I’ve signed up for my second US Masters Swimming meet ever this November and decided this time around to try some more challenging events. Last May, I did a meet and because it was my first in over a decade, I stuck to the classics: 50 and 100 free. I’ve gotten a little ambitious this time around, so I’m in all 4 freestyle events: 400, 200, 100, and 50. I may still drop the 400, but because of this I sat down a few weeks ago and came up with “The Plan”.

Being a project manager by day, I figured to stay on track and really build my endurance back up I would need a day to day plan from now throughout the end of the year if I was going to reach the goals I’ve set for myself by spring. Even though I’m a sprinter, I spent a lot of my swimming career in the mid-distance or even distance lane. I’m just not the type of swimmer that can do sprint workouts all the time and have the endurance to race. I need a good base.

The first 3 weeks of my plan left me feeling pretty sluggish in the water but finally, like magic, this week something clicked. The challenging intervals seem just slightly easier, and I have a better, smoother feel for the water. So far this week, my two workouts have left me feeling like I’m on the right track.

The focus for Monday’s workout was interval training. I’ve been trying to shave down my aerobic base pace and make 1:15 feel normal, even easy. I’m good for about 1600 at this pace and then it gets really tough. I did a small ladder yesterday, all at 1:15 pace, and it really felt like progress:

Today’s workout was a little more challenging, as I varied the intervals slightly under my comfort zone on the aerobic set (down to 1:12) and did a hard endurance/sprint set after. This set (main 2) is actually a throwback to my age group swimming days – it was the most dreaded set we did. I skimmed it down to 2×3 but it was actually 3×3 and the point was to get a lot of rest between rounds, but make the interval hard enough so that you were just making the times. I can still remember my coach yelling in my face in the few seconds in between 100’s “ANYONE CAN DO 2!” My goal here is to start trimming the intervals by 1 or 2 seconds each time I repeat it throughout the season, and eventually add in that last round.

As with all my intervals – please adjust for your level. On yesterday’s set, you should be setting the interval so you are getting about 5 seconds on the 100’s, between 5 and 10 seconds on the 200/300’s, and about 10-12 seconds on the 400. You can see my original workout below which included a set of kick at the end, but I ran out of time and had to cut it. Feel free to press on if you have the time!

My chicken scratch above – whatever interval you choose work out the clock times before hand to avoid having to do quick thinking while you’re focused on the set.

I hope you get a chance to try these, post comments and let me know what you think!