Reply To: Unloading Phase

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Gary P

I did an 8 day “unloading” for USMS Summer Nationals. I gradually reduced the number of offered reps while simultaneously increasing the rest between reps. 4 days out I started working on replicating actual race strategy. For the 400 free, that meant 400’s broken by 50’s, trying to hit the anticipated splits on each 50 ( i.e., first, second, and last 50 faster than the regular USRPT “target time.”) I did this 3x 4 days out, 2x 3 days out, 1x 2 days out. For the 100 free, I did similar race simulations broken by 25 on days T- 4, 3, and 2. Last day was just a warm-up and 4×50 build.

Went 18 seconds faster in the 400 than I did unrested 6 weeks before, almost 7 seconds faster than a converted 500 SCY time I swam after a 3-day rest 5 months prior. Didn’t really have a good comparison baseline for the 100, but my time converted to 55.76 SCY which correlated well to my typical USRPT set target time of 14.00/25 yards on 15 seconds rest. I also dropped 1.65 seconds in the 50 free, something I did almost no specific training for, although the baseline was at a meet where I’d already swam the 200 and 500 free same day, while at Nationals the 50 was the only event on my schedule that day.

That terrible 400 I swam 6 weeks prior convinced me that I needed more unloading than the the 3 day protocol. I was just beat; couldn’t hold pace even though I could see my splits on the scoreboard every 100 meters and knew while I was swimming that I wasn’t close to my expected time. I was also regressing in the number of made reps of 75’s and 50’s at 400 race pace in practice. Undoubtedly, there was some accumulated fatigue, despite the suggestion that USRPT keeps you fresh all the time. To be fair, I probably didn’t diversify my training enough, doing a 400 free set almost every practice, and not including any alternative stroke work.