SWIM TEST: My Fastest Times Yet (and what that means for my training)

>> Monday, December 11, 2017

I had a solid swim last Thursday where I retested my CSS pace. You hear me talk about CSS a few times a year here. Fast swimming buddy Robby B mentioned it to me about 3 years ago. In this post from 2014, I wrote about it:

[Robby B] turned me on to Swim Smooth and some of their ideas of swim training:

To improve your lactate threshold you want to do your quality swim sets at your current threshold pace or just below it. Many athletes make the mistake of training above lactate threshold in short sharp swim sets - that isn't nearly as effective.

Well, that's what I've been doing for the last 5 weeks: hard interval swims. So what's your "best" pace to train at? Your "CSS" pace. They go on to explain what that is:

CSS is an acronym for Critical Swim Speed. It's an approximation of your lactate threshold speed and you can find it by doing a couple of swimming tests (no blood involved - just a stopwatch!). It's not precisely the same as lactate threshold but it will be within a couple of seconds per 100m, which is plenty accurate enough to guide your training.

They say to swim an all-out 400, rest and swim easy a bit after that, and then do an all-out 200. Find the difference between your time in the 400 and 200, and then divide that by 2 to get your CSS pace / 100.

For example, in Nov of 2014, I did this: I swam my 400 in 6:10. Then I did my 200 in 3:00. The difference between those is 2 times is 3:10. Divide that by 2, and my CSS training pace should be 1:35/100.

In January of 2015, I "retested" my CSS pace and did this: 400 in 5:55, the 200 in 2:55, difference of 3:00, which means my CSS training pace should be 1:30/100.

In November of 2016, I tested it again, and it was the same as the last time: 5:55 and 2:55 for a CSS training pace of 1:30/100.

On Thursday, I had the fastest CSS swim test of my life: I was totally out of oxygen by 150 yards, but my times were sweet. I did the 400 in 5:45 (or 10 seconds faster than my previous best) and my 200 in 2:41 (14 seconds faster than my previous best)!! I tweeted this to Robby:

Oh, and Adam who likes to tease me about not doing flip turns tweeted me this:

Later that day, I realized I was WRONG about needing to "up my training pace for the winter." In my head, I calculated my CSS pace to be nearly 0:02 faster than 1:30, or 1:28/100. But I went the wrong way. My CSS pace is 5:45.84 - 2:41.12 = 3:03.72 / 2 = 1:31.86/100 training pace! It was nearly 0:02 SLOWER than 1:30!

THIS TELLS ME WHAT I'VE BEEN TRYING TO TELL MYSELF FOR THE LAST YEAR: I need to SLOW DOWN a bit and SHORTEN my rest to get a better ENDURANCE workout. I've been slowly stretching my rest times out so that I can swim FASTER. I proved that here (with a hearty PR workout), but now I need to slow up a bit and suffer more with less rest as Robby stated in his tweet. TIME TO GET ON THAT!

In unrelated news from my professional life: last week I was asked to speak at a career day at White Bear Lake High School. The head of the "College and Career Center" has been a blog follower for a number of years, and she first asked me to come speak 2 years ago. If you're interested, head over to this post on my Photo Blog to see the final advice I left these students who were interested in becoming professors someday. It boils down to "you make your own luck."


Sloppy Run (or "I Love My YakTrax!")

>> Saturday, December 09, 2017

It's been icy here in Minnesota since about Monday night. We had a WARM day with lots of rain. And then it cooled down quickly and turned to ice and snow. My run on Wednesday was indoors. But yesterday (Friday), I thought it was worth a try outside.

I LOVE running outside in winter and in cold weather, but last winter proved that running on ice isn't smart - I had knee/quad issues all spring/summer from running too "stiff" on ice as I was trying not to fall down. So yesterday, I broke out some YakTrax for the first time in YEARS:

With the stroller (with Charlie in it) at the Y parking lot pre-run.

