Help with planning my weeks

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  • #1892
    Avataroldschoolc
    Participant

    Ottercoach,
    I’m guessing that you are a club coach as you stated “my oldest training group”

    In determining where to start a season we go back to last season’s best times and that becomes our baseline and that will usually put them “faster than last year at this time”. This usually allows them to dial in very quickly to pace and you don’t have to modify the “outs” and within a few weeks times will need adjusting (faster). I have done conversions from LCM to SCY/SCM and it’s always a mess. You can run a check and see. Look back on last SCY season and compare split times or averages which ever you want to use from 100s and 200s, etc. to what they are currently holding on sets. If you have the majority of the group travelling slower then you probably need to make adjustments. If they are faster then you are in “hog heaven” 🙂 and can create all kinds of teachable moments!

    The “variety” issue seems to be a very common thread with coaches and the USRPT system. We have a saying “that if you want to be entertained. Then stay home and watch TV”. This is about human performance and that requires standardization of work so that the coach and athlete can compare performances from season to season, year to year and over a career. Its tedious work (record keeping) with requires a high level of commitment from the coach and the athlete. But once the coach and athlete understand how the sets relate to race performance it’s not boring, stale or any other adjective used. Once the athlete understands what it is that they are doing they will make comments during a set that “Hey, I made 3 more than last time” or “do you think I can go X in the X as I’ve been holding X on whatever set’” We use if you “max out the numbers” two times in a row it’s (call it mastery) time for pace adjustment, we call it “you get a dot” they will say “that’s twice, I get my dot” and boy you had better be ready to hear about it if you didn’t adjust their pace the next time.

    I’m not trying to be mean. But this is not “plug and play”

    "Only in America. Dream in red, white and blue"

    #1893
    Avatarottercoach
    Participant

    I have actually already heard my swimmers saying things about next time for certain sets. We are definitely in it for the long haul…I’m not concerned for me about variety. It was the kids because it’s lots of repetition, but I do believe that this will help them. I’m trying to educate them as we progress through the start of our season. There definitely has been more focus during sets and I can see their minds working as they calculate times.

    #1905
    AvatarRob
    Participant

    Those usrpt sets are not my problem but I am still figuring out where and how to put in the technical sets. If I read the papers this has to be in the beginning of the training but if I read this forum a lot of people just do technical set in between the usrpt sets. What does give the best results and hiw do you do it? Just swimming at race pace with some instructions or real drill while this is against the format of usrpt. Really looking forward for some advise.

    #1937
    Avatarottercoach
    Participant

    I have been doing technical sets (drills,starts,turns)in between the USRPT sets. I also use that time to get in some kicking/pulling (even though based on reading it is not technically USRPT) and even some “fun” stuff.

    I have set up a weekly schedule with specific races on each day of the week. We are getting in 3 USRPT sets with recovery in between in 2 hours. Now I need to figure out a tracking method.

    #1977
    AvatarRob
    Participant

    Thx Ottercoach

    started to put in some social kicking and starts and turns in between the sets as well as some drills. But I am still facing the problem that the numbers made in the 2nd and 3rd set are low compared to the 1st set. I suppose this is normal due to fatigue.
    One thing I am worried about is that some of the swimmers start to complain about shoulder pain. These are the swimmers who are eager to beat their last number and start to swim with poor technique and get their time due to the power they put in their stroke. I am wondering if the implemantation of the usrpt sets should be more gradual in the beginning of the season instead of throwing in 3 set/training. Anyone facing the same problem?

    #1979
    AvatarMatt
    Participant

    Hi Rob,

    I’ve been seeing a spike of poor-technique related issues cropping up. For many of them the things that fall apart in a RP set are almost exactly the things that fell apart in their first meet. I’m seeing a big increase in their awareness of the translation between RP set mechanics and meet mechanics. Around two thirds of those had their light bulb come on made relatively significant changes in their focus in their RP sets the next week. I hear a lot more “oh yeah, I felt that…” than before when mechanical issues are pointed out. It seems a bit obvious now, but the time spent in practice going at race pace is amplifying their ability to feel mechanics in actual races.

