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Herb
June 8th, 2012, 12:03 AM
Anyone give up on swimming to the pace clock and find comfort in just lap swimming for exercise? I have never swam any other way than intervals even after a 20 year layoff.

But I have been on a three month downward spiral. I'm so far out of shape that the couple of workouts I tried were so discouraging that I just want to quit. Yet I swam in a lake last week and felt pretty good. Went to the pool today and intended to just try to swim for 30 minutes straight but damn that clock - swam 6x200 on 4:00. Three months ago I could do 10 on the 3:30 in my sleep and 10 seconds faster per. I just don't want to do this anymore at least not now to even get back to that point. I wouldn't mind just trying to swim a 5k this summer nice and slow instead of competing. I pretty much just need the exercise to lose some weight and be healthy. Yet compteting was what always had motivated me even if it was just against myself and the clock.

So did anyone take this tact and live to tell me how awesome it is? You burn more calories, no more flip turns, no more clock, just swimming.

swimlong
June 8th, 2012, 01:38 AM
Yes, swimming just to swim is great. Long slow distance will help you lose weight, too. And outdoor season is upon us - hit the lakes and ocean! Nobody "has" to do intervals.
I know that some of the most inspiring runs I have had happened when I left my watch at home; I just ran because I feel like running. Likewise, sometimes I just swim because I feel like it - without a workout in mind, I just hit the pool for 30 or 40 minutes and swim whatever I like - laps, kicking, drills, whatever. If you are moving you are doing yourself a favor!!
Remember what Dora from "Finding Nemo" :bliss::bliss:says: Just keep swimming!

qbrain
June 8th, 2012, 09:41 AM
Hey Herb,

Last summer I inverted the clock training for open water swimming. Instead of training intervals, I swam for time. In the pool, I would swim for an hour, in the ocean I would swim laps in the roped off sections (200+ yards/ length) without the benefit of a clock.

I enjoy metric driven swimming, but there is something nice about open water swimming. Open water seems more of an accomplishment (I swam 2.4 miles in the ocean!) and less about time. I think this is why running has such a draw, because you have so many runners who are out there to feel good about what they have accomplished without worrying about times. They are very satisfied with accomplishing a 5k/10k/half/marathon, and times are more like interesting trivia.

I think swimming for swimming in a pool is difficult, but is cake in the ocean. Maybe you should "try to get out more"?

When you are inside, could always work on something where intervals are not important. Distance per stroke, distance off the wall, drills, kick(?!?!). Or hunt down a group to swim with (IIRC you are a solo swimmer only). Swimming with others brings a lot of enjoyment to swimming.

Or just grab a noodle and gab your way through workout. I think The Fortress has started a workout thread this year about "HITting the noodle" and pwb has High Volume Talking or something like that.

Queen
June 8th, 2012, 10:23 AM
Yes, swimming just to swim is great. Long slow distance will help you lose weight, too. And outdoor season is upon us - hit the lakes and ocean! Nobody "has" to do intervals.
I know that some of the most inspiring runs I have had happened when I left my watch at home; I just ran because I feel like running. Likewise, sometimes I just swim because I feel like it - without a workout in mind, I just hit the pool for 30 or 40 minutes and swim whatever I like - laps, kicking, drills, whatever. If you are moving you are doing yourself a favor!!
Remember what Dora from "Finding Nemo" :bliss::bliss:says: Just keep swimming!
Absolutely!! :applaud:

I swam with/against a clock for decades, now I just swim because I love it. I keep my heart rate up and swim 30-60 minutes each time, it's a lot of fun and I can enjoy it much more now that I'm not swimming for time.

bud
June 8th, 2012, 10:55 AM
Giving up on the clock does not mean that you have to give up... and you do not have to give up on the clock entirely, maybe just look at it less.

I reckon it depends on what you're used to, and what your perspective is.

All my life I've mostly practiced on my own, and never really participated in structured workouts. All things considered, I've always been relatively fast... faster than most folks anyway. But speed has never really been my main goal, just a byproduct. Technique has always been my main focus.

