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Thread: Qs about interval training for open water races

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    Qs about interval training for open water races

    Hi everyone,

    In preparation for a 6k race next year, I've changed my training plan to interval training 3 days a week, Mo (20*100m), We (10*200m), Fr (5*400m).
    Currently I keep lowering the time it takes to swim one repetition.

    I have two main questions:
    1. is this a good strategy, to lower the time/ interval until I achieve a desired pace and after that to increase the number of repetions, aiming for race distance? What would be a better approach?
    2. For these 3 days of interval training, should I keep 100m/ 200m/ 400m intervals or should I increase to 200m/400m/800m? A better option?


    Cheers,
    Adrian

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    Very Active Member ForceDJ's Avatar
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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    Personally, for a race of this length, I would ditch the 100s and probably the 200s, and add more 400s, 800s, or even longer intervals, perhaps continuous 2k-3k swims.

    Dan

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    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    When is your race? How do you feel after doing this 2k each day?
    Kari Kennedy

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    Very Active Member Mark Usher's Avatar
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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    When I was training for triathlons, my coach would have us swim a lot of 400 & 500 sets on an interval. One of my favorites was 3 x 500 descending 1-3.
    Every couple of weeks we would do a 1000 time trial to measure our progress.
    The thing our coach tried to avoid was doing a lot of slow, EZ continuous swims, unless it was a recovery workout.
    She thought that led to sloppy form and was counterproductive.
    We would also do some 10 x 100's on an interval as "speed work" once a week or so.

    Good luck.

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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    @flystorms
    Race is next July. I swam a 6k this summer and would like to improve my time next year.
    2k/ day is not a problem. Getting faster is challenging and sometimes the pool is very warm, but I'm cutting times week after week.
    I'm new to interval training and was wondering what distance/ repetition should I use... Thanks for the reply!
    Last edited by adriand; September 19th, 2019 at 02:08 PM.

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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    ForceDJ & Mark, thanks!
    From what you're saying I get that longer repetitions are needed... so I should ditch the 100s and maybe also the 200s and substitute these with 800s or more.
    Would it be ok if some of these repetitions are done with paddles, just to brake the monotony?

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    Quote Originally Posted by adriand View Post
    Hi everyone,

    In preparation for a 6k race next year, I've changed my training plan to interval training 3 days a week, Mo (20*100m), We (10*200m), Fr (5*400m).
    A few questions:
    • Are you only swimming 3 days a week?
    • Is this your main set?
    • How much total volume in meters are you doing each workout? Each week?
    • How did your 6K race feel this year - did you have good endurance throughout and felt your conditioning was good for the distance and just want to get faster?
    • What pace per 100m did you average in your 6K this year and where do you want to be next year?


    As for paddles, I'd let your shoulders be the judge of that. Lots of swimmers love them, but I find they mess with my form and with my shoulders. Use at your own comfort. I would recommend against using a buoy as it artificially raises your body position; you'll want to have put your core, legs and shoulders under the stress (and more) of what you'll experience in the race.

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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    Quote Originally Posted by pwb View Post
    A few questions:
    • Are you only swimming 3 days a week?
      • I'm swimming 5 days a week, two of which are drills and leg work, and mostly unstructured (yet!). Any advice of what to do in these 2 days (Tu, Th)? I thought that doing interval training every day would soon become boring and I could use one day in between to relax.

    • Is this your main set?
      • Those are my main sets, yes. I changed Fridays with 3*800m.

    • How much total volume in meters are you doing each workout? Each week?
      • As for volume/ workout is 2k/2k/2.4k, not counting warmup and warmdown. Weekly I do around 8-9k, counting the distance of unstructured workouts as well.

    • How did your 6K race feel this year - did you have good endurance throughout and felt your conditioning was good for the distance and just want to get faster?
      • It took me 2h10m to finish the 6k. Las time I swam anywhere that distance has been two years ago.
        This has been a test race for next year. I felt somewhat exhausted (8/10), also felt that my technique was falling apart during the last 2k or so (felt I was snaking a lot).

    • What pace per 100m did you average in your 6K this year and where do you want to be next year?
      • pace was 2:10/100m. Goals for next year would be: great 1:50/100m, ok 2:00/100m. Are they realistic?


    As for paddles, I'd let your shoulders be the judge of that. Lots of swimmers love them, but I find they mess with my form and with my shoulders. Use at your own comfort. I would recommend against using a buoy as it artificially raises your body position; you'll want to have put your core, legs and shoulders under the stress (and more) of what you'll experience in the race.
    Thanks for the reply. I left my answers above.
    Yes, I get what you're saying about paddle work and shoulder stress. I'll give it a shot to see how much is enough for a good workout.

