For instance in our squads in Perth, swimmers in lane 1 have a threshold pace around 1:50-2:00 /100m, lane 2 1:40-1:50 /100m, lane 3 1:25-1:40 /100m and lane 4 1:15-1:25 /100m. You'll find a similar split between the lanes in every Swim Smooth squad.
|CSS training: A huge range of speeds but one accurate way of training for everyone.|
If you have trained with a power meter on the bike you probably know your FTP (Functional Threshold Power) and running you might be aware of your threshold pace (the pace you sustain for a race around 10km to 10 miles in length). CSS, FTP and threshold running pace are the equivalent thing in all three sports. Know them and you can train different energy systems accurately and track your progress over time.
So how do you find your CSS pace? Swim a 1500m timetrial? Well you could... but it would be mentally challenging to do and actually there's another way of doing it that gives more insight into your fitness:
The Standard CSS Test
After a thorough warmup and after a few key drills, first swim a 400m* timetrial. Pace it well and remember this is a flat out effort, you shouldn't finish and think "maybe I could have gone harder"!
If at all possible, have a friend, coach or lifeguard time your first 100m split of the 400m. As we'll come to later this will give you real insight into your pacing abilities. Record your overall time and also your 100m split.
Spend a few minutes recovering with some easy laps of freestyle until you feel you are ready for part 2: a 200m* timetrial. Again, well paced and a good hard effort. Record your time.
Swim an easy cool down to recover from your efforts.
Calculating Your CSS Pace
Armed with your times, enter your numbers into the basic CSS calculator here:
Or for a much more thorough analysis (including pacing analysis and performance predictions over different distances) use the Guru (Pro subscription required):
Using Your CSS Pace
So how do you control your pace to swim at CSS? The secret is to use a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro set to beep at regular intervals such that you pace things out to be passing every 25m (or 25 yards) when it beeps. For instance, if your CSS pace is 2:00 /100m then set your beeper to 30 seconds. Get ahead of the beep and you are going to fast, behind the beep and you're travelling too slowly.
The key to CSS training is sustained speed with short recoveries. This is a little different to traditional master's swimming where the swims are faster but with much longer recoveries (sprint training).
An example CSS set is:
That's 1800m in total, suitable for swimmers with a CSS pace around 1:30 /100m.
If your CSS pace is around 1:20 /100m, design sets around 2000m in length.
If your CSS pace is around 1:45 /100m we suggest a set around 1600m
If your CSS pace is around 2:00 /100m try 1400m in total
The exact construction of the set isn't too important - it's about sustained speed with short recoveries between swims. This will effectively develop your "diesel engine".
Find more information about Tempo Trainers (and to purchase) see: shop.swimsmooth.com/products/finis-tempo-trainer-pro
CSS Training And The Guru (this is where it gets really good)
With a Pro Guru subscription you can take CSS training to the next level:
- First up there's hundreds of fun and effective training sessions in the Guru for all ability levels. Each uses your CSS pace to set your intensity accurately.
- Whenever you use a Tempo Trainer, the Guru pops up and tells you what to program in (no maths required from you!) to accurately control your training intensity:
- Tell the Guru how your session went and it will automatically adjust your CSS pace up or down for next time. This means it's not necessary to perform the CSS test regularly as the Guru will actually track your CSS pace as you go along. We call this process "CSS tweaking" and it's unique to Swim Smooth:
CSS isn't a concept that Swim Smooth invented but we like to think that we have popularised it for swimmers and developed a whole system of focused effective training around it to help you achieve your potential in the water.
No excuses now - get to work!