Lactate Management Training Phase
This phase is only to be done by High School aged swimmers or older. Also, it is only to be done after a huge aerobic build-up. One must be incredibly fit, prior to starting this training phase, to get the desired results from it. As an example, college swimmers that come home after poor training in the Spring and plug themselves into the team training system for the rest of the summer, do not get the same great results as the High School swimmers that had a great Spring of aerobic training.
This phase lasts 5-6 weeks and has three hard days a week of lactate management with easy days between of light aerobic swimming. We actually go more yards per practice on the easy days. On the hard days we need more rest on repeats to hold the desired paces and get the desired results.
In the 1970’s through the 1990’s, physiologists believed that Lactic Acid, which was a by-product of anaerobic exercise, was a poison that needed to be flushed from the body.
Today it is believed that the heart can use it as a fuel. Therefore, if we train the body to manage Lactic Acid and use it as a fuel we will stay fast at the end of our races. Training at the end of the season is to learn to manage this by-product of hard exercise while at high speed. This training can only be done a few times per week and only for about 6 weeks at the end of the season. Doing it, year round, has shown to be quite damaging to a swimmer’s health and to their careers. However, at the end of each season, it can be a huge accelerator of improvement. If done right, swimmers will swim very fast in their last meets of each season.
Without giving too many secrets away, the idea is to swim a set at “Goal Race Pace” so that the body can memorize the movements necessary to go one’s goal times. Then, we follow that with some aerobic swimming of varying speeds so that the body can learn to deal with the waste products of fast swimming, in other words turn them from waste to fuel. After that a very short set of very fast swimming with long rest at best possible effort and best possible times. This should teach them to hit better than race pace when fatigued which is the way the end of a race feels.
After the swimmers have done this for a number of weeks they should be very efficient at eliminating waste products as fast as they make them all while swimming at high speed during the second half of a race. That is the goal of this training segment.
A word of warning, never do this type of training before an athlete is of High School age. Never attempt it when not in great aerobic shape. The base work of the early season was important to lay down the capillary beds and to develop the mitochondria necessary for the body to be able to handle the Lactic Acid levels.
Also, it is very important to sandwich this type of training with longer easier bouts of aerobic work or LSD (Long Slow Distance). Light aerobic work on easy days and on long warm downs will maintain the aerobic base that was built during the first half of the season and flush the system so that the next bout of fast work will be as fast as is necessary to improve, throughout the six week phase.
If a season is like making a birthday cake, the first half of the season is for the aerobic build-up/base work and is like baking the cake. This lactate management phase is like putting on the frosting. The taper, which is yet to come, is like lighting the candles.
The championship meet/shave meet is for presenting the cake to all those at the table..
This training phase can be more fun, but a bit more challenging. Swimming fast is fun.
Better attendance is required in this training phase as a missed practice is a missed block of a certain type of training. Microcycle training, the weekly training cycle of working different energy systems at different practices of the week, is the fastest way to improve, but it only works with great attendance.
It is really fun to watch how fast they go at the end of the season.
Part One - High Performance Group vs Senior Group