Saturday, 11 June 2011

11 juin Total Immersion Swimming Series

(pardon me, juneathoners, while I take some notes on swimming). (today's activities = running - running errands, that is. Plus dog walkies. Plus preparing for training tomorrow.)

Video Series Links (the first five set up the nature of the problem. Starting with no. 6, Terry presents solutions.) (each video is between three  and five minutes)

Part 1 How do We Experience the "Speed Problem?" 
most swim training programs don't give enough information. they focus on working harder and trying to go faster.  These "canned workouts" are influenced by formulas that are supposed to improve your aerobic conditioning. Every set focuses exclusively on how far, and how hard. It’s also One Size Fits All. There’s nothing in it specific to your needs, goals, body type or skill level.

Part 2 Tri-Swim Speed Must be Strategic  
more effort does not naturally lead to faster swimming. In triathlon, working harder does not result in going a lot faster (compare to bike & run)

Part 3 Terrestrial Mammals On Land vs. In Water  
land mammals - swimming by instinct means only tiring more quickly - swim harder = less headway, more turbulence, greater fatigue.

Faster strokes is a problem, not a solution. The secret to speed – is unquestionably to create and maintain Stroke Length. Maintaining Length is a strategic and rational choice that requires a skill that [can be developed].

Part 5 Three Speed Problems  
The solution is a better brain, not bigger muscles or lungs.  Saving energy comes from training the nervous system. The solution is to develop and maintain greater stroke length. 

Part 6 Sustainable Speed Solutions 
Swimming your best pace is far more about Sustainability than Velocity. Or “Do less; get more.”

Here are some specific Do Less examples that have brought More Speed:
  • When working on my armstroke, I think first and foremost about using my arms to: (i) lengthen my body (ii) separate water molecules; and (iii) cause as little noise, splash or bubbles as possible. I think last and least about pulling faster and harder.

  • When working on my kick, I think first and foremost about: (i) getting my legs to draft behind my body; (ii) about using a light, compact toe-flick, not a powerful leg drive and (iii) using non-fatiguing core muscle, not fatigue-prone thigh muscle. I never think about kicking harder and faster.

  • When working on my catch, I focus on: 

  •      (i) starting it as slowly and patiently as possible – indeed to have my hand be still for a nanosecond before stroking; 
  •      (ii) on feeling the lightest possible pressure on my hand and forearm, at any given speed; and 
  •      (iii) on holding my place, rather than pushing back.
RTerry suggests wearing tempo trainer @ 1.1 ("leisurely" in open water) to eliminate pacing errors. 

Part 7 How to Build-Imprint-Hold Stroke Length  

Terry says, The chart is intended as a broad – yet still meaningful – guide. If your stroke count is higher than the range for your height it’s highly likely that pool Balance and Streamline skills are to blame. Target those skills . . . keep repeats short . . . and take as much rest as you need . . . until your stroke count is fairly consistently  inside the prescribed range.  After that, all practice-planning decisions – how many repeats, how long, how fast — should be guided by how they affect your stroke count.

This chart is  for 25 yd pools. For 25m, [for my height] it would be approx 10% higher – so 18-21. And we recommend people start on the higher side and gradually work toward being comfortable at lower numbers within their range.

How can I tell if I'm improving?  There are four metrics to work with:

Distance of the Swim

If you can improve any of the three while keeping the remainders constant, you’ve improved.

The next day find another way to test your ability to improve one metric while preserving the others.

Improvement requires mindful practice.  Balance: co-operate with gravity. counter-intuitive: releasing head; hanging hand (avoid the scoop-up, which causes legs to drop); Lower drag; Streamline: pierce, don't push. (lazy arm - gather a collection of thoughts with which to swim).

Watching for – and trying to eliminate — bubbles in your stroke is a surprisingly simple way of knowing whether your practice is encoding greater efficiency. If you make fewer bubbles, you should also find your stroke count improve.

Terry recommends:  Learn the skills of Balance, Streamline and Whole-Body Propulsion, via a combination of drills and Whole Stroke with Focal Points.
  • When the skill base is established, do practices designed primarily to train the nervous system to maintain continuously-improving (Kaizen) combinations of Stroke Length and Stroke Rate. Let aerobic training ‘happen.’

  • Be disciplined and rigorous in practicing efficient, fluent stroking patterns. Never practice inefficiency in order to go longer or harder.
West Point program: improve  and imprint  the component skills of Balance, Streamline and Whole-Body Propulsion. The evaluation consisted of a ‘ladder’ series of 250-, 500- and 750-yard swims.  Don't go longer until you can complete the distance without exceeding recommended  SPL range.

Once a swimmer completed 250-500-750 with the assigned SPL, they progressed to a higher level challenge: Complete each of the swims at consistent SPL and consistent Pace. I.E. keep both Stroke Length and Stroke Rate consistent for the entire swim.

