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Part 5: Repeating Race Pace Sets

This article is a basic summary of those posted past newsletters from this study. Please remember these basic concepts while incorporating the workouts provided in the most recent newsletter.

How often do you need to repeat specific race pace sets for optimal training?

This study recommends 8 weeks to 3 months based on the ability of the athlete. If you document all your sets you will know when to increase the distance of the race pace set or decrease the rest interval as outlined in the last newsletter. Try to repeat the specific race pace set at least 3 times with approximately 36 – 48 hours between before making any changes within a week or two cycle. The brain will establish successive refinements of the patterning with the technique and energy that will occur in a race. Each successive cycle of repeats will have increased demands on the swimmer establishing the aerobic adaptation needed in swimming.

The refinement of race pace technique must also be a major focus of training as well as the mental aspects of racing. This must be worked into the training cycles as well as recovery. Please research the macrocycles of training listed in this publication. Basically, cycles of increased fitness levels will tend to have less recovery alternated with a cycle which emphasizes technique and mental skills.

The science behind this type of training proves that swimmers can peak multiple times within a 6 month period with benefits not achieved by a 4-6 month period of traditional training with considerable demands before a taper. Tapering is so much more than a short rest but an extended period of time where all aspects of the past newsletters are incorporated. There isn’t one formula and coaches need to know their athletes for optimal training. “There is a distinct difference between a two-hour training period and a two-minute race.”

Maintaining race pace work creates the energy demands and energy systems working together as they would in a single race. I will expand on energy systems to the best of my ability in future newsletters.

Just remember that swimmers must understand how to swim each race you are training.

If a swimmer uses the anaerobic energy system first in a race by usually being to aggressive then the race will be performed at less than optimal performance. Remember that your race pace training must match exactly how you want your swimmers to swim the race in a meet. Be as specific as you can in practice. Obviously exact times for specific distances must be repeated as well as stroke rate, flip turn speed, kicking distances off each wall and start, etc..

“Whether or not coaches are willing to alter entrenched coaching behaviors to provide a program that will benefit racing-oriented swimmers remains to be seen. A commitment to follow directives provided here in a disciplined manner is almost a requirement to see changes in coaching effectiveness through to a final, rewarding culmination. The practice sessions that stimulate the techniques and energizing properties for various races will be very different to traditional swimming training.”

All feedback is welcome.

This article is created from the readings of Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State University Swimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical Changes Brent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy

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Part 4: Race Pace Set Examples

Here are some workouts from the research I have been reading.  Please add this to your practice routines but make sure that all swimmers are performing at exact Race Pace. If a specific distance wasn’t at Race Pace then the swimmer needs to rest until able to perform and resume the set.

A. Race Pace sets

1. Please adjust the amount of time spent on each rest interval based on your swimmers progress.

2. Determine desired Race Pace, 100, 200 etc. please document and keep results.

3. Continue to lower the rest interval as suggested below and continue past :20 rest.

4. You will then increase the distance holding Race Pace and start over again with :30 rest.

Weeks 1 and 2

16 x 25 at Race Pace :30 rest, 1:30 additional rest after each set of 16.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 3 and 4

16 x 25 at Race Pace :25 rest, 1:30 additional rest after each set of 16.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 5 and 6

16 x 25 at Race Pace :20 rest, 1:30  additional rest after each set of 16.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 7 and beyond

8 x 50 at Race Pace starting at :30 rest, 1:30 additional rest after each set of 8.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 8 and beyond

6 x 75 at Race Pace starting at :30 rest, 1:30 additional rest after each set of 8.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 9 and beyond based on your swimmer

4 x 100 at Race Pace starting at :30 rest maybe breaking the 100 at the 75 for :15 rest at first then lowering the rest between 100’s and at the 75.

B. Short Anaerobic set

I think all of you know how to accomplish this.  Feel free to us the 23 week and 14 week programs for a plethora of workouts and your guide for the whole season. www.fasterswimming.com

 

C. Short Sprints Across Pool

1. This set should be your main set lasting about one hour.

2. Fly kick underwater on back/stomach simulating what you want on each lap in a meet.

3. All strokes working on breakouts as desired in a meet.

4. High-Quality swimming, Cords, power racks, etc.

5. 20 x short sprints stroke at Race Pace(you will need to figure this out per each set distance)

:20 – :25 rest interval

 

D. Short Sprints using a specific distance.

1. Similar to above but only lasting about 15 minutes.

2. Tarzan would be another option http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1199220097116&set=vb.44218826036&type=3&theater

 

Basic Layout:

Monday –  A and C

Tuesday – B and C

Wednesday – A and D

Thursday – B and C

Friday – A and D

 

Sample workout from study:

Warm up:  2 x 200 IM at 80% and 90% rest one minute.

