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Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial?
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Some swim proponents would like one to notice/examine every stroke taken.

With running and cycling though, there are plenty of miles where you just put in the time while allowing the mind to wander. I've read where this type of disassociation is actually helpful in distance events because a person could go bonkers thinking of every step or pedal stroke over time.

It's not like form is unimportant while running/cycling (as falling down hurts). Yet once the form or rhythm is there, one can think about life/love/work etc. and still get a satisfactory training benefit by just putting in the miles. And if the rhythm is lost, then you mentally come back to your form and focus on it again.

Haven't seen this written up in swimming; but, at some level do distance swimmers get to the point that the one or two seconds they lose per 50/100 yards while letting their mind disassociate from the pain/task at hand helps the overall experience better while still seeing a training benefit?

And if yes, any guidance about that level of expertise from your experience?

Indoor Triathlete
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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IME (adult onset swimmer) junk miles don't contribute to swim technique or speed. To fitness? Maybe. Probably. But that's it. Once I get tired and the stroke becomes sloppy and the pace clock begins to tell me things I don't wanna see, then I'm better off resting a few minutes. It's because of this that most of my long free (no toys) swim sessions are descending sets with breaks for example 1000-500-300-200-100-lunch.
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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I've been a lifelong swimmer, so technique is more ingrained. That's not to say that I don't think about my stroke in training.

I often slightly switch my stroke technique in a set or practice, mostly because that would mirror the changing conditions in a longer OWS or a pool swim (USMS postal swims). I guess because technique is engrained, I can get away with focusing on fewer things, like say my kick dynamics or turns, or turnover, or whatever. In that sense, I use longer, mind-numbing sets mostly to project how I'd feel later in a race effort, and pretty much just clear my head and go on auto-pilot.

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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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n=1 here, but when I made my big jump from 1:40 dead-MOP to 1:30 pace FOMOP, with limited swim and pool time, this was the difference:

1. Bought a Vasa to amp up volume
2. Started adding easy effort Vasa yards to my 3 pool swims per week to adjust to the vasa
3. Once adjusted to the Vasa, added easy-moderate effort volume. I think these would definitely qualify as 'junk' miles to any serious swimmer. Thing is, those 'junk' miles were pretty tiring - my arms were toasted from the volume jump!
4. Took a few months to acclimate, but then started turning those 'junk' swim miles into 'real' swim miles.

I'm repeating this cycle again right now, with good gradual improvement.

I seriously think the naturaly talented fish on these forums greatly mislead typical MOP swimmers by implying or outright saying that you have to be laser focused on every stroke, and be doing quality and going hard every time you hit the pool. There's simply no way you can do all hard workouts AND significantly increase volume, just the same that you can't do it on bike/run - you either have to cool off the intensity on key days, or do true easier workout days (a fair amount of them.)

Those easy 'junk' yards/miles are the bridge to more intense overall volume. Just don't swap out your quality workouts in lieu of easier intensity workouts that might even be longer - that doesn't work as well in swimming.
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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I trained for my race with plenty of junk yardage swims. I did a few hard sets a week with speed intervals but the rest of the time I just swam long steady distances between 1000 and 4000 straight. Those long swims let me zone out and relax. Also helped ease built up tension and soreness from running. I've swam my entire life though so this approach might not work for someone with less experience. Sure I may have swam faster with more dedicated interval sets but I'm content with my 54min swim at IMLP.

I think for the next time around I'll be skipping the extra swim sets and include more time running... More time to gain on foot than in the water!
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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I would be curious to see how people who don't have a coach structure their swims, because unless your an ITU athlete that I coach, there just isnt enough swims to really qualify as "junk" yardage. I tend to push more swimming than it seems others in my area, only because I see great benefit in what swim training does to your whole fitness and ability to race at the front of the field. But I do have a few AG'ers who simply cant/wont swim more than 2ish times a week (probaly avg 2.8 swims a week over the month), and I simply set up the workouts to be a base drill set and then alternate between a hard interval day with a "distance" set. All of my athletes go off on intervals unless doing specific drills, so even if they "go blank", they still know the clock is chasing after them, so as long as they make the prescribed interval, I'm "ok" with their mind wandering.

I also have a rule for my advanced swimmers/elites that if their form breaks down they cut the set then. I'd rather they stop and save it for another day then to slog through the pool with poor form simply to make an interval time. Now for my AG'ers, if they only have 2-3 swims a week, they simply should be doing the sets to completion. If their form breaks down, I just have them do as other guy mentioned, take more rest.

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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [B_Doughtie] [ In reply to ]
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I don't have a coach and do not have a swim background, besides Tri's for about 10 yrs. I swim in an endless pool so my breakdown is probably slightly different than others. I try to swim at least 4-5 times a week which being able to do at home makes far easier. I typically start out with 10-15 of just continuous swimming for a good warmup focusing on my forum and a few breaks some times to stretch things out. I will then do drills -15mins which has helped me a ton to feel more comfortable in the water and with my stroke and body position as a whole. At least it feels that way I still need to get around to filming myself to better critique. I will then move to a swim set of intervals anywhere from 15-25 mins depending on the time of year and day. Last five minutes ill back the speed down and do a cool down focusing on forum again. I try to cherry pick pool workouts I find online for different parts of my swim workouts. If im short on time though its WU and drills CD.

