Friday, May 29, 2015

Viking's new routine is starting to flow...

Lately I have been finding a groove with my minimal modifications to the full USRPT method.  I don't really feel like I am breaking away from it at all, but I have tried a few hacks to make up for my lack of ability to consistently train.  For example, last week, my Friday workout time was hijacked by extra work duties, and this week I was only able to get in the water on Tuesday morning for 1000 yards and Friday for 1400 yards.  Seriously... 2400 yards of training over 8 days.  That is just something I had to accept from day one of this comeback adventure. I make the most of what I have and don't stress about the rest.

Here is where I try to make up for some of it, beyond my USRPT sets for 100 and 200 breast:

  • I still run because it is easy to fit those in. I run early but it isn't hard to get going.  I can put in anywhere from 3-6 miles, and can be anywhere from 7:10-8:40 per mile pace depending on my mood.  Later I plan to alternate in a lot of short sprints and jogs rather than just steady state runs because that is when I see improvement.  Right now I just run out of guilt. 
  • After almost every USRPT set I do, I give myself a couple minutes to recover and then push a fast 100 or 200 for time.  This started because on days I didn't make a good score on my targets I wanted to redeem myself.  What I found was that actually doing the race has helped me to apply race strategies in a new way and I have been able to use it as an additional gauge for improvement. Plus, I think that it takes me to that "point of failure" that we seek in USRPT and helps me focus on keeping race technique. As a matter of fact, I still have not mastered 20x50 on 50sec at 32 high, even though my recent shaved times would put my target at 31 high... But my practice runs of the push 200 have improved from 2:28 to 2:15.  
  • I like to pull parachutes. There is something about breaststroke with a chute that helps me get my timing where I want it. I don't like using tools much but this one I kept. I also bought a pocket drag suit and when I am feeling lazy (just don't have the mental will to hit USRPT hard) I will work breaststroke kick with a board wearing it.
  • Mini-Max: after warm up, before my USRPT set, I like to do a mini-max or two.  If you are not familiar with this, it is like an efficiency game where a lower score is an improvement.  Your score is your time for a 50 plus the number of strokes it took you to complete it.  I feel like this also helps my timing and keeps me from rushing.  I started with a couple different combinations of 45, like 29+8+8 and 31+6+8... but I have since worked my way to a few 43's that were 30+6+7 and 31+6+6. (And yes, the pullout counts as one stroke.) 
One thing I have found is that my morning swims aren't always as good, so I keep track of my best scores and times in the morning versus the afternoon.  Also, I finally get to try long course next week, and I intend to start at my paces based on where my sets landed at the end of the summer rather than jumping in with targets based on my new best shaved times. 

And oh yeah, one more big thing... Running seems to kick my butt and often my next workout or two can be lousy. I plan to cut that out about three weeks before my biggest meet. I think it hurts breast a little more than the other strokes simply because stiff legs interfere with the whip kick more than the others. 

If you are out there giving USRPT or LCHF a try, please drop a note and let us hear how it is going!  I feel like we are taking a ship into uncharted territory here, to places where the good old boy network is afraid to tread! I am pumped that Chris is on board now too!!


  1. I'm going to try that mini max thing. I do something similar in warm up right now. I do a 25 breast in 6 strokes for time then a 25 in 8 strokes for time.

    Do you count strokes in your USRPT sets? I'm curious what your range is. I swim in a 25 meter pool and I start at 8 strokes for the first 2 or 3 and then work my way up to 11 as I fatigue. I am comfortable with a high stroke rate. I like to swim breast sort of like Ruta's style. My last USRPT breast set I failed on reps 12,15,17 My stroke count was something like 8,8,9,9,9,10,10,10,10,11,11,11,10,11,11,11,12.

  2. About a week and a half ago I tried this thing called carb back loading, I’m sure you have read about it before. Basically, you eat very little carbs during the day, work out in the evening, and then you eat your full days amount of carbs after the workout. It’s kind of bro sciencey and I didn’t lose any fat like you are supposed to. It’s mainly for weight lifting and it probably won’t work with USRPT because you don’t burn off enough glycogen. The only reason I tried this is because I have put on about 8 pounds of fat over the past couple months. I don’t really need to lose weight but there’s no reason to be carrying around unnecessary fat.

