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Thread: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

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    Very Active Member ddl's Avatar
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    Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    If I only practice to improve the speed in short distance, will it help increase the endurance needed for long distance? In other words, say I have trained for several months for (only) speed, could I, one day, suddenly find myself swimming long distance without feeling tired?

    (Obviously the opposite is not true: simply being able to swim slow long distance doesn't help improve the speed.)

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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    Unless your endurance is poor to begin with, I think speed focused training will not improve your endurance.

    Speed focused training (fast swimming, long rest, broken swims, strength, etc.) will not cause your aerobic fitness to improve. Your heart and lungs will not spend enough time at the levels required to improve.

    At least that's my theory!
    From the Rolling Stones "Mother's Little Helper" - "What a drag it is getting old....."

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    Very Active Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    My feeling is that speed training alone would detract from performance in endurance events, assuming that you have decent endurance to begin with as mentioned above.

    Speed work can build muscle mass, or train current musculature to use energy more quickly, resulting in higher output. Additional or fast-twitch muscle requires more oxygen. Oxygen debt can become a problem in endurance races if your cardio work is not sufficient to account for the increased demand.

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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    If I only practice to improve the speed in short distance, will it help increase the endurance needed for long distance?
    ~ ~ ~> probably not, there's a lot of variables to address,
    how much training have you done recently?
    how much training you did when you were at your peak?
    how many years of training did you do at your peak?
    how old are you?
    how many years did you not train & how out of shape did you get during your break?
    you'd need to get into the specifics of exactly what sort of training have you been doing and what do you consider long distance

    my answer to improving your swimming ability is:
    Tip 265 Train harder, smarter, faster, further, more often, with a coach, with a team, in a convenient facility & at a convenient Time
    Train harder, smarter, faster, further, more often, with a coach, with a team, in a convenient facility & at a convenient Time


    it's unlikely that you can "train for several months for (only) speed, could I, one day, suddenly find myself swimming long distance without feeling tired?"
    you need to specifically condition for the events you plan to swim.

    I always considered myself a sprinter, but I did a lot of middle distance training my jr & sr years in high school and as a masters swimmer I found that the training we do at Longhorn Masters is plenty to prepare for the 400 IM, 500 fr & 1500.

    I'm fine if I
    + ramp up my training for several months before the event and
    + split my swims correctly.

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    Very Active Member ViveBene's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    I think the answer is yes.

    But what sort of long distance do you have in mind? A 500 yd race? Or a 5-mile fun swim?

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    Very Active Member ddl's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    Thanks, all. I have poor endurance, never been able to swim more than 100 laps (25-yard pool) with or without a rest. I take a lot of short rests in everyday workout. Though much of it is probably due to inadequate technique. I'm also pretty a newbie in swimming. I mean by "long distance" 2km, 3km, 5km, and more--not race, but at comfortable speed, aiming at some open-water events some day (so that I won't drown in the middle of the ocean/river without a wall to hold on ).

    Since I'm at a low level not good in either endurance or speed, according to some of you, maybe speed training will help some in endurance now? I find short distance more convenient (and less boring!) as I swim in a 25-yard pool and don't do flip turns. I was thinking, maybe this can be a shortcut for part of endurance training (until I advance to a higher level)

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    Active Member shane's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    i think it mainly depends on how long your rest period is. if you are stopping long enough for the heart rate to slow to near normal then it may not be helping endurance much. for example, if you do 100's with 10sec rest that will help with endurance. if you rest for 60sec then not so much.
    shane

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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    Quote Originally Posted by ddl View Post
    I was thinking, maybe this can be a shortcut for part of endurance training (until I advance to a higher level)
    There really aren't any shortcuts when it comes to either speed or endurance. But it you want to swim open water events, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get your stroke ironed out so it is as efficient as possible. Technique is everything for long distance swimming.

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    Very Active Member SolarEnergy's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    Quote Originally Posted by ddl View Post
    If I only practice to improve the speed in short distance, will it help increase the endurance needed for long distance? In other words, say I have trained for several months for (only) speed, could I, one day, suddenly find myself swimming long distance without feeling tired?
    Yes. Sole commitment to speed development may lead to improvement over longer distances. It would typically do so indirectly as a result of some drastic improvement in swim efficiency.

    So if you're under the impression that serious focus on speed development had allowed you to book your longer distances without feeling tired, that's probably as a result of some improvement in swim efficiency.

    The slower you are, the more this principle probably applies.

    That's a fair and safe answer to your question.

