A Favorite 5km Tempo Trainer Set

I swam 101 minutes this morning starting around 8:00 at Konyaaltı Beach. It was sunny, warm (fall is here) but not hot, clear sky, with an dry offshore wind. The sea was around 30 C and clear to about 8m. The offshore wind countered the tiny swells so the surface was flat and brushed. There was a gentle easterly current that I did not notice until I was almost finished with the swim.

10 minutes careful warm-up to scan for what I wanted to keep an eye on during the swim.

Then a Tempo Trainer descending ladder set, on 250-stroke cycles. So each 250-strokes I clicked the TT down .03 second, starting on 1.20.

  • 1.20, 1.17, 1.14
  • 1.17, 1.14, 1.11
  • 1.14, 1.11, 1.08
  • 1.11, 1.08, 1.05
  • 1.08, 1.05, 1.03

Sometimes between cycles I treaded water for 10 or 15 seconds to click the TT and look around (it is an breath-taking view from the water to the mountains around!), but I didn’t feel I needed any rest. At this point I am confident that I can maintain these descending tempos during a race without resting. The goal now is to develop even deeper SR range, as well as train my brain’s sensitivity so that I can control my acceleration during the race by feel, choosing my SR according to need, since I won’t have the TT tucked in my cap then.

I like the 250-stroke cycles (obviously- since I use them all the time!). It makes it easy for me to check my pace (SR) in the middle of a swim without a TT. Anywhere in the middle of a swim or race I can just click the split button on my watch and count off 250 strokes then click it again, or just glance, to check the time and determine my SR.

  • 5:00 min = 1.20 SR
  • 4:47 min = 1.15 SR
  • 4:35 min = 1.10 SR
  • 4:22 min = 1.05 SR
  • 4:10 min = 1.00 SR
  • 3:57 min = 0.95 SR

I have my little 250- stroke  SR chart memorized.  A swimmer could make her own chart to any set number of strokes desired- but it has big enough to dilute a small mis-count, and small enough to avoid a large one. (Sometimes, I am so caught up in the rhythm of the stroke that when I get to 150 I can’t remember if this is the first 0+50, second 100+50 or last 200+50! So I just glance at the watch and can tell if I have more to go- it’s all mathematical).

I feel that SR training and measuring is important because I see now, after using the TT so much, how much my brain has a very subjective sense of pace- the same SR can feel fast one moment and slow the next, then feel fast again! Swim with a TT long enough and you’ll see what I mean.


I felt great the whole time today, and felt even better towards the end. I didn’t want to stop.

I didn’t eat breakfast, as usual, but my tummy was grumbly on the scooter drive down to the sea so I stopped and bought a fresh ‘simit’ (bagel-like bread with sesame seeds on top) from a roadside stand and ate half. That put a stop to it and gave my stomach something to work on besides sipping sea-water.

At around the 40′ mark I started to notice an irritation in my left shoulder joint during the recovery motion. It was not serious, but it felt like something that could get more irritating- although my experience this year has shown that the higher my tempo the less irritated my shoulders tended to feel. So I started to fiddle with how I was swinging that arm on recovery and found a wider, lazier swing did the trick and the irritation went away. (I am careful to not sleep on that shoulder anymore).

Another great swim today. I will start developing some more mixed up 5km tempo sets that will give me a chance to learn how to deal with early race fatigue and mid-race sprints.


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