"Mostly slow, sometimes fast"

tortugatortuga Member
edited July 21 in Beginner Questions
I've been a triathlete and distance runner for some years now and am just beginning to get into marathon swim distances. For distance runners (and triathletes as well) the mantra is run (train) "mostly slow, sometimes fast". This not only gets your body used to hours and hours of the same movements, it also (in theory) reduces injury and burn-out by not overtaxing musculoskeletal and autonomic systems.

It seems to be an opposite mindset for distance swimmers. Train "mostly fast, sometimes slow" seems to be the mantra. I was wondering why this is. Is there any research into this? or some other type of evidence? or is it just opinion.

I'm looking for both thoughts and facts here.

Educate me.

La Tortuga
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Comments

  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    Read about Swim Smooth's CSS (Critical Swim Speed). Slow down to get faster. It works for me.
  • danswimsdanswims Member
    CSS is great but in the context of the original question is probably still fast. The concept is to improve the lactic threshold by doing repeats at or near but not above threshold. A good place to jump into learning is here.
    http://www.swimsmooth.com/training_adv.html
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    I don't know. A lot of my CSS feels like when I ran and did LSD. (long slow distance, not that other LSD.)
  • tortugatortuga Member
    IronMike said:

    I don't know. A lot of my CSS feels like when I ran and did LSD. (long slow distance, not that other LSD.)

    Some of my long runs feel like the other LSD

    dpm50
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Member
    edited June 9
    Slow and steady wins the race. Train with what feels right for you at any given time. Mixing things up in training is good for the head, but 10x200 on a fast interval only means that you might have an awesome opening 400. Get used to a pace and feel for your body that you can sustain forever. Then do a 50 off the blocks.
  • SullySully Member
    I think the real answer is simply, running fast is painful and requires considerable recover. Swimming fast 5 days a week often doesn't even lead to soreness. If a marathon runner could recover from daily interval training and speed work that method may be the most fruitful.
  • WarmWaterWarmWater Member
    I'm on the fence because I do distance swimming at cruising speed but mix with speed sessions at the triathlon club. So swam 4,000m yesterday morning off the beach @20m/km then a speed session last night, 2x 200, 10x 50, 3x 200 + 3x100. The sessions complement eachother and variety is what keeps it interesting. This is opinion without any fact to back it up!
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    Back when I became an adult-onset swimmer, and would swim on my own, I used a psychological trick on myself during my main sets. For sets 200 or longer, I would sprint the final 25. For sets 400 or longer, I'd sprint the final 50. No matter what.

    I told myself that this trained my body to always finish strong. I gave it up as I learned more and more about (self-)coaching.

    But, interestingly, even today I can always sprint really well at the end of races, whether they be a pool 800 or a 5K. (Granted, the critical-me is thinking that this is because I didn't push hard enough during the race...I'm my own worst enemy.)
  • OnceaRunnerOnceaRunner Member
    edited June 10
    I would like to chime in on a couple of things:

    Long slow runs makes slow runners. I believe in volume as a runner but intensity is being shown to have a greater impact. Check out Hansen's or even go back to Lydiard.

    As for swimming, I am trying to mimic my running pattern in the pool. This is what I am doing thus far:

    Long sessions at a steady pace - trying to work up to 4 miles
    One - two session of technique work and just laps. Usually about 2k
    One - two session of speed work, fartleks or other type of "speed" (for me) sessions.

    I tend to try and swim steady to hard on all of these emphasizing my form and technique. What I find weird is that when I ran I would just have some easy days because I loved to run. I don't find that I can't do that in the pool. Too many clocks.


  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    Swimming is much more technique focused than running, so there are significant gains to be made in your probability of success (in a marathon swim) by improving technique.

    The trick is determining what is the best mechanism for you in improving technique, and balance that with the need to also build endurance.

    For me, on a long set it is really easy to relax into lazy technique, unless I have some external stimulus such as trying to keep a certain pace (e.g. watching the pace clock or using a tempo trainer or matching a swimmer in another lane), whereas doing intervals tends to give more direct feedback about what is working (or not).

    Long set training also tends to be a bit of a solitary thing, whereas interval training can be done with a Masters group and there are definite benefits to group training in both motivation to attend and motivation to push yourself.

    That said I do like to bulk up my Masters workouts by getting in long sets before and after. For example last night I did:

    1900 yards warm up
    2400 yards Masters workout (lots of 100's)
    1200 yards warm down

    But I am lucky enough to have access to a pool where that is possible.

    In an ideal world I'd aim to do around 3 or so interval workouts a week and spend the rest of my time doing OW or long sets, but due to work and travel constraints I tend towards whatever swim time I can get :-)
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • This is something I've often contemplated. Particularly training for longer swims, ie 10hrs plus. What is the best approach? As an ex competitive swimmer, I'm used to repeat intervals in sessions lasting up to 2 hrs at an effort level approaching maximum heart rate. Fine for "normal" pool racing and primarily anaerobic.
    Next step up is the 10K. 2 hrs+ effort. This is a more aerobic distance, but i assume with some anaerobic if you want to push it and you like pain.
    Then we come to channel distances, 10hrs and more. Young racers aside, Despite how the first few hours go, the majority of this will be swum at a fairly slow pace. If there was a pace clock on the side of the boat tracking your 100m times, they would be fairly pathetic. Logic would dictate that the majority of your training should be at an aerobic pace, which some could interpret as "easy".
    Given most people don't have all day to train and do 5 hr+ aerobic swims, what are peoples opinion on "the best" approach for 10hr+ swims? Any science behind it? Can ultra running techniques, which is probably better understood than ultra swimming, be applied to swimming?
  • tortugatortuga Member
    Good stuff. Thanks everyone.
  • tortugatortuga Member

