General Discussion Triathlon Talk » USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training Rss Feed  
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2014-01-29 1:57 PM

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Subject: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training
I thought I would post some information on USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training). It is a methodology for swim training that was developed by an exercise physiology PhD that has generated some discussion within the swimming community. Most of the sets advocated are repeats of less than 100 and to do 2x-2.5x the distance in the set. For instance, a 1500m swimmer would be 30x100 swim at race pace with no more than 20 seconds rest per 100. The swimmer would continue until they missed one of their race pace times on the 100 then they would sit out a 100 and continue the set. They would continue the set until they failed a second time then an active recovery session would start.

While not wholly applicable to training for the swim leg of a triathlon, there are aspects of the training that could help triathletes get better results from their swim. The big takeaway for triathletes is that it is better to do shorter, faster repeats with better technique than to train long, slow swims where your technique breaks down. I see too many tri-coaches wanting their athletes to do regular 1 hour straight swim sessions, 10x400 over and over again and in general long, slow swimming where poor technique is ingrained in the stroke. My observation is that most of the tri-coaches have either running or cycling backgrounds and they are applying those principles of training to swimming; it doesn't work well. That is fundamental misunderstanding of how to get better at swimming. The important highlight of USRPT for a triathlete is that technique is the most important aspect of fast swimming, especially for a beginning triathlete, coupled with generating a "training effect" (hard swimming) while maintaining proper technique. This notion of training and technique linked together can't be stressed enough. You cannot separate out technique from training and expect to get faster in swimming.

I posted some more of my thoughts on USRPT here: www.magnoliamasters.com/swim-efficiency

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Best regards,

Tim Floyd


2014-01-29 2:05 PM
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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training

Nice!

I know from talking to people who do triathlon that a common complaint is that they don't see gains in the swim relative to the time they put in, so they have no desire to train it more......when the real issue is they don't have a clue about swim training.  Disclosure: I could include myself in that group for over 20 years.



Edited by Left Brain 2014-01-29 2:26 PM
2014-01-29 2:10 PM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training

Is there room in this theory for something like Dropout 50's? I love those. I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of your post.

2014-01-29 3:39 PM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training
Thanks. I wanted to start a discussion around how triathlon swim training has a lot of room for improvement.
2014-01-29 3:44 PM
in reply to: snappingt

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training

Originally posted by snappingt Thanks. I wanted to start a discussion around how triathlon swim training has a lot of room for improvement.

Eh...the problem with that is most people who do triathlon really don't want to learn to swim better because they've been sold the lie that it's not nearly as important as bike and run to their race result.

2014-01-29 3:47 PM
in reply to: snappingt

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training

Originally posted by snappingt I thought I would post some information on USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training). It is a methodology for swim training that was developed by an exercise physiology PhD that has generated some discussion within the swimming community. Most of the sets advocated are repeats of less than 100 and to do 2x-2.5x the distance in the set. For instance, a 1500m swimmer would be 30x100 swim at race pace with no more than 20 seconds rest per 100. The swimmer would continue until they missed one of their race pace times on the 100 then they would sit out a 100 and continue the set. They would continue the set until they failed a second time then an active recovery session would start.  Best regards, Tim Floyd

Thanks for posting, Tim.

Would you consider a build to this appropriate?  Maybe something like targeting 15 x 100 to start and then add a couple per week?  Or just go to the 2nd failed interval and then go to active recovery?



2014-01-29 4:48 PM
in reply to: jmhpsu93

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training
I would follow the link to the little bit longer post I made on my website. USRPT in its pure form is not the best training methodology for beginning triathletes. I think, as I mentioned, there are aspects of it that are very important for triathletes. I've included parts of it in the training I do with the masters team I coach and the people I work with online. You can see some of it in the workouts I post online.

If you are not a beginning triathlete, let me know and we can continue this discussion offline.

If you have any other questions, let me know.

Best regards,

Tim
2014-01-29 8:59 PM
in reply to: snappingt

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training
Thanks for your input here Tim. Our masters group has 1 hour workouts twice a week. So that equates to 3,000 to 3,300 SCY workouts. So with this USRPT priinciple in mind. can you give a good example of a one hour workout that would be beneficial to triathletes in the 3,000 yard range? I think we're already doing workouts that apply this principle, since our leader is a swimmer, not triathlete, but I am curious to what you might recommend. For example, last nights workout was the following:

Warmup: 300 swim, 200 kick, 300 pull

Main Set:
3x200 @ 3:00
1' rest
3x150 @ 2:15
1' rest
3x100 IM @ 1:45
1' rest
6x75 @ 1:15
1' rest
4x50 @ 0:50