I've avoided YakTrax for a few years because I remember them beating up my feet and being a little uncomfortable BUT I THAT'S NOT TRUE. I'VE MISSED THEM. THEY WERE AMAZING. I think that change is mainly due to my change in training. Years ago, when I was wearing YakTrax for half marathon training in the middle of winter, I would run maybe 50% of my runs hard. And I think running HARD on YakTrax is what made me not like them. Now, I probably only run about 20% of my runs hard, and running easier on them yesterday was NO problem. They did GREAT on slippery spots and on the slush along the Greenway:

Pushing Charlie for 6.5 miles at 7:20 pace. (47:27 overall)

My phone was dead when I finished (the 17 degree air killed the battery), so I couldn't take a photo of my slush-covered legs from the splatter of the stroller wheels. Or the 20 oz of slush that had found it's way into the lower shelf of the stroller. But everything else was grand!

My run was actually VERY consistent at first: my first 6 half-mile splits were within 3 seconds (3:37 - 3:40). I sped up a little near the end, but just took it relatively easy. Now, lets see about an 8-9 miler tomorrow!


Friday Funny 1369: Snow in Atlanta

>> Friday, December 08, 2017

The thread on the City of Atlanta Facebook page (and its comments) about a recent "snow storm" is golden:

This is true. We make fun of southerns for snow, but then we get too hot once it hits 80 degrees.

Lots more funny stuff on SportsAndLaughs.tumblr.com. HAPPY WEEKEND!!


Friday Funny 1368: Kid's Books with Photoshopped Titles

Lots more funny stuff posted all day long on SportsAndLaughs.tumblr.com.


Friday Funny 1367: Unfunny Tweets If You're Under 30

You might not understand these if you're under 30. Also: get off my lawn. (via buzzfeed)

Too close to home.

My wife. Truly.


More funny stuff on SportsAndLaughs.tumblr.com.


Beer Mile World Record

>> Thursday, December 07, 2017

I case you missed it, there was a Beer Mile World Record set about a month ago. Here's an 8 minute video of the race, but it's queued up to start just before the race starts after the 2 minute mark. These guys can DRINK (well, and run):

Direct Link: https://youtu.be/1XtmwP6Dj5E?t=2m2s

Yes, these guys are great runners (if you take out the drinking, the winner ran about a 4:10 mile), but I'm mostly impressed with their drinking. In all of the beer miles that I've done, it takes me a LONG time to get those beers in me. << Click that link to see posts tagged with beer mile.


Three Weeks of Training

>> Monday, December 04, 2017

My last 3 weeks ended with my wife working this past weekend. Yesterday, I took the boys for a 6.3 mile run along the Mississippi. When we hit the river, downtown Minneapolis was reflecting the sunrise behind us:

Usually busy River Road was pretty quiet!
(7:30 a.m. on a Sunday, but it was a balmy 31 degrees, so I was surprised!)

Crossing the Franklin Ave bridge being watched by the rising sun.

And 2 days ago (Saturday), I got sweaty on the trainer:

A selfie an hour in (after the "Time Trial" workout on Spinervals 23.0, before some easier drills).

90 mins of sweat.

I warmed up for a bit while watching PBS, and then got sucked into a show (jeez I'm old) and didn't start the Spinerval DVD for about 45 minutes. Then I did all of the Time Trial workout, and part of the Recovery/Drills workout for 90 mins total.

And here's what the last 3 weeks look like:

I wrote a bit about that first week in this post a few weeks back - that was my first decent week after taking 2 weeks off and then building a bit for a week. That week was 20.4 miles of running, and I consider 20 miles to be "decent."

The middle week was Thanksgiving, so I had a few days in there with no workouts, but still 3 runs. I ran 21.2 miles that week, and figured I should back off a bit for a week.

This past week (the 3rd week above), I had a decent ride where I posted a pic of my wife's backside, 2 solid swim workouts, and some easy runs (1 run shown at the start of this post, and another stroller run that I posted about on Saturday). And also that sweaty trainer ride. I backed off a bit with just 18.5 miles of running, and things are good!

Happy training!!



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