How to train for mid-distance swimming races
Determining the optimal pace for a middle distance event is a challenge, especially for athletes who cover multiple distances in one meet. How can coaches prepare their swimmers to devote their energy to their best performance in freestyle events between 200 and 1,000 meters in length?
Here are some thoughts on designing workouts to help swimmers master the pace over these distances.
Each swimmer is unique and will need to find out what suits them best. A few athletes fall outside the norm based on natural gifts and training levels, but for the average master swimmer it is reasonable to assume that these concepts are generally applicable to middle distance events:
- The best overall times come from relatively regular rhythm
- Because fatigue increases with distance, a steady pace means that the effort must increase throughout the race.
- The best way to understand your optimal rhythm is to practice the rhythm at high intensity.
Some swimmers grasp the concept best when it’s stated this way: “Your gas tank is empty when you hit the wall at the end of the race. Not too much before and certainly not after. If you run out of gas too soon by pulling it too hard, you won’t end well and the last few meters will be excruciating. And if you feel like you’ve got a lot of pep left at the end of the race, well, you haven’t worked hard enough.
My final argument for a good pace is just a personal observation: it’s just a lot more fun to pass people at the end of a race than it is to watch everyone go by as you fight in. an exhausted struggle to end.
When considering these suggestions, keep in mind that they are part of a balanced training program that should also include plenty of technical work and moderate-speed aerobic conditioning, as well as occasional sprinting with adequate recovery. .
It’s a mental thing
While these sets provide many metabolic workouts to improve oxygen uptake, lactate tolerance, and threshold performance, the most important benefit is learning what it feels like at different stages. exceptional performance. It’s about knowing what rhythm to use at the start, how to hold a consistent groove at the edge of the envelope in the middle, and how to end with courage and determination.
And of course there is learning to holding form throughout the onset of fatigue and discomfort.
The only way to replicate the experience of running in a competition is to run in training. Every once in a while, hold a special workout where swimmers can have their own lane to get out of blocks and run their target distance. Take split times and chat after the swim to review the pace and the connection between the actual times and the perceptions they had during their run.
Depending on the phase of the training season, such simulated races in swimming training may not approach the times one would expect in a competition. It’s OK; what is important is that your swimmers experience a race pace mindset and have the opportunity to analyze their performance and learn from it.
The negative split, in which the athlete swims the second half of the race faster than the first, can be done with any distance, although the math is easier in the 200 and 400. I ask swimmers to make an open turn halfway to look at the clock. In addition to allowing them to see their split time, this disruption in rhythm makes it more difficult to swim the back half faster and therefore increases the effort required after the midpoint.
Negative splitting isn’t about perceived exertion – the second half should actually be faster than the first, not just feel faster. Some swimmers think they are swimming negatively because they feel they have increased their effort in the second half. Without checking the clock, they could be wrong (and usually are). Help your swimmers with their calculations and give examples to demonstrate the results you are looking for.
Broken distances and scales
Adding short breaks to the distance sets can help swimmers maintain focus and intensity.
- FSYCH. the sending-it-faster-than-you-can-hold concept teaches consistency at any distance.
- Running pace training. Determine a target pace for each of your swimmers and have them try to maintain that pace for the total distance of the chosen stroke. Add enough rest to help maintain that pace while still making it an appropriate challenge. For example, a 500 swimmer might do 5 x 100 with 40 seconds of rest, and a 1000 swimmer might do 5 x 200 with 75 seconds of rest. Remind athletes not to get out too quickly; the first repetition of the set should set the standard they will try to maintain with each subsequent swim.
- Ladders. Downward distance repetitions develop the ability to increase effort. As the distances decrease, the swimmer will naturally try to push harder. An example of a great downward ladder to train for the 1,000-yard freestyle is a 400, 300, 200, and 100, with 20 seconds of rest in between.
As you describe the training, discuss how each set improves running performance if done correctly. If your swimmers approach work with the attitude of learning to distribute energy over a distance, they will see results in the very next competition.