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Old 07-12-2011
terry terry is offline
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Default An 'Asymmetrical Tempo' Pyramid

Tues July 12 3000 LCM at Ulster County Pool
I had a busy weekend, swimming the Greenwich Point (CT) Mile in LI Sound on Saturday. I placed 1st in 60-64 with a time of 20:40.
On Sunday I swam Stage 3 of the 8 Bridges Swim, 13.2 miles in the Hudson River from the Mid-Hudson Bridge in Poughkeepsie to the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. In that I tied for 7th (or last) in 5h 11m. More on this experience in my blog.

My total of 22,000 meters in just over five hours (albeit aided by a 1.4 knot current for about 4 hours) is about what I normally swim in two weeks, so I felt a bit knackered and creaky on Monday, and took a day off from swimming. (I did weights in the afternoon though.) A main priority this morning was to swim for restoration, yet seek improvement at the same time. I did a single set of 30 x 100, though I broke it up into sets of 5, then 3, and changed tempo each set. I chose to do only 100s because I felt longer repeats might remind my muscles how much I'd asked of them 36 hours earlier.

Here's the set:
First the ascending (slowing-tempo) part of the Pyramid.
5 x 100 @ 1.06
5 x 100 @ 1.08
5 x 100 @ 1.10
Then the descending side where tempo gets faster.
3 x 100 @ 1.09
3 x 100 @ 1.08
3 x 100 @ 1.07
3 x 100 @ 1.06
3 x 100 @ 1.05

As you can see, the final set of 100s is at a tempo slightly faster than the first set.
I usually begin a set like this at a tempo that feels a tiny bit rushed. My goal on that first group of repeats is to "slow time down" - to do enough repeats that, by the end, I feel as if I have more time between beeps, even though the beep frequency doesn't change.

What do I used that extra 'perceived time' for? To extend my bodyline a bit more before catch, to take a bit more care with the catch, to calm both myself and the water.

On that first set, I reduced my total strokes (for 100m) from 89 to 86. What I especially love about using the Tempo Trainer is how counter-intuitive it is. I put my focus on slowing down, easing up, relaxing, taking more time to cultivate my catch. As a result, I was moving the water less, and my body more. At 89 strokes -- and 1.06 tempo -- my 100 time (including 6 extra beeps for the pushoff and turn) was 1:40.7. At 86 strokes my time was 1:37.5. So by slowing down and easing up, I swam 3.2 sec faster (which is 48 sec faster on a 1500m pace.

As I slowed tempo over the next two rounds, my stroke count dropped to 81. At 81 strokes and 1.10 tempo, my time is 1:35.7. So again, I saw my time get faster as my stroke got slower because the increased leisure allowed me to stroke with more care, precision and sensitivity to water flow.

Then came the getting-faster part of the Pyramid.
I call this an Asymmetrical Tempo Pyramid because I don't descend in the same way I ascend. I've found that if I descend by smaller increments -- and in this case fewer repeats per group -- I can do a better job of maintaining the Stroke Length I've gained as tempo slowed.

To cut to the chase, I held stroke count at 81 @ 1.09 and 1.08, at 82 @ 1.07, at 83 @ 1.06.
When I began the set @ 1.06 my stroke total ranged from 89 to 86. But after slowing down to increase efficiency (and speed) I improved to 83 strokes here. Which converts to a 100m time of 1:34.3, And I was still swimming at only about 80% of maximum.

For the final set of 3 x 100 @ 1.05 I raised my effort to 90%-plus, as I would at the end of a race. The main change was to finally apply firm pressure on my stroke; until this point I kept it as light as I could.
My stroke count was 82-82-81. My time at 81 strokes and 1.05 was 1:30.3.

To put this in goal-perspective, I'd like to hold 81 strokes at a tempo of 1.00 or faster before the Betsy Owens 2-Mile Cable Swim Aug 13 in Lake Placid. I see this as a challenge in neural adaptation more than anything. Today's practice was one solid step toward it.
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Terry Laughlin
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