Monday, February 25, 2013

Slow and Steady Versus Fast and Furious

Last week I swam three times - as per usual. Monday was a statutory holiday (Family Day in Ontario) so we didn't have a Masters class. Doug and I just went and swam lengths for a while.

Wednesday and Friday are the swims I want to focus on because I noticed a pattern that I have started to realize occurs in my running too.

Wednesday's swim was about speed. Friday's swim was about endurance.

Wednesday, we warmed up for about 800m and then we were told that we were going to swim 20x75m. The first four 75m were supposed to be done at pace. The next four were supposed to be two seconds faster. The next four at pace. The next four 3 seconds faster and then the last four at pace. We had about ten seconds of rest between each 75m sprint. In other words, we swam 1,500m of hard sprinting with wee rests in between. Kinda like running full tilt with regular, short walk breaks in between.

After those were done we swam 5x200m at pace. That added up to another 1,000m of swimming.

We finished off with 300m of scull/swim which is when we scull for 25m and then swim for 25m. Over and over again.

It was a very tiring and challenging workout and my body felt exhausted all day. In total, we swam 3,600m in 90 minutes.

In contrast, on Friday we had a leisurely 900m warm-up which consisted of swimming and pulling. After that, we swam 3x (200m pull followed by 4x50m swim) for a total of 1,200m.

The main workout was 800m (alternating 100m easy and 100m pace) and then we swam 400m doing the same thing. We finished it off with 8x25m sprints. These 8 sprints were the only hard part of the workout. The rest was a consistently fast but manageable pace.

It was a wonderful workout that left me feeling energized for the rest of the day. In 90 minutes, we swam 3,500m.

If you compare Wednesday to Friday, we swam the same distance (minus 100m) in the same amount of time. The first one was exhausting and the second was invigorating. The first one, I could not have done much more than we did. The second one I could easily have added another 1,000m at the end.

It's a pattern I have learned in running and one I am trying to remember on race day.

I run half marathons in (approximately) 2 hours and 20 minutes (give or take). I start off at a good clip which I can maintain for about 12k at which point I fall back to a pace that is a little slower than my long run pace and I struggle through the last 3-4 kilometres pretty much every time.

In comparison, just over a week ago, I ran a 22k long run. I ran it at a consistent, comfortable, easy pace. Even with two stops to drink some Nuun and blow my nose and one longer one to eat a GU, I finished the entire 22k in 2:25:08. If I subtract the 6 minutes I took to run the last 900m, I ran 21.1k in 2:19:00.

I ran one of my best half marathon times. I did not struggle, I felt strong until the end and my body recovered nicely afterwards.

Apparently slow and steady really can compete with fast and furious. It's a challenge to remember on race day though because I feel like I'm being lazy unless I'm pushing harder than I push on training runs. Maybe, just maybe, I can convince myself to pace pace pace all the way through and then I can cross the finish line feeling strong and capable rather than feeling overwhelmingly glad that it's over.

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