    Now, recently science has (for some reasons) tackle on this matter quite seriously (even though some study results remain controversial). There's this funny name they've been given to some basic anaerobic capacity intervals. Tabata. No matter the protocol, let's not hunt for magic hidden behind specific interval duration right? OK protocol put aside, there's something quite appealing to some hypothesis that have been issued. The idea is that the bottleneck in improving in your individual anaerobic threshold and your anaerobic capacity are common in few important aspect.

    1. In both cases, need be for using fast twitch type IIa muscle fibers.
    2. Both are somehow limited by the level of your O2 accumulated deficit
    3. Both are somehow limited by your ability to metabolize, buffer and tolerate high levels of lactate

    So. The point on which people tend to argue is: Would 40s long intervals be the best way to increase both Max O2 peak consumption and thresholds? My opinion no.

    But the point on which several people (scientists and coaches) tend to agree, is that anaerobic capacity development has a favorable impact on one's ability to metabolize, buffer and tolerate high levels of lactate as well as to deal with high accumulated O2 deficits as well as to use a more specialized and powerful muscle mass. That, certainly helps any following threshold development phase.

    And another interesting point that may interests you, given you refer to this apparent ease in maintaining endurance pace. Many coaches and scientists believe that a period of anaerobic capacity development prior a taper has a favorable impact on threshold based performances. Cyclists probably lead in this regard, several include short interval development as a means to trigger a peak for a 40k time trial event (pure threshold event).
    Last edited by SolarEnergy; December 16th, 2009 at 10:32 PM.

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    Very Active Member ddl's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    Thanks again, everyone. To combine the opinions, perhaps for long distance and open water, the #1 factor is, like in any other swimming, technique. But beside that, if I practice fast swimming with no or very short rests (less than 30 seconds?), I will be able to swim short distance fast (which consumes more energy than in slower pace). Then, when I swim long distance, since I'll slow down, the energy needed to swim 50m in fast pace will enable me to swim, say, 200m in slow-and-steady pace.

    I admit this is partly out of my unwillingness to do long, boring long distance in a short-course pool, which conflicts my wish to swim long distance in open water some day I'm still open to all input--experiences will be more helpful than theories, so if anyone out there can relate to their actually experience it'll be great.

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    Very Active Member RuffWater's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    Quote Originally Posted by ddl View Post
    If I only practice to improve the speed in short distance, will it help increase the endurance needed for long distance?
    No.

    But I hear there is a new pill you can take to help you with your endurance training. It's called Vitamin SuckItUp. Unfortunately, it is a terribly bitter pill and very few people are willing to take it.

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    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    Quote Originally Posted by RuffWater View Post
    But I hear there is a new pill you can take to help you with your endurance training. It's called Vitamin SuckItUp. Unfortunately, it is a terribly bitter pill and very few people are willing to take it.


    Unfortunately most sprinters are allergic to this pill, though they do attempt to swallow it with lots of whine.

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    Very Active Member chaos's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    this thread is getting good now........

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    Very Active Member SolarEnergy's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    Quote Originally Posted by ddl View Post
    I'm still open to all input--experiences will be more helpful than theories, so if anyone out there can relate to their actually experience it'll be great.
    well then for ground evidence like we sometimes like to call this, I am sorry for cross-referring to an other forums but there's a specific thread that was opened few months back related to this specific question. So far, most campers in this thread seem to have had a very cool and refreshing experience.

    There you go. 26 pages of ground evidence pointing in the direction that up to a certain level, speed development seems to have a more favorable impact on performances over longer distances than working on endurance per se.
    http://www.tritalk.co.uk/forums/view...er=asc&start=0

    To summarize the whole thread very rapidly. Take someone who's best 1500 is let's say... 24min flat. I do not care at this point about this guy's performance over the 100m.

    Take the guy, put him on sole speed development until the 100m comes close to 1min flat. All 25/50/100/200m based training. Could take 2 or 3 years. No endurance work at all.

    Once this guy is on 1min flat, his 1500 will no longer be 24min flat, in fact it will be difficult for this guy to swim that slow. The relation between one's best 100m and performances over longer duration events is very strong. Most (if not all) good sprinters I have coached in the past would probably outperform most endurance specialists on this site here. But when your best 100m is down to 50sec flat, let me tell you just one thing, you book 20min for 1500 in warmups (these guys have hard time swimming slower than 1:20 pace) and 18H45 without even reaching your threshold yet. How strong of a relation is that?

    Another solid example? I saw a 100m backstroke specialist being turned into a 40k marathon specialist in a matter of few months. That was done to allow him to earn some money during FINA World Cup events (professional events that is). Not sure you could turn a running sprinter into a marathoner within few months.
    Last edited by SolarEnergy; December 17th, 2009 at 05:45 PM.

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    Very Active Member chaos's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    Quote Originally Posted by SolarEnergy View Post

    To summarize the whole thread very rapidly. Take someone who's best 1500 is let's say... 24min flat. I do not care at this point about this guy's performance over the 100m.