In 1995, at age 37, I basically had to re-learn to swim due to a very debilitating arthritic condition. I decided to simply do as much as I could in 45 minutes, and go from there. It wasn't much at first, and it took a lot of patience (etc.), but it was easy to see progress as I added yardage and strokes in that time period. Even on my worst days, I'd still spend 45min. in the pool.

I started off swimming 5 to 6 days a week... now I try to swim every other day. Even after all this time I find that fatigue is my biggest problem (my health condition still persists, but more controlled), so a day of rest in-between swims now allows me to swim harder and get more distance on my swimming days.

The only time I've looked at the clock was to see when my time was up, or to see if I was getting the same thing done in less (or more) time... to measure progress (or good and bad days).

In 2000 I started hitting some meets, and did so for several years. There was a fairly active meet schedule in the region I lived in at the time, so it was fun to get official times. The people were a big plus too. :-D There really wasn't any way I could compete with "normal" healthy "competitive" swimmers in my age bracket (I was usually in heats with folks 10-20 years older than me), so it was all about maintaining or improving. Maintaining was fine at that point.

Like I said... perspective is important... and I never want to go back to where I started. Not anytime soon anyway.

When I started my relearning process in 1995 I could not lift my arms out of the water, nor could I lift my elbows above my shoulders, even floating in the water. So all I could do was breast-stroke, and it took probably 30 strokes, and several minutes to go the length of the pool (25yds). I had to rest for a minute or more at each end. In the very beginning I could do 300yds in 45min.

Going 5-6 days a week I was able to add some distance and reduce my stroke count fairly quick, but it was months before I realized I could lift my arm out of the water in a back crawl fashion... though I still could not get my elbow past my shoulder. (I had a really crummy HMO that would not approve any substantial PT for me, but I had worked in a medical rehab facility before, so I knew something had to be done... it was just solely up to me to do it.) It was about 18 months before I could consistently do 25yds (1x/practice) of front crawl. Yes, it was a long haul, but there is no price for regaining mobility. It took a year or two, but I remember hitting a plateau of 1,200yds in 45min. that I was at for a very long time.

In 2000 I decided to try fly. I'd never really learned to do it. In 2001 I did a fly event in a meet. That is another long story, and if you search the archives using my "nick" you will see a lot of posts about my take on butterfly. The short version is that it took 3-5 years or more to get substantially proficient (again, all self-taught, on my own), but in more recent years I've been getting some very nice compliments from some really fantastic swimmers that I have a lot of respect for.

I cannot say that I'd recommend my method to everyone... you will do better faster with a good coach... but for me personally the process has been very rewarding. :-)

My peak since 1995 was in 2008. I was swimming 2,400yds+ in about 90+min. I've always had to stop a lot and rest. At that time I was mostly doing 100-300 intervals... in whatever time it took me to do them.

Right now my conditioning is a bit off, but the muscle mass and response is still there. I recently made a move where I should be able to focus more on my swimming again (I've been slacking since 2009, barely maintaining really). By this Fall, or the New Year at the latest, I intend to be back close to where I was in 2008. Time will tell. Right now I can fairly easily knock off about 1,400yds in 45min. I do something of all 4 competitive strokes in pretty much equal amounts every time I swim... I like the balance. Fly is still my favorite challenge. ;-)

I've always been very goal oriented, so that is what has allowed me to do what I do. I believe it will still be a while before I need a wheelchair, but if I did not do what I do, I'd probably be in one now. I'm confident that my rheumatologist would agree.

The most important thing to me is to set realistic goals, be flexible about them, and not beat myself up over them.

If it's not fun, I'm not doing it right. :-D

I've met some fantastic swimmers by visiting the pool as often as I do, and through USMS. My membership has been lapsed for a while now, but I'd like to get back in it and go to some meets again. (Maybe this Fall.... ;-) I love the people.

Be Well... Have Fun!

