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Thread: 500 free improvement needed

  1. #1
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    500 free improvement needed

    Need suggestions for improving my 500 free.

    A little background: 52 year old male. been swimming again for about a year. up to 3500-4000 6 times a week. 5'10", 172 lbs (down from 195 when starting). Went to first masters meet last weekend. happy with times except 500. wanted to go 1:15,1:20,1:20,1:20,1:15. Went a 6:52 instead. 1:13, 1:26, 1:26, 1:27, 1:20. so about 43's per 50. swam the 1650 and went 44.5's per 50. (24:14). 50 free was 28secs. Even after swimming a year, pulls are faster than swims.

    Usual workout is 1650 warmup, 5x100s on 2 pull (~1:11s), 5x100s on 2 swim (~1:13s), 1x500 kick, 12x50's IM on 1:15, 10x25's no breathers free/fly. breath every 2 in the 500. breath 2/3 on the 1650 (no legs hardly). high exertion difference for only 1.5 second difference per 50.
    personal bests were 49 100 free, 4:59 500 free at age 20.
    worried a bit about heart rate max. even though 52 no problem hitting 180 on tough sets (if I shorten rest on 100s). Is that too high for 52? I thought 220-age should be about max.
    started swimming with a masters group 2 weeks ago but can only go on Saturdays.
    I'm guessing shorter rest on the 100's.
    (all distances are SCY)
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    Welcome to our forums! You seem to be very into improving yourself! Great I think the Masters coach can help you to those goals.
    It might not be the effort but, more in distance technique that will help you. Remember "turns are you friend" as they give you a launch pad at each end.
    180 BPM seem at the top of where you should be -ask a Doc related to sports about that.

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    Very Active Member JPEnge's Avatar
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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    What are you hitting heart rate wise on your average 5x100 on 2 holding 1:13s?

    My first thought is that to average under 1:20 for a 500 you definitely need to be able to hold that pace for repeat 100s on a shorter rest interval (like, 1:35 or 1:40). But with heart rate numbers like that... 180 is almost anaerobic range. Probably is at 52 y/o. Need to get that sorted out first, might be an efficiency thing if it isn't medical.
    400 IMer/200 backstroker in another life, now sprinter/breaststroker... Yeah, I don't know how that happened either!

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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    Paul,

    Nice to see a post from the state where I spent alot of time. A number of comments:

    - Give yourself some time. Your 20 yr old times are good times - you have the innate ability to be faster than you are right now.

    - The HR rule of 220-age does not necessarily apply. When I was your age, mine would be that high. As you continue to improve fitness, it should come down. What is your resting hr? Obviously though, if you are worried, see your physician.

    - The fact that you pull faster than you swim suggests your legs are low in the water which increases drag (alot) or you need to figure out how to use your back, glutes, and hamstring to keep your legs higher. The good thing is that Barb Scouler and Carrie Stolar (both on Minnetonka Masters) have very sweet freestyles and can help you. When you see them, tell them I said "Hi."

    - As orca1946 mentioned, regardless of distance, our age means we don't have the strength anymore to overpower anything. That means streamlining off starts and turns are huge to preserving energy. Between better fitness and better technique, your splits will come down quickly.

    - At some point, drop the intervals on the 100s to something that gives you 20 -25 seconds rest. So, instead of doing them on 2:00, drop to 1:50. And, 1650 is alot of warm-up. Drop that distance to 1000 (and include your kicking early on) - add more higher effort swims. Your daily volume is good - just need to do more of it at a higher intensity level.

    Good Luck

    Paul Windrath

  5. #5
    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    Quote Originally Posted by pstephen5 View Post
    I'm guessing shorter rest on the 100's.
    Definitely. And are you taking any rest between your sets of 5x100? If you are then my other suggestion is not to. Several days a week you should be doing an aerobic set to build your aerobic capacity. For starters try something like 15x100 on whatever sendoff you can make the entire set on with about 5-10 seconds rests between swims. I think you'll find that you'll struggle at first and your 100 times will get slower throughout the set, but keep at it and you'll be able to keep a consistent pace for the entire set. That's when you know you're making progress and I think you'll find your 500 race time will improve massively.

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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    thank you for the input.
    my resting pulse is nice and low now, usually 55BPM. Maybe for older distance swimmers that are in shape thats still up there. I've monitored my pulse / BP every day at work for the last year since starting again. top number down from 120-125 to about 105-110. bottom number from 85 to 55. triathlon guy at work says that's good.

    I did start swimming for Barb. Great coach. Beats me in everything . I will say hi for you. I just get the beatdown every Saturday AM though with her group since I can only make it once a week. She has lots of great swimmers.

    I do take extra rest between my 2x5x100 sets. Due to comments maybe I back w-up down to 1000, and do 3x5x100s on shorter intervals, few times a week do 10x100s or 15x100s instead. I liked the 1650 since I figured if I'm tired a little from the w-up, when I go harder I'd be less prone to injury. As Im reading more that may be backwards.

