pool where we continued weekly lesson through the hardest phases of treatment, the Endless Pool at her weekend home near New Paltz and the Baruch College pool in NYC where she and her husband Rick live during the week.
She called any pool in which she was swimming her "Illness-Free Zone."
Since becoming involved with a prostate-cancer activist-and-information group called ZeroCancer, I've decided to adopt that as the name and theme of my practice. Any pool or body of water in which I happen to practice is my "Zero-Cancer Zone."
I mean this in two ways.
1) While swimming I feel so imbued with vibrant health--feeling better in body, mind, and spirit than at any other time--that I DO feel as if I have zero cancer.
2) This feeling turns swimming into a form of 'active affirmation' in which my actions and spirit say: "My body is strong and healthy and has the resources it needs to heal itself."
In this way--going beyond what the interventions of the most cutting edge medicine currently promise--I feel great conviction that I literally can zero-out cancer, by returning dis-eased cells to their natural state of health.
The short-term focus of my practices, and this thread is my preparation for swimming a 1650y (equivalent of 1500m but in a 25y pool) freestyle at the New England Masters Championship at Harvard Univ March 12.
This will be my final meet in the 60-64 age group before aging up to the 65-69 age group March 25. My first meet in the 65-69 age group will probably be Masters Nationals Apr 28 to May 1.
My goal for this 1650 is to swim it more efficiently and strategically than any mile race I've done in the past 48 years (I swam my first 1650 in March 1968, at age 17.) If I do I feel I'm capable of holding a pace of 1:25/100y for a final time of 23:45.
But I also hold out the possibility I might go a bit beyond that, and maintain a pace of 1:23/100y for a final time of 23:20 or faster.
In my last Masters meet, Jan 23, while feeling somewhat poorly, I averaged 1:23 for a 1000y freestyle, which was my 3rd event--following a 200 FR and 500 FR--within less than 3 hours.
I'll log my practices here, starting with three I've already completed this week.
Zero Cancer Practice #1 Finding my Tempo Threshold
Monday Feb 29 2000y in Clermont FL
I'd begun keeping Terry's 2016 Q1 Training Log Jan 21. At the time I was just resuming training after an interruption due to pool closings over the holidays followed by 10 days of travel related to TI work.
However that was also interrupted soon after I began (but not before swimming one of the best meets of my life--though my times in two events were my slowest ever; I'll post about that here in the coming week) by a disabling attack of sciatica. At the time I worried that it was related to the growth of tumors in my pelvis, but that turned out not to be so.
On Feb 11 I began treatment and have begun to feel better--well enough to set and pursue swimming goals.
This day's practice was on the final day of a 6-day Triathlon Swimming Camp at which I coached. I'd swum most days during the camp. All previous practices had mainly been devoted to Mindful Swimming, tuning my stroke with series of Focal Points. On at least two of those days I felt literally amazing in the water--as good as I have ever felt while swimming. I also swam the length of a 50m pool in 33 strokes, a high-efficiency SPL I had not achieved in several years.
That did amazing things for my spirit and psyche too.
My practice this day was fairly simple. Swimming in a 25y course, following a 400 yd Tuneup with Focal Points, I decided to swim 100y repeats with increasing tempo to test how long--and over how large a tempo range--I could hold my stroke count at 15SPL . . . 1-2 strokes lower than the 16-17 SPL I hope to maintain for most of my 1650 race on March 12.
Main Set 16 x 100 increasing Tempo
I chose 16 x 100 because it's close to the distance of my race.
I chose 1.2 strokes/sec as my initial tempo because I guesstimated (correctly) that I would be able to swim 15 SPL easily at that tempo.
I decided to increase tempo by just .01 sec each 100, so my tempo on the final 100 would be 1.05.
My goal was to see how long I could maintain 15 SPL as tempo increased.
I swam with featherlight touch on #1 and held 15 SPL quite comfortably (this means actual SPL of 14+15+15+16). I was able to keep my touch featherlight and still hold 15 SPL by stroking with steadily increasing control, integration, and precision.
In the end I did manage to complete the set without increasing stroke count--though the last 4 to 5 x 100 were quite effortful and I allowed myself a bit more rest between repeats to accommodate that.
I was elated at this set, and the degree of 'stroke discipline' it revealed.
ZCP #2 Extended Tempo Threshold with 100m repeats
Wed Mar 2 at Jupiter FL
I swam this practice in a 25m pool, which meant a different SPL range from my previous practice in a 25y pool. But it was easy to find my best SPL range since my tempo range closely overlapped with the one I used in my previous practice
Tuneup - I swam 400 meters super-relaxed with my best possible form. My SPL range was 15 to 17. However at 15 SPL I was gliding slightly into turns so I felt 16 to 17 was better.
