At Swim Smooth we call this session 'The Red Mist Set' and it comes with a special warning:
Around 80% of the squad become irritable, grumpy or came close to giving up during the set. This is the 'Red Mist' at work, giving you feelings of resentment or perhaps anger for being pushed relentlessly. But cope with this session well and you've proven yourself physically and developed yourself mentally, leaving you perfectly prepared for great performances in your races.
Paul: If you are an intermediate or advanced level swimmer give this set a crack and see how you fare. It's perfect for anyone racing Ironman or doing a 5km or longer open water race. When I was training with the British Triathlon Team at Bath University we used to swim this set every Monday morning. I make no qualms about it, I hated every last meter of it and used to dread it because it tackled a weakness of mine head on - the ability to stay focused and maintain a strong pace when things get tough. Is this something you struggle with? I think we all do at some level.
The Red Mist Set
This corking set is deceptive simple, it's just 10x 400m rolling straight through at a gradually faster pace:
|4x 400m at CSS pace + 6 sec /100m|
3x 400m at CSS pace + 5 sec /100m
2x 400m at CSS pace + 4 sec /100m
1x 400m at CSS pace + 3 sec /100m
Find out how to calculate your CSS pace here and use SS Coach Steve Casson's Swimulator+ app to help programme your beeper.
Red Mist At Play
|Squad Board: The Red Mist Set|
Yes this session puts you under pressure and forces you to maintain focus and push away negative thoughts from your head. To reach your potential as a swimmer it's essential that you put yourself in this pressurised position regularly (perhaps once a week). My old gym teacher at school called it 'Moral Fibre' as he forced us to go cross-country running in sub-zero temperatures in just shorts and a vest!
I jump in myself and swim this session every week with another of our squads (our elite triathlon group) and compared to those years as a junior athlete at Bath I now really look forward to it. I crave the challenge of taking on the red mist because I know that by getting through this set every week it will give me a real sense of confidence and 'flow' to my swim training. This is a key lesson I learnt from swimming swimming sets like this when training for the Rottnest Channel and English Channel swims.
Even if you don't normally swim 4km in training, set yourself the challenge, turn off the negative thoughts in your head and give it a crack. Let us know how you get on!