General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Swim sets but LSD runs - very different approaches. Why? Rss Feed  
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2012-10-13 7:51 AM

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Subject: Swim sets but LSD runs - very different approaches. Why?

Hey - been thinking (which my wife reminds me is both dangerous and frequently ill-advised).

Seems the advice on running is often, "Run lots, mostly slow, sometimes fast," but that swim workouts are almost always sets.

Why is one seemingly the mirror of the other?  Is it that technique in swimming is paramount and only comes with speed work, whereas running is more about toughening connective tissue over time or some such?

Just trying to figure out the physiology of the received wisdom...

M



2012-10-13 7:58 AM
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Subject: RE: Swim sets but LSD runs - very different approaches. Why?

Most due to the technique aspect, yes. Technique is so crucial for the beginner that you should focus on it even at the complete cost of the fitness component. (Once you're an intermediate swimmer like sub 1:50-2:00 pace though the fitness component needs to also be worked.)

 

Another big factor is the logistics of doing sets in a pool and keeping track of pace. It's much easier to keep track of 100s,200s than it is for 1000s+. Add in the fact that if you're in a masters swim with 5 people in a 25yd lane, doing a 1000 straight would mean that swimmers would often be overtaking each other in the lane due to the length of the set, whereas this is much reduced with short sets.

 

That said, even though I'm not a great swimmer, I personally have still found benefit from doing the occasional long steady swim, like 1000+. As long as you pay strict attention to technique and pacing, you won't reinforce any bad habits, and you'll get real endurance training effects on the muscles/cardio.

 

Running is also a bit different than cycling/swimming in that your cerebellum (brainstem) is very good at automatically finding your optimal run cadence and run technique. You don't need to do special drills to pretty much run your optimal endurance form. This is clearly not the case for swimming where humans weren't specifically evolved to do, so you need to actively train it rather than passively train it. IN running you develop a great strong, smooth stride by running more and faster, not by just doing technique drills. 

2012-10-13 8:20 AM
in reply to: #4452359

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Subject: RE: Swim sets but LSD runs - very different approaches. Why?
mcmanusclan5 - 2012-10-13 7:51 AM

Hey - been thinking (which my wife reminds me is both dangerous and frequently ill-advised).

Seems the advice on running is often, "Run lots, mostly slow, sometimes fast," but that swim workouts are almost always sets.

Why is one seemingly the mirror of the other?  Is it that technique in swimming is paramount and only comes with speed work, whereas running is more about toughening connective tissue over time or some such?

Just trying to figure out the physiology of the received wisdom...

M



Confused... so you are saying that proper technique with swimming only comes with speed work? That's not true. To get better technique you should go slower and focus on what you need to work on, and do some drills to help promote proper technique.

With swimming you need to learn how to pace yourself... slow, moderate, fast. Your swim workouts should be like your run workouts. You should vary paces and at least one day a week should be for speed work and another day distance/endurance work.

Just like in running, you know what it feels like to run X pace and then Z pace, it should be the same with swimming. When you work with different paces, you learn what it feels like to do a 100 on the 1:40 or a 100 on the 1:25 (for example). It feels different and you have to learn what that feels like by working paces in your swim workouts.

Your swim workouts should not always be the same.



Edited by KSH 2012-10-13 8:22 AM
2012-10-13 8:26 AM
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Subject: RE: Swim sets but LSD runs - very different approaches. Why?

Not only the relative (some would say paramount, at least for beginners) importance of technique in swimming and lack thereof in running, but the different nature of the two activities. Swimming is very low-impact (no impact?) and so easy on joints, cartilage, etc. If you have decent technique, warm up properly, and vary your strokes, it's possible to push hard almost every day in the pool and not get injured. Not that most triathletes would, or should, do that regularly, but competitive swimmers do.