Main Task Extended Tempo Pyramid -- 20 x 100m repeats
A tempo pyramid is usually 10 repeats. In this set I swam twice as many by extending both the slowing-tempo, and the increasing-tempo legs of it.
I started with tempo at 1.15 sec/stroke. My initial 100m stroke count was 72 or 18 SPL.
I decided to slow tempo in .04 sec increments continuing until my stroke count reached 15 SPL. This occurred after 6 repeats, at 1.35 tempo.
Then I reversed tempo in .02 sec increments, continuing until I reached my starting tempo of 1.15. My 100m stroke count was 68--4 fewer strokes (and 4.6 sec faster) than when I started.
I decided to continue increasing tempo until I reached my initial stroke count. From this point I increased tempo by only .01 sec per repeat to improve my chances of minimizing added strokes.
I finally reached 72 strokes, or 18 SPL, at 1.08 tempo.
I.E. At the conclusion of the set I had the same SPL as at the start, but at a tempo .07 sec faster.
Doing the math 72 strokes x .07 sec means I swam 5 seconds faster in the same number of strokes as I had at the beginning.
This set gives me more useful information on my tempo/SPL thresholds. I will use this information to plan future practices and continue adapting to faster tempos while maintaining an efficient--and relaxed--stroke.
ZCP#3 Two SPL + Time problem solving exercises
Friday 4 March 3500y at North Shore Aquatic Center St Pete FL
This practice is the longest I've swum since learning I have cancer -- and probably the longest since last summer.
I did only two sets. The first was an extended Tuneup and pacing exercise.
Set #1 Distance Pyramid at Constant SPL
In a Distance Pyramid distance increases in 1st half of set and decreases in 2nd half.
I swam the entire set at an average 15 SPL
4 x 50
3 x 100
2 x 150
1 x 200
2 x 150
3 x 100
4 x 50
My goal was to maintain the pace I attained on the 50y repeats as distance increased to 200y then increase pace as repeat distances decreased on 2nd half.
I accomplished that with fastest 50 on 1st round at 45 sec and fastest 50 in final round at 41 sec, but SPL still the same.
Set #2 Repeated Rounds of 100y repeats, descending each round
4 x (4 x 100).
On this set my goal was to connect more of my body to propulsion on each successive repeat within a round of 4--and by doing to generate a bit more speed.
I maintained an average of 15 SPL (14+15+15+16) on 1st 3 rounds and increased to 16 SPL on 4th round.
In each round I did the 4 x 100 as follows:
1. I focused on just holding my place, or applying feather light pressure to the water.
2. I increased pressure to firm, trying to apply it with great precision--but consciously minimized action of core/hips and legs.
3. I maintained firm hand pressure, but added a Hip Slide -- a controlled and very directed drive of hips in direction of where I was aiming the 'spearing' hand.
4. I added a crisp, compact, and firm 2BK while maintaining everything I'd done on #3. (On 1st 3 x 100 I consciously minimized kick.)
On 1st 3 rounds I did improve my times each time I connected another part of my body to the propulsive effort. Paces started at 1:30 or 1:29 on #1 in each round and improved to 1:25 -- my projected target pace for 1650 on Mar 12.
On 4th round I added one stroke per length, raising SPL to 16, where I intend to swim first half of 1650. I also maintained firmer overall feeling of water pressure over my entire body.
On this I descended from 1:25 to 1:22.
I was fighting off calf cramps on this round.
A Challenging, High-Purpose Valuable 20 Minute Practice
Sunday 6 Mar 1000y at North Shore Aquatic Center, St Pete FL
At the conclusion of a weekend workshop at the North Shore pool, I had only 20 minutes to swim before the pool closed.
Along with TI Coach Joe Novak--who I coached 20 years ago at West Point--I swam 4 rounds of 5 x 50.
We each held a consistent stroke count throughout the set.
For Joe that was 8+9 strokes. For me it was 14+16 SPL.
We each descended each round of 5 x 50 (i.e. swimming each successive 50 faster than the one before).
We also made each successive round slightly faster than the preceding.
Joe--despite taking 13 fewer strokes/50 also swam strikingly faster than me.
Of course he's 40 and I'm nearly 65. And he swam 44.0 sec for 100y free while I was coaching him, while my best for 100y was 10 sec slower and occurred 45 years ago.
However I was exceedingly pleased with how I swam
My first 50 in the first round was 48 sec.
My final 50 in the 4th round was 38 sec.