Underwater kicking skill: 12 x 15(short) double leg kicking deep on :45.

Recovery: 300 backstroke at own pace.

Race Pace Set 1:  20 x 50 free at 200 Race Pace on 1:00

Recovery: 400 kicking. Choice of two strokes.

Race Pace Set 2: 30 x 25 fly or breast at 100 Race Pace (include underwater work) on :45.

Recovery: 200 back kicking

Race Pace Set 3: 30 x 25 back at 100 Race Pace (include underwater work) on :45

Recovery: as needed.

 

Be consistent with this program!

All feedback is welcome.

This article is created from the readings of Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State University Swimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical Changes Brent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy

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Part 3: Race Pace

The purpose of this article is to elicit thought. There are many quotes that I feel this best explains my readings of all the studies I am sharing with you.  Our goal is to become better coaches!

Below are a few concepts to consider while planning your workouts.

Swim Techniques at Race Pace

  1. Stroke efficiency is developed for the pace at which training is performed as discussed in previous newsletters.  To improve race performances, stroke efficiency must be improved and swum at race pace to achieve the best training effect.
  2. Stroke rates at practice must match stroke rates needed to achieve race pace times in a meet. “Hard extended swimming that accumulates lactate does not accommodate the learning of the skilled movement patterns associated with the effort’s velocity.”
  3. Race Pace training will have the greatest relevance for singular competitive swimming performances at all levels.  For example, slow kicking does not train anything related to racing but would be a great recovery activity. Training that is not race pace (irrelevant training) has one use, recovery activities between and after race pace sets

Ultrashort Training at Race Pace.

  1. Please plan short rest intervals as work intervals that are too long result in the accumulation of lactic acid.
  2. Consistent ultra-short training at race pace produces race pace performances that sustain fast twitch fiber use with greater amounts of oxygen thus increasing aerobic conditioning. This extends the ability to sustain a swimming velocity with good mechanical function as long as the athlete maintains desired speeds.
  3. The athlete will improve the most with race pace/ high-intensity speed which enables all necessary energy systems with the proper neuromuscular patterns.

Specific Race Pace Training

The best way to help a swimmer who is plateauing is to increase high intensity (race pace) training. Usually, a swimmer in this situation has years of swimming at slower speeds. They are in really great shape from all the unnecessary overtraining. You can’t swim a meet at race pace if you don’t train at race pace.  This applies to all athletes and their training as this improves both aerobic and anaerobic factors.

What to consider while planning sets:

  1. Make sure all swimmers understand the speed (race pace/goal time) you are asking them to swim.
  2. Keep your rest intervals: 10-:30 seconds. “One reason short intervals “work” is that when a high-intensity repetition is completed, the aerobic system continues to function fully paying back any accumulate oxygen debt developed in the repetition.  If the next repetition commences before the aerobic system begins to abate, the demand on the cardiorespiratory system is continuous although the exercise is intermittent. For the whole set, the aerobic system works maximally just as it would in a race. If the rest period is too long, the aerobic demand in the rest period decreases.”
  3. Race pace sets can last an hour.  Distances will increase as swimmers improve. For example,20 x 25’s on :40  alternating 2 x 25’s holding 100 race pace for the first 50, then 2 x 25’s holding race pace for the second 50.2:00 min rest20 x 25’s on :30 as aboveRepeat as needed, adjust send off’s as needed. Swimmers have to swim at race pace always
  4. The Faster Swimming  23 week and 14 week programs are designed to decrease the rest intervals for race pace while increasing the distances of race pace repeats over the course of the season.

We as coaches really need to incorporate race pace(high intensity) training and understanding of the concepts mentioned in this article. Please do your research and experiences to develop your swimmers!

All feedback is welcome.

This article is created from the readings of: Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State UniversitySwimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical ChangesBrent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy

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Part 2: Planning Your Practices

Here are basic concepts to keep in mind while planning your practices:

1. Any swimmer that is poorly conditioned with bad mechanics will see improvement with any activity associated with swimming.

2. Once your swimmer advances in conditioning and skill level basic practices no longer apply and actually retards further development.  Higher levels of practices are needed to mimic racing demands of the athlete mentally and physically.

