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About Training Categories
Each workout set specifies a training category, which identifies the intensity of effort for that set. Based on your Critical Swimming Speed, there are three endurance training categories: Endurance, Threshold, and Overload. In addition, there is a single Recovery category that is used for just that.
The Recovery Training Category
The recovery training category is always used during the Cool Down phase of the workout, and sometimes between higher intensity sets. It is simply relaxed, easy and slow swimming. The objective is to flush lactate from your muscle fibers, replenish oxygen and nutrients, and lower your heart rate. Although recovery swimming is slow, it is not standing still. You need to move the muscles you have just used! Do not skip or cut short your Cool Down sets at the end of a hard workout. If you must cut a key workout short, eliminate main sets or repeats rather than Cool Down sets.
The Endurance Training Categories
The three endurance training categories - referred to as EN1, EN2, and EN3 in the workouts - are all based on Critical Swimming Speed (CSS). For a description of how to determine your CSS, see About Critical Swimming Speed.
For detailed information about these training categories, see Ernie Maglischo's book, Swimming Fastest, 2003, Human Kinetics.
Regarding paces based on CSS: The above method works well for swimmers who can maintain good swimming form long enough to complete the tests on which their CSS is based. If you cannot do that, your CSS will not be a valid measure of your lactate steady state, so you should not base your pace times on CSS. In this case use your perceived exertion: easy for EN1, hard for EN2, and too hard for very long for EN3.
Regarding the categories: Note that these are endurance training categories. If you are a sprinter, you may enjoy performing these workouts in the off season. In fact, there may be physiological advantages to doing that if you train hard as a sprinter for part of the year.
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