I have seen the benefit of just jumping in and swimming though (junk yds), some days i just jump in and swim for 30mins continously and can feel it the next day. Or long open water swims.

I don't know if junk is the right way to think of it as long as it fits into the overall picture. Like with running or cycling its building a aerobic base to put in those extra miles at proper HR zone. Same with cycling more time in the saddle builds strength and endurance. For me it also depends on the time of year building to a race and already having a base I would drop the extra base for the benefit of rest and recovery.

Just my thoughts
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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Quote:
at some level do distance swimmers get to the point that the one or two seconds they lose per 50/100 yards while letting their mind disassociate from the pain/task at hand helps the overall experience better while still seeing a training benefit?

I was a competitive swimmer (distance freestyle no less) and pretty early on I got so I was rarely thinking at all about my stroke technique and I am sure that is typical of all competitive swimmers and most fast AOS swimmers. Not to say that there were not times when we worked on technique but as a general matter, swimming pretty quickly became literally like pedaling a bike or running. You don't have to actually think about your ankles or knees, etc. The thought process is simply "go faster" or "go slower" but you don't have to think of the actual mechanics of making that happen. At super hard effort levels, there was barely any conscious thought going on at all much beyond keeping track of where you were in a race and focusing on one or two key things in terms of pace and who you were supposed to beat and what they were doing. It was pretty reptilian, just as is riding or running super hard. Swimming races, even distance pool races, are very short relatively speaking, analogous to running track races from the mile on down. And while great technique is needed, you are not winning or losing those kind of races by making mid course technique corrections. Once the gun goes off, it is either automatic or it ain't happening.
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [STP] [ In reply to ]
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Junk swim yardage ( > 65,000 yards/week)- has no benefit for triathletes.
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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Junk swim yards exist but you have to be going a ton of yards per week before that concept kicks in. But "junk yards" is a different concept than "diminishing returns" which kicks in for triathletes way before they get to "junk yards." Triathletes are never going to swim as much as real swimmers.

As for the slowing down part of your question, I get the impression that some triathletes swim their workouts basically at one speed such that they might end up thinking that if they usually go X per 100 if suddenly they are only going X+2 seconds per 100 the workout is over. That is not anywhere near how a decent swim work out works. Pretty much any decent swim workout should have some big variations in pace in it.

For example, it would not be usual at all to have more than a 2 second difference between repeats within the same set of 100yr or meter repeats. Descending interval times are are a great training tool. Another example would be a workout that started out with some longer repeats might have those done at race pace + X seconds per 100 and then later in the same workout, the plan might call for a set of 100's or 50's done at race pace - X seconds. Finally, 2 seconds per 100 is not really slowing down all that much. Lets say your PR 1500 meter race time is X. Who could possibly claim that doing a 1500m swim in practice at 30 seconds slower than your PR had no training benefit. Actually that would be a very hard swim for most people and certainly not "junk yardage." At some point everyone gets to the place where that have ture race effort times and it is pretty hard if not outright impossible to duplicate that pace regularly in practice. That is actually a good sign if it is real and not just laziness.

On my bike interval workouts, I usually range between 120 and 285 watts for easier/longer stuff and for higher end/short interval work I might range between 120 to 450w plus. That is a pretty normal range for bike workouts. Swimming is not any different. Vary your speed within workouts and you will reap huge benefits, as long as you actually go hard on the hard parts.
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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Junk swim yards are absolutely beneficial. If you are just getting back into shape, recovering from a big race, or just not motivated that day getting in an easy swim is a good thing. It cannot be overstated how much swim training on a regular basis, including interval training, helps a triathlete's overall fitness.
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [Dilbert] [ In reply to ]
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Not sure how one defines junk yardage.
I have some easier days that I focus on form, not pace.
If those are junk- extra yards then I think they are helpful and do help me build to long faster sets.
i think Sanders got faster with yardage, but still has poor form. But that has real limits.
I really need yardage and need better technique.
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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I don't think there are "junk" yards at all. You are either working on form or fitness or both. The feel for the water will improve the more you swim. Your fitness will improve through exercise but that is the most obvious basic "not needed to be mentioned" really on this forum.
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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I always do a 400m with pullbuoy at the end of my swim session, which you can call junk-meters. As a very bad adult onset swimmer swimming with the pullbuoy is a lot easier than without, yes it goes nearly effortlessly, although I would never confess that I acually like it (I basically hate swimming).

I once read a statement here on ST to swim a lot with the pullbuoy especially for this reason: those who are bad swimmers and sink like hell without a wetsuit or a pullbouy at least swim a higher yardage like this: and it should be true that a junkmile is better than getting out of the pool earlier. In my case: the 1500m program + 400m pullbuoy is better than the 1500m program alone.
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [Velocibuddha] [ In reply to ]
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The good old days of 80 to 110k metres / week.