    Ideally each will have 2-3 specific mechanical points to focus on in a RP set. They will note when the focus mechanic becomes difficult to control and progresses on to “impossible” to control. All the while doing everything in their power to correct the defect. They (should) keep mental track of when the difficult and impossible points occur and see if they can progress things the next time around. Honestly it’s difficult to get too many of them to pay this level of attention to the details, but – in a surprise to exactly nobody – the better/more motivated ones to do it without much fuss.

    I’m also seeing a medium to large drop in their RP set performances after the first set. To be completely fair we’re doing full RP sets regardless of their times; what I’m calling: calibration mode. I wanted to have a more simple format to allow them to build certain skills: getting granular times (low, mid, high, flat) off the clock, documenting their numbers, navigating a practice with multiple RP sets. We gathered the following data: goal times, number made, average time of reps they made, average time of reps they missed. These numbers have been great indicators of their fitness and of their ability to maintain consistency within a RP set.

    Reps have also been steadily climbing. By now everyone has done a full set of 25s and 50s (i.e. 30×25 to support the 100s, 30x50s to support 200s, etc.) for two of their main distances. I wanted them to have a feel for the volume of the sets we’re aiming to use as “base” training for a particular distance.

    So far it appears to be working reasonably well. All their set-related skills are up to speed. I’m starting to see performances leveling off or getting worse, but I expected that by this point (maybe even a little sooner). Can’t demand full RP sets 6-8 times a week and not accumulate some real fatigue.

    We’ll be adding in exit conditions very soon. My instinct is to dial back the number of reps offered – say, 20×25 and 12x50s for 100s; 30×25 and 20x50s for 200s – keep the goal times steady and build the number of reps up as they succeed with the lower numbers. The smaller sets should allow them to shake off most/all of the accumulated fatigue and get into a rhythm that doesn’t beat them up.

    Addressing the point on low reps being made in the 2nd and 3rd RP sets: Oldschoolc had a pattern where the goal of the 2nd and 3rd set was to made the same number as the last time versus doing more (Sept 10th post in this thread). Seems like a reasonable way to account for the performance drop-off and avoid the negative implications of not “progressing” in the 2nd and 3rd set. He’s pretty active on the board so hopefully he can add some depth to this.

    Matt

    #1980
    Avataroldschoolc
    Participant

    Matt & Otter,
    On the team we a value system; as what do we value in race performance and what we will never give up during the race and that’s “turn speed, underwater work and surface swimming technique” and we use this value system for our for all work done between sets. We’re always trying to reinforce the value system. We may slow down. But will never give up the “system”.

    You’re right on this. Some are going to except responsibility example: they know that tempo on the last 12.5 is an issue so they will get a tempo trainer and plug in their number and others with the same problem don’t take advantage of this. When I was doing my student teaching I just didn’t understand why some didn’t want to learn and my supervising teacher told me “you can’t save them all” regardless of the effort you put in.

    I don’t understand the “regardless of their times” if that means you have them keep going regardless of pace then you are running the risk of some very fatigued swimmers especially later in the week and the accumulation of that fatigue will cause problems later in the season with race performance. You are recording a lot of data! Just a suggestion here keeping track of number offered i.e. 20 x 50 offered, number made 12 and the percent of total offer to total made. We keep a running total and this can be easily done in EXCEL. What you want to know is; are they increasing the distance covered at race pace? Lower percentage done may be lower fitness level, higher number done higher fitness level. Plain and simple and it cuts down on a lot of data recording that while interesting is time consuming.

    You have to read the numbers. If you see that they are struggling with the numbers made then you may need to slow the progression down and may need to repeat the same total the next time. i.e. 12 last time, average made was 4 and so next time you repeat 12 and see what happens. This especially is something you have to pay attention to with high school and college swimmers. Just due to the external stressor of school.

