PHOENIX, Arizona, June 25. WE’re back with another Workout of the Week from Concordia College head coach Ronald Hehn. This week, Hehn comes to us with a USRPT-integrated workout.
“Glucose” – Energy; Simple Carbohydrate
“Glycogen” – Stored Glucose; Fat
“Glycogen Depletion” – Conversion of Glycogen to Glucose; “fat burning”
“Split” – The time to complete a fraction of the total required distance (e.g. 100 can be divided into 4×25; the time for each 25 is a “split”)
Introduction to Ultra-Short Race-Pace Training (USRPT):
Similar to learning any skill, it is unrealistic to expect to learn a complete system overnight; the fundamental skills of the USRPT training style must be developed over time. In this introductory session, the athlete must learn to accurately monitor their own times. The athlete must promptly begin repetitions and immediately record their time upon the completion of each repetition. The athlete must also become self-aware of technical details that enhance or deter their performance. Stroke count, underwater kicks, and quality of technique must be monitored by the athlete in order to match the desired and required details of a BEST Effort.
USRPT prepares the athlete for the specific physiological demand of a race scenario. Due to the short duration of both effort and rest, the body maintains low levels of blood-lactate and high levels of stored glucose. The abundance of available glucose relieves the Cori Cycle from demanding the liver to convert lactate to glucose. In a single-effort short-duration race scenario, fast-acting conversion of oxygen and glucose to energy (i.e. almost immediately) is preferred rather than slow-acting conversion of lactate to energy (i.e. the Cori Cycle takes approximately 30 minutes). The Cori Cycle benefits an anaerobic athlete during a long-duration activity when the athlete experiences glycogen depletion. However, in order to properly simulate a race scenario the athlete must convert available oxygen and glucose to energy immediately. Therefore, USRPT segments prepare the body for the specific physiological demand of a race.
*USRPT is used in the workout to represent the performance segment of USRPT training, and should not be confused with the full concept of USRPT.
Components of the Work-Out:
WARM-UP: WARM-UP is abbreviated because the athlete must perform the USRPT segments with the greatest amount of available glucose. A glycogen-deprived athlete will not be able to properly execute the USRPT segments. The athlete may experiment with methods to prepare the body for a peak performance prior to entering the pool. Many facilities do not provide immediate access to in-water warm-up (or any at all) during a competition; the athlete must learn to prepare the body without access to water.
USRPT: USRPT segments require the athlete to maintain the best possible time on each repetition. In order to accommodate the fatiguing athlete, duration of USRPT segments becomes shorter throughout the session; the first and second segments are 10 minutes and 6-7 minutes, respectively. The times on the 25’s must match the athlete’s goal split for the final 25 of a 100, the times on the 50’s must match the athlete’s goal split for the final 50 of a 200, and the 100’s must match the athlete’s goal split for the final 100 of a 400/500. The interval may be determined by allowing no more than 10-15 seconds rest on the 25’s and 15-20 seconds rest on the 50’s and 100’s. The athlete should never rest more than 20 seconds between repetitions during USRPT segments; if necessary, adjust the interval to accommodate the individual speed of the athlete. Make note of the intervals and times achieved as a reference for future USRPT segments.
AEROBIC: AEROBIC segments provide an opportunity for technical exploration and cardiovascular recovery. The athlete must allow their mind to stray from the USRPT segment and instead focus on technical details and make adjustments (see: the psychological concept of incubation). The athlete must learn to transfer the adjusted technique to the following segment or session. AEROBIC intervals become increasingly more difficult and duration of segments becomes longer in order to accommodate lactate production, if any. If necessary the Cori Cycle may generate additional energy from available lactate.
WARM-DOWN: WARM-DOWN segments are designed to promote recovery of the athlete from the demand of the work-out. Due to fatigue, the athlete’s technique has been challenged; allow the athlete to repair technical errors and finish the session with PROPER technique. The Kick segment should be used to adjust body-alignment and assume PROPER posture. WARM-DOWN may be performed at low-intensity due to low lactate production during the session.
*The yard-to-meter conversion (yards = 1.09 x meters) suggests that 2400 yards is equivalent to 2200 meters; however, the meter work-out is designed to accommodate for less walls and adaptation to long course swimming.
Ronald Hehn is entering his second year as head coach at Concordia, and is the founder of the DakotaSota Swim Club in Fargo. Hehn had an impressive collegiate career as a All-American at Indiana University, and also swam at both the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. To see more from Hehn, check out his swimming workouts Facebook page.