    I have wondered about position in the water. I put in my height but forgot the strokes per length. Right now it's about 17/25 yards. I get out past the flags on my turns. I do some catch-up drills to try to lengthen stroke, but has not changed anything yet. I do no dry land training yet. Ive watched the Dara Torres abs workout on youtube, tried them twice, and had a sore stomach for a week after. Maybe ab work to strengthen them would help position in water. (do you get to count walking the dog as dry land training when your over 50?)

    My heart rate at the end of each 100 is usually 160-165, and about 120 when I leave for the next one when I go on 2:00. The times I shorten the rest, like 1:45 or 1:30, it really goes up quickly at the end of the 100s.
    5x100s on 1:45, split goes to 1:15-17, pulse 170 at end of each 100
    5x100s on 1:30, split goes to 1:20-22, pulse 180 at end of each 100

    I will shorten rest, length n x 100 sets this week.

    Thank you.

  7. #7
    Very Active Member Calvin S's Avatar
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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    Don't know why, but for pace I always found doing 50s was more beneficial for the 500. That being said, I know when my goal was to break 5:00 years ago, a coach told me I better be able to do any FAST repeats under my goal pace (1:00), and when I coached the distance group for a DI college team, I told my girls the same thing. Anything fast we ever did up to 175 yards, be it push or from block, better be under your goal pace (for a lot of them that was trying to break 5:00).

    Love the 500 though. It is the TRUE "controlled sprint."

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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    Good Morning Paul,

    I agree with Calvin about doing 50s when training for the 500. When I coached in Red Wing, the distance guys would do 12 x 50 on :45 - trying to hit their target pace (usually 30). A few times they did 5 x 100 with 10 sec rest - only to get "mental" feel for the race.

    If you are surfacing past the flags and still taking 17 strokes, that seems about 3-4 too high to me. BUT, if you are not kicking, stroke length can shorten. More importantly though is stroke rate. Going back to Calvin's comment, doing 50s makes it easier to work on tempo as well. I hate catch-up stroke drill because it completely messes up body rotation and timing and places a huge emphasis on kicking. There are better drills for working on stroke length and body position.

    As for abs, I never do them. They are not going to help your body position. Planks, supermans, and other exercises that strengthen glutes and hamstrings are better. Most important though is head alignment (tucking the chin and looking down) coupled with staying tight through your hips (keeping the glutes a little contracted). Find a good yoga or pilates video or class for dry land.

    HR info looks really good.

    The drop off in your race splits suggests more conditioning. The 50s on :50 - 1:00 at race pace will help you raise your anaerobic threshhold. I suspect there might be more going on with body position and pulling pattern as well. As mentioned in my earlier post, HS or college men can just do it on guts and effort (to go 49 and 4:59. At 52, not gonna happen.

    Finally, the warm-up my teams do something like this: 400 swim, 8 x 50 kick (increasing effort), 12 x 25 tech set, and 8 x 50 swim (desc 1-4, 5-8). Then, we get into it. Working harder during warm-up is not likely to lead to injury if you have good technique. Poor technique, doing the wrong lifts in the gym (too much weight, bad technique, etc.), and aging injuries are more likely to get you.

    You are on the right track to getting faster!

  9. #9
    Very Active Member Calvin S's Avatar
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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    Catch up stroke drill is only beaten out by “finger tip drag” for worst freestyle drill.

    And my hatred for FTD is mostly because it’s the lazy swimmer’s “I’m drilling so I don’t have to actually be drilling” drill. The rest of my hatred for it is because it doesn’t do anything. There are better drills for working on a high elbow catch!

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Windrath View Post
    Good Morning Paul,

    I agree with Calvin about doing 50s when training for the 500. When I coached in Red Wing, the distance guys would do 12 x 50 on :45 - trying to hit their target pace (usually 30).
    I agree with this, too. Since the OP's goal time is 6:30 or 1:18 pace per 100 I'd suggest perhaps doing 50s on 1:00. See how many you can make at your goal pace. If you fall off try taking a recovery 50 and then get back into it.

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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    Thanks again for the input.
    I made these changes to my workout this AM:
    1x500 swim/ 1x500 pull for warmup
    10x100s on 1:50 pull/swim. 1:16s pull, 1:18s swim.
    (counted strokes, 15/25 pull, 17/25 swim. Position problem!?)
    10x50s on :50 swim, held 38s, just under race pace
    5x100s kick (free / fly / back / breast / free)
    10x50s 1:15 – technique, exaggerate under water dolphin kicks (6-8) and check streamline on turns
    20x25s free / fly no breathers, lots of rest, try for perfect form, high elbow early catch.
    (10 min. whirlpool / stretch)
    Heart rate 170 at end of 100s
    Heart rate 170-180 at end of 50s,
    but felt easier than that. Felt smooth compared to longer rest and faster pace old way 100s.

    I will make a little shorter interval on 100s/50s each week.

    I will talk to masters coaches (Barb / Carrie) about strokes / length and better drills for technique on Saturday. What they want me to do during the week too. I usually do 1 day a week concentrate on IM. Replace the 10x100 free with IM set of 1x400IM, 2x200s IM, 2x100s IM.

    Have another meet at same pool in April. Good chance to see where I’m at in 500 then.

