View Full Version : Question to Coaches - Endurance

March 23rd, 2015, 09:50 AM
Question to Coaches - Endurance
Hopefully I won't lose anyone here, this might get long winded as I try to "build" my question. I am 50 years old and have gotten back into competitive swimming after a 30+ year layoff. Initially my local YMCA offered a masters swim practice in the evening, due to what the YMCA considered "low" participation this practice was scrapped so now for the past 2 years I pull my workouts off the forum pages and train solo.... Occasionally I can participate in the afternoon practice that is still offered and get some feedback from the masters coach....he is also the age group coach for the YMCA swim team. Over the past two years I have competed in 1 mile open water swims with decent results and times. This year (2015) I have competed in two "low" key swim meets in an attempt to see where I am and how much more improvement I still need to be competitive. My first meet I swam 200 free(2:16.45), 200 IM(2:31.22) and 100 breast(1:18.18)...all times are for yards...this past weekend I swam my second meet swimming 200 free(2:13.) and 200 IM(2:26)...while I feel good about lowering my times I was realized a few things....mainly my endurance isn't there. In the 200 free I was even or ahead at the 100 but destroyed on the second 100, in the IM I was ahead until the 125 mark....subsequently fell behind anywhere from 5 - 10 seconds approximately.... As I see it my endurance level leaves me gased to the point I can't keep up...and admittedly my kick could use some work as well....My typical week of practice is 6,000 - 9,000 yards depending on work schedule along with a few cardio classes and some strength training. How can I build my endurance up so I be more competitive...my goal is to be at 2:00 minutes or lower in 200 free and sub 2:15 for 200 IM....other motivation is the USMS Spring National Championships next year in Greensboro, NC.

Thanks in advance for your input and suggestions!

Tim Johnson
Lynchburg, VA.

March 23rd, 2015, 11:40 AM
Perhaps you're going out too fast. What would you estimate your 100 free race time to be? What were your splits for the 200 free? that would be helpful in determining if you're pacing is correct.

March 23rd, 2015, 11:44 AM
WOW ! Nobody can ask for more info from that opening statement. OK I think you need more speed for to lower your times. If you are not going to more than 200's at meets then speed sets will offer you a chance to build up speed in the 200-250 yards sets. Over distance sets will allow you to work past the "destroyed"feeling. Build speed at the 150 ,then at the 125 to learn how to control muscle burnout.
Good times are what each age group does. You sound like you are well on your way. Good luck. See you at Greensboro 2016

March 23rd, 2015, 02:05 PM
Unfortunately at this meet...RCA Dive into Spring they do not utilize touch plates, so I do not know my splits from this meet...I would guess the initial 100 split was close to 1:00....the winning time was 2:01, 2nd 2nd was 2:06 - when I swam the David Gregg III Memorial Swim Meet back in February I swam 2:16.45 - splits as follows: 30.98 - 1:05.36 - 1:41.13 - 2:16.45 - avg pace of 34 - 35 seconds

March 23rd, 2015, 03:14 PM
Hi Tim - Are these your results? http://www.usms.org/comp/meets/indresults.php?SwimmerID=08BU4&Sex=&StrokeID=0&Distance=&CourseID=0&lowage=&highage=

You may need endurance work or it could be that you aren't swimming smooth that first 50 and need to learn to take your 200's out a little more relaxed and controlled. Makes a big difference...

March 23rd, 2015, 03:16 PM
yes, those are from the david gregg meet.

March 23rd, 2015, 05:21 PM
If you are swimming 200s you definitely need an aerobic component to your workouts. How are you training now? Are you doing any sets where you are swimming for a minimum of 15-20 minutes without a lot of rest? If I were you I'd shoot for at least two aerobic sets per week where you're swimming a minimum of 1,500 yards without a lot of rest. An example for you might be 15x100 freestyle on sendoff where you're getting maybe :10 rest between swims. Get to the point where you can swim this kind of set where you can hold your pace for the entire set without "dying" somewhere in the middle.