3. Keep in mind that practices must mimic racing demands of the athlete. Coaches must understand the principle of specificity mentally and physically. This is the learning process involved in understanding neuromuscular patterning and its importance in regards to energy systems.

4. “It is erroneous to practice swimming if the skill amplitude and rate do not reflect the intended race-specific qualities”.

The purpose of this article is to elicit thought. I have many quotes as I feel this best explains my readings of all the studies I am sharing with you.  Our goal is to become better coaches!

We all know about aerobic conditioning but do we really understand it. Coaches always say “you need an aerobic base to taper”. Does this mean cranking out yardage or is this individual to the athlete? If you are set on yardage, yardage, yardage you are training the athlete to train and not creating the physical and mental demands on the body needed for one race. This is going to take a lot of research on our part as coaches to really understand and apply.  I have thought for years that swimming is way behind track and field, in regards to training the athlete for a specific event. All the scientific studies researched in the study I am referencing below arrive at the same conclusion. “In traditional training sessions little, if any, happens that will influence better race performances. Training largely improves training but not racing.” This applies to the first concept listed above while planning your practices.

“Skillful and efficient performance in a particular technique can be developed only by practice of that technique.” This means at race pace to mimic the demands on the neuromuscular mechanism needed to ensure that energy systems in a race have been put to memory. Muscle memory, at race pace only, involves the neuromuscular memory of the energy systems used.  “Movement patterns in the brain incorporate the energy sources for the movement(s). Technique and energy are inextricably linked in movement patterns no matter how complex they might be.” If you practice at a slower pace the movement pattern and energy system associated is different than what is needed for racing.

Body position is a key factor to consider. Even a slight change in a swimmers body position or stroke mechanics changes the movement pattern and energy system demands of the race. This happens all the time to our swimmers at the end of a race and practice sets. Practicing at race pace involves body position, mechanics and intensity. This loss of control can be viewed as detrimental fatigue. Try to recognize whether this fatigue is physical, neural, mental or a combination of all three.

We all currently train our athlete’s through fatigue so understanding how “in-performance” recovery applies is extremely important.

We as coaches really need to incorporate more individual training and understanding of the concepts mentioned in this article. Please do your research and experiences to develop your swimmers!

All feedback is welcome.

This article is created from the readings of:  Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State UniversitySwimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical ChangesBrent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy

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Part 1: Performance is directly related to the ability of the body to use its energy systems.

Have you thought about in-performance recovery while planning your workout? This is extremely important to incorporate by emphasizing race pace work, proper rest intervals and mechanics especially the recovery phase of each stroke. Recovery occurs very rapidly within the time frame of the recovery part of a freestyle stroke or with a :05-:10 second rest interval during a set. The training must be high quality simulating the intensity needed in a race. You must train your body mentally and physically to adapt to the demands you intend to ask. Training an old-fashioned lactate set of 6 x 100 from the block all out will not help your swimmer prepare for the quality of work (demands on energy systems) needed for a 100 sprint in a meet. “Maximal lactate capacities are not taxed in swimming races and so need not to be trained with many lactate sets for maximal lactate tolerance capabilities. The stimulation of the alactacid energy system with more appropriate and beneficial race pace training is likely to be more than enough and would not demand overload training”. How does this affect yardage?  How much yardage is enough?  How long is a good practice?  I think we might need to really rethink these questions.

I encourage all, as I am doing, to really research and understand energy systems and apply it to your daily training. “The within stroke recovery phenomenon is another contributing factor that facilitates continuous high level efforts in a localized body area throughout a swimming race”.  Understanding the recovery phase of each stroke is extremely important to teach. Each swimmer must understand this concept. A lot of swimmers work the recovery phase of the stroke too hard which will not help in-performance recovery.  Teaching proper mechanics of underwater efficiency and workload are essential.

Your training program must include a lot of high quality work with shorter rest intervals of recovery. The higher quality and shorter interval format mimics races thus preparing your body to handle the demand required on the energy systems. The energy requirements of a single race are vastly different than the requirements of an extended practice session.  The alactacid system is the main source of energy needed for individual races. Maximal work and recovery are quick and understanding how this works will help each of us plan practices better.

If you expect swimmers to swim certain distances underwater in races then this must be trained at the same intensity needed in a meet. All underwater and surface requirements must be incorporated into all practices. Your athlete’s bodies must train all race specific requirements so that all energy delivery differences become fully trained and suitable for races. If you haven’t trained mentally and physically then you can’t expect it when needed.

