Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Top Triathlon Swimmers Share Key Workouts

The EC swim module (part of our coaching engine) has been built from my (Gordo's) travel around the world and is heavily influenced by Monica Byrn's approach to open water swim training.

If you happen to get to Boulder then Monica (as well as Jane & Dave Scott) coach at Flatirons Athletic Club and that's where you can see her swims in action!

In traveling around the world, I get to bump into a lot of accomplished swimmers -- this article will be where I place swim ideas from these athletes.

Wolfgang Dittrich - Broken 1500 Benchmarking
1000 band/buoy choice effort focus on four stoke offside breathing.

8x75 as...
1-4 free on 5s rest
5-8 middle 25 non-free on 5s rest

50 IM order by 25 (no free, just do 'em)
100 Very Fast Free

You'll need to think a bit for the send offs above. Consider the best pace that you can hold for an hour continuous. Let's say it was 1:40 per 100. In that case... the 50 is done on 1:35 (lots of rest) and the 100 is done on 1:45 (Base plus 5s).

By IM order, I mean...
1st 50 is 25 Fly / 25 Back
2nd 50 is 25 Back / 25 Breast
3rd 50 is 25 Breast / 25 Fly
then repeat for rounds 4-6

The 100s are meant to be very fast - don't hold back. You want to be 5-10s faster (per 100) than your base pace (hour of power pace).

After this set swim...
100 / 200 / 300 / 400 / 500 all on 20s rest and seek to hold your base pace.

Choice Cool Down

No equipment for anything other than the first 1000 band/buoy.

This swim will let you see how you tolerate fast efforts within a 4K swim set and give you an honest look at your ironman-specific strength and stamina.

When your stroke starts to go - slow your stroke rate down and keep your forearm pointing towards the bottom of the pool and pull your stroke straight back to your hip.



Our send offs...
50s on 1:15; 100s on 1:25
100s were (1:15/1:10/1:13/1:13/1:10/1:12)

100 on 1:40 - in on 1:20
200 on 3:10 - in on 2:40
300 on 4:30 - in on 4:05
400 on 6:00 - in on 5:25
500 in on 6:52

Dave Scott - Threshold Benchmarking
At the end of a six week threshold block, The Man administered a test set on the squad. I passed.

Warm-up with 8 minutes easy swimming -- I wore my sleeveless
16x75 as 4x (wetsuit off)
a - back kick, back swim, free
b/c/d - free
a is on 1500 goal pace plus 30s rest
b/c/d are on 1500 goal pace plus 10s rest
***will explain "goal pace" at the end
300 steady effort - gear or no gear, your choice
3x100 on goal pace plus 10s
400 on goal pace plus 10s
3x100 on goal pace plus 10s
400 on goal pace plus 10s
100 hold goal pace
then 2x50 VERY easy - take at least 3 min here
then 700 for time - aim to hold goal pace
cool down

I'll translate the above and give examples.

My goal pace for a 1500 TT is 1:20 per 100 (scm, at 5400 ft)
That is...
1:00 for a 75
1:20 for a 100
5:20 for a 400
9:20 for a 700

So the 75s leave on 1:30/1:10/1:10/1:10
The 100s leave on 1:30
The 400s leave on 5:30
The 700 try to hit 9:20

Looking closer -- you get 20 minutes of swimming in the first half of the main set at 1500 pace and ~10 minutes at the end. Frankly, a 750 might have been more appropriate but... I'm not the coach and it was a TOUGH set not to fade!

This was the last swim, of the last week, of a six week progressive block.

The swim is specific to short course racing as well as HIM racing where you are already running close to open Half Mary time. It generates a TON of fatigue (I'm whipped) so isn't appropriate for the specific prep block for most long course athletes.

If you are slower then I'd adjust the distance that you swim so that the time at "goal pace" stays the same.

The purpose of the workout is to hold best average pace for the entire main set.

Dave Scott - The Man's VO2 Set
Goal is to enhance top end swim speed

VO2 set is placed before, or after, the aerobic & strength set.

Aerobic and strength set that we used was...
(5x) 300 leaving on Threshold Pace (from test below) plus 5s per 100 then 100 IM (leaving on a send off that gives 15s rest)
ODDS - paddles
EVENS - swim
Odds should be pretty comfortable due to the paddles, evens pick it up so that you are holding the same speed (or a bit quicker) than what you are doing with paddles

Example, if your Threshold Pace was 1:20 per 100 then you'd use 1:25 per 100 for your base on the 300s. That would be a leaving time of 4:15.

Chill for ~4 minutes of easy swimming

VO2 Set
Pattern is...
4x75 on 10/20/30/40 seconds rest
150 fast
50 easy on 2 minutes

Figure out your time for the 75 that would be 3-4s per 100 faster than Threshold Pace (from below). Then calculate your send offs.

For example... if you are holding 1:20 pace for your Threshold then the 75s should be swim around 55s and the send offs are 1:05/1:15/1:25/1:35

Seek to hold the same pace on the 150 (that's pretty tough).