    Take the guy, put him on sole speed development until the 100m comes close to 1min flat. All 25/50/100/200m based training. Could take 2 or 3 years. No endurance work at all.
    hmmmm..... i think most distance swimmers spend most of their time doing 25/50/100/200m based training. thats what 90% of the masters workouts i do consist of. of course when i'm swimming with the tri-gals we trim the rest intervals pretty tight. when i swim solo or train in OW, i'll do 500's 1000's 2000's multi- miles etc.

    and what you left out of the equation is some 100/1500 ratio to start with.

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    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    Quote Originally Posted by SolarEnergy View Post
    To summarize the whole thread very rapidly. Take someone who's best 1500 is let's say... 24min flat. I do not care at this point about this guy's performance over the 100m.

    Take the guy, put him on sole speed development until the 100m comes close to 1min flat. All 25/50/100/200m based training. Could take 2 or 3 years. No endurance work at all.
    Your definition of "speed" and "endurance" work might differ from mine (granted, those are pretty vague terms).

    For me, speedwork is basically all-out sprinting over very short distances (usually 12.5 or 25 yards) with a lot of rest.

    I disagree strongly with the notion that "25/50/100/200m based training" is not "endurance work," though I guess maybe that's your point? Tons of studies out there show that interval-training, with distances short relative to the target race, will improve performance in that race. How "endurancey" it is depends on the number of reps and the rest interval.

    I don't know of any swimmers who train primarily (or even very often) just by swimming straight for long periods of time, if that is how you are defining "endurance work."

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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    I might be a good case study of this. I have not swam anything longer than 100M in the winter or under 1 mile in the summer for the past year. So far I have found that distance training had little positive impact on my sprint races - I was tenths of a second better in my first meet this fall and had modest improvement in my 2nd after a couple of months of training for shorter distance.

    I do feel fairly confident that I could improve my distance times significantly now but I will find out this summer. I think I have developed some "easy speed" - but at the same time I might need even just minimum training of a couple weeks to produce it.

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    Very Active Member SolarEnergy's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson View Post
    I disagree strongly with the notion that "25/50/100/200m based training" is not "endurance work," though I guess maybe that's your point? Tons of studies out there show that interval-training, with distances short relative to the target race, will improve performance in that race. How "endurancey" it is depends on the number of reps and the rest interval.
    Sorry, I should have specified that I meant training (by all means) to improve over these distances (50/100/200).

    I am somehow familiar with the notion of broken distances (aerobic intervals) as composing 90% of most swimmers' regiment. And to tell you the truth, it's a notion that the original poster explicitly mentioned and somehow got ignored until your post.

    (to the op) If it was your original question, then yes most 100% sure that breaking down your distances in smaller chunks is a generally accepted way of developing endurance. Say you want to do 2000 of moderate endurance pace work (purely aimed at developing endurance), you may split this thing into chunks of 50 m and still be on target. You just got to make the rest period smaller.

    But what I actually meant is that it is highly important for triathletes (to name these) coming from a running background (to name this) that they should first learn to swim fast, then extend the durations (much later into their season).

    A lot of these folks have a 1500 around 27, a 100m around 1:30. They'd better get this thing down to at least 1:15 before thinking of solely focusing on endurance development (like they sometimes do). That turns some of them into "diesel" swimmers.

    For me, swimming fast somehow is a certificate of stroke efficiency. Any 1500 "specialist" that doesn't have a 100 near 1:10 would probably improve faster over 1500 more by improving on the 100 first. It's primarily what I meant.
    Last edited by SolarEnergy; December 18th, 2009 at 04:18 AM.

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    Very Active Member ddl's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    All the comments here are really helpful! It's comforting and encouraging to me that quite a few think short distance speed trainings do play important part in developing endurance. Thanks for the story and link to the other forum discussion about real experiences, SolarEnergy. I am going to follow the suggestion of doing short distance with very short rests. That's a great idea.

    As for the magic "pill", I'm afraid it will make me stupid, even if faster

    Quote Originally Posted by chaos View Post
    hmmmm..... i think most distance swimmers spend most of their time doing 25/50/100/200m based training. thats what 90% of the masters workouts i do consist of.
    chaos, do you do the other 10% (long distance) all in OW, or some in pools?

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    Very Active Member chaos's Avatar
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    Re: Can speed practice alone help long distance endurance?

    Quote Originally Posted by ddl View Post

    chaos, do you do the other 10% (long distance) all in OW, or some in pools?
    depends on the time of year. BTW, 10% was just a # i pulled out of my hat. from may to sept, i probably spend 70% or more of my practice time in OW

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