:-)

arthur
June 8th, 2012, 11:03 AM
If it keeps you motivated to keep swimming then there is nothing wrong with swimming continuous for your workout. However, if you want to lose weight, improve your swimming speed, and increase your aerobic capacity (as well as aerobic) you should try to incorporate some fast swimming. You don't need to stop but you could try to do a fast 50 followed by 150 or 200 easy and repeat that cycle or a fast 100 / easy 300 cycle.

steph2kids
June 8th, 2012, 11:11 AM
I'm so glad you brought this up! I prefer to swim like this, too, when I can. I love the weekends when the pool is quiet, it's LCM, and the sun is shining in through the windows and gently making patterns on the bottom of the pool. Swimming long and strong on days like that is just so awesome and feels so good. I still do the workout, but i don't do it for time, just to swim it. Usually by the end I will do a bit of the pacing/speed stuff, but that's after an hour or so, and it feels better at that time since I'm all loosened up. I used to swim with a Swimman and loved listening to Enya or other soothing music while I did long and strong. I still would if I didn't know so many darn people at the pool to talk to these days. :)

I still chase my friends some days during the week, and that's alright and fun, too, but I think my body feels better after just swimming for myself. It feels more like a nice long run in the woods, you know? I don't like to race when I jog, either, so why should swimming be so much more different?

ande
June 8th, 2012, 11:23 AM
Anyone give up on swimming to the pace clock and find comfort in just lap swimming for exercise? I have never swam any other way than intervals even after a 20 year layoff.
But I have been on a three month downward spiral. I'm so far out of shape that the couple of workouts I tried were so discouraging that I just want to quit. Yet I swam in a lake last week and felt pretty good. Went to the pool today and intended to just try to swim for 30 minutes straight but damn that clock - swam 6x200 on 4:00. Three months ago I could do 10 on the 3:30 in my sleep and 10 seconds faster per. I just don't want to do this anymore at least not now to even get back to that point. I wouldn't mind just trying to swim a 5k this summer nice and slow instead of competing. I pretty much just need the exercise to lose some weight and be healthy. Yet compteting was what always had motivated me even if it was just against myself and the clock.
So did anyone take this tact and live to tell me how awesome it is? You burn more calories, no more flip turns, no more clock, just swimming.

Why have you been on a three month downward spiral?

Did you take a break, deal with an injury or just not train as often hard or far? How often and hard were you training when you could do 200's on 3:30?

sounds like you're Comparing and Despairing.

When ever you take a break or don't train as much. it takes a while to get back in shape and be able to do things like you used to do.

In swimming, you get what you give.

Don't worry about what you used to be able to do, focus on where you are now and seek to improve.

Interval training just gives you a way to measure your performance & ability.
I believe I train harder & better when I do sets, especially if I have fellow swimmers and a coach, than if I just get in and swim

What are your goals?

gull
June 8th, 2012, 11:58 AM
Even if you are not planning to compete, I wouldn't give up on interval training. You will not achieve the same level of fitness with lap swimming. Perhaps you just need to reset your expectations, at least in the short term. Find a training partner, vary your workouts, mix in some strokes/IM.

Herb
June 8th, 2012, 12:17 PM
The 3-month downward spiral - I planned to take two weeks off after the last meet, had a minor injury, kept making excuses to myself to start again tomorrow, next week. Drank a lot of beer, ate a lot of pizza, gained weight, focused my time on my business - just general laziness and detructive behavior to my health. After reading Bud's inspirational story I feel guilty for even pointing to these kinds of obstacles.

Although I do really like the social aspect of Masters and could definately benefit from some coaching, since age group I have always swam on my own and I kind of like it that way. I like the freedom and was always able to use some goals to keep me motivated (generally 3-4 times a week, 2000-3000 yards). But the goals might have been a source of my frustration as well. I always wanted to break 1:00 in the 100 free. This was the first year in my four years in Masters that I went the other direction (from 1:01 to 1:03). So I have to come to grips with the reality that I might never be able to do it. I don't know why I am so focused on it because I have found I am not a sprinter anyway and I did acheive best times in other longer events. But I feel my life would be complete if I could break that magic number.

