I’ve written a couple of posts recently about new training plans for this year (here and here). But after the second one which specifically talked about swimming at your “threshold” I did a bit more research (clicked on a couple of links) on what that is.
This is the post that I found on Swim Smooth that covers it really well.
So what is it?
“In the training and coaching world we often shorten ‘lactate threshold’ to just ‘threshold’ – it means the same thing… CSS is an acronym for Critical Swim Speed. It’s an approximation of your lactate threshold speed and you can find it by doing a couple of swimming tests (no blood involved – just a stopwatch!). It’s not precisely the same as lactate threshold but it will be within a couple of seconds per 100m, which is plenty accurate enough to guide your training.”
And why is it important?
“For distance swimmers – including open water athletes and triathletes – one physiological factor is all important: your lactate threshold. If you can improve your lactate threshold speed your race speeds will improve. Your ability to sprint or work anaerobically above threshold is largely irrelevant in distance swimming and triathlon. So is your ability to lift heavy weights.”
Surely I should just swim as quickly as possible
Actually, no. And this is why:
“When you train faster than threshold you end up splitting the train effect into your anaerobic system too – which you don’t need much when you race. And you give your body a much greater recovery task after the session, which means it has less energy left over to make the fitness adaptations you are looking for. The result is that training above threshold gives you less adaptation of your threshold, not more.”
Read the full post to get more details (including a tool to help you set your threshold pace). But from now on I’ll be working like this.