Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Swim Workout to Try

During the cold, dark winters of the Tundra it is important to change up your workout routine to keep things lively, fresh, and exciting. That's when I like to try new workouts.

The following swim workout is based on the fastest average pace you can hold for 10 x 100-yards freestyle (FAP). Not to be confused with Frequent Rapid Activity Period (FRAP) which is something I witness when the Boy® has been in the sugar bowl or the youngest dog has some extra energy to burn and can actually circle the inside of the house perpendicular to the floor....sometimes chased by the Boy®.

For instance, if your FAP is 1:30 and an interval calls for 5 x 100 free at FAP + :15, your pace for the set is 1:45. If you're fortunate enough to swim in a long course pool all winter just add 15 seconds to every interval.

This workout is called No Minds (Triathlete magazine, Jan. 2010 issue,page 102). "No Minds" are horrible, painful and completely joyless. Nonetheless, this set is a great way to gauge your swim fitness and to boost your lactate threshold. The set is quite simple to do, but if it is done right, your arms should feel like watery Jell-O afterward.

After an easy warm-up of 1000-yards, do 5 x 50-yards freestyle at race pace to pick your heart rate up. The main set is 5 x 100-yards freestyle on a 4-minute interval. Sure, it sounds easy, but the goal of the set is to sprint all five repeats. Your leg and arm muscles should focus on completing each repeat as fast as possible. Do not hold back so that you have something left for the next repeat. If done correctly, each successive 100 should be slower (and harder) than the previous one.

Record your time for each 100 and then compute the average pace afterward. I recommend performing this set once every three weeks, and, of course, your goal should be to improve on your average pace each time around.

I've done this now a couple times. The first on 12/16 was my intro and I went at it a little laid back. Plus, instead of going on the 4's for the main set I went on the 3's as the Boy® would have finished swim team ahead of me and I would have found him in the hot tub chatting with the girls. My 5 x 100 main set on 12/16 went as follows:

Repeat 1 - 1:36
Repeat 2 - 1:41
Repeat 3 - 1:36
Repeat 4 - 1:37
Repeat 5 - 1:34
Set Avg - 1:36.8

So, I did not do it right. My times did not get progressively slower. I attempted it again on 12/22 and my 5 x 100 main set went as follows:

Repeat 1 - 1:23
Repeat 2 - 1:26
Repeat 3 - 1:29
Repeat 4 - 1:30
Repeat 5 - 1:31
Set Avg - 1:27.8

Think I nailed that one. Times went progressively slower. I felt like barfing. Surprisingly, my HR recovered very well between repeats. I was able to get the ol' ticker to drop below 110 before the next repeat was up.

In a weird way, I have to admit I like the workout. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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