Friday, April 29, 2016

An Introduction To CSS TWEAKING - The Future Of Distance Swim Training

SS Clinics and Camps:



United Kingdom

Twickenham Video Analysis

Lancaster SS Squad

Lancaster Video Analysis

Northampton Swim Squad

Acton London Video Analysis

Birmingham Video Analysis Clinic

Cardiff Video Analysis Clinic

Pre-Blenheim Freestyle & OW Course 25th April

Northampton Video Analysis Clinic

Yorkshire Squads (Pool & OW)

Yorkshire Video Analysis

West Lothian Video Analysis

Richmond SS Squad

Video Analysis Workshop Reading May

Richmond / Wimbledon Workshops

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis




Europe

Dublin Video Analysis

Prague Video Analysis


Lanzarote Swim Camp March 2016

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante

Prague Junior Swim Club




Asia & North America

Dubai December Video Analysis Workshops

SS Clinic Connecticut April 15

Hong Kong Squads & Video Analysis

3 Day Camp, Florida April 1-3

NYC / SC Video Analysis

Hong Kong Video Analysis

CSS training is a great way to improve your swim fitness for any race distance over 400m. It focuses on your fitness around your lactate threshold - developing your ability to sustain a strong pace over a long period of time. In Swim Smooth parlance, we call this "Becoming A Diesel Engine".

Up until now to work out the speed you should be swimming during a CSS session you need to perform the CSS Test - a training session where you swim a 400m time-trial followed by a 200m time-trial. You put the two times you achieve in the CSS calculator on the Swim Smooth website here or use the more advanced analysis in the Swim Smooth Coaching System here.

These calculators spit out your CSS pace per 100m, which you then program into a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro to accurately target during your training sessions.

CSS training works brilliantly but there's a few common problems with the CSS test itself:

- We recommend you retest every 4 to 6 weeks, however you can make some quite large improvements week by week, meaning your fitness might have moved on without you taking account of it.

- The calculation to find your CSS pace is very sensitive. If you pace your 400 or 200 wrongly and end up with a slower time than you are actually capable of, then the calculated CSS pace can be wrong (either too fast or too slow).

- The CSS test itself takes up a valuable training session and since it's only 600m of fast swimming, it has little benefit as a training session in its own right.

That's not ideal but don't worry, there is a solution coming - it's called "CSS Tweaking" and it's the future of training for distance swimming!

CSS Tweaking

Tweaking is a clever Swim Smooth algorithm that adjusts your CSS pace as the weeks and months go by without you having to perform the CSS Test. It's simplicity itself and it's included in version 2 of the Swim Smooth Coaching System which we're launching next week (more on that below).

Say your current CSS pace is 1:50/100m and you swim a great session, hitting the target times nicely or even getting slightly ahead of your beeper. In the system just tap the "Bold" button, or if you were really feeling great then use the "Heroic" button! The app will automatically "tweak" your CSS pace by just the right amount for your next session:


(click image to expand)

Conversely, if you were finding things hard, hit the "Off-Day" or "Bad Patch" buttons - tweaking things to be slightly slower for the next swim.

With a little bit of Swim Smooth magic the tweaking algorithm adjusts your pace week by week and session by session to make sure you are always swimming the right speed for your fitness at that exact point in time - genius!

Not Just Tracking But Actively Leading

What's more, because the tweaking process anticipates the small fitness gain you get from a good session, you are actively leading your fitness forwards. These fitness improvements are very small session by session but incrementally they add up over many weeks of training to some very significant improvements.

Get your training right using the tweaking process and over 8 weeks we often see between 4 and 10 seconds per 100m improvement in CSS pace! And of course the new system tracks this for you over time so you can see your progress:



The beauty of CSS training is that it gives you maximum fitness gains for minimum fatigue. Plus because you swim fast but the pace is controlled, it allows you to maintain your stroke technique during the session. And now by 'tweaking' you can achieve all this without the potentially confusing results or the interruption to your training of the CSS test.

