Reply To: Training for longer swims 1.9km

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Gary P

8 x 200 @ target pace after fail move to
4-6 x 150s @ target pace after fail maybe move to
6-8 x 100s again @ TP.

I agree with doc, going slower is never the right response to a failure. Add (a little) rest time, decrease repeat distance, or do a little of both, but keep the pace. I’ve used a “distance pyramid” scheme similar to above, especially if I’ve been out of training for a while and am trying to rebuild my endurance. Better to get another ~1200 yards at mile pace by doing 150’s and 100s than to get 1200 yards at a slower pace, or just another 400y at mile pace, by doing 200’s. I’ve never tried the reverse, but I like that idea and will give it a shot!

That said, I think training with USRPT for a triathlon swim leg is a little different. Your race objective is not to swim the outright fastest 1900m you can, but to swim a quick 1900m, yet emerge from the water with enough remaining energy to tackle ~4-6 hours of biking/running. There should be some considerable difference in the two paces. “Regular” swimmers maximize both race-pace specificity AND conditioning within a conventional USRPT set. You can do USRPT sets at “triathlon race pace,” but it’s not necessarily the most time efficient way to build your capacity because it should take a considerable amount of volume (and, therefore, time) to get to the failure point which supposedly is the catalyst for conditioning improvement. To advance your conditioning in a time efficient manner, you have to swim faster than your triathlon race pace, but then you don’t get the pace specificity training value.

I dabble in triathlons in the summer, and tend to alternate between “Conditioning” swim workouts and “Specificity” swim workouts. For conditioning workouts I do regular USRPT sets for a distance or two down from the race distance. For example, if an HIM was my targeted A race, Conditioning workouts would be 100’s at 800m/1000y pool race pace, or 75’s at 400m/500y pool race pace. This would allow me to get to the set failure point much more quickly than by doing sets at triathlon race pace. It works, because there’s a lot of conditioning crossover for races 400m and up. Make yourself a faster 400/500 and 800/1000 swimmer, you’ll automatically have a higher speed potential at 1500m-1.2 miles. You just have to learn the proper pacing, and that’s where the Specificity workouts come in.

For Specificity workouts, I aim to get ~ 1.5X race distance at triathlon race pace. So, for a HIM, I’d be looking to go ~3000M/3300yds , swimming long segments (200-400m/ 200-500 yards), on traditional USPRT rest (17-22 seconds). Failure is not be the objective. Honestly, I hope to be able to make all repeats at pace, feeling a bit tired at the end of the set, but not exhausted.