Resting is not the largest part of tapering but creating the demand needed from the energy systems to recover during performances.  Race demand qualities during practices and especially during taper have to be maintained. I hope this article has spurred your desire to do your own research and rethink the planning of your practices. Race Pace and recovery are integral parts of the Faster Swimming 23 and 14 week programs. The taper process is a 7 week program creating the demand needed on your body’s energy systems to create the desired results during champs!

 

This article is created from the readings of:  Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State UniversitySwimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical ChangesBrent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy

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INTRO: Proving Traditional Practice Techniques with Science Know What You’re Doing and Why. An Ongoing Discussion

There is a lot to consider when planning workouts for your swimmers and we are going to address many of the issues listed in this newsletter in the weeks to follow. Pool space, practice time constraints and length of the training season make it very difficult to incorporate all the following aspects that are needed to add to your daily, weekly and seasonal plan. It will call on all of us to rethink how we coach each of our swimmers.

What is the appropriate yardage amount needed daily and during each phase of a season?

Why are coaches so worried about yardage numbers?

Why do coaches feel there is one formula for success for the whole team?

How do you know when you have reached enough yardage/work for each swimmer to succeed?

Are there really aerobic and anaerobic phases of swimming?

Do we train fast twitch and slow twitch muscles differently during the season or do they work and recover together all the time?

Do we train males and females differently?

How important is recovery in swimming and what exactly does that entail?

Is recovery time different for each stroke, upper body and lower body swimming?

Does recovery happen all the time and how important is recovery?

When is it time to stop training your swimmers each day?

How does dryland and weight training affect the demands of swimming and how do you incorporate this into your training?

Do we totally understand all the energy systems used during each set, repeat or practice?

Is the energy system functioning sport specific?

What percentage of kicking is needed during each practice and each part of the season?

We all understand that hard work equals success but it is time to be more specific. Training has to be Race Pace specific and must simulate the exact demands physically and mentally as in competition. Recovery must happen all the time during practices and we need to understand it better and express this to our swimmers. The amount of recovery and kicking during practices will lower yardage and a reason why a lot of coaches don’t spend time incorporating these important parts of training.

What does taper mean to you? Why is resting a swimmer scary? If we understand the science behind it then our minds should be at ease. A lot of coaches treat taper as a short part at the end of a long season of hard work. Developing strength, speed and power should be developed all season long and emphasized during taper. What really happens during a taper or should we approach tapering differently?We understand the basic concepts of work and recovery equals growth in speed and power but do we really understand the exact science behind it?

All the above mentioned issues are physical so what are the mental factors in training? It is a lot more than just pumping up your swimmers and motivating emotionally. There are a lot of physiological and neuromuscular patterns to consider. We all understand muscle memory so how about the mental aspect of repeats and how it works in regards to workload and recovery demands.

It is time to step up our reasons and understanding why we incorporate sets in our training. We need to really understand workload needed for specific race pace work, the interval or send offs needed to maintain work, recovery needed for repeats within a set and between sets, etc..

These are the topics we’ll tackle of the next several months. I encourage all of you to participate in this process each week with feedback and experience. I do know that I will learn more about our great sport.

Thanks for your interest in Fasterswimming.com

Brad

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Setting Goals

Every athlete wants to excel, but the will to excel is insignificant without the will to prepare to excel. Preparation is where many athletes fail. Most are willing to put in hours on top of hours of training, but almost no time is devoted to planning or record keeping. This planning (and tracking) is essential because planning is the first step to achieving any goal – including those accomplished in athletics. Your vision of where you want to be – your goal – is your greatest asset. A goal without a plan is just a wish. Knowing how and understanding why past training and peaking has influenced your performances (record keeping) makes attaining these goals a practice in reality.

Goals should be as objective as possible (measurable and performance-oriented), as specific as possible (performance and time-sensitive), and above all realistic to your level of athletic and competitive abilities. Keeping your season goals to two or possibly three major goals will help streamline your focus and simplify your training and regenerative efforts. The following goal is a specific example of what a season goal of a highly skilled athlete might look like:

GOAL

-Achieve a best time in the 50 yd. freestyle in competition by January 15.-
(Current best time of 20.10 in 50 yd. freestyle)

Write your goals down and put them in a conspicuous place, like by the bathroom mirror or on the fridge, so that you’ll see them often. Keep a copy in your training bag, as well, so you are reminded of your goals at practice. This will be a frequent reminder of your precise competitive desires, and as you’ll see below, of the how and why you planned on achieving them.