And I took 30 strokes in both.
Joe's 1st 50 in 1st round was 38 sec.
His final 50 in 4th round was 29 sec.
And Joe took 17 strokes in both.
Can you calculate our tempos?
Here's how. We allow 3 beeps on initial push off and 4 beeps between final stroke on one lap and first stroke on next, when turning.
To roughly calculate tempo subtract 7 seconds from time and divide that by # of strokes.
I'll offer a complimentary video analysis to first person to post my and Joe's starting and finishing tempos below--and get them right.
ZCP#4 Long Course - Mostly 100m repeats on Tempo+SPL
Mon 7 Mar 4400m in 50m pool, North Shore Pool, St Pete FL
This morning at 0530 I swam with the St Pete Masters because it gave me an opportunity to swim in a 50m course. The pool was to be converted back to 25y following the Masters session.
However I didn't do the Masters workout. I slipped into a lane with only 4 other swimmers. They swam on each other's feet, leaving a lot of space in the lane for me to do my own thing.
I didn't see a pace clock visible from the lane until late so I decided to do a practice based on Tempo and SPL.
Tuneup 8 x 100 at 1.2 sec/stroke
I haven't done tempo work in a 50m pool since last summer. I chose 1.2 tempo because it's at the upper end of the tempo range I've used over the past week. My goal was simply to see how many strokes I could subtract over the course of my 800m tuneup.
My 100m stroke count was 86 on #1 and 79 on #8.
Doing the math, my 8th 100 was 8.4 sec faster than my first.
I decided to swim short series of 100s at progressively faster tempo to see how long I could complete 100m in 80 or fewer strokes.
4 x 100 @ 1.19
4 x 100 @ 1.18
4 x 100 @ 1.17
5 x 100 @ 1.16
5 x 100 @ 1.15
5 x 100 @ 1.14
5 x 100 @ 1.13
I was able to hold 79 strokes through 1.17, then held 80 strokes (with an occasional 100 at 81 strokes) through 1.13
Comparing speeds, my first 100 of this practice the math for 86 strokes @ 1.2 tempo = a time of 1:51.
The math for 80 strokes @ 1.13 tempo = 1:38.
I finished up with 8 x 50 increasing tempo from 1.12 to 1.05, trying to hold 40 strokes. I succeeded at that. 40 SPL @ 1.05 = a 50m time of 45 sec.
4 rounda of 5 X 50
It was only 20 minutes of swimming together on Sunday, but it was the best swimming I have done in 20 years!
Great to see you this weekend coach and I look forward to seeing you again soon.
A high-value 900y practice
On Sunday I did a 20-min, 1000y practice that was completely engaging and satisfying and high-value at the same time.
Today I did another such practice, even shorter, but crammed with even more value.
I guest-coached a Master's group (called Tarp's Total Training) at Nassau County Aquatic Center this morning. (I'll post the practice I gave them in another thread.)
I coached the first 20 minutes from the deck, then swam with them the rest of the practice - a total of about 900y.
After I was finished with coaching, I had only 15 minutes to swim myself. Here's what I did
Tues 8 March 900m (in 25m pool) at Nassau County Aquatic Center
I did a single set as follows:
4 x 50
4 x 75
4 x 100
I set tempo at 1.2 sec/stroke.
My rest interval for all repeats was 8 beeps of TT (nearly 10 sec.)
I counted strokes--making this a Tempo+SPL set.
On the 50s I took 16+18 strokes. This was the self-assessment/info-gathering part of the set. I.E. At 1.2 tempo, what SPL can I comfortably hold.
Once I had this info, I set my goal for the rest of the set
To hold a stroke count of 16+17+18 on the 75s, and 16+17+17+18 on the 100s.
I did that pretty easily, something I have practiced often.
There were two 'metric' challenges inherent in this set
1) To maintain an average of 17 SPL at 1.2 tempo as repeat distance increased
2) To do this as ratio of work:rest increased. 8 beeps represents 1/3 less rest on 75m repeats, and 50% less rest on 100m repeats, compared to 50s.
I was looking for two outcomes
1) To feel just as relaxed on 75s and 100s as I had on the 50s.
2) During the round of 4 x 100, to feel more ease on the 4th 100 than on the 1st--to feel as if I could literally keep repeating this combination of 17 SPL @ 1.2 tempo indefinitely.
That's exactly how it went and I left the pool excited over how I'd swum.
According to my calculations, that would be...
First and only entrant in my impromptu little contest. And your calculation is correct. You win the video analysis. Post a clip of 20 to 40 seconds on the Forum--in its own thread on the freestyle conference and I'll post my analysis.
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