    I’m guessing “exit conditions” are unloading/taper? This is much like the 2nd strategy of “distance is constant and speed is increasing” You could allow them to go even faster than goal speed if they can. I wouldn’t do this for more than a 2 week cycle as it can become very frustrating to the athlete. You have to be very careful that you aren’t increasing speed/intensity and distance at the same time this is what we call the “double whammy”. We have great success with the 3 day protocol 3 days out of meet 1st day 25% reduction in numbers 2nd day another 25% reduction which is a total of 50% and then the 3rd day meet warm-up. We’ve very well with this format.

    The first set for us is always the “improvement” set we are looking for more made than the last time. So that requires that you to set up a sequence of work from short (25s) to long (50s/75s/100s) and then reverse long to short. So you have to rotate them throughout the cycle in that they have a chance at improving numbers when fresh (10 minutes to warm-up, drill and start set) our second and third and sometimes fourth are as follows 2nd set same number offered as last time. 3rd set came be anywhere from 50 to 70% reduction from last time offered. There are times we will try and “squeeze” two improvement sets out using the second set with an increase of plus 2 from last time.

    I can’t stress enough that you have to read the numbers. They will talk to you!

    This fourm has come a long way from it’s beginngs with coaches saying “well I think” to this is “what we’re seeing” and actually having data and sharing that helps move everyone forward.

    Oldschool

    "Only in America. Dream in red, white and blue"

    #1982
    AvatarMatt
    Participant

    Oldschoolc,

    Thanks for the response. I completely agree with your closer: the on-the-deck experiences are super valuable to me and I’m sure to everyone else. Thanks to those who are sharing.

    The “regardless of their times” means if the set was 20x50s they did 20. I called these sets “full RP set” or “calibration RP sets”. “Exit conditions” is my shorthand for the “miss your goal time twice in a row or three total times” part of a standard USRPT set.

    Doing the calibration sets definitely will have the effects you describe. I expected this and figured I had 5 weeks at most before the accumulated fatigue would impede training and/or run a risk of creating injuries. During week 4 the signs started to point to having to make the switch. This was intentional. Just a touch risky, perhaps, but pretty easy to see where the line needed to be drawn with the data I was gathering.

    We’ve switched over to standard RP sets with the exit conditions at this point. What I liked about the full sets was the swimmers all now have a very clear notion of the scale of the sets we’re working toward. It frames things out and I felt that was important given the large change in training style. As mentioned in my previous post their awareness of their race level mechanics has vastly improved. Overall I view these first few weeks as heavy “shock to the system” phase and now we reset a bit and come at it in a much more standard manner and in a much more focused manner.

    The data gathered for the “full” RP sets was different because the analysis is different from a standard RP set. The data you’re suggesting is exactly what we’re gathering for the standard RP sets. In both modes we’re collecting 4 numbers for each person for each set. In a past professional life I did a lot of this type of thing. Collect, collate and analyze tons of data. Data collection is always more time consuming at the outset compared with a few weeks into the process. My swimmers write their numbers on the whiteboard, I write them on the practice sheet and then enter them into a spreadsheet that is then printed & posted on the wall. I’m not sure how it will get quicker, but these things usually do. We’ll see how it plays out. If anyone has better technique in this area I’m all ears.

    I hear you on the building volume and speed separately or beware the consequences. No worries on that count.

    Specifically with your 3-day protocol: the numbers you are reducing are…total volume of the workout? Volume of the RP sets? Reps of the RP sets? Maybe all three? Within TT formats I’ve seen that general pattern (stretched out to, say, 7-10 days) work with first reducing overall volume, but keeping quality volume (the faster/intense sets) the same and then dropping the quality volume the last half of the taper period. I’m not sure there can be that sort of distinction within a USRP context if your non-RP volume is only around 20-30% of your total, but what sort of distinctions are you making with your 25% drops?