    I did this for 4 days. Coming into the workouts I was a little hungry but I didn’t feel bad. I was slightly off where I should have been but not by a huge amount. The day that I switched back to having a normal amount of carbs during the day, I had a fantastic practice. The best one in a while. I decided to try the carb back loading again over the past two days. Last night, I was feeling good and was ready to get after it and have a good practice but it was a total flop. It was breast and fly day. I had trouble holding the pace on the first 6 and failed at 7 on both sets. But the weird thing was that I had trouble holding tempo. Usually in breaststroke I can hold tempo even when I’m totally exhausted. Even at the end of a 100 dps will fade but my tempo or time for each stroke will remain the same. Last night, I had trouble holding tempo which was strange. It’s like my body wouldn’t let me kick into high gear like usual. This got me thinking about the article by Tim Noakes that Rushall has linked up on his website. His theory is that fatigue isn’t 100% from oxygen debt, lactate build up, ect, but the brain will trigger the nervous system to shut you down to prevent bodily harm. The rate at which this happens is the determined by the current health state of the body.

    I know my glycogen wasn’t too low, I wasn’t even hungry heading into practice. It’s not like I lost a bunch a red blood cells in past week or forgot stroke technique. I had plenty of sleep and I was motivated to have a good practice. At a caloric deficit, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t be in top form but I didn’t expect to do that poorly. After the 4 day carb backload and then doing fantastic right after, I believe there was some sort of rebound effect linked to the nervous system kind of like building up your oxygen delivery system at altitude and coming back down to sea level. And with not being able to physically get on tempo last night, I believe that the nervous system plays a much bigger role in USRPT and swimming in general than I previously thought. I think that there could be a way to manipulate diet leading up to a race to push back the nervous system from shutting you down early. I’ll have to look back, but I think you mentioned something similar in your manifesto or one of the linked articles about runners training in ketosis and then eating carbs to come out of ketosis right before a race. What are your thoughts on nervous system manipulation? Also, what do you think about possibly purposely repressing your nervous system to train. I guess one safe way to do this would be drinking chamomile tea before working out. lol I know that sounds ridiculous but I’ve been in deep thought about this. I really think there could be a way to trick your nervous system into not slowing you down. What are your thoughts?

    1. I am relatively familiar with Dr Noakes' Central Governor Theory, and I feel the same way you do: the nervous system plays a bigger role than we previously gave it credit for. That is one of the things that fascinates me about USRPT. Dr Rushall addresses neural fatigue and this is the main reason we alternate days with practicing different races even when we are avoiding cumulative fatigue as we would see in more traditional training. I have also been curious about carb back loading. I have played around with it a little without much noticeable difference, but I do think there is some benefit to replenishing muscle glycogen stores when done properly, which basically means eating non-fructose carbs when already at a glycogen deficit. I feel that as I have become more fat adapted, I have been able to replenish muscle glycogen pretty efficiently simply from the excess protein I eat so I would have to train much more consistently (days in a row) to really get much of a boost from something like back-loading. If I trained more, I might consider bumping up to 100-200 grams of carbs per day (as long as my stomach could handle it) if I felt that gluconeogenesis was not keeping up and I was seeing cumulative fatigue. You have to remember that when we are talking "fat adaptation" we are talking enzymes, so even when we go through temporary spells out of ketosis it is not like our adaptation is just going to disappear. I actually think that this is one of the reasons I still taper better than my in-season swims: even though I am not really eating more carbs at taper time, my muscle glycogen is most likely refueled on race day due to my lighter workload and I was able to refuel it without sacrificing my fat adaptation in the least.
      I also think that if there is a way to be ahead of the game neurologically, Dr Rushall's peaking method along with lchf is probably a pretty good way to do it. Lchf is supposed to be much more anti-inflammatory and that has to be valuable.