March 23rd, 2015, 05:38 PM

First off, it is a great choice to target Greensboro. Not only is that an AWESOME pool (I had one of the top 5 meets of my life there), that gives you plenty of time to get ready for fast racing. I think it is also good that you target the 100/200 distances as that can give you more focus to your training.

My quick thoughts:

Try to bump the overall volume you are training each week. For me, the sweet spot to race up to the 500 distance is about 15,000 yards per week, usually split across 5 to 6 swims a week. For a focus on 200s, I think you can probably achieve your goals by aiming for 4-5 swims each week of about 2,500 to 3,000 yards each time.
Secondly, limit the "garbage yards" from your workouts. I'd aim for each workout to be structured as:

Warmup sets of around 1,000 to 1,500 max

The key here, though, is that your warmup shouldn't be a lot of easy swimming.
After a short, easy swim of about 300 to 400, you need to get into sets of descending or build swims to get your heartrate up.
I usually do an easy 300 and then mix together sets like the following to get me warm:

3 x 100: descend free
4 x 75: kick, descend
6 x 50: options

descend single stroke in 3s
odds easy / evens build to fast

12 x 25: options

in sets of 4 - build to fast, start fast and get slower, easy, all fast
odds easy / evens fast

Main sets totaling about 1,500

The key here is that much of this should be fast and at race pace
Earlier in your training cycle, you can go longer repeat distances, but I wouldn't go above a 300 straight (e.g., 3 x 300) or else you'll probably migrate to slower swimming speeds
Be creative with mixed distances and broken swims (e.g., a broken 200 done as 125, 50, 25) on both short rest and long rest
Minimize the easy swimming in this part of your workout

Cool-down with about 250

Race EVERY chance you have to get to a meet and play around with different strategies.

The 200 free is a hard race to figure out
Some people perform very well with a "blast it and hold on for dear life strategy" (e.g., Joao de Lucca).
A more balanced approach is to have your last 3 50s to be all approximately the same - the key to this strategy is to understand that, even though your splits might be similar, the effort won't feel that way.

Try to have a friend or ask innocent bystanders to get your splits.
Of course, if you can get technique advice from a coach and ensure that your turns are fast and streamlines are tight, that would be great.
And, if you ever get the chance to be in Richmond, go train with the morning crew at NOVA - unless something has changed, they have a very race-pace oriented approach to training.

March 24th, 2015, 07:47 AM
knelson, thanks for the input! I was able to talk to the "masters" coach as he was finishing up the age group practice yesterday, he echoed similar thoughts about aerobic sets. He referenced / suggested starting with 10 50's on 50 holding 30 seconds...but added as an example if the first two 50's I held 30's but the third was 33...I would start over ...essentially rinse and repeat until I can hold 10 50's at a pace of 30 seconds.

March 24th, 2015, 07:54 AM
pwb, Thanks for the input, i was wondering about my yardarge...if I was doing enough or if more was needed. After this mornings workout...which was a bit of a sprint base....I am realizing that sprinting is my downfall at this time...I have probably done too much distance training...i.e. slower pace....so now that is showing up when I am racing 200's....not enough sprint left in the preverbal tank to finish hard.

March 24th, 2015, 10:18 AM
He referenced / suggested starting with 10 50's on 50 holding 30 seconds...but added as an example if the first two 50's I held 30's but the third was 33...I would start over ...essentially rinse and repeat until I can hold 10 50's at a pace of 30 seconds.

This isn't an aerobic set. It's a race pace set. Not to say that kind of set is not valuable, too. But swimming 500 yards where you're resting almost as much as you're swimming isn't exactly aerobic.

March 24th, 2015, 10:43 AM
Hi Tim, I see you already have gathered plenty of replies, all of which are very eager to help you get faster. But I actually think that it is worth stepping back a bit and looking at things from a different perspective. You've been out of the competitive field for 30 years, just recently got back into it, and have already seen improvements in your performance. This is already a huge step forward and should be noted and appreciated.

