by Ralph Mohr
Central Oregon Masters Aquatics (COMA)
Recently I came across an article on-line that said the best distance to train for as a runner was neither the marathon nor a 1500, the Olympic triathlon distance. Instead what was recommended was the 5000. [Cf. http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-5k-not-the-marathon-is-the-ideal-race/] The article was very informative with several different workouts suggested.
For swimmers, the question then comes up: what is the swimming equivalent of a runner’s 5000? There is one easy way to find out: compare total times of effort for the distance. 5Ks on the track or road take anywhere between 14 to 20 minutes for very good runners. The 2012 Men’s Olympic 5K was won, for instance, in 14:41.66 and the Women’s 5K in 15.04.25. How far would that be in swimming? Easy to determine. The world records for 1500 meters free is 14:31.02 for Men and 15:25.48 for Women (Katie Ledecky of USA). Close enough.
Conclusion: if the 5K is the optimum distance to train for by runners, then the 1500 meters (or 1650 yards), would be optimum for swimmers. Question, then: why are we training in the water mostly in intervals, short stuff, controlling the rest; or LSD? If what you want to get into is good shape, focus on longer distances, what should you be doing? Answer: 1500/1650s, of course!
How do you translate that into your workouts? Go 500 meters without stopping or 550 yards in a 25 yard pool. Both are one-third of the goal distance. Go three in a workout. Put a shag 50 easy or even 100-200 kick in between. Add the three times together. Voila! A practice 1500 meters or 1650 yards. Or you can figure out what goal time for the 1500/1650 that you want to swim in next year’s State Meet. Go to “Pace Charts” at http://www.usms.org/longdist/ldchamps.php#swimmerinfo. See what pace you need to do in shorter distances to hit that time. Do those times or better in your interval workouts.
Good incentives for swimming 1650s or 1500s in the fall are that they are laying the base for next season and preparing you for the last two ePostals of the swimming year – 3000 and 6000. After a hectic summer focusng on the LC Nationals, a change of pace should be welcome.
Use the 1650/1500 foucus to get ready for 2017.