The methods and training objectives needed to attain your season goals are listed next. These again should be as objective, specific and realistic as possible. Methods listed can be complex or simple, just be sure to match your methods to your season goals. Daily training methods and objectives can vary greatly from day-to-day, but should also fall in line with your season goals. Training methods are the “how” to get to your goals. Training objectives are the performance markers on the road to your goals. They are the specific values, aspects of fitness, and/or the performances needed to achieve your season goals. The following are examples of two training methods and a training objective that supports the previous athlete’s goal mentioned.

METHOD

-Include max speed work in practices at a volume of 600m per week.-

-Include extra quality kicking each day to equal at least 1000 yds. per week.-

OBJECTIVE

-Swim 50 free in practice in less than 21 seconds by December 15.-

Motivations are the “why” you are doing the training and striving toward your goals. Again, this could be as simple as “To be the best in the State,” or a complex, layered, psychological explanation. It is most important that your motivation has meaning for YOU. Use your motivations to keep your training, regeneration, and competition efforts inspired.

Space is provided at the bottom of your goal sheet for your ultimate goal. Perhaps this is the same as your season goal, perhaps two or three years down the road – whichever, it will help you keep an eye toward the future and what you ultimately envision for yourself in your sport.

Daily training or practice goals are extremely useful in reaching your season goals and objectives. They are the “baby steps” on your way to your larger goals. Practice goals can vary from day-to-day, and are highly individual, so be sure that your practice goals are in line with your season goals.

 

Season Goals

1._________________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________________

Training Methods

1._________________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________________

4._________________________________________________________

5._________________________________________________________

6._________________________________________________________

Training Objectives

1._________________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________________

4._________________________________________________________

5._________________________________________________________

6._________________________________________________________

Motivations_________________________________________________

Have the attitude of a Champion.
Practice and behave as though you were already where you want to be.

Ultimate Goal______________________________________________

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Creating Goals for Athletes

Every athlete wants to excel, but the will to excel is insignificant without the will to prepare to excel. Preparation is where many athletes fail. Most are willing to put in hours on top of hours of training, but almost no time is devoted to planning or record keeping. This planning (and tracking) is essential, because planning is the first step to achieving any goal – including those accomplished in athletics. Your vision of where you want to be – your goal – is your greatest asset. A goal without a plan is just a wish. Not knowing how and understanding why past training and peaking has influenced your performances (record keeping) makes attaining these goals tougher than it needs to be.

Goals should be as objective as possible (measurable and performance-oriented), as specific as possible (performance and time-sensitive), and above all realistic to your level of athletic and competitive abilities. Keeping your season goals to two or possibly three major goals will help streamline your focus and simplify your training and regenerative efforts. The following goal is a specific example of what a season goal might look like:

-Achieve a top 100 World ranking in the 200m dash by August 1.-
-Three previous season’s average of 20.45 seconds.-

Write your goals in this manual and in another conspicuous place so that you’ll see them often. This will be a frequent reminder of your precise competitive desires, and as you’ll see below, of the how and why you planned on achieving them.

The methods and training objectives needed to attain your season goals are listed next. These again should be as objective, specific and realistic as possible. Methods listed can be complex or simple, just be sure to match your methods to your season goals. Daily training methods and objectives can vary greatly, but should also fall on a continuum of your season goals. The following are examples of two training methods and a training objective that might support the previous goal.

-Include max speed work in June practices at a volume of 600m per week.-

-Include extra mobility work for 30 min., 3x per week for the entire season.-

-Run 200m in practice in less than 21 seconds by July 15.-

Motivations are the why you are doing the training and striving toward your goals. Again, this could be as simple as “to be the best in the State,” or a complex, layered, psychological explanation. It is most important that your motivation has meaning for YOU. Use your motivations to keep your training and regeneration efforts inspired.

Space is provided at the bottom of your goal sheet for your ultimate goal. Perhaps this is the same as your season goal, perhaps two or three years down the road – whichever, it will help you keep an eye toward the future and what you ultimately envision for yourself in your sport.

Weekly and daily training goals head each log page under “Training.” Use these goals to help plan the incremental steps in your training leading to your season and ultimate goals. These smaller goals will keep you on track towards your larger goals and keep your intent at the forefront of your training.

  • by John Coffman, FasterSwimming.com Contributing Writer