You're obviously a very competitive person and it's great that you are setting such lofty goals....but remember that coming back into competitive swimming after such a long time out requires patience and self-awareness. In your initial post, you describe your performances in the meet mainly as compared to others ("destroyed on the second 100", "subsequently fell behind"). Try to focus more on your own achievements, not how you perform as compared to others.

Again, it is wonderful to have goals and to be competitive but you also need to make sure that you're not rushing through things so that you avoid injuries and maintain a realistic perspective on your progress. In your workouts, be sure that you focus on stroke technique in addition to yardage and intense swim sets. Technique is often ignored in favor of speed/distance/endurance/etc sets but many swimmers have been shocked to see the improvements in their time simply by tweaking their stroke! You should also make sure that your workouts have sufficient variety of drills, kicking sets and interval work.

This might be a helpful article for you along your journey: http://www.swimspire.com/the-motivation-to-train/

Also, on a semi-related note, I saw that you are also involved with open water. Just wanted to pass along two great open water swims that you might want to check out (if you haven't already):

Reston Masters' Jim McDonnell Lake Swims: http://www.swimspire.com/reston-masters-swim-team-presents-28th-annual-jim-mcdonnell-lake-swim/

Ocean Games (1, 3 or 9-mile ocean races in Ocean City, MD): http://www.oceangamesusa.org/

Hope this helps and best of luck to you!

March 24th, 2015, 11:10 AM
In your workouts, be sure that you focus on stroke technique in addition to yardage and intense swim sets. Technique is often ignored in favor of speed/distance/endurance/etc sets but many swimmers have been shocked to see the improvements in their time simply by tweaking their stroke!

Definitely, and especially when you are fatigued during workouts is when bad habits start to creep in. Always be thinking about technique and about the little things that will make you swim faster.

March 24th, 2015, 03:32 PM
Thank you so much for your input....and a reality check! I did not mean to come across as being displeased with my times from my recent swim meet...dropping 3 and 5 seconds respectively is no small matter at any age....still waiting for the results to be posted from the RCA Dive into Spring meet.....now that I have tasted competition again at the tender age of 50.....my determination to succeed needs to understand that things don't come as fast as they once did. You mention stroke technique, wow have things changed since high school....That is one area I know more improvement can come....lacking consistant feedback from a coach makes things harder....I try and watch the speedo video's that get posted online....they help....but they don't replace a live person.

I was aware of the Jim McDonnell Lake Swim....I just have a hard time justifying a $100+ entry fee and then need to get a hotel room the night before. I did not know about the Ocean Games in Ocean City, MD., that looks like a lot of fun, I swam my first ocean race last year in the Jack King Memorial Swim in Virginia Beach.

I read the article you linked, very inspiring!

Thanks again!

Tim Johnson

March 24th, 2015, 05:05 PM
So glad that you found the article inspiring. I love posting as many different types of articles and interviews as possible to help motivate and promote unique teams, swimmers and events! We have a Facebook page too, if you want to keep up-to-date: www.facebook.com/swimspire (http://www.facebook.com/swimspire)

Just a quick note about the Reston Lake Swim - the event entry fee is $25 and the fee per race is $35 (either for the 1 or 2 mile swim). You may have been looking at the additional (optional) fee for the clinic and also the $25 OEVT for non-Masters swimmers. If you're a Masters swimmer, you don't have to pay that fee! :)

Both the lake swim and Ocean Games go to good causes. Ocean Games proceeds go to the Johns Hopkins Brain & Stroke Rehab Program and the RMST Lake Swim proceeds benefit a local charity and the national Lymphoma Society.

Anyway, hope to see you at one of those races or other Masters meets! Always keep that broader perspective and patience as you continue to progress! Good luck :)