PDA

View Full Version : Learning How To Race



Shamboola
November 13th, 2008, 12:57 PM
Hello Everyone,

I have been back in the pool for about a year now and am enjoying myself. With a busy schedule and two young swimmers, I rarely have time to swim Masters meets. But when the opportunity presents itself, I dodge the meet quite effectively.

Here is the reason. I have absolutely no confidence in my racing ability. In my workouts, I can lead the lane for the intermediate swiimmers and easily make 100 frees LCM on the 1:35 but many of those behind me can blow me away on sprint day when we do 50s and 100s.

I had my strokes taped and have been able to make a few nice adjustments to my freestyle that allows me to swim with much less tension in my arms and provides a greater catch with a higher elbow. I notice that I am able to go faster with much less effort now. Thus, when we do 200s and longer, I can hang with the faster swimmers. It seems the longer we go, the better I do. I am 5' 7" and about 160 pounds so I am not tall but have a pretty solid chest and shoulders.

I find that if I tell myself to go 80% during a sprint, my time is perhaps only a few seconds slower than if I tell myself to go 100%. My stroke is much stronger if I go slower and thus more efficient. But I am still stuck in the mindset that unless I go all out, I will not achieve max speed.

I realize that I am talking about pacing and my own mental block but I was wondering if anyone has had the same problem with acheiving their potential when there is a disparity between workout speed and race results.

My coach keeps prodding me to enter meets but I resist. But I am tired of being a "workout warrior".

Any input would be appreciated.

Rob

abc
November 13th, 2008, 01:37 PM
The simple solution would be to just race middle distance and distance events if you believe that's where you're better suited. You're also looking at it from a pesssimist's perspective. You are slower at racing simply because you don't practice racing. The more you do it, the faster you will get. You have the potential for a huge upside in improvement. Sure, you'll be slower than the rest at first, but that doesn't mean you won't get faster--just as you've improved in workout. Don't worry about it. Racing in masters is about as laid back as competition gets. Just start racing more in workouts and enter some meets.

ourswimmer
November 13th, 2008, 01:39 PM
Are you concerned about how you will feel when someone from the 1:40 or 1:45 lane kicks your butt in the 100 free? But then think about how you will feel when you lap that same person in the 400/500.

You may never have the same difference between low and high gear as some of your teammates, but odds are that those people with a huge difference between low and high gear can't maintain high gear for more than a minute. You just gotta pick the right races for you. Have you considered OW racing?

Also, you might find that you have a higher high gear in a stroke other than freestyle. I, for instance, pretty much stick to distance freestyle events and I simply suck at the 50 and 100 free, but I am comparatively much much better in the 50 and 100 back.

hofffam
November 13th, 2008, 02:14 PM
Keep in mind that the energy cost gets very high to improve just a bit in time. It is perfectly reasonable that the 100% effort swim is not much faster than an 80% effort swim.

I swim with some guys who are "workout warriors." One of them is a triathlete and I think he truly doesn't have any fast twitch muscles. He is a strong aerobic swimmer and kicks my ass on anything long. He repeats 100s at least 5 secs faster than me. The other guy also repeats 100s faster than me - but he CAN go faster. One thing he doesn't do is vary his speed much. Even on easy sets he swims upper moderate. I think he feels guilty going slow even when he is supposed to. Guy #2 races and I beat him in any stroke for a distance 200 or less.

You sound naturally better at middle distance or longer. Give up racing the 50 although I think you should still do sprints in practice. You might make an effort to vary your speed more in workouts. Swim some stuff where you descend the set. Or build speed in a repeat - such as 200s where you start slow and build up to fast. You may have stroke flaws that only happen when you try to pick up your turnover. That's where sprint practice will help. You might also swim fast occasionally with fins - where you will swim abnormally fast which forces your arms to get used to your body moving through the water at high speed.

BillS
November 13th, 2008, 02:17 PM
Find a meet with a distance event as the first event of the day. Sign up for that event, and tell yourself that is the only event you care about at the meet.

Then sign up for 3 or 4 more events at the same meet, and tell yourself that those are for fun, or are a lark, and that you won't worry about the results.

If you don't feel like a sprinter, don't sprint. You will find much less competition (at least in terms of number of entrants) in the 200's of stroke and the distance free events. If you don't have confidence in your racing ability, build into your speed on the longer events. Don't hold back; just go out thinking easy speed and try and negative split the back half of the race.

Learning how to race is a skill like any other -- it takes practice. I learn something new at every meet I swim. Masters meets are a whole lot of fun, are generally low key, and the people are almost universally helpful and supportive.

Give a meet a try, I bet you like it.

Redbird Alum
November 13th, 2008, 03:46 PM
Learning how to race is a skill like any other -- it takes practice.

Amen! One cannot describe how different the experience is at a real meet. And you have to learn how yourself!

Also, if you want to sprint, you have to practice sprint. You won't learn how to sprint a 50 or 100 by doing 200's in workout.

Many on these forums also suggest sprinting improves if one adds strength conditioning (as in weight training).

mjgold
November 13th, 2008, 04:31 PM
My team does mostly distance and mid-distance stuff. We do sprints once in a while, but not as much as I like. I am sort of training for sprint breaststroke events, and I would like to be able to do them more because--like Redbird so accurately put it--the experience in a meet is vastly different than doing it in practice. It kind of sucks, but the coaches are pretty stubborn about people doing something different.

Allen Stark
November 13th, 2008, 05:11 PM
My team does mostly distance and mid-distance stuff. We do sprints once in a while, but not as much as I like. I am sort of training for sprint breaststroke events, and I would like to be able to do them more because--like Redbird so accurately put it--the experience in a meet is vastly different than doing it in practice. It kind of sucks, but the coaches are pretty stubborn about people doing something different.
That's why I train on my own.I do best with race pace BR swims and drills.Not many(any) coaches focus on those workouts.
Re: Rob's question,I agree,enter some distance stuff,you may not be very"fast twitch".I'd say see if you can get good at Fly,BK or BR 200s and 400 IMs.At many meets around here there are lots of entries in the distance free events,but not so many in the 200 strokes(for some insane reason we get many 400 IM entries sometimes,but it is a good event to say you have swum.)

mjgold
November 13th, 2008, 05:19 PM
The only pool I have access to other than the team pool is a 20 yard pool at the gym. The Y pool no longer has an aquatics program for people just wanting to swim, so I'd have to pay 75 bucks a month just to swim--I'm a student with no income, so that's a no go. Do you think it would be more beneficial to swim a couple days with the team and the rest on my own in the gym pool?

Allen Stark
November 13th, 2008, 05:24 PM
The only pool I have access to other than the team pool is a 20 yard pool at the gym. The Y pool no longer has an aquatics program for people just wanting to swim, so I'd have to pay 75 bucks a month just to swim--I'm a student with no income, so that's a no go. Do you think it would be more beneficial to swim a couple days with the team and the rest on my own in the gym pool?

I think that would be a good idea,although 1 day/wk on your own might be enough.Training in a 20 yd pool can be a challenge,but you can get awesome pullout work there and good sprint work.

mjgold
November 13th, 2008, 05:32 PM
Yeah, it's not too bad of a pool, they just keep the temperature really high for the noodlers. It's a pain in the ass to swim in it because it's so hot, but I've learned if I break up the sprints with some pullout work or some EZ freestyle, it's not too bad. What kind of workouts do you do when you're doing sprint work for BR? I'm not too creative when it comes to workouts.

FlyQueen
November 13th, 2008, 05:46 PM
I'm going to go in a different direction with this - one really important factor in sprinting is having the right timing. Your kick might work at 80% but the timing, size, etc of your kick at 100% might not be as efficient.

I am a total sprinter - my 200s are pathetic compared to my 50s and 100s. What finally got me dropping time and swimming a lot better in the shorter distances was working on my kick. I try to 6 beat kick every free set. I did all kick workouts this summer - sometimes 1500m of kick work. Not only developing a strong kick but having it integrated into your stroke is key!!!

I agree with everyone though - try a race that you are comfortable with wether its the 200/400/500/800 ... whatever ... but also try the 50 and 100 - you might surprise yourself. Remember the goal is to have fun so pick whatever events you think you'll enjoy!

Shamboola
November 14th, 2008, 11:17 AM
Everyone,

Thanks for all of the great feedback. I admit, my kicking is really really bad and it is the one really huge roadblock that I need to overcome. I have had more than a few people in my lane look at my with wide eyes and ask me how I can go so fast for so long with virtually no kick. Time to grow up and fix that.

And I like the idea of targeting a longer event at a meet and then entering others for sheer enjoyment. I admit that meets have never been a source of "fun" for me.

It would be an amazing experience to actually go to a meet and enjoy myself as much as I do at practice. You all know the feeling: just humping along, breathing hard, and grabbing tons of water with the water sparkling from a bright sun and the water a perfect temperature. Ahhh, for me to get that feeling in a race would be rapture.

Thanks again for all of the help.

Rob

Allen Stark
November 14th, 2008, 11:35 AM
Yeah, it's not too bad of a pool, they just keep the temperature really high for the noodlers. It's a pain in the ass to swim in it because it's so hot, but I've learned if I break up the sprints with some pullout work or some EZ freestyle, it's not too bad. What kind of workouts do you do when you're doing sprint work for BR? I'm not too creative when it comes to workouts.

This is my favorite sprint set.I do it at least 1/wk from 15 wk before my taper swim until taper.
16x100-first 25 BR at 100%(check the time) then the rest recovery freestyle.This helps keep the lactic acid down so I can work on form and speed.I generally go on the 2:30,but if I can't hit my goal time I give myself more rest.(My goal time for the 25s is in the 16s,if I get any in the 15s I feel ready for the meet.)

mattson
November 14th, 2008, 11:53 AM
Sign up for a relay.

Besides seeing how the other three people handle competition, relays should get you pumped up a little more (no longer swimming just for yourself).

mjgold
November 14th, 2008, 12:40 PM
This is my favorite sprint set.I do it at least 1/wk from 15 wk before my taper swim until taper.
16x100-first 25 BR at 100%(check the time) then the rest recovery freestyle.This helps keep the lactic acid down so I can work on form and speed.I generally go on the 2:30,but if I can't hit my goal time I give myself more rest.(My goal time for the 25s is in the 16s,if I get any in the 15s I feel ready for the meet.)

That's a good set. I think I'm going to work with that tonight. I have been reading Wayne's opinion on the evolution of the breaststroke pull and that some people are doing more of a butterfly pull. I tried this last night at practice, and I found that it was a lot more tiring. I didn't get my times, so I'm not sure if it was faster, but it felt like it could have been. I also found that it forced me way out of the water, which my coach suggested I try to avoid.

FlyQueen
November 14th, 2008, 01:53 PM
You all know the feeling: just humping along, breathing hard



Rob



How has no one else noticed this? This is fantastic stuff! I need to do more meets! :rofl:

ehoch
November 14th, 2008, 02:26 PM
Shamboola - I see you are in LA.

Come to one of our Sunday morning Lactic workouts - SCAQ . You have to start going off the blocks in order to start racing. All the sprints in regular workouts are not quite the same as going 6x75 on 6 minutes. Do this for 6 weeks and 1) you will be ready for meets and 2) all your times will drop across the board.