I want to expand for a moment on the concept (discussed in the previous post) of increasing effortlessness rather than effort – within a set and over the course of a taper.
In a typical swim taper, in which athletes are preparing for events of 100 or 200m (or at most 1500m), it’s common to gauge the taper’s progress by monitoring pace times in practice. Over the course of a taper, a swimmer’s times on “pace swims” of 50 or 100m will tend to get faster.
In races of more than 30 minutes (~1.5 miles), however, it becomes less important to hit specific pace times than it is to modulate effort. This is especially true of swims 10K and longer (2+ hours).
That’s why, in preparing for tomorrow’s 10K, I’ve focused less on swimming a faster pace, but on how much effort I’m expending to swim a given pace. That’s what I mean when I say: Don’t increase effort (to swim faster), but rather, increase effortlessness (to swim the same speed with less effort).
Pick a pace time – in my case, let’s say 1:15 per 100m. In the middle of my training cycle, it might require 80% effort to swim a set of repeat 100s at this pace – even more with short rest. But by the end of my taper, I should be able to swim this pace relatively “effortlessly” – perhaps 65-70% effort – in other words, the effort I can maintain for the 2+ hours of a 10K.
As I’ve said before, if you can swim effortlessly, the pace will take care of itself.