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    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    Ahh.... I see where you're going. So in the OW races I've trained for in the past, I like to get in a long swim on the weekends that builds over time. Sort of like training for a running race, you increase distance 5-10% over the previous week for three weeks, then do a lower volume the fourth week. Repeat. 3000, 3500, 4000, then 3200. 3500, 4000, 4500, 3800.

    Coach Emily's workouts (on the forum) are really good for building speed and volume which helped me do well at Swim the Suck last year. I got faster at practice too because of them. She does a good mix. Take hers and modify them for whatever volume you need for the workout. You should consider doing at least one workout a week with 100s/200s with low rest between so you build speed and endurance. Then another day you could do longer sets with 500s or something. Ladders are always a great way to get volume and work on speed at the end 100-200-400-600-400-200-100. Try to get your returns a touch faster than the initial ones.
    Kari Kennedy

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    Quote Originally Posted by adriand View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I left my answers above.
    Yes, I get what you're saying about paddle work and shoulder stress. I'll give it a shot to see how much is enough for a good workout.
    This is all good. I'll definitely second flystorms' recommendation on doing long swims and increasing those over time, as well as checking out the USMS workouts. A few thoughts based upon your answers:
    • I would work on gradually increasing your weekly volume of yardage/meterage. You have plently of time, so you could do it in 500m increments per week. I've found that about 15K per week is a great volume that allows me to swim almost any pool event and comfortably race up to 5K open water.
    • If you're starting now around 8K, you could reasonably be at that 15K weekly volume by the end of the year to early January. I would say you could even then hold that volume all the way to race-time, or do something like this:
      • Hold the 15K weekly volume through March
      • Take April through May and experiment with laddering up your volume in 4 week cycles like
        • 15k, 16k, 17k ... then a rest week of maybe 12k
        • 15.5k, 16.5, 17.5k ... 12K rest week
        • 16k, 17k, 18k ... 12k rest week
        • ... then, depending upon when in July your race is map out the right mix of volume and taper

    • Given that you're going to race a long-distance, I'd think about aiming for 4 workouts a week, with three of them very oriented around hitting that target pace and one longer swim (as per flystorms).
    • As you start into the pace work, you're probably going to have to gravitate to shorter distances to hit the pace. So, you might need to do 40 x 50 on 1:15 to hit your goal of 0:55 per 50. As you increase your endurance and speed, you can then move up to 20 x 100 on, say, 2:15, to try to hit 1:50.
      • I tend to prefer doing short-rest sets at target pace versus longer swims. As an example, when I train for a 1500 meter pool swim, my 'go-to' race training set is 3 rounds of 3 x 50, 2 x 100, 1 x 150 on intervals that gave me about 10-15 seconds rest. I know that if I hit my race pace on that set, I would hit it in the pool.
      • When I trained for 5K open water swims, the longest I'd try to go at pace was a 500. If you want a really brutal 6K workout, try this - http://forums.usms.org/entry.php?4952-Fun-w-1500s

    • It might have already been said, but see if you can get some technique coaching as becoming a more efficient swimmer will help you go faster longer. I'm a big fan of Total Immersion (http://www.totalimmersion.net/) and it looks like there might be a certified TI coach in Romania (https://www.facebook.com/TotalImmersionRomania/)
    • If you have access to a 50M pool, train there as much as possible vs 25M as you will just swim more.
    • I don't know what the open water scene is like in Romania, but will you have an opportunity to do some open water racing, even if shorter distances, in May or June, as 'trial runs' to see how your pace in the pool is translating to the open water?

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    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    Oh Paul! I love that workout you posted with the 1500s! Thank you.

    And you gave great advice above. Nice work!
    Kari Kennedy

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    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    Quote Originally Posted by pwb View Post
    it you can get some technique coaching as becoming a more efficient swimmer will help you go faster
    One thing about swimming, no matter the experience, conditioning, level of competition, and age, the best way to swim faster is working on form.

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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    Aswesome, thank you!
    I've already done some changes to my workout based on your comments.
    As soon as weather permits, I am going to do regular open water swims and add distance to my training.
    The 6k workout linked above does sound brutal and their times are fantastic. I'd need more than 2h to train that distance/ intensity, assuming I won't die mid workout.
    Thanks much for your comments and for taking the time to share your ideas.

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    Very Active Member mjtyson's Avatar
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    Re: Qs about interval training for open water races

    Might be worth posting this question in the open water forum. You may get more responses.
    --Mike Tyson (yes, my real name)

    https://blogs.marathonswimmers.org/ironmike/

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