Reply To: Aerobic work helps you finish races?

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Another way to look at that might be this:

“You’re feeling tired at the end of races because you recruited more muscle fibers to the task of fast swimming. Aerobic swimming less than 85% effort mainly recruit and train slow-twitch muscles. At near-100% effort, you recruit slow twitch, fast twitch a (aerobic) AND fast twitch b fibers (glycolytic), like we’ve been training to do every day. Fast twitch a fibers are 2-5x stronger than slow-twitch; fast twitch b fibers are 10x stronger. More muscle fibers working will result in faster swims (as you’re seeing), but faster swimming will always hurt more.”

I had a similar issue with a miler who I made do a lot of pace work a couple years ago. He dropped about 1:30.00 in the course of the season, but when he finished the mile, he complained about being “dead.” I told him it was because he had learned how to fully expend his energy resources in the race that he was hurting so much. Doesn’t make much sense to have a huge “aerobic capacity” if you can’t tap into it and spend it all in the pool! Doing anything to your true physical limitations will hurt 🙂

Another thing to consider…are these swimmers warmed up enough before sprinting? And I’m talking deep muscle temperature, not did they swim 600 yards before they raced! If not, make sure to tweak their warm-up routine so their body temperature is elevated a bit (i.e. just enough to be breaking a sweat) within 20 minutes of their sprint. Basic exercises like jumping jacks plus dynamic stretching works really nicely, and usually takes only 5-10 minutes to complete. Plus you don’t need a warm-up lane to do it in, either, which comes in handy in those smaller venues.

After their sprint, they should immediately proceed into a warm-down protocol of some kind. Hitting about 85% effort for 10-15 minutes of sustained, constant activity to fully reintegrate all the by-products from sprinting and regenerate energy from lactate. Could be in the pool or out of it, doesn’t matter. But assisting in their in-meet recovery will also help them to feel better when they race multiple times in one session. They should recover before coming up to speak with you!

Hope that helps!