Cool Down: 200
2014-01-29 9:07 PM
in reply to: snappingt


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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training
I don't see the triathlete community telling you to swim 1500's. In fact, its quite the opposite both here and on ST. It's generally accepted that you should focus on 50's, 100's, and 200's. The most common problem I see amongst triathletes is the desire to swim only freestyle and not put in nearly enough volume. Talking about how you structure you swim sets is important, but if you're only putting in 1000 yards three times a week, its going to be very difficult to see any improvements.
2014-01-30 7:52 AM
in reply to: reecealan

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training

Originally posted by reecealan Thanks for your input here Tim. Our masters group has 1 hour workouts twice a week. So that equates to 3,000 to 3,300 SCY workouts. So with this USRPT priinciple in mind. can you give a good example of a one hour workout that would be beneficial to triathletes in the 3,000 yard range? I think we're already doing workouts that apply this principle, since our leader is a swimmer, not triathlete, but I am curious to what you might recommend. For example, last nights workout was the following: Warmup: 300 swim, 200 kick, 300 pull Main Set: 3x200 @ 3:00 1' rest 3x150 @ 2:15 1' rest 3x100 IM @ 1:45 1' rest 6x75 @ 1:15 1' rest 4x50 @ 0:50 Cool Down: 200

Reece, about what would the expected completion times be for these? This would be a noticeably different workout for a 1:05, 1:15, and 1:25/100 swimmer. Seems to be a lot of 1' rests in there as well.

I'm wondering how well intervals are really understood. As in how important the relationship of the effort level, the working time, and the recovery time are. Changing any of these changes the focus and effectiveness of the workout. I've simplified things a bit to help myself get a better grasp on it, and am wondering how much doing that might help others, at least to start with this. Taking a look at running, Intervals are certainly done there, but there are several types of them. I know Daniels terms best (McMillian uses similar). He has T-pace, I-pace, and R-pace intervals. Tim (like many others) seems to be talking about doing lots of threshold work. Not necessarily "only" threshold work, but most or a lot of the time. While in running there are several things that go with this such as a tempo or steady state, etc, but there are also cruise intervals (all based on T-pacing). Mile repeats tend to come up here. As in doing a few reps of a mile long with say 1 min recovery. Well, if that's converted to swimming using a 4:1 approximation that would be 1/4 mile repeats. 400's have been said to be a bit long, so cut that down to 200's with 30" rest (McMillan has a number of things shorter than 1 mile). Or down to 100's with 15" rest, which sounds a lot like what was recommended at the start. Basically, swimming is done using lots & lots of cruise intervals. Shorter ones, but they seem to fit the pattern. There is usually little questioning of intervals helping us run to faster even though we'll be continuously running in a race. They'll do it for swimming as well with proper pacing and timing. Tim, does this help at all?

2014-01-30 8:47 AM
in reply to: snappingt

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training
This is also the advice I am getting in my mentor group.

I should start to listen.


2014-01-30 11:31 AM
in reply to: brigby1

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training
Originally posted by brigby1

Originally posted by reecealan Thanks for your input here Tim. Our masters group has 1 hour workouts twice a week. So that equates to 3,000 to 3,300 SCY workouts. So with this USRPT priinciple in mind. can you give a good example of a one hour workout that would be beneficial to triathletes in the 3,000 yard range? I think we're already doing workouts that apply this principle, since our leader is a swimmer, not triathlete, but I am curious to what you might recommend. For example, last nights workout was the following: Warmup: 300 swim, 200 kick, 300 pull Main Set: 3x200 @ 3:00 1' rest 3x150 @ 2:15 1' rest 3x100 IM @ 1:45 1' rest 6x75 @ 1:15 1' rest 4x50 @ 0:50 Cool Down: 200

Reece, about what would the expected completion times be for these? This would be a noticeably different workout for a 1:05, 1:15, and 1:25/100 swimmer. Seems to be a lot of 1' rests in there as well.

I'm wondering how well intervals are really understood. As in how important the relationship of the effort level, the working time, and the recovery time are. Changing any of these changes the focus and effectiveness of the workout. I've simplified things a bit to help myself get a better grasp on it, and am wondering how much doing that might help others, at least to start with this. Taking a look at running, Intervals are certainly done there, but there are several types of them. I know Daniels terms best (McMillian uses similar). He has T-pace, I-pace, and R-pace intervals. Tim (like many others) seems to be talking about doing lots of threshold work. Not necessarily "only" threshold work, but most or a lot of the time. While in running there are several things that go with this such as a tempo or steady state, etc, but there are also cruise intervals (all based on T-pacing). Mile repeats tend to come up here. As in doing a few reps of a mile long with say 1 min recovery. Well, if that's converted to swimming using a 4:1 approximation that would be 1/4 mile repeats. 400's have been said to be a bit long, so cut that down to 200's with 30" rest (McMillan has a number of things shorter than 1 mile). Or down to 100's with 15" rest, which sounds a lot like what was recommended at the start. Basically, swimming is done using lots & lots of cruise intervals. Shorter ones, but they seem to fit the pattern. There is usually little questioning of intervals helping us run to faster even though we'll be continuously running in a race. They'll do it for swimming as well with proper pacing and timing. Tim, does this help at all?




