Friday, June 3, 2016

A Sneaky Little CSS "Test" - but did you realise it??!!

**Don't forget: Monday's 7am and 9.30am Pure Technique Sessions are still running despite the Public Holiday - if you can't attend, please be sure to cancel out your spot - thank you! Equally, see if you can pick up a spot for this great start to your week!**

Dear Swimmers

Whilst those of you who were busily beavering away in this morning's 5.30am and 6.30am CSS Development Session getting the "job done", I was sneakily putting you through a CSS test, but did you realise it??

Cool Party Trick:

For those of you who like to monitor your numbers when you're swimming and like the whole notion of CSS training, you might have worked out that an easy way to calculate your CSS pace from the formula that is used to derive this pace, which is:

…is to simply subtract your 200m time from your 400m and then divide by two - simple, right? So 3:09 (for 200m) taken off 6:32 (for 400m) is 3:23, divide that by two and you get 1:41.5/100m (or rounded up to 1:42/100m). Take a quick view of this video now:

I've been able to wow friends and colleagues at parties over the years by being able to calculate their CSS pace from their 400m and 200m time very quickly like this (this probably has a lot to say about the types of parties I go to more than anything else *geek alert*!). Really though, whilst the equation (circled in red above) looks complex, it's actually quite easy. This line of regression stands that if you pick two distances: one short, i.e. 300m; and one longer, i.e. 600m, as we did this morning, you should be able to use the same rule to get close to what your CSS pace would be if you were testing properly. 

Now of course, there are several caveats to be aware of here:

  1. none of you realised you were doing a time trial this morning: for some that's a good thing (less stress and anxiety), for others you could have performed better had you known
  2. you didn't have the customary 8-10 minutes rest between the 300m and the 600m, instead you did anywhere between 500m and 900m already at (or in some cases) above CSS pace and on  a very short rest cycle too (hardly optimal testing procedures)
  3. in some of the groups the beeper was passed around once or even twice during the session, so the swimmer listed as the leader in the chart below might not have been the leader at the end
  4. data was only collected for the leader
  5. the two distances were run in reverse, meaning you did the longer interval after the shorter one when you were most tired (again, hardly optimal testing procedures)

Nonetheless, it proved to be a useful exercise for:

  1. seeing how everyone was going
  2. seeing what paces could be maintained over a 1.4k to 1.8k set at CSS pace
  3. seeing what the drop-off was between your 300m and your 600m swims
  4. seeing how close to your 600m target (basically a doubling of your 300m time plus approximately 7 to 10 seconds to account for fatigue) you could get
  5. calculating your "inferred" CSS pace from the 300m and 600m times and relating this back to your CSS "base" time which was used to set the original RM Cycles, and also against the average pace of your combined 300m and 600m swims (i.e. your true training pace)
  6. opening up excel and crunching some numbers on a Friday afternoon (a treat for this swim geek!)

Here's the results:

Top Performers:

Highlighted in yellow are the groups who performed really well this morning. To qualify for this "award" you had to be:

  1. within a couple of seconds of your CSS "base" for your 300m time
  2. to have less than a couple of seconds drop-off between your 300m and 600m time
  3. for your average pace for the 300m and 600m combined to be within a couple of seconds of your CSS "base" (i.e. your true training pace)
  4. for your "inferred" CSS time to be within a few seconds of your CSS "base"

…but what about the rest of you?

So I categorised only 7 out of the 17 groups this morning as having performed really well, but what about the rest of you? Here's my thoughts:

  1. your CSS pace is a dynamic thing - my CSS "base" is derived from the constant data I collect from you all every time you swim. Is it totally accurate? Perhaps not (but it's very close!). I could have under estimated you, I could have over-estimated you
  2. not everyone has a good day, every day! Two weeks ago Andrew Graham leading Group 1 of Lane 4 at 5.30am was hitting an amazing 1:16 per 100m, today more like 1:23 per 100m. Has Andrew really lost that much fitness in a couple of weeks? No, he just had a bad day. We all have them!
  3. some groups shuffled their ordering in response to who was feeling good on the day. Whilst this might not give the "perfect" result, it was the right thing to do on the day, and that is what training in a squad is all about - sharing the workload, sharing the "love"!

Training is testing and testing is training:

I love the above statement, because it's so true! You might hate time trials and testing, but every time you get in that pool you're testing yourself and I'm testing your results. It might not always be in the form of objective data like this, or a formal time trial, it could be just based on how you feel during a pure technique session, so much more subjective. But ultimately, we're always testing, and that testing is what it means to train - to keep fit, to improve yourself, to knock out a new PB etc etc. 

If you have a good day, great! If you have a bad day? No great shakes! Just keep on keeping on! Consistency is the only way forwards. Riding the bumps and troughs of training is what it's all about - taking the rough with the smooth! You might have had a great training week this week and that's excellent - enjoy the feeling! If you didn't, you know what, it's NOT a big deal! Pick yourself up, dust yourself down, come back next week and turn it around.

Have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing you all next week!


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