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Thread: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

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    Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Trying to set one solid goal for next year. After a mediocre season, I've decided to focus on one event only for next year. I want to see if I can break 5 minutes for a 500 free.

    Back in my college days (almost 30 years ago), my best was a 4:47, and I would routinely swim just under 5 in most dual meets. Since I started Masters swimming 4 years ago, my best has been a 5:10. Not bad, but I think I can do better.

    Now here's the question for all the middle-distance studs out there: what are some good workouts/drills that you can do to A) increase raw speed, and B) increase endurance. As I mentioned in a different thread, I have been dealing with a mild anemia issue, which I'm pretty sure has been resolved.

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    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Since Glenn Gruber set a WR in the 400M and dropped his 500 yd time using it, I'd have to sat USRPT.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    The USRPT does sound good. I very rarely do anything over 200 yds at a time, and we do lots of sets of 100's and 50's. One thing we do need to change is the rest interval. One set we did last week was 10 x 100 free on a 1:10 interval. Great for endurance, but because of the minimal rest, doesn't allow you work them at race pace.

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    Very Active Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Quote Originally Posted by trident58 View Post
    The USRPT does sound good. I very rarely do anything over 200 yds at a time, and we do lots of sets of 100's and 50's. One thing we do need to change is the rest interval. One set we did last week was 10 x 100 free on a 1:10 interval. Great for endurance, but because of the minimal rest, doesn't allow you work them at race pace.
    If your goal is under 5:00 for the 500, forget doing 100 repeats. Do what I do and do USRPT sets of 50s.

    You should work into 2 sets of 30 x 50 on the :50 holding :29 to a hand touch, skip if missed. Of course as you know with USRPT, you should never be able to do all 30 in the set. If you can do into the low 20s of the 30 x 50 and hit your total of 3 failures, you will be able to go under 5:00.

    Best of luck to you!

    Glenn Gruber

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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Thanks Glenn. I think I'll try that 30 x 50 set on Monday.
    Who knows, maybe I'll even be able to catch Mike Shaffer in a 500!

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    Very Active Member mmlr38's Avatar
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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
    If your goal is under 5:00 for the 500, forget doing 100 repeats. Do what I do and do USRPT sets of 50s.

    You should work into 2 sets of 30 x 50 on the :50 holding :29 to a hand touch, skip if missed. Of course as you know with USRPT, you should never be able to do all 30 in the set. If you can do into the low 20s of the 30 x 50 and hit your total of 3 failures, you will be able to go under 5:00.

    Best of luck to you!

    Glenn Gruber
    I have made huge gains doing USRPT myself. Many thanks go out to Glenn for posting here on the USMS forums about this training technique and being so friendly and willing to help!

    I was not a swimmer until a couple of years ago and I'm now 37. Having always been an endurance athlete, I'm naturally inclined to distance swimming and I think USRPT is great for distance and middle distance athletes.

    Before a recent injury, I got to the point where I could hold 29 seconds/50 yards on 50 seconds and not have more than 3 failures in two sets of 30 x 50, but I could only muster a 5:25 this year at spring nationals.

    Granted, a 5;25 is 10 seconds faster than I ever went previously in a 500, but it's also not anywhere near sub-5:00. I believe this mostly to be due to my lack of experience controlling my breath into and out of turns.

    I can easily do 29-30 seconds per 50 yards for 60 repetitions when I have 20 seconds rest between each 50 (doing them on 50 second intervals). Problem for me is, when continuously swimming a 500, somewhere around the 150-200 yard mark, all of the turning catches up to me in terms of oxygen debt and breath control. I attribute this primarily to a lack of experience/coaching. Most everyone I swim with has swum since they were young and they don't seem to have any problem controlling their breath in and out of turns. Hopefully I'll get there someday. For now, my LCM times are great. But all of the turning required in SC results in slower times than I'd expect.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share my experience. USRPT has definitely made me faster and I'd highly recommend it to nearly anyone, but I can't quite do the times one would expect in a SC setting. However, in LC I'm golden!

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    Very Active Member david.margrave's Avatar
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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Next year?in my case more like next life.

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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Quote Originally Posted by david.margrave View Post
    Next year?in my case more like next life.
    What's funny is I thought the same thing 4 years ago, as I swam my first 500 free in 23 years. I can think of at least three times during that race that I was sure I was going to die:
    1) When I did my turn at the 300 yd. mark
    2) When I tried to stay with the girl lapping me at about 400 yd.
    3) When I tried to get out of the pool afterwards

    I think my time was around 5:40 or so.

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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Here are a few sets I've had my middle distance age groupers do. I've modified the intervals and goal times to make them more applicable to you, trident.

