Do you know the answers to these pace specific questions?
What is my 100yd EZ pace?
What is my 100yd Threshold pace?
What is my Standard Interval (S.I.)?
If you do not incorporate interval training and do not know the answers to the questions above, you need to do some homework in the pool. Do you already know your run paces, bike watt ranges and/or heart rate for various efforts in training? The pool is no different. Know your paces, get yourself on a standard interval and you will make gains.
What is EZ pace? "EZ" pace means you could do that pace for hours on end, it's truly easy and you can hold great form throughout. Time yourself on an EZ 100yd freestyle during warmup.
What is Threshold pace? "Threshold" is a race pace that a swimmer can hold for a sustained period of time while holding quality form. Calculate your threshold or Critical Swim Speed (CSS) through the Swim Smooth site. The threshold pace for swimming is similar to the concepts of Functional Threshold Power on the bike or Jack Daniels VDOT run calculator paces for running.
What is a Standard Interval?
A typical standard interval in the swimming world accounts for your swim time and rest period. As an example: if you swim 10 x 100yd freestyle on a standard interval of 1:45, and you touch the wall at the 1:30, you get :15 rest. If you slow down or speed up during any of the next 100yd repeats, your rest interval shortens or lengthens, but you stay on the 1:45 interval. Click here for a more in depth description of standard intervals.
When incorporating a standard interval set, understanding how to use the pace clock is critical. The pace clock keeps you accountable. Notice your 100yd splits and pacing throughout your workout.
Do you already have a standard interval ? Do more main sets at threshold pace to increase your aerobic fitness. Remember to re-test your threshold every 4 - 8 weeks.
If you are looking for great workouts that incorporate interval sets, Sarah McLarty from Swim Like A Pro has many workouts saved on her blog. An example is Quick Set Friday: Race Intervals. Adjust the workouts to your specific standard interval.
Start becoming more accountable in the pool and you will see results. Enough reading already... grab your swim bag and get to the pool!