A Short, Fast Set to Build
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Dawn Heckman needs little introduction as a
World Class Workout contributor. Beneath her fierce competitiveness
which won her gold and bronze medals at the 1999 Pan Pacific Games, a berth on
the World Championship Open Water team, and several recent masters world
records is actually a shrewd businesswoman. Last year, Dawn founded
Splish, a swimsuit
company with a twist.
Dawns World Class Workout is as
original as her suit designs: Whereas other contributors focused on big sets
that primarily stressed endurance development, Dawns workout is short and
deceptively simple-looking (but certainly not easy).
Once a week, I would do a low-yardage,
high-intensity set where the purpose was to swim at race speed and lay
everything down on the line, she explains. In order to be a fast
swimmer, you have to practice swimming fast.
Indeed, many swimmers and triathletes enjoy
training endurance because it feels like a real workout (the "no pain, no gain"
approach). However with consistent endurance training, it is easy to fall into
a pattern of swimming longer distances at slower paces.
Every now and then it is necessary to
practice speed and keep your body conditioned to sprint. Dawns workout is
designed to do just that.
A pre-meet warm-up is whatever it is you do
to get ready before a big race. Some swimmers take longer than others and
prefer to do up to an hour of drills and light sets. Others like to get their
body moving with an easy 1,500 meters and call it quits.
Whatever the case may be, take your time and
warm up correctly every time you do the following set. To successfully complete
the workout, you need to be prepared to swim fast.
8 x 50s ALL OUT as follows:
2 @ 1:00
2 @ :50
This is only 400 meters of swimming, but the
challenge is to swim each 50 at race pace. The final time for the
400 meters, when added up, has to equal your goal time in the 400-meter event
(those who dont know what that time would be because they swim different
events or compete in triathlons should still focus on sprinting,
Every single 50 for me had to be at
race pace or faster, Dawn remembers, or else it didnt count
and I had to do it again! The intervals werent the challenging part; it
was making yourself swim really fast when you were dead tired.
This can be a few hundred yards of easy
swimming to flush the lactic acid out of your system, or even 2,000 meters of
pulling if you want to inflate your yardage a bit.
The value of the above main set is that it
forces your body to perform under race conditions when you may not feel your
fastest or your best. If you are in mid-season, swimming a few 50s (let
alone eight of them!) at race pace could be really challenging, yet its a
great way to gage where you are in your training.
If your body is really broken down and you
fail at the set, perhaps its time to pare down the intensity of your
training and focus more on recovery time to swim fast. If you complete the
first half of the set but fail on the last few 50s, then that should be a
clue that you need to work on your endurance.
In midseason, Dawn would do this set three
times through in one workout, for a total of 1,200 meters of fast swimming. As
the season progressed she would do it twice, then only once in the weeks of her
taper. Occasionally, she would do the set butterfly (she primarily raced
freestyle but felt that butterfly was a greater challenge).
Ultimately, this short set could be the most
important drill you do during your season. While endurance training is the
pillar of any open-water swimmer or triathletes logbook, sprinting is the
oft-neglected element that separates the fast from the faster.
The more an athlete is accustomed to
swimming fast during midseason training, the more conditioned he will be to
rise to the occasion when the gun goes off on race day.
As endurance-prone workaholics, sometimes we
need to remember to set aside time for fine-tuning ourselves with sprints
and thanks to Dawn we now have a blueprint to follow.
Blueprint thats actually the name of
one of her swimsuit designs!