I went to the gym tonight and did a bit on the bike, then some core strengthening, then the treadmill. After that I went into the pool. I was just planning to do a gentle mile, so off I went.
As I was swimming I realised that it was all coming together nicely and while it wasn’t a blistering pace, I was doing okay. I was certainly quicker than the guy I was passing every 8 lengths or so. So at the end of my mile I thought I’d time my last 200m. I did it in 3:45.
So I pretty much hit my threshold pace for 200m, without going full throttle and after a gym session and a mile of swimming.
Yay me 🙂
After reading a bit more about training at your threshold and thinking about it further it makes a lot of sense to me. So I’m going to make a tweak to my big training session.
Sprinters – Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
The main thing is that I’m going to drop all the 50m sets – it doesn’t matter how good I get at swimming 50m it won’t help me much if I want to swim 10.5miles. In place of the 14 sets of 50m I’m going to add an additional 3 sets of 200m (so a net loss of 100m). Much better to add longer sets that worry about my sprinting.
The second thing I’m going to do is relax on the times slightly. The point of threshold training is to constantly train at (or just below) your top speed. Instead of sprinting and training the body to cope with short sharp bursts you train at a hard pace and train the body to cope with maintaining that pace. At first it may seem that the threshold pace is too slow, but as you reach the end of the session it soon becomes a tough pace to maintain.
I don’t want to be a sprinter, I want to be able to swim long distances quicker – so this all makes sense to me. Therefore the new plan (starting tomorrow) will look like this:
– 100m sets – time 1min 50, with 15 secs rest between each, 1-min break between sets: 2-3-4-3-2
– 200m sets – time 3mins 40, with 15 secs rest between each, 1-min break between sets: 2-3-3-2
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.