    Torres abs workout might have not been described well.

    Its 6:30secs of basically laying on back kicking drills, and then last half is different kinds of planks.

    I’d like to make 6:30 at next meet, but goal is to break 6:00. Other races are just for team points.
    I also have goal of under :60 100 free. I think this training will get me there though.
    Last edited by pstephen5; February 27th, 2019 at 01:12 PM. Reason: maybe direct link showing up is not good

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    Quote Originally Posted by pstephen5 View Post
    10x50s on :50 swim, held 38s, just under race pace
    ...Heart rate 170-180 at end of 50s,
    but felt easier than that. Felt smooth compared to longer rest and faster pace old way 100s.
    To me this suggests you might want to drop your pace. If you want to swim a 6:00 500 then definitely shoot for :36 on these. They should be very difficult.

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    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    You seem to focus mostly on power/conditioning in your workouts. But as other forumites have pointed out, technique is also important, particularly for longer distances. You could also consider posting a video here to get some opinions on your stroke and what you might be able to do to increase your efficiency, in addition to strength and speed work.

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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    Quote Originally Posted by ...[FONT=Arial
    You could also consider posting a video here to get some opinions on your stroke and what you might be able to do to increase your efficiency, in addition to strength and speed work.[/FONT]
    I never thought of that. Ill see if I can get my sons GoPro. I have watched other people this way and recommendations they get. thanks.

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    Very Active Member JPEnge's Avatar
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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    Quote Originally Posted by pstephen5 View Post
    I never thought of that. Ill see if I can get my sons GoPro. I have watched other people this way and recommendations they get. thanks.
    The GoPro works great. I have an off-brand version with a waterproof case, I stuck one of the bike helmet mounts on a spare bathroom tile and it sinks and stays on the bottom for some really pretty crisp underwater video.
    400 IMer/200 backstroker in another life, now sprinter/breaststroker... Yeah, I don't know how that happened either!

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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    Another great idea. Thanks. I have an off-brand too and, well, to-do list tile. I'll rig this up tonight.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    I'm not sure if I want to see what I actually look like in the water??!!

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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    me neither. My cartoon bubble shows Ryan Lochte with a gray beard. Video will probably show elmer fudd.

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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    update on practice change suggestions from last 3 days:
    10x100s on 1:50 swim/pull: could even descend them today, 1:16start-1:14end
    (no difference pull to swim anymore)
    10x50s on :50 swim: :38 start to :36 end. really gassed (HR 180 at end of last 4) but like these
    counted strokes, pull still 15/25, but swim is down to 15-16/25
    I'm trying chin down a little more now so looking at bottom of pool instead of for feet to draft off of. Need eyeballs up now looking for wall on turn.
    I do think this helped the swim, hips up more, even feet feel closer to surface now when kicking on swims.
    THANK YOU for suggestions,
    may be too early but I think this is really helping
    Last edited by pstephen5; March 1st, 2019 at 07:33 PM.

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    Re: 500 free improvement needed

    I'm impressed with how far you came in a short period of time. Was reading through, and thinking a few things, but then got to your last post, and it seems that you have made some improvements, already. Stroke count is one of the big things I use to determine where I am. I think it could still be lower, and that would help you. I've been doing this about a year longer than you, but saw similar improvements in health. I'm 45 and 5'8", so a little younger and a little shorter. I started out at 19 strokes per 25, and was probably about 15 when I was a year into it. Now I'm around 12-13, depending on how many UDK's I do off the wall, which depends on how far into a set or swim I am. One fewer for the mile, one more for the 100 and 200. So it will be interesting to see how far you get with another year.

    The other big thing you mentioned is head positioning. I think that may have a lot to do with efficiency, too. Absolutely keep the eyes down, even slightly behind you if you can. I'm in the habit of watching my feet off the walls doing UDK's to keep my eyes from wondering ahead. I also use a snorkel on kick sets, and keep my hands on the board, not my arms. When you breathe, look about 3/4 behind you. THese are things that have worked for me. They might not for you, but they are things that can be done throughout a workout, rather than just using drills to improve technique.

    The folks who have chimed in are a lot more qualified to give you workout feedback, but FWIW, I followed the Basic Training workouts that were posted. I still use the old ones (a new coach is now authoring workouts, but I prefer the older workouts), and tweak them a little as I see fit. They are much more based on more yardage doing 50's, rather than less doing 100's. An example would be 40 50's wiht a 20 second rest interval. I'll do that, and try to hit a 200 pace, rather than a 500 pace. Another is a Hackett set, where you do 3 reps at one pace and 1 at a faster pace, 4 times through with about 5 rest (based on the slower pace), then 2 and 1 with 10 seconds rest, then 1 and 1 with 15 seconds rest, and finally 4 50's at the faster pace with 20 seconds rest. Most of the time, those are set up to be done at the mile pace and 500 pace, but I have started shooting for 500 and 200 pace. Caveat here is that I've still not been able to do a meet, so my pacing is guessing combined with a few test swims to see how close I am. Again, the others are much more qualified to give you feedback, but just sharing what worked for me. And it might help give you some different things to make the wokrout more interesting.

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