A couple weeks ago I did the "Red Mist" set that I read about on the Swim Smooth blog. It is a set that is designed to be both physically and mentally challenging. I made it through the set without feeling the "red mist" of frustration, anger, and fatigue. I decided I needed to adjust my base base and try it again.
This morning I decided to give it another shot at a base pace that was 1 second / 100 yards faster than the last time (base of 1:17 / 100yd instead of 1:18 / 100yd). Here's what my workout looked like today:
100 on 1:23 (to get a feel for how fast I would need to swim on the first series of 400's)
4 x 400 @ 1:23 pace (1:17 + 6 / 100yd)
3 x 400 @ 1:22 pace (1:17 + 5 / 100yd)
2 x 400 @ 1:21 pace (1:17 +4 / 100yd)
1 x 400 @ 1:20 pace (1:17 + 3 / 100yd)
700 easy pull
5,500 yards total
This time around was much more challenging. The first four 400's were not too bad and I made each one with 2 to 3 seconds to spare. It started getting tough near the middle of the 3 x 400's. I started getting behind pace and had to make an effort to pick it up to make the time. I only had a second or two between 400's. The 2 x 400's were also pretty tough. Although I never felt like I was flailing, I did have to change my breathing to almost every stroke. I had very little rest in between the 2 x 400's, less than 1 second. I took a bit of extra rest between the 2 x 400's and the last 400 because I was talking to a friend in the next lane. Still, I kept it to less than 1:30 rest. Between the other sets, I only rested long enough to change the pace on my watch and get a drink. Oddly enough, the last 400 felt the best. I didn't feel like I was pushing it super hard, but was able to make it a little ahead of pace.
Last time I did this workout I was disappointed that I didn't feel the frustration of the "red mist". This time around I did get a taste of it. Whenever I started to fall behind pace during a 400, it was frustrating and kind of made me mad. I had to make an effort to pick it up. Using 1:17 / 100 yd as my base pace was much better than when I did it at 1:18. I wish I could set the timer on my watch to 1:16.50 / 100 yd. For now, I'll stick to 1:17.
This is encouraging because it seems to imply that my CSS (Critical Swim Speed) has gone down. I'll need to do the test again to verify.
I like this workout a lot. The time really flies because there is almost no rest and you are swimming at a pretty fast pace the entire time. You get too worried about making the next 100 on pace that you don't really think about how long you've been in the water.
Has anyone else done this workout? I'd love to hear how it went.