As their skills deepened, it was expected they would progress continuously to be able to complete them at the lowest count in their range – and consequently at faster paces, even if Stroke Rate remained constant.  (Don't go faster than 1.3 with the T.T. until you can stay in your SPL.)

Mathematically Precise. SPL and Pace are very concrete metrics. On every length of every set, each athlete has exact and personal knowledge of what represents the improvement they’re seeking.

Targeted to Skills that Win Races. While aerobic capacity is no guarantee of placement, any triathlete who can maintain unvarying efficiency and pace will outperform 90 percent of the field in a TriSwim leg.

To Improve Stroke Length You do specialized sets of relatively short repeats — seldom longer than 100m — where speed or pace is mostly besides the point. The sole goal of such sets is to swim at a lower count than usual. These sets can include either drills or whole stroke, in a wide variety of combinations. These sets usually include the following elements:

1. A primary focus on Balance and Streamline. This can be in either drills or whole-stroke, and often combinations such as 25 Drill 25 Swim, or 25 Drill 50 Swim. Whole-stroke laps will most often focus mainly on swimming with a particular Stroke Thought, and testing whether that Stroke Thought results in a lower count.

2. Using a Tempo Trainer at lower rates — most often 1.3 sec/stroke or slower.

This kind of training changes your movement pattern to reduce (1) drag and turbulence caused by how your body moves through the water or how you move arms and legs; and (2) slippage in your stroke. Your goal is to learn to move through the water, rather than move it around.

To Maintain Stroke Length, you do whole-stroke repeats, most often with a goal ofpatiently-and-incrementally increasing the distance you can swim without adding strokes to a high-efficiency SPL. I will often do this with sets like:

[4 x 25 + 3 x 50 + 2 x 75 + 1 x 100] in which my sole focus is to establish an efficient count/pattern on the 25s and test my ability to complete the set while minimizing any increase in count. If I see the count increase when I get to 75s, I would then drop back to the 50s until I strengthen the ‘neural circuit’ for the count I’m focused on holding.

I also do this quite often with Tempo Trainer — I.E. Do the above set with TT set at 1.30 seconds/stroke. If I can maintain my starting SPL to the longest repeat, I might repeat the set at, say, 1.28 sec/stroke. I’m focused on looking for the distance at which my efficient pattern breaks down. Once I find it I’ll do as many repeats as necessary at the level where I can – with keen focus – maintain efficiency.

In Marjorie’s case (whose efficiency breaks down when her distance approaches 1500) it would mean NOT swimming a 1500 if her SPL rises to 27 SPL as she goes. It could perhaps mean continuing to swim so long as SPL is 24, then rest for perhaps 10 seconds after any lap of 25 SPL. Over time, her goal would be to complete the 1500 with fewer — eventually NONE — of those 10-sec breaks.

You’d use a separate kind of set to improve that SPL to 22 — and test the new improved SPL with ‘broken’ 1500s in a similar way. However I should note that while I RACE 1500 to 3000m in open water, 90% of my training reps are 200 or less and I might swim 1500 continuous in the pool as infrequently as once or twice a year. (I do swim such distances continuously at least weekly in open water practice.) [I like this idea]

I often combine the two types of practice. Last October, while visiting Hong Kong I practiced in the 50m pool at Univ of HK. I hadn’t been in a 50m pool in quite a few months. My plan was to start with some easy 200m repeats. Last summer I would have easily maintained 38 SPL on those repeats. This day I started at 39, then saw my SPL increase to 40, 41 and 42 on the next three laps. I tried again and the same thing happened.

So I threw out the plan for 200m repeats and dropped to 50m repeats, focused on two Stroke Thoughts: 

(1) Hang my head until it felt weightless; and 

(2) Separate water molecules and reach an inch or two farther with my extending hand. 

That got my SPL down to 39, then 38, then 37, within 400m of 50m repeats.

Then I did several 100m repeats to test whether I could keep them at a stroke count of 38+39. When I succeeded, I tried some 150 repeats with the same goal. When that worked, I finally resumed doing 200m repeats, and was able to keep my SPL below 40.

If I’d had a Tempo Trainer with me that day I could have substituted that for the Stroke Thoughts on the Improve Stroke Length part of this process. Most likely I’d have started at 1.2 sec/stroke and gradually slowed tempo to, say, 1.25, 1.30, 1.35 until I hit the tempo that gave me an SPL of 36 or 37, then done the increasing-distance set at that tempo.

The point is to commit to practicing efficiency and make all your choices about set design subject to that goal. It’s organic, not formulaic.

1 comment:

  1. I did a TI workshop just before Christmas and loved every minute. No Brain, No Gain. Much more my thing than No Pain, No Gain.


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