Reply To: SMPC Stage 1

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Coach Mat

Good discovery, Erez. Yes, when we add some external measuring devices and use them to guide us outside our comfort zone, we discover these things – new capabilities and hidden weaknesses.

And, as you get more experienced with these kind of practices, you will be come more aware of the difference between musclar or metabolic tiredness and mental or motor tiredness. That will reveal to you the weaker system on that particular day, or reveal which system is more challenged by this particular set.


I would urge you to view different levels of effort in a neutral manner – at different effort levels there will be different changes in your body chemistry and rhythm and systems. These will produce different sensations. We may associate some of those with ‘discomfort’, but as an athlete, you do well to treat discomfort not as ‘good/bad’ but as simple information.

(see attached Rate Of Perceived Effort chart)

Or, looking at it another way – when you are swimming at different Effort Levels, you will come to recognize a certain package of sensations that should be normal at that effort level. These should be signs of your body functioning properly and your technique is good – you would then label this package of sensations as ‘comfortable’ even if it is not sustainable for longer periods of time.

But sometimes when working on a certain level you will feel something abnormal, and this should be a warning sign that something needs to be corrected or watched. This might be labeled as ‘uncomfortable’ in that context.

In early stages of TI training, we are indeed working to make swimming ‘easier’ and therefore more comfortable in the sense of accomplishing more work for less effort, or more objectively, lower heart rate. But in advanced training, we are in fact intending to practice and race in different levels of effort – heart rate and respiration will go up and down according to our intended plan or needs of the moment. So, we should learn to get ‘comfortable’ in how we interpret that package of sensations that are normal in each level of effort.

Does that make sense?


You may lower your starting tempo, from 1.55 to 1.52, when you feel like you can comfortably, reliably get into your best rhythm at 1.52 and 1.49, and 1.46 is slightly challenging.

Imagine a line at the fast-edge of your comfortable tempo range – maybe right now that is 1.52. You don’t want to start your set right on that edge, but one step back from it – at 1.55. You ‘ease’ up to the challenge, rather than jump right into it at the beginning. This is about adaptation for the nervous system, not power-lifting.

As your body adapts, you notice that 1.52 seems comfortable and then 1.49 feels like the edge.. Then you can shift your starting tempo to 1.52, and on the second round you are working on the edge at 1.49, and on the third round you are working just over that line at 1.46.

Over  a number of practices, the line gradually shifts to faster and faster tempos.

When you get down to truly FAST tempos (for anyone) then you start taking smaller incremental steps like -0.02 and eventually -0.01 second steps. But down to 1.00 tempo you may be ok working with steps of -0.03. We just need to monitor how your brain and body are responding to this training.

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~ Coach Mat