    I like the notion of an improvement RP set, a “steady Freddy” RP set and a “half-volume” RP set. I get the first two in terms of how the expectations can be set with the swimmers. How are you doing that for the third set? Are you shifting their focus to specific facets of the race (breakout, tempo, breathing, etc.) within the context of hitting their time for the reduced reps?

    Matt

    #1984
    Avataroldschoolc
    Participant

    Matt,
    Really like the “calibration” idea! Or the “now that I have your attention” Well thought out.

    On the 3 day protocol it is yes, a combination of all 3. Total volume gets reduced with the 25%, the volume of the RP set is reduced with the 25% and reps are reduced. I keep all the technical and drill work the same so no reducing there. In the old days we would have called this a “drop taper” problem was it never really worked as the kids were so beat up from TT they usually swam like crap and never felt rested a great mental state to try and perform.

    The best parts of the 3 day has been; they feel rested, mentally they get dialed in and maybe the best part is they don’t get that after taper “blues” After a 3 day P/F meet over the weekend we can come right back to practice and the numbers we left off with before the 3 day and they are just fine. It was worked really well if we have a January or February meet they need to swim fast at but the championship meet is not until March. You don’t spend 7-10 days coming down and then after meet 4-6 days coming back up. Just FYI, we’ll run in the 80% plus LTB and then come back in March and again post 80% plus LTB and that’s over their last meet. Over the course of the meets we’ll run in the 3-5% improvement in time event dependent.

    I will say this about the 3 day. If you’re not paying attention to the numbers before then the results could be totally different and not in a good way. You seem to have a good handle on “letting the numbers” speak to you so I’d give it a try.

    Yes to the third set on race focus. Because of the reduced numbers we are looking for perfect race execution which would be back to our “value system” turns speeds, underwater work and surface swimming skills.

    On recording, I did the WB thing. Then the kids came up with “you already take attendance why don’t you just make columns on the data sheet and when we’re done with each set just walk down the lanes and ask how many we made it’s got to be faster than us getting in and out of the pool after each set and we’re just going into a recovery set anyway, so it’s not like we’re pressed for time” Damn if they weren’t right. Takes all of a 1-1.5 minutes and they are on to the next set. We swim outdoors year round and I think they didn’t like getting out in the winter so they came up with the idea. Smart.

    Just thoughts,

    Oldschool

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    "Only in America. Dream in red, white and blue"

    #1988
    Avatarcoachroy
    Participant

    Coaches, I have found a way to simplify the workout logs for USRPT. When kids are in the gym, they use their own training logs to list their weight lifted, reps, etc. and it is on them to log their results. Finding a way to do this from the water is a challenge but I recently found the website, “write in the rain”. I ordered the waterproof paper and printed my forms on those and now they can hop out and post their 1st miss, total reps, time, etc. and I have a sheet to use for my data. Each kid has their own log.
    It really does work, even writing underwater:)
    Check out the website at: http://www.riteintherain.com

    Good luck!
    Coach Roy

    #1994
    Avatarottercoach
    Participant

    Hey guys,

    Do you do the “3-day” drop for every meet?

    I wasn’t planning on it, but figured I would ask others.

    We are 6 weeks in and…so far so good. Had a meet last weekend where a few of my USRPT swimmers attended. The results were very promising!

    I used to record my practices in one folder for the whole season and it was neat to look back and see what was done as the season progressed. However, I can’t say that I could get much else but an overview. With USRPT in mind, I’ve started putting each practice into a day folder. This allows me to really track what we are doing as a team at each practice. Using this I can see progress or even make notes of issues that arise during the practice.

    #1997
    Avataroldschoolc
    Participant

    Ottercoach,
    The 3-day protocol was for all intended purposes replaced the traditional taper for us. So any meet that we would have “tapered” for we just use 3-day. For reasons I’ve stated in other post it’s just cleaner and less opportunity for error.

    Oldschool

    "Only in America. Dream in red, white and blue"

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