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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [realAB] [ In reply to ]
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realAB wrote:
The good old days of 80 to 110k metres / week.

Was swimming going great guns when people were doing 80 to 110k meters a week? Was the competition deeper than today in terms of numbers of fast distance swimmers?

During the running boom, many of us were running 100+ mile weeks almost year round. There were many good runners at that mileage. Lots of "junk" miles at sub 6 pace.

Indoor Triathlete
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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My biggest gains for swimming were between my first and second year in triathlons/swimming and it was a lot of junk everything in the pool.

I think a lot of adult onset swimmer don’t swim enough to start to feel how you should swim so they don’t make the gains they want. You need enough time in the pool to start to feel what swimming effeciently is.

I did a ton of paddles and pull bouy that first winter and went from mid 30’s to low/mid 20s. So I don’t think there are junk yards, but if you’re swim is horrible due to a form issue that you can’t self correct doing a bunch more yards may not help you.

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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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deeper now ... I was more middle distance. 100-200 Fly / 200-400 Free but swam the 800 and 1500 a fair bit.

We just got shit kicked every chance possible

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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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IT wrote:
realAB wrote:
The good old days of 80 to 110k meters / week.


Was swimming going great guns when people were doing 80 to 110k meters a week? Was the competition deeper than today in terms of numbers of fast distance swimmers?
During the running boom, many of us were running 100+ mile weeks almost year round. There were many good runners at that mileage. Lots of "junk" miles at sub 6 pace.

As realAB said, swimming is deeper now than in the high yardage/meters of the 80s, 90s, and early 00s. Swimming has done nothing but get faster over the years, and elite swimmers have cut back to "only" 40-50,000 meters/week (sprinters) to 70-80,000 meters/week for D swimmers. The decrease has been due to a bit of an increase of emphasis on quality vs quantity but really, they're still swimming a lot. The 70,000 m/wk is roughly equivalent to 175 mi/wk running using the 400 m free = 1 mile running, vs 110,000 m/wk equaling a massive 275 mi/wk running. So, a decrease yes, but just from an insane amount of swimming. And if you wonder where the 400 lcm free = 1 mile run is based on, it is b/c the men's WRs for these events are both in the 3:40-42 range, so pretty close. Further, if you consider that virtually all swimmers swim some part of their workouts in the other strokes, which are slower, plus they kick a fair amount, it could argued that the 400 lcm = 1 mi run underestimates the amount of work done, but the 1/4 mi swim = 1 mi run is a nice even 4:1 ratio for ease of calculation.


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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [IT] [ In reply to ]
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“Some swim proponents would like one to notice/examine every stroke taken.“

Such proponents likely have too much time on their hands, or something to sell you.

The short answer is that you’re spot on in your observations and you’re right in your findings about disassociation being helpful.

The point is to accumulate the highest number of repetitions at the highest possible standard. That means some days with “damn near perfect” reps, some with “okay” with reps, and some with “this probably doesn’t even qualify as swimming” reps. And within reason, the latter are totally fine.

Particularly if you’re an adult-onset swimmer, the goal is to transition a land mammal into an amphibian (or at least a hippopotamus). So if disassociating allows you the mental wherewithal to spend more time adapting to this new environment, so be it. From personal experience, I find the more total repetitions——-at any and every physical and mental intensity level——the more “excellent” repetitions seem to magically show up. Like you said about cycling/running, “once the rhythm is there” in swimming you can dial your mental energy output up and down as needed.

For the actual “junk” miles (we really need an official definition on this forum, as well as a distinction between “extra yardage” junk and “utter crap” junk) in all three sports it’s very much like driving; you’re monitoring the different aspects of the stroke the same way you’d scan mirrors and guages, but you’re not at the same mental arousal level as if you were going at 120mph. Swimming is exactly the same as cycling and running in that regard.

The cool thing is that some of the best technique insights happen during those junk swims. It’s probably because triathletes in particular are usually the type of person who, when they’re throwing a ball, tend to a) try to muscle the throw, and b) forget to let go of the ball. So when they ease up mentally and let go somewhat, the ball usually flies farther “somehow.” Training relaxation--particularly mental relaxation within rhythm— is very underrated in amateur triathlon.
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [NateChampness] [ In reply to ]
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Great points. My IM final prep test set remains 42x100 on 1:40 (old sprint freestyler). My focus is on the clock... holding the pace. The endless short interval repeats keep my speed up and get me fit, but my mind wanders endlessly during the actual race. Maybe my “technique drills” need to focus more on the mindset of a distance swimmer ;-)
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Re: Are "junk swim yards" also beneficial? [NateChampness] [ In reply to ]
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NateChampness wrote:
“Some swim proponents would like one to notice/examine every stroke taken.“

Such proponents likely have too much time on their hands, or something to sell you.

Yup. I know I certainly don't pay attention to "every" stroke, or more accurately, I only pay attention to one or 2 things while I'm swimming. if it's a recovery swim after a flat out effort, then that "one thing" might be to keep my feet off the bottom and swim instead of walk.

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