Anyway, I am not going to compete in meets until at least the fall so I will re-evaluate where I am at then (hopefully not in the shape I am in now).

I still love the water and want to continue to use swimming as my primary mode of exercise. I just can't deal with the clock right now. Most of the swimmers at the pool probably never even look at it.

I can definately pull it off in a lake and it is liberating (but it is only a hanful of times per summer). I think I could do it easily in an outdoor 50M pool as well. But in a 25 yard pool it seems too redundant. I have never been able to maintain flip turns forever and open turns seem essential to the kind of swimming I want to do now, but then I start getting passed by the lap swimmer next to me, start looking at the clock and notice how unbeliebably slow I am going. So then I want to do a set and then I want to quit.

Well, it is a beautiful day and I am going to head to the outdoor pool. I think just showing up is good enough for now. This will make twice this week which equals my total for the last three months so maybe I will get back on track (even though I don't know what that track is right now).

aquageek
June 8th, 2012, 02:02 PM
Even if you are not planning to compete, I wouldn't give up on interval training. You will not achieve the same level of fitness with lap swimming. Perhaps you just need to reset your expectations, at least in the short term. Find a training partner, vary your workouts, mix in some strokes/IM.

I 100% agree with this. When you ditch the clock you throw in the towel. Even for people I am training for long open water I never let go of intervals or the clock.

ande
June 8th, 2012, 02:27 PM
The 3-month downward spiral - I planned to take two weeks off after the last meet, had a minor injury, kept making excuses to myself to start again tomorrow, next week. Drank a lot of beer, ate a lot of pizza, gained weight, focused my time on my business - just general laziness and detructive behavior to my health. After reading Bud's inspirational story I feel guilty for even pointing to these kinds of obstacles.

Although I do really like the social aspect of Masters and could definately benefit from some coaching, since age group I have always swam on my own and I kind of like it that way. I like the freedom and was always able to use some goals to keep me motivated (generally 3-4 times a week, 2000-3000 yards). But the goals might have been a source of my frustration as well. I always wanted to break 1:00 in the 100 free. This was the first year in my four years in Masters that I went the other direction (from 1:01 to 1:03). So I have to come to grips with the reality that I might never be able to do it. I don't know why I am so focused on it because I have found I am not a sprinter anyway and I did acheive best times in other longer events. But I feel my life would be complete if I could break that magic number.

Anyway, I am not going to compete in meets until at least the fall so I will re-evaluate where I am at then (hopefully not in the shape I am in now).

I still love the water and want to continue to use swimming as my primary mode of exercise. I just can't deal with the clock right now. Most of the swimmers at the pool probably never even look at it.

I can definately pull it off in a lake and it is liberating (but it is only a hanful of times per summer). I think I could do it easily in an outdoor 50M pool as well. But in a 25 yard pool it seems too redundant. I have never been able to maintain flip turns forever and open turns seem essential to the kind of swimming I want to do now, but then I start getting passed by the lap swimmer next to me, start looking at the clock and notice how unbeliebably slow I am going. So then I want to do a set and then I want to quit.

Well, it is a beautiful day and I am going to head to the outdoor pool. I think just showing up is good enough for now. This will make twice this week which equals my total for the last three months so maybe I will get back on track (even though I don't know what that track is right now).

there's your answer, you only trained twice in the past 3 months, you drank a lot of beer & ate a lot of pizza.
You are out of shape.

It's totally unrealistic to take that much time off and immediately expect to be able to do what you could do when you were in shape.

You can get back in shape, just start training consistently.

Set realistic goals, make plans then DO them.
No more excuses.
Start off easy & work your way up.

I know if I took 3 months off, I couldn't do the sets & intervals I can do now.

How long will it take to get back in shape?
You don't know. It takes what it takes. Start training and find out.

In the future, don't take breaks after meets. Start your training routine immediately. If you don't feel like training hard, just swim easy or keep tapering, but keep your feel.

