Keyvan’s 14k swim for Alzheimers – Update 5

By Jen Harris
19th March 2017

One thing I figured out quite early on is that unlike running a marathon, where as a backstop one can walk the last few (hundred) meters, once you are in that river swimming, you have to swim all the way!
A few weeks of training passed by. The re-enforced technique training sessions dramatically improved my efficiency in the water. My speed picked up quite considerably. And soon my focus moved on from training to complete the distance to doing it in a reasonable time.

So how do you train for long distance speed? How do you train to manage and maintain the pace, while being surrounded by other competitors? A significant part of our training programme is based on swimming above our individual Critical Swim Speed (CSS).

What Is CSS?

The Critical Swim Speed is the swimming speed threshold that can be maintained over a 1500 meter timed trial. It provides a tough enough pace to develop the aerobic capacity, but not so hard that it’ll take you days to recover. As importantly, by engraining set CSS paces into the brain and muscles, controlling the pace becomes much more manageable, stopping you going off too fast and paying the price later. Ouch!

How Is CSS calculated?

CSS is based on the looking at the times for a 200m and 400m flat out swim and sticking them in a seemingly simple equation, with implications as complexas Schrodinger’s equation for finding the general wave function!

Suffice to say, the maths pop out a threshold speed for 100m, which can be maintained over 1500m. We then use this timing for our swimming sessions to build stamina, endurance and speed. As weeks go by, and we continue to swim with faster swimmers in the squad, the CSS speed very gradually drops, but each drop has a significant bearing over the 14K distance.


Weekly progression

Goes without saying that unbeknown to us, week on week Jason continuously reduces the CSS timing by a small fraction. The results are quite remarkable and speak for themselves. At the last CSS test session, most swimmers achieved personal bests across 200m and 400m. My 100m CSS time dropped by 11 seconds, swimming 1500m 165 seconds faster than I did in early Jan.



New 10K Timing Predictions

This new CSS timing is then used to provide some guideline for distance swimming timing. Although I am yet to be convinced how this theoretical timing is going to be translated into a sub 4 hour 14K swim, I have decided that it is as good as any other number; so that’s what I am aiming for. That’s it. Nailed to the mast!

I am going to end the blog at this point as I let the enormity of the task, with only 4  months of training left, percolate!




Swimming progress last week

Fundraising for Alzheimer’s Society

If you would like to donate for this amazing charity, which is providing care for Dementia sufferers and driving research into the causes Alzheimer’s, then please do so via JustGiving:

I am grateful for all your support.

Thanks very much for reading.

Keyvan Shirnia

By Jen Harris