Understanding Pacing

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We are currently looking through the recent Coaching Survey to analyse and then discuss any possible changes. And this isn’t a quick process but in the meanwhile we thought we would respond to one of the more common questions…… Pacing.

If you wondered how does 85% effort differ from 92% effort there is a full and detailed description here from Head Coach Ralph and a shorter summery below for swim pacing:

The whole point of training is to keep fit and improve as well as having fun!  In order to do this your body has to be stimulated in order to adapt.  Most will have heard the phrase “If you always do the same thing you will always get the same results”.  This is especially true when it comes to swim training.  It is not simply enough to just keep increasing distances.  Often given time restraints this isn’t possible, and it certainly isn’t possible in a club swim session.  Working on different paces is the key.  At different times of the year in order to peak for the main race season the sessions will differ in order to make you feel sharper in the summer months.

For the club I periodise the years sessions.  This means during the winter months September – February more emphasis is put on longer reps.  February – April more emphasis is put on shorter reps and then May – August the sessions are trying to hold a peak focus. 

I would like to clarify the terms I use so everyone knows how to pace an effort especially as sessions change throughout the year.  One thing to point out at this stage is that you can still do harder efforts in the winter months you just don’t do as much over short distances and the rests tend to be shorter.

Hopefully you will see a few problems with using these definitions. 

Therefore, to make it easier to understand I have made an at a glance guide to what the paces mean:

80% – easy effort.  Working moderately hard but can maintain for a long time

85% – about 5 seconds on your 100M average pace faster than 80% efforts, working hard, a bit uncomfortable but able to speak a few words at the end

92% – Known as race pace, 5 seconds on your 100M average pace faster than 85% efforts, can’t talk at the end, working very hard, uncomfortable

100% – Flat out over short distances, typically 1 to 2 lengths, definitely can’t talk, very hard work very uncomfortable

These are target efforts and you should make your best effort to match them and the more you train to these targets the more your body will adapt and understand them. The idea is to be in the required zone rather than down to an exact percentage.