    -10x100 on 1:50, aiming for :59 or faster at the touch
    -20x50 on 1:00, aiming for :29 or faster at the feet
    -12x200 as 4 on 2:30, 4 on 2:20, 4 on 2:10, aiming for 30/20/10 seconds of rest
    -4x400 on 8:00, aiming for 3:58 or faster; then 3x300 on 6:00, aiming for 2:57 or faster; then 2x200 on 4:00, aiming for 1:57 or faster (fyi, the pattern is a 59.5 base on the 400s, 59.0 base on the 300s, and a 58.5 base on the 200s)

    Those sets all consist of race pace training, so you're going to have high lactic acid buildup. Not quite USRPT, but it's a similar principle.

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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    i'll call EMS now.
    is the AED charged?

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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Quote Originally Posted by habu987 View Post
    Here are a few sets I've had my middle distance age groupers do. I've modified the intervals and goal times to make them more applicable to you, trident.

    -10x100 on 1:50, aiming for :59 or faster at the touch
    -20x50 on 1:00, aiming for :29 or faster at the feet
    -12x200 as 4 on 2:30, 4 on 2:20, 4 on 2:10, aiming for 30/20/10 seconds of rest
    -4x400 on 8:00, aiming for 3:58 or faster; then 3x300 on 6:00, aiming for 2:57 or faster; then 2x200 on 4:00, aiming for 1:57 or faster (fyi, the pattern is a 59.5 base on the 400s, 59.0 base on the 300s, and a 58.5 base on the 200s)

    Those sets all consist of race pace training, so you're going to have high lactic acid buildup. Not quite USRPT, but it's a similar principle.
    Thanks for the suggestions. I've already done something like the first to sets you listed, but I'm not sure my almost-50 yr old cardiac system could cope with the last two. As sunruh pointed out, the AED would be getting some use.
    I'll try modifying the goal times on the last two sets.

    Our main set this morning:
    14x100, with the following intervals:
    1st: 1:30
    2nd: 1:25
    3rd: 1:30
    4-5: 1:20
    6th: 1:30
    7-9: 1:10
    10th: 1:30
    11-14: 1:05

    First time since college I've been able to make 1:05 intervals, even if it was for only 4 100's. Really good confidence builder. I've got a meet on the 21st of this month, and I want to try and go around 5:05 or so.

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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    i wish you the best of luck in 11 days, but dont be disappointed if you dont hit 5:05.
    in the 50-54 age group only 3 guys went under that time all of last year.
    5:05 is a fast time no matter what age group you are in.

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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Quote Originally Posted by sunruh View Post
    i wish you the best of luck in 11 days, but dont be disappointed if you dont hit 5:05.
    in the 50-54 age group only 3 guys went under that time all of last year.
    5:05 is a fast time no matter what age group you are in.
    No doubt, it's a very ambitious goal, especially considering I'm not going to taper for this meet. However, I've been feeling so strong in the water the last few months I think I can give it one heck of a shot. If I don't make it, well, I've got a secondary goal of 5:15, something I've done quite a few times the last few years. If anything, I just want to beat my disappointing time from Nationals.

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    Active Member habu987's Avatar
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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Quote Originally Posted by trident58 View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions. I've already done something like the first to sets you listed, but I'm not sure my almost-50 yr old cardiac system could cope with the last two. As sunruh pointed out, the AED would be getting some use.
    I'll try modifying the goal times on the last two sets.

    Our main set this morning:
    14x100, with the following intervals:
    1st: 1:30
    2nd: 1:25
    3rd: 1:30
    4-5: 1:20
    6th: 1:30
    7-9: 1:10
    10th: 1:30
    11-14: 1:05

    First time since college I've been able to make 1:05 intervals, even if it was for only 4 100's. Really good confidence builder. I've got a meet on the 21st of this month, and I want to try and go around 5:05 or so.
    Haha, might help if I read your original post more carefully...I breezed through it and thought you were currently at a 5:01, not a 5:10. In that case, I'd say adjust the goal times in my sets to a 1:02 or 1:03 pace. Those times are for if you're doing true race pace training. If you want to just do "fast" training, then I'd say your goal times would be a 1:06-1:07 pace. As you get faster, then you could start working those goal paces down to the times I initially listed.

    An alternative for the last two sets could be:

    -9x200 as 3 sets of 3x200, with each set being 1 on 2:30, 1 on 2:20, 1 on 2:10.
    -1x400, 1x300, 1x200 on the intervals listed. Go through that set twice.

    ...oh, and make sure the guards at your pool have 911 on speed dial!
    Last edited by habu987; September 11th, 2014 at 03:34 PM.

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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    My opinion is that the key to breaking 5:00 is the part of the race from about 300-450. I've got good endurance, but this is the part of the race where I have trouble maintaining 30 second 50s. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see how USRPT is going to help much with this. Swimming 50s at race pace, but resting 15 seconds after each one just isn't going to simulate swimming at that pace for 10 straight 50s with no rest in between. To achieve this I think you need to be doing lots of short rest aerobic conditioning as well as race pace training. I believe there's danger in going to one extreme or the other as far as training goes.