The training effect of CSS tweaking combined with using a Tempo Trainer Pro is way beyond what you can achieve using any other training method or swimming gadget. Even swim watches, which are great for counting lengths and timing swims, only give you feedback. They don't pro-actively lead you forwards.


The Guru Is Coming

If you're excited by this new tweaking process (and we hope you are!) this is just one of many features we've added into Version 2 of the Swim Smooth Coaching System which we're launching on May 4th next week:


You might have seen a few snippets on social media about this cuddly character - he's the new face of Version 2 offering you tips and advice from within the system. In fact we're renaming the whole system "The Swim Smooth Guru" :
Guru says: Don't fear training - fast it will make you!

We can't wait to tell you about all the other new features of V2 on next week's blog!

Swim Smooth!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cramp When You Swim? Some Tips To Shake It

SS Clinics and Camps:



United Kingdom

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis

Twickenham Video Analysis

Lancaster SS Squad

Lancaster Video Analysis

Northampton Swim Squad

Acton London Video Analysis

Birmingham Video Analysis Clinic

Cardiff Video Analysis Clinic

Pre-Blenheim Freestyle & OW Course 25th April

Northampton Video Analysis Clinic

Yorkshire Squads (Pool & OW)

Yorkshire Video Analysis

West Lothian Video Analysis

Richmond SS Squad

Video Analysis Workshop Reading May

Richmond / Wimbledon Workshops




Europe

Prague Junior Swim Club

Dublin Video Analysis

Prague Video Analysis


Lanzarote Swim Camp March 2016

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante




Asia & North America

Hong Kong Video Analysis

Dubai December Video Analysis Workshops

SS Clinic Connecticut April 15

Hong Kong Squads & Video Analysis

3 Day Camp, Florida April 1-3

NYC / SC Video Analysis

Getting cramp when you swim is not only unpleasant but can be a serious disruption to your training. Worse still, in races it can completely ruin your performance. So what can you do to avoid this annoying problem?

Cramp isn't completely understood in the medical and sports science worlds but there’s definitely some risk factors unique to swimming:

- Swimming in a pool or open water the lower leg gets cooled by the water - this happens even in a wetsuit.

- Swimming with good technique with your toes pointed holds the calf muscles in a shortened state.

- Swimming a length with the lower leg doing relatively little and then suddenly flexing and pushing off hard from the end of the pool places a great deal of stress on the calf and foot muscles.


These three factors combine to mean that swimmers tend to suffer from cramp more than in other sports, particularly in the lower leg. If you do suffer from cramp when you swim here’s some tips to try and improve the situation:

- Make sure you’re not dehydrated before swimming - a leading cause of cramp.

- Drinking coffee before swimming seems to be a factor for many swimmers (over and above the dehydrating effects) - try cutting it out.

- Introduce a regular stretching routine on the foot and calves; gently perform these stretches before swimming. Our recommended routine is the Swim Smooth Coach System here.

- If you have quite large calf muscles then the tightness of a wetsuit over them can squeeze the muscles and cause cramp. This is one reason why we designed calf-releases into HUUB wetsuits to reduce the pressure on the calf:



- In races, warm-up properly beforehand if at all possible. Going from cold to full-pace swimming without a warm-up places a lot of stress on the body.

- You could try drinking a source of quinine (e.g. tonic water) before swimming as this has been shown to be effective in reducing cramp for some people. (Sorry, you'll have to pass on the gin with tonic water!)

- If it’s a major problem for your swimming you could try some regular sports massage on the effected muscles in the build up to a key race - helping to remove any knots and flush out waste products.

- Too little potassium, calcium or magnesium in your diet can contribute to cramping. A balanced diet containing these minerals is recommended but you could also experiment with taking a salt tablet a couple of hours before swimming to see if it helps.

- Swimming with fins can cause cramp in the foot and calves. Make sure you are using a long flexible fin or avoid longer fin based drill sets.


Unfortunately there's no silver-bullet to curing cramp but hopefully the tips above will help alleviate the symptoms.

Let us know your own experiences by posting on the blog comments here!

Swim Smooth!