Goal is to build fitness (over six weeks) to where you can do about 24 minutes worth of the VO2 set pattern without blowing up. If you blow up then you need to back off the pace so that you can swim fast, but not explode!

We started with 12 minutes worth of the main set today.

Dave Scott - The Man's Threshold Benchmarking
Goal is to estimate functional threshold pace.

Warm up as if preparing for a long swim TT -- 15-30 minutes

Main Set Pattern is:
3x100 leaving on Aerobic Pace, swimming Threshold Pace
400 holding Threshold Pace on short rest

Do enough repeats of the pattern to log 40 minutes of total swim time (including rest)

The 400 should be set at a send off that is 7.5 seconds per 100 faster than your Aerobic Pace. "Aerobic Pace" is your comfortable, strong aerobic pace. What you could average for an hour swimming steady.

The fast lane did 4 cycles of the main set in a 25 meter pool:
3x100 leaving on 1:25
400 leaving on 5:10 (1:17.5 per 100 pace)

When fit you should be able to hold your Threshold Pace the entire way through the set. Joanna Zeiger (the real Jay-Z) was leading our lane and she set the standard holding 1:15s, or better, for everything, the whole way! FYI, you can follow JZ's blog here - Fast at Forty. I can vouch that she's fast at forty!

I had a sleeveless wetsuit on and was getting a draft, not from JZ, but from the swimmer behind her. Because I don't have the fitness to sustain 1:15s the entire set... Dave advised Plan B for me! Back off on the 100s, hit the 400s and calculate your average for the set (which was 2800m). That meant that I was moving between 1:20s (100s) and 1:15s (400s) for my set.

I had a good swim but my results don't "count" because of the wetsuit and draft effect. For legit benchmarking, lead your lane and don't use any gear.

Post set Dave explained that you want to consider where you're limited -- some swimmers are limited at the Aerobic end and others at their Threshold end. Note the sustained nature of the threshold set as well as the short rest on the 400. That's important - as is not blowing up.

Dave knows his stuff! You can catch him at Flatirons Athletic Club in Boulder, Colorado. T/Th at 11:15am - pack your A-game.

Also, Monica is going to be starting an elite swim program at 10AM on Thursdays at FAC -- if your Threshold pace is 1:30, or better. Then come on down -- ask nice and she will set you up with a high quality Endurance Corner cap!

Jonas Colting - 15/15s
Jonas has led out the swim at numerous triathlon events, including Ultraman Hawaii (10,000 meters of open water fun!).

This is a VO2max focused set. Quite useful for high volume swimmers seeking to improve their capacity to change pace while swimming at threshold. Also useful for well-trained swimmers (specifically older men and force-limited women).

500 SKIPS (by 100's) (Swim/Kick/IM/Pull/Swim)
4 x 50 kick @1:00
4 x (3 x 25) as no-breath/fast/EZ
8 x 50 1-arm/fist drill by 25's - non-stroking arm at side, breathe away

Main set:
4 x (12 x 25 Free @ 0:30--targeting 0:15 for swim) with 50 EZ between each set of 12 - the 50 is on two minutes

Post set:
4 x 50 Navy Seals (12.5 scull/somersault/12.5 free/flip turn/12.5 polo swim/touch bottom/12.5 fly) on long rest
4 x 25 wheelbarrow with JD (1 pulls, other kicks and holds onto front swimmers leg)

With the main set -- you want 50/50 work/rest ratio and you want to be swimming fast for the 25s. For example, the fast swimmers were coming in on about 14s and leaving on 30s. The slower swimmers were coming in on, say, 20s and leaving on 40s.

Max Biessmann is a swim coach in Southern Cali, an accomplished distance freestyler and an up-and-comer on the AG tri circuit.

Max was at our 2010 Tucson Camp and shared this workout to benchmark threshold endurance. If you are stroke-endurance limited then it will become obvious with the main set below!

Most swimmers will need to adjust the send off -- goal is to be holding the same pace through the workout. Very good way to develop early pace control -- something lacking in most tri-swimmers.

Max Writes:
You asked me to email you that one swim set I mentioned on the last night. I sometimes even mix it up and do different distances. The main point is to break down a given distance say 1000 yards into components, choose a pace that you may or may not be able to hold for the complete distance for ex 1:10's and then hold that as the distances get longer, the rest will also increase as the distance increases because the effort has to go up to hold the pace for longer and longer.

    20x50 holding 35 with ~5-10 sec rest
    10x100 holding 1:10 ~10-15 sec rest
    5x200 holding 2:20 ~15-20 sec rest
    2x500 holding 5:50 usually try and hold second one a little faster ~30 sec
    1x1000 trying to go 11:40 or faster
    take 30sec to a min between distances.
    Can also extend set by increasing number of break downs like add 4x250. Also works well with 600 or 800 to make it a little faster.
    - Max