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    Very Active Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    ... I don't see how USRPT is going to help much with this. Swimming 50s at race pace, but resting 15 seconds after each one just isn't going to simulate swimming at that pace for 10 straight 50s with no rest in between.
    "Short work and rest periods sustain energy use consistently. In long work periods, energy use changes as a repetition continues. Ultra short training best simulates the onsistent demands of well-paced competitive performances as aerobic and anaerobic energy sources are stimulated maximally (Tabata et al., 1997)"

    "The many short-work intervals, by repeatedly depleting stored oxygen and alactacid energy, ensure its maximal regeneration during each rest interval. This sustains race-pace performance quality and adapts the alactacid energy system maximally (Fernandes et al., 2011). Longer intervals of work and rest produce anaerobic fatigue which reduces swimming velocity and stroke rate (Barden & Rorke, 1999). Ultra short training is the best format for producing anaerobic adaptation."

    "In USRPT the aerobic system is used continuously. It sustains swimming duromg the work phase of each interval and during the rest clears substantial lactate and repleishes significant amounts of creatine phosphate. High volumes of low-intensity training do not result in the best form of aerobic adaptirion (Weber et al., 2011)."

    "high intensity ultra short training produces similar training effects lmore efficiently (Gibala et al., 2006) and in less training time (Sperlich et al., 2009) than endurance training. Its effects are better than those that can be achieved through continous training (Helgerud et al., 2006). USRPT develops a greater aerobic base than is possoble with longer interval or continous training at lower than race-pace intensities."

    From Swimming Science Bulletin # 40b, September 2013, Brent Rushall, Ph D

    I have been doing USRPT and only USRPT for just over a year. I have been training exclusively for the 400 and 500 only. The results for me have been outstanding. I know many people do not want to believe that USRPT works, but is based in science and has had proven results. That certainly does not mean that USRPT is the only way to go. Many Olympic Champions, present and future have and will train in other ways.

    On the surface it seems hard to believe that doing 50s at race pace will train you best for the 500, but try doing the set that I do i.e. 30 x 50 on a 20 second rest interval at the pace you need to swim the 500 to get your time (done properly you should not be able to swim all 30 at the designated race pace). I guarantee you that by the time you get to # 14 or so, you will be breathing very hard. And by the time you get to # 22 if you have not missed any yet, you will understand why USRPT works.

    Oh yes, when you have done that set, rest as long as you need to (I rest for 10 or 15 minutes sometimes) and do the set again.

    Now do those two sets 4 more times in the week. At weeks end you will have swum over 10,000 yards at the pace you need to swim your 500. Is anyone else in your age-group training for the 500 doing that?

    Glenn Gruber

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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    My opinion is that the key to breaking 5:00 is the part of the race from about 300-450. I've got good endurance, but this is the part of the race where I have trouble maintaining 30 second 50s. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see how USRPT is going to help much with this. Swimming 50s at race pace, but resting 15 seconds after each one just isn't going to simulate swimming at that pace for 10 straight 50s with no rest in between. To achieve this I think you need to be doing lots of short rest aerobic conditioning as well as race pace training. I believe there's danger in going to one extreme or the other as far as training goes.
    Very good point. I still do a lot of short-rest sets, such as 10x100 on 1:10, or 30x100 on 1:15, etc. However, one thing that I feel is holding me back is that I'm a horrible sprinter. Always have been. Even back when I went a 4:47 500 free, I was never able to break 24 seconds in a 50.
    I think the USRPT is going to be just one of many parts of my training plan.

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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Glenn, I did that 30x50 set last weekend. Did it on a 50 second interval. I was able to make the first 12, and then it became sort of hit-and miss. The slowest one was just under 31. Absolutely killed me!

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    Very Active Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Re: Next year's goal: Sub 5 minute 500 free

    Quote Originally Posted by trident58 View Post
    Glenn, I did that 30x50 set last weekend. Did it on a 50 second interval. I was able to make the first 12, and then it became sort of hit-and miss. The slowest one was just under 31. Absolutely killed me!
    It is very, very, very difficult to start a USRPT set like that without having done one before. I sometimes forget that when I talk to people about USRPT!

    When I started I was doing them all wrong, i.e., I did them as sets of ten repeats with rest in between. It took me a while to understand how they are supposed to actually be done. Working into the set by getting used to the interval, when to go on each one, how to keep track of your times etc. all takes practice. There is nothing wrong with "adjusting" the set in the beginning in order to get some success doing them this way and getting practice doing them correctly. It is easy to get discouraged by USRPT if you take too big a bite in the beginning. I am still learning how to do these sets correctly.

    Doing two two sets a day is not easy either. Dr Rushall wants me to do three sets at least once a week. That's my goal right now. We'll see how long it takes me to get to that point.

    In the end you need to do what works for you. If it is USRPT, great, if not, there are other approaches that can be of benefit as well.

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