With running, which is very high-impact, even elite athletes can't do high volume and intensity day after day without getting injured. I'm saying this in comparison to swimming. It's common for HS or age-group swimmers to do 10,000m a day of swimming, much of it speedwork; the equivalent in time/effort would be running about 40 km (25 miles) a day; very few runners can do this kind of mileage, and certainly not with most of it at high intensity. People vary in their tolerance for mileage and speed, but in general, it takes a lot of slower, steady running to build the endurance and strength needed to handle run speedwork.

 



Edited by Hot Runner 2012-10-13 8:27 AM
2012-10-13 9:03 AM
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Subject: RE: Swim sets but LSD runs - very different approaches. Why?

KSH - 2012-10-13 9:20 AM

Confused... so you are saying that proper technique with swimming only comes with speed work? 

 

No, not actually asserting anything here.  

Just observing that it is often said that running slow and long will lead to running faster on race day, while I've seen many posts saying that swimming should be set work/intensity and not long/slow.  The question was, for others, why that might be the case.

The technique comment was a guess at why.

Personally, I do speed/intensity work mixed with distance days in both swimming and running.  The question isn't about what I'm doing, though - it was to understand why the advice on running and swimming often seems so different.

Some of the other responses here (yours included!) deal with that.  I actually wonder if it's as much that advice is often so general (while well intentioned) that the difference in swim/run is exaggerated by the brevity of a typical forum response.  

Again, this was more a curiosity/observation for me than a specific training question or assertion.

M

2012-10-13 9:57 AM
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Subject: RE: Swim sets but LSD runs - very different approaches. Why?
mcmanusclan5 - 2012-10-13 9:51 AM

Is it that technique in swimming is paramount...


Yes, of the three sports we do, swimming is by far the most technical and while swim fitness is important, technique must always be considered as well.

...and only comes with speed work,...


No, technique can be improved across all intensities however, if you watch an athlete swim, the technique they use when swimming easy is often quite different from when they are swimming fast so improving easy swimming doesn't always translate into a faster swimmer at race efforts.

...whereas running is more about toughening connective tissue over time or some such?


Running is the only triathlon sport that involves eccentric contractions and these lead to significant damage to muscle tissue, especially at higher efforts. Since swimming and cycling do not involve eccentric contractions, it is usually possible for an athlete to work at a much higher intensity in swimming and cycling than with running.

With swimming, a big reason for breaking things up is simply the logistics of swimming in a pool as it is very easy to loose track of the laps you have done and it is much easier to break it up into smaller chunks.

Depending on the rest, the body doesn't really know the difference between continuous swimming and a broken set; for example, 1500 or 15x100 with 5s rest doesn't make a significant difference to training stress but each little rest will give the athlete the chance to recover a little bit and start the next 100 with good form. So while the athlete's form will likely deteriorate in both of these, there will very likely be more time spent swimming with good form in the 15x100 due to the short reset.

Finally, very few triathletes swim enough each week to make improvements based upon volume alone. So, in order to make the training load high enough to see improvements, some harder swimming is included in most workouts.

Shane


2012-10-13 10:36 AM
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Subject: RE: Swim sets but LSD runs - very different approaches. Why?

The technique aspect is certainly true but there is another reason, too.  Swim training programs grow out of club and high school swim programs. Most swimming events in swim meets are short distance, 50, 100, 200, maybe a 400, with each swimmer in multiple heats and events over a day.  The training for those is based on shorter intervals for speed and for recovery.  People continue to fall back on those types of training regimens even if a longer intervals and continuous swims might be more appropriate for triathlon, particularly for long swim events like HIM and IM.

I personally swim a long, continous, slow swim just like running, usually 50 min to an hour.  I sometmes vary the strokes to rest but I don't stop.  Rarely do I swim intervals, like not in more than 5 years.  I  am not fast now and I am not really trying to get faster. I am trying to get full-body training with running, biking, swimming, and a little weight lifting. I want to avoid injury more than I want to get faster.  It works for me.  It won't get me on the podium.

TW

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General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Swim sets but LSD runs - very different approaches. Why? Rss Feed