I have a couple swimmer friends who do long summer vacations, they're both teachers. they go on a 6 to 8 week European bike tour. they come back in great biking shape but terrible swimming shape. then start training and get ready for SCM & SCY meets.

Chris Stevenson
June 8th, 2012, 03:56 PM
Whenever I want to keep (some of) the intensity of interval training while not worrying so much about times, I will do odd distances like 175s or funky breathing patterns or off-strokes or use little-used equipment. Anything to avoid comparisons with your "usual" swim speed.

Chris Lowe
June 8th, 2012, 04:17 PM
I was worried as I read thru that the cause of your decline may have been health related; seem like it's more lifestyle. As a clean limbed youth, my performance wouldn't degrade nearly as quickly after skipping a few workoust as it does now. I pay much more attention to rest and recovery, listen to how my body feels, and luckily, I can no longer resolve a digital clock face with what's left of my eagle eyes. Just keep swimming; you're still lapping those folks at the bar or on the couch!

That Guy
June 8th, 2012, 04:55 PM
Whenever I want to keep (some of) the intensity of interval training while not worrying so much about times, I will do odd distances like 175s or funky breathing patterns or off-strokes or use little-used equipment. Anything to avoid comparisons with your "usual" swim speed.
As a kid I hated sets with repeats of weird things like 125 IM and 175 free. Now I enjoy them. I have to pay attention to what I'm doing or I'll lose track, no one else can figure out what I'm doing (it's awesome when other swimmers ask me something like "are you doing... wait, no... what?" before I've even said anything), and I can't compare these sets with anything I did as a kid, college student, or whatever.

Side note: some of the other regular swimmers at my gym got their revenge on me by inventing something called a reverse inside-out IM. From my perspective, it's a broken swim of unknown length with strokes in seemingly random order. I have no idea what they're doing and they make sure it stays that way by coming up with different variations daily. :D

Celestial
June 8th, 2012, 05:05 PM
So many of these ideas are wonderful! Personally I think we all go through phases in our lives when sometimes we feel more competitive than others - or when circumstances force us to be less competitive. There's nothing wrong with that. When I decided to go back to school in my 40's - I was relegated to getting up at 5:30am and training solo - but at least I was swimming! and that made me happy. After I graduated & got a job, I realized how much speed I had lost & decided to change tacks, but at the time I was just happy to be in the water & didn't really worry about it. Listen to your body, listen to your emotions. There is a time & a season for everything.

Fresnoid
June 8th, 2012, 05:15 PM
I've only swum as an adult in 2008-09 up to SC Nationals, then started again last summer. I wish I could ignore the clock. I would really benefit from doing some longer swims at any pace at all, but I check my pace every 100 yards and am usually frustrated by what I see.

In running, i have no problem ignoring the time, but not in the pool.

Jazz Hands
June 8th, 2012, 07:49 PM
Pace clocks are mostly irrelevant if you're doing AFAP training.

jaadams1
June 8th, 2012, 08:03 PM
I 100% agree with this. When you ditch the clock you throw in the towel. Even for people I am training for long open water I never let go of intervals or the clock.

I did a workout the other day in the pool, where it wasn't exactly "by the clock", but by the length. I did, 1-2-3-4-5...all the way to 16 lengths, with :10, :20, :30 rest after each swim depending where I was in the set. While I wasn't exactly on an "interval", I was keeping track somewhat of how fast I was swimming each distance, trying to still maintain my BASE for each swim.

Herb
June 8th, 2012, 08:17 PM
Well, went to the pool and did 7x200 without looking at the clock. Rested until I felt ready, about 30-45 seconds?, and repeated. I was finally curious of my time swimming like this on the last one and came it at 3:15. That's about 20 seconds slower then my in-shape aerobic pace. But man does it feel good to have all that air.

