Reply To: Failure quirk?
I am a 50/100 swimmer but on my 100 sets I have the same thing in that I’ll really struggle the first 6 reps (maybe make 3/6) then I’ll take a quick break and come back with say 8 reps before my next fail followed by 8 again . I know this isn’t strictly in the protocol but I’ve been experimenting with a couple of things to avoid this start of set ‘lag’.
1) I do a 50 metre pace set beforehand to ‘wake up’ the nervous system. This normally looks like 8*25 @ 2 minutes rest @ 50 metre pace. I use a tempo trainer to enable exact recording of how many I make. I allow a 5-10 minute break between this set and my 100 pace set with a limited amount of swimming off (100-200 max). This has been somewhat successful, however there is still a small lag at the beginning of the 100 pace set that follows while I ‘find my rhythm’ as I often do my 50 pace in a different stroke (I train for all 4 strokes).
2) I do some ‘above pace work’ on increased rest. This is normally around 0.5 second faster that my normal pace but with the same breathing pattern and stroke count. Example: my 100 pace for free is 13.7 (25m), my above pace would be 13.2. I would do this on 1:2 or 1:3 work rest ratio while using my breaks to watch my u/w video of the repeats I have just done (I use an Ipad in a lifeproof case). In this way when I start the set the 13.7 feels ‘easy’ when I start the set and I have an idea of any specific technique elements I need to focus on throughout the set, particularly as I begin to fatigue. I wouldn’t do more than 200 metres at ‘above pace’ to ensure I don’t take any fatigue into the set (the increased work/rest ratio helps with this as well).
I normally use both of these to help avoid the ‘failure lag’ you are talking about. The other thing I would recommend is if possible you should try to train in the afternoon rather than the morning. I can’t find the research article I read about this, but I did read something about the best time of the day to train/compete being between 2 pm-8pm due to circadian rhythms, core body temperature etc. Personally I have dropped morning sessions to train only once a day as I felt it was negatively impacting my recovery (I work full time) and my morning performance was much lower than my afternoon performance. I know there will be times when I need to swim heats in the morning but the earliest they start is 9 am whereas if I train it has to be 6.30 am at the latest. Anyway something to think about. Happy for others to feedback with thoughts/ideas on what I’ve written.