Friday, April 22, 2016

Countdown Sets and Friday Plans

It's Friday morning. Yes and no. Yes, I'm drinking coffee and no the cats are not on the bed with me. We are having cat conflicts right now. I'll post about that later. Now I want to write about my training this week and what I have on the agenda for today.

As you know, March is a month of frustration and fear for me and early April is not much better. I start swimming the ponds in March, but even in a wetsuit, the water temps usually keep me from the kind of distances I want. Early April is also teasingly cool. Twin Rivers, this year as usual, got pumped up early this month but it is too cold for long swims. For some reason-- maybe it's the huge dose of cold water you get on flip turns-- I don't like swimming a pool in a wetsuit. So I suffer some early freeze outs while my big swim looms closer and closer.

This week I started experiencing the kind of swims I need. The water is warming and the pool just sits there and waits on me, me alone to have my way with it. Monday I swam 4,700. Tuesday 5,400. Wednesday I only did 3,300, but they were quality meters. Thursday the water hit 74 degrees, a nice temp. The sun even shown a bit giving me the opportunity to swim as long as my arms desired. I started with a long warm up, 2,000 straight meters, to work the oxygen/fat-burning capability of the mitochondria in my muscle fibers. Then I started one of my countdown sets. This is one of my go-tos that I developed while training to beat Randy Beets in the Tennessee River. It gets me in shape. It gets me in shape fast. The countdown set works speed, threshold, VO2 Max, lactate buffering, and stamina. Anything that works stamina brings endurance along with it. In short, it works everything. I love these sets. I hate these sets. I love and hate them at the same time, but I love them more because they pay big dividends. 

I call it a countdown set because the original one was a 400 with a floating 25. What that means is I swim 400 straight with a 25 sprint in each 100. The sprint changes its position in 100s (thus it floats). On the first 100, I swim the first 25 all out. On the second 100, the fast 25 moves to the second 25 of that 100 and so forth until the last 100 where I swim the last 25 fast. The moving 25, besides the metabolic impact, helps me count down the 100s and not get lost, thus the name "countdown set." I got the basic idea from my coach, Cagri, at DSU, but I experimented with it and usually change it every time I swim it. The set, the way I build it and modify it, is now mine.

This week I did my first countdown of the year Monday-- 3 X 400-- and I found it very difficult. Only a single day later, however, I added a 100 and did 5 X 500 countdown with the 5th 100 being at a moderate pace. I promise, my fitness had changed from Monday. Wednesday I swam a total of only 3,300, but that included a 3 X 600 countdown. On the 6th 100, I swam the first 50 fast. Thursday, I moved the set up the 700 with the last 50 of the 7th 100 fast. Do you see the pattern? I will keep adjusting the set until about three weeks before Chicot. It will be a killer by the time I wrap up Chicot training.

Thursday I swam a total of 6,200 and then tapped out to save something for today. I plan to drive to Minter City to swim one of those tail end recovery systems. That is a big fish-pond looking thing that has something to do with irrigation. The one I plan to swim is larger than my biggest fish pond I have access to. I like big. I have done enough quality swimming for the week. Now it is time for long, easy, low-end endurance work. I want to swim at least 10 kilometers, but my body will dictate how far I go. I'll let you know.