I found another fringe benefit of this type of swimming is stimuli. People at the pool prolly think I am mean cuz I just go in there to do what I gotta do and don't interupt me in the middle of my set. I don't usually like the outdoor pool because it is too hot for intense workouts and there is too much riff raff. But now I can dodge a ball floating in my lane, check out the scenery and talk to the college girl in the lane next to me and tell her how I used to be this great swimmer when I was 12 but I gave it up to focus on basketball (prolly would have had a D-1 scholarship if I kept it up).

Finally it was time to show off so I did 4x50 on the 1:00. Swam :43s on the first 3 and then busted out a :38 on the last one.

jaadams1
June 8th, 2012, 10:00 PM
Finally it was time to show off so I did 4x50 on the 1:00. Swam :43s on the first 3 and then busted out a :38 on the last one.

So much for:

Giving Up on the clock

:)

Chris Stevenson
June 9th, 2012, 08:07 AM
Pace clocks are mostly irrelevant if you're doing AFAP training.

I would argue that any type of training, to be most effective, needs some kind of feedback loop. And the clock doesn't lie.

steph2kids
June 10th, 2012, 09:58 AM
I agree with Celestial that there is a time and season for everything. Right now I am not really training, I am staying fit. So I do the whole workout, 4500-6000 yds, all of the IM stuff, but I don't worry too much about the interval or the clock. Instead of :05, I'll give myself :15-:20. I still check the clock to make sure I'm staying on PACE, but I'm not racing (at least till the end of the workout, then I usually pick it up.) I don't need to. Dammit, I'm a 45-yr-old woman, I think I have earned the right to swim for the joy of swimming some days. I can still chase my friends another day. Which is ALSO fun (my friends are a hoot) but, dang, nothing feels so good as that water rippling along on a beautiful weekend afternoon and you just feel strong and GOOD. Who cares if it takes me another 15 mins to finish the workout? 1.75 hrs is just as good as 1.5.

Now, I swim for ME.

ElaineK
June 10th, 2012, 10:09 AM
Now, I swim for ME.

That is what I would hope the goal would be for all Masters swimmers; just to swim for ourselves, no matter what our goals are in swimming. For some, it's just to stay fit. And, for others, it's breaking a world record. But, I would hope those goals would be our own goals; not what somebody wants for us.

When I first got back into swimming, I had no thought of competing again, like I had done 30 years before, in high school. But, as I got better and felt faster, the competitive spirit returned and I saw it as my opportunity to compete again my way. Not having to answer to a coach or fear disappointing my teammates was liberating! Now, I could choose the events to enter at swim meets! :banana:

The last 21/2 years in USMS has been a blast and I love going to swim meets! And, I love competing against the clock.

If the clock is making you unhappy and frustrated, chuck it until you are ready to face it again. And, just swim for fitness if competition doesn't excite you. But, if your goal is to get faster, the clock is a necessary tool that you will need to embrace.

steph2kids
June 10th, 2012, 11:06 AM
Beautiful post, Elaine!

steph2kids
June 10th, 2012, 11:38 AM
Okay, here's what I mean by a perfect swim.

Yesterday I get to the pool at 6am with a 5000m workout. I'm doing the drills, IM stuff, yada yada, but at my own pace. About 3000 into it, my sprinter friend shows up (motto: "sometimes, you've just got to want to throw up."). She spends the last 200 of my current set warming up, which is about all she has patience for. :) At that point, I'm at the 20x50's speed set, which is so her style. She joins me, and I have fun chasing her bubbles TRYING to keep up. Two more friends show up and warm up, joining us for the last 12 50s. At the end, we're all laughing and cheering each other on, plus we make a nice little train going down our one, narrow 50m lane for the adults (swim team with our kids has the other lanes). After that, I do another 800, my friend does MAYBE 100 and disappears, and the other two do their distance long-and-strong workouts. Total for me: 4800 (kids got out early). For my friend: 1300 maybe. Meet her in the shower, have a blast laughing together. Everyone very happy. It was a good morning for all.

All goals are valid if you're swimming. :applaud:

ElaineK
June 10th, 2012, 02:05 PM
Beautiful post, Elaine!

Thanks! :smooch: