To CSS or not to CSS?

A couple of weeks ago in our Sunday swim session we completed two time trials, one of 400m and one of 200m. The results of these time trials can be used to determine your Critical Swim Speed (CSS). CSS is an approximation of your lactate threshold speed. Lactate threshold is the point at which lactate starts to accumulate in the blood. This is what makes your legs feel like jelly during run intervals and your arms feel like lead during swim intervals. If you can improve your lactate threshold speed you can expect to see an improvement in your race speeds. To improve your lactate threshold speed you want to do your ‘quality’ swim sets at your current threshold pace (CSS pace) or just below it.

A brief interlude. The Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon 10th Anniversay Film. Scary looking race but I am sure at least one of you will be up for it. I’m happy to support you all the way to the top of the final climb!

If you read the triathlon magazines, forums and blogs etc. you will have seen some debate about CSS training. There are some coaches that advocate it and others that don’t. It is a type of training for ‘intermediate’ (1:30 to 2:10 per 100m) and ‘advanced’ (<1:30 per 100m) swimmers. If your technique is what limits your swimming performance then it makes sense that you focus most of your efforts on improving your technique. If your fitness is what is limiting your swimming performance then it makes sense that you focus most of your efforts on improving your fitness. If you lie somewhere in the middle you will benefit from a mix of both. Getting the right mix is the challenge. One of the most important training concepts we must always consider is of course ‘individuality’. 

What we do at LFTC is try to give you the right mix of both. This is why we have split lanes and deliver slightly different session plans for each. Our slower swimmers get more of an emphasis on technique while our faster swimmers will get more of an emphasis on fitness. Within our sessions we will always deliver an element of both technique and fitness to give you the best of both worlds and maximise your potential.

For those of you who have completed a CSS test with us this year, you can see your results here. If you don’t see your results, don’t worry, they will be up soon. For those of you who have found our technique drills a little tricky, take a look at this link. Here you can see a lot of the drills we use in our sessions. A little visualisation can be very useful when it comes to improving the execution of motor skills so take a look and we will see how much you can improve before next week!

See you next weekend. Remember to sign up for those Zone 3 London League races! Tim (LFTC Coach)

 

 

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