Ahhh good question and very relevant.

"My" finish times for a set like that one usually results in 10-15 sec. rest on 200's, 5-10 sec rest on 150's, 5-7 sec. rest on 100's etc. Also those 1' rests sometimes are less. With that said, is it better to crank out 10x100's, 5x200's, 16x50's etc. so you don't get that longer rest with longer yardage etc.?

I swim on my own once and a while so would it be better to do a workout like the one I posted or do a higher number of repeats. So do sets of 10, 16, 20 instead of 3 sets of this, 3 sets of that ...

OR, don't take the 1' rest between those sets of different distances and run straight through, then take a 1' rest.......
2014-01-30 1:57 PM
in reply to: reecealan

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training
For someone just starting out it's better to get some variability in what you are doing. That set that your coach had you do was fine and the amount of rest for the structure and what appeared to be the goal for the set was spot on. But you also want to get in some higher intensity work as well. This is what we went last night and Monday(for reference I'm only putting the interval for the fastest swimmers in the pool. we have about 6-7 groups of intervals going on in any practice)

Warm-up - Wednesday 012914

About 1400 skp with some descends

Lead up

1 x 400 pull (breathe 3,5,7,3 x 50) @ 6:00

Main set

4 x 50 sprint w/fins @ 1:15
1 x 100 easy
3 x 50 sprint no fins @ 2:00
1 x 100 easy
2 x 50 sprint w/fins @ 1:45
1 x 100 easy
1 x 50 sprint best effort

2600

Warm-up - Monday 012714

About 1200 mixed warm-up w/some descends

Lead up

6x75 kick/swim (25k/50s) des 1-3; 4-6 @ 1:10

1650

Main set

20 x 100 swim
- 4 @ 1:25
- 4 @ 1:20
- 4 @ 1:15
- 4 @ 1:25
- 4 @ 1:10

3650

The big thing, especially with the main set from Monday, is that the intervals have to be very tailored to the swimmer. We want a stretch, but it has to be within reach.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, let me know.

Tim

2014-01-30 4:42 PM
in reply to: snappingt

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training
Thanks Tim,

A few questions:

1. When you state "1 x 400 pull (breathe 3,5,7,3 x 50) @ 6:00" does that mean breathe every 3 strokes for 50 yds, then breathe every 5 strokes for 50 yards, then every 7 strokes for 50 yards, then go back to 3 stokes etc.....

2. What are the fins doing for you during these sprint sets? As a training tool, what are the benefits I guess I'm asking.

3. Also, as a swimmer trying to improve freestyle, what type of fins do you recommend? I had some Alpha Fins made by Aquasphere, really liked them but I broke the foot strap on one of them so now I'm using a pair I got at a sporting goods store that don't give me as much propulsion, meaning I have to work harder which may not be a bad thing.

2014-01-30 10:15 PM
in reply to: #4940787

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training
Reece,

Question 1: yes, you got it.

Question 2: the fins are giving you a lot more propulsion and getting you a lot more lift in the water. With the fins, I'm trying to get you in the body position you should be in and give you a good feel for it, so when the fins come off it's easier for your body to remember what the correct body position felt like. Try it, you'll feel the difference.

Question 3: you'll ideally want both short (zoomer style) and long blade fins. All depends on what we are trying to accomplish. They both have their place.


2014-01-30 11:59 PM
in reply to: snappingt

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Subject: RE: USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training) and Triathlon Swim Training
Originally posted by snappingt

Reece,

Question 1: yes, you got it.

Question 2: the fins are giving you a lot more propulsion and getting you a lot more lift in the water. With the fins, I'm trying to get you in the body position you should be in and give you a good feel for it, so when the fins come off it's easier for your body to remember what the correct body position felt like. Try it, you'll feel the difference.

Question 3: you'll ideally want both short (zoomer style) and long blade fins. All depends on what we are trying to accomplish. They both have their place.





That's good info on the fins. In our workout today we did a pyramid, 100/200/300/400/500400/300/200/100 and on the 500 I used a pull bouy, mainly because my legs were toast from an intense trainer session on the bike this morning. I came in at 6:45 which is 15 secs faster than my 500 SCY PR at a swim meet a couple years ago. My pace was slower on both 400's where I didn't wear the bouy so there's something about my body position. But I'm not kicking with the bouy so it makes sense that wearing fins can help "teach" my body how to align in the water so to speak.


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