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Thursday, 23 August 2012

Cruise Paces


Keeping track of 16+ athletes in one training group is a big challenge for any coach.  It's important that we teach athletes to be self-sufficient and think for themselves during training, so that every instruction from the coach -- no matter how small -- is put to use by each athlete during the practice.  As athletes get older and more experienced, they should be able to go to meets and training camps without their coach, and still get the job done. 

During the fall of 2012, I plan to use this "Cruise Pace" chart with my athletes 1-3 times per week.  I hope that my athletes will take a guideline like this chart, understand it, and then use it to their advantage. Most likely I will use this chart for one major set, plus two secondary sets.  The "Cruise" paces were calculated, initially, based off what Coach Bob Treffene of Australia called "Critical Speed" pace; to get this pace for any athlete take their 200 PR, divide it, and add 4 seconds.  For T2 Aquatics' "Cruise Paces" we use this method as well (you can see that this method is what led us to our 100 "Cruise Pace").  We've taken it a step further and come up with paces for different distances (100, 125, 150, 200, and 300).  I've used my head and experience with certain athletes to determine the paces for anything above a 100.  It's not a perfect mathmatical formula (I rounded and estimated a bit to create this chart) - but I think the chart will serve its purpose.

I believe it's appropriate to find an athlete's pace between "race pace" and "maintainence pace" -- and train it with great stroke technique.  Generally with this sort of thing, the athlete's tempo (stroke rate) will be somewhat above what they will use when racing.  They will be going pretty fast, but not so fast that they would consider it a "Max" effort....and they should be able to repeat this fast but relaxed pace more than once in a row during practice.

I will use the chart in two ways.  First, as a set with speeds approaching race pace:

Example 1:
4 rounds: {3x100 Free (115) at "cruise pace" + 1x100 easy (130)}
Once the athlete hits the cruise pace they can simply hold it while working on little things like walls (no breathing in or out) or breathing patterns (every 5th) -- or really, any kind of "detail" work the coach finds appropriate.  This way, the athletes are performing at a strong but not overly-hard level, and the coach is watching them perform the swims with the best possible stroke technique.


Second, as a set with speeds in the "Threshold" pace area:

Example 2:
10x300 (330).  Hold Cruise 300 pace for 7 300s, then descend the final 3 of the set to cruise pace minus 4.  This method gives the athlete something to hold throughout the set that should be right in the "Threshold" area based off their 200 PR.  Adjustments can be made for athletes whose Threshold pace seems to be a bit faster or slower than the indicated time.

With large groups, I hope this "Cruise" sheet will give coaches some pace times which we can use to keep all of our athletes honest with their efforts.  It takes away the guessing game for submaximal training ("how fast should I go?"), and it will give the athletes a standard to which they can aspire during a given set.

*For anyone who would like a copy of this sheet, send me a comment with your email address -- and I'll send you a sheet over the weekend.

26 comments:

  1. Very neat! I have not heard of Treffene's "Cruise Pace" before, I should try this later in the short course season.



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  2. Good Stuff Coach. Please send me a Cruise sheet to kbedalov@wi.rr.com

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  3. Nice! Here is my email markcorley@gmail.com

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  4. great blog paul! jonathanlau04@yahoo.com

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  5. Great stuff, mullins.en@gmail.com

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  6. Sign me up: benjamin.herrman@gmail.com

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  7. love to have a copy: coachwilliams@sailfishaquatics.org

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  8. Would love to have a copy, thank you for sharing! billyandchris@gmail.com

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  9. Looks interesting, can I have a copy aswell? kjell.hansen@aland.net

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  10. Excellent way to help athletes link training to racing. Would you suggest too that athletes can then say that if they want to shoot for a specific range that this too would work. Say they are a 1:144 in the 200 but their goal is 1:40....so instead of "cruising at 56.0, they would then try over a period of time to "cruise" 54.0??

    If you could send me that chart it would be awesome!!! Thank you.
    jeffridler@gmail.com

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    1. Jeff- for sure. It's kind of the question of "What came first, the chicken or the egg?".... maybe it's not that the athlete who is a 1:44/56.0 guy has to to 1:40 before being a 54.0 cruise guy; maybe if 54.0s start to become as easy as the 56.0s, the 1:40 will be accessible. I think that's part of our job as coaches though...we have to figure out when our athletes have to not only shift their "hard" pace to a different level in practice, but their "cruising" pace as well.

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  11. Thanks for sharing wonkabar23@yahoo.com

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  12. Hi paul I like this i have used a test set to figure mine out and used the color sheets Jon U used at Michigan but I would love a copy of yours. My Name is Jeanne Fleck head swim coach Fresno State jfleck@csufresno.edu
    Thanks

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  13. Please send me a copy Paul. Kevpierce@gmail.com

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  14. I just sent out a few more copies of the Cruise Pace chart....and I'm pretty sure I got everyone. Let me know if you didn't get it!

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  15. Hey Paul, I would like a copy too, if you get a chance. I have been enjoying reading your blog. Any thoughts on taking the cruise paces and making them useful for 25 SCM (our practice pool).
    sam_lapan@yahoo.com

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  16. Very nice! Could you also email a copy to me:

    rotarycoach@gmail.com

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  17. If you are still sending I'd like to get a copy: rjrynone14@yahoo.com

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  18. Paul -

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights. I know it would be hard to do, but I wish more of our national team coaches shared this kind of stuff. It would make USA swimming that much better in the future. Could please send a copy of your chart to kevinjahearn@verizon.net.

    Thanks

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  19. If you can send it to me at dgendernalik@gmail.com I would really appreciate it. Love the blogs and ideas you are sharing

    Thanks

    Dave

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  20. Paul, I would love a copy if you are still sending them out, do u use the same chart for strokes/IM or do you adjust those? Swimcoach@calvin.edu

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  21. As for IM/Stroke paces, I would use them if they make sense, but many of the times
    are fast (compared to say, breaststroke). I started by taking the swimmer's best time
    in a 200 and dividing it, then adding 4 seconds...so I think we can do that with any stroke including the IM. I'd say that breaststrokers may be a little different with it though, and I'd be inclined to divide the best 200 time, and add more....like 6-7 seconds instead of 4. I could be wrong on this but it seems like breaststrokers have a harder time holding a certain percentage of their racing speed (probably because they have a harder time
    holding a racing stroke?).

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  22. Paul, Thanks for this chart. I've always looked for a simplified way to assess training paces other than simply coaches intuition. How much rest would you recommend for an athlete to hold these goal times? I saw the 300's on 3:30... is it safe to assume around :10/:15 rest per 100?

    I also second your adjustment for the breaststroke paces for the same reasons.

    Thanks.

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  23. A little late - could you please send me one? I'm a big fan of your workouts (via proswimworkouts.com). Thanks.

    malin.536@gmail.com

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  24. Hi Coach --

    I just emailed you a document. If for some reason you didn't get it, let me know and I'll get it to you.

    Paul

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