    This is something I've often contemplated. Particularly training for longer swims, ie 10hrs plus. What is the best approach? As an ex competitive swimmer, I'm used to repeat intervals in sessions lasting up to 2 hrs at an effort level approaching maximum heart rate. Fine for "normal" pool racing and primarily anaerobic.
    Next step up is the 10K. 2 hrs+ effort. This is a more aerobic distance, but i assume with some anaerobic if you want to push it and you like pain.
    Then we come to channel distances, 10hrs and more. Young racers aside, Despite how the first few hours go, the majority of this will be swum at a fairly slow pace. If there was a pace clock on the side of the boat tracking your 100m times, they would be fairly pathetic. Logic would dictate that the majority of your training should be at an aerobic pace, which some could interpret as "easy".
    Given most people don't have all day to train and do 5 hr+ aerobic swims, what are peoples opinion on "the best" approach for 10hr+ swims? Any science behind it? Can ultra running techniques, which is probably better understood than ultra swimming, be applied to swimming?

    This is what I'm getting at

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WAMember
    I'm not training for 10 hour swims....yet, but I'm training to race a 10K and "recreationally" swim at least an 8 mile lake this year. I think putting some hard efforts into my distance workouts will help me to get through a longer swim, (longer than what I usually have time to do in practice) because I've practiced keeping my technique together when I'm tired.

    Ideally I like to do a slow warmup, (500-1000 alt fr/bk) then a distance swim (1000- 1500) building my pace.

    On a perfect day, my training buddies will show up at this point and we'll do a hard set of sprints totalling 2-3K, like 10x200s, 2x5-4-3-2-1, or something like that. After that, they are tired, poop out and go home.

    Then I get down to business with something like 2-3x1500, 3-5x1000 or 10-8-6-4-2, trying to hold on to a smooth, (& respectable) pace and not fall apart at the end.

    I almost never do more than 3000-3500 at a hard pace (usually within a longer workout) but I've had no problems hanging on at race pace for 5-7K.

    Varying speeds and good technical focus when tired have worked for me up to this point. I guess I'll find out if this continues to work as I tackle longer distances. (SCAR 2016?)

    I'm also interested in what others are doing to succeed at 5-10 hour swims.
    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.
  • This does not really answer your question, but it is relevant. I agree that LSD work is not as prioritized in the swimming community as it should be. But I also think that if I prioritized it like I should, I would train far less than I do.

    Masters swimming is fun, social, competitive and addicting. I go every day. Not because I am disciplined, but because I am compelled to. Masters gets me out of bed. I know there are 4 people sitting in a lane, expecting me, and when I get there, we are going to greet each other like old friends do, talk smack and then throw it down. We'll have a good laugh when its over. No one is going to let up and everyone will notice if I do. Its like Saturday morning group rides when I was a cyclist, but its every day.

    Unlike running and cycling, swimming LSD work is necessarily a non-social event. I have no one to share the experience with and no one pushing me or holding me accountable to do my best or to even show up. I do it because it is necessary. I am landlocked, so LSD=LCM. If I lived in La Jolla Cove, I'd do a lot more LSD (both kinds)!

    I'm sure I could swim long distances faster if I prioritized LSD like I did when I was a cyclist, but I find masters swimming more socially rewarding, motivating and fun and as I grow older, I find those things more valuable than shaving a few minutes off my 10k.
  • swimm4rswimm4r Member
    @spacemanspiff, Cycling? Don't you mean riding in a wagon with a (stuffed) tiger.
  • swimm4r said:

    @spacemanspiff, Cycling? Don't you mean riding in a wagon with a (stuffed) tiger.

    @swimm4r, only when I'm doing the other kind of LSD
  • I'm coming from an opposite background...sprint swimmer in college and swim coach, now marathon swimmer and cross country coach. So a few of my observations that might be useful...
    -I use hills/speed days in coaching running in the same way that I now integrate stroke work. Ie: hill day for cross country to have the same effects of a fly or IM set swimming.
    -long days are good. (Even though a long day is 6-10 miles for both cc and swimming!..) about once a week, don't worry too much about speed, but neg split maybe esp in the second half of season.
    -"broken" sets were key as a sprinter and are great for distance swimming and running...break up the event and go race pace. That's how I go fast for a hard workout, especially late in the season. I'm sure you'd run 3x1 mile faster than race pace....try 16x100 on an interval giving you :20 rest going race pace. Or build up to 80x100 on an uncomfortably fast interval.
    -you ran from your core, make sure you swim from your core. It's important for speed, but critical for not hurting yourself in über distance.

    So to summarize....sometimes long but not too slow, sometimes fast and short, sometimes extra cardio-ish, sometimes core building, sometimes specific muscle group building. Always with recovery and always with great technique.
  • marlinmarlin Member
    The longest distance run I like is about 10 miles (my "sunday" run).
    Then during the week, I have shorter and faster runs (e.g. "farktlek") or a 6mi with a faster pace or finish.

    I sort of emulate this with swimming - doing one long slow swim a week, and during the week, faster intervals (100's) or sets like 5x800 at a faster pace than that long slow swim.

    If you search online and look for training schedules, you'll see that the first part of your training should include a substantial endurance phase which basically consists of building up your capacity to swim longer and longer distances.

    Working on speed comes later.


  • tortugatortuga Member
    marlin said:
    60,000 yards per week? Really? What do these guys do to pay the bills?
  • marlinmarlin Member
    @Tortuga

    In that article, scroll down to the weekly yard breakdown

    Weekly Yds
    8,000Base Week 1
    9,000Base Week 2
    10,000Base Week 3
    12,000Base Week 4

    Etc etc
  • tortugatortuga Member
    Thanks Marlin. The opening paragraphs kinda freaked me out.
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