• Zied Abbes

Ultra Short Race Pace Training (USRPT): Part 1

Dr. John Taylor, a leader in prime performance psychology, noted in one of his articles:

“Train like you compete so you can compete like you train”

According to him, there are two essential rules for sports success:

  • Whatever you do in competitions, you must first do in training

  • Whatever you do in training is what you will do in a competition

The more you can make training like a competition, the more you will ingrain in your mind and body the skills and habits to perform your best in competition.

In another way, the only way to improve swimming velocities for specific races is to practice swimming at those velocities or slightly faster.

One of the training methods that have a lot of contradiction from coaches around the world is the:

Ultra Short Race Pace Training

It is a method of training originally developed by Australian Prof. Brent S. Rushall.

Recent swimming research has indicated that the traditional practices are largely irrelevant for racing and do not provide an avenue for race improvement.

Traditional practice programs and items do not accommodate much high-intensity work. Yet, the physiological and mechanical benefits of high intensity (Race-Pace) training are more than any other form can provide.

It is proposed that ultra-short training at race-pace is the format upon which all race-pace training should be patterned.

The structure of session content was often dominated by the consideration of how much aerobic or anaerobic work was to be performed.

Modern coaching requires the greatest amount of individualized training and programming possible.

1- Energy Systems and Exercise:

The metabolic energy required for short explosive activities is provided by the breakdown of high-energy phosphate compounds in the muscles.

One of these, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), must be present before a muscle will contract. ATP is stored in small amounts in the muscles and can only sustain activity for one or two seconds unless some other additional or restorative interaction occurs. ATP can be replenished from other energy sources in the muscle. This occurs when another high-energy phosphate compound found in the muscle, Creatine Phosphate (CP), is degraded to produce ATP and provide the energy for continued activity.

Only very short recovery periods are required for these energy sources to be sufficiently replenished to provide for a repeat effort.

Restoration also can occur within an exercise when a very brief relaxation period follows an equally brief effort phase.

The ATP-CP energy system does not require the presence of oxygen and is considered to be part of the anaerobic (without oxygen) energy system. Since lactic is not produced by this system it is also called the “alactacid system” but the oxygen is required for this system’s recovery/restoration.

Another source of energy for exercise is the stored oxygen in the Myoglobin and hemoglobin. These are proteins that are structurally different but functionally similar.

Other forms of fuel stored and made available in the muscles for more sustained bouts of work are the stored sugar (glycogen) and fat which are degraded to finally produce the ATP.

When the ATP-CP and the delivery of oxygen are insufficient to meet the demands of the effort, the high energy carbohydrate compound glycogen can be broken down by enzyme reactions to glucose (“Glycogenolysis”), then to lactic acid which dissociates to lactate and hydrogen ions.

The production of lactic acid, called “ Glycolysis”, produces limited quantities of ATP, which can maintain high effort for between 30 to 40 seconds.

The presence of large amounts of lactate and hydrogen ions interferes with the mechanical events (muscles shortening & neural conductance) and the person is forced to decrease the exercise intensity or cease activity altogether.

In the exercise, oxygen is used in varying degrees of importance depending on the level of effort. If exercise is not very intense, performance can be prolonged. The process of oxidation, which provides a much larger quantity of ATP.

This process is termed “aerobic” metabolism and can occur with the oxidation of both the glycogen and fat stores contained in the body. For swimming races, glycogen is preferred to fat as the fuel for high-effort levels because it yields energy more efficiently.

The ability to exercise for long periods at a moderate intensity is related to what has been termed the anaerobic threshold. This is the effort level that if exceeded requires some energy supplementation from anaerobic energy sources, particularly the splitting of glycogen to form lactic acid.

Post-performance oxygen consumption (EPOC) restores the portion of anaerobic processes used while exercising that was not restored/cleared during the exercise.

It removes lactate and other compounds associated with the use of glycogen as well as restoring temperature, hormonal balance, etc.

Source: Kinetic select


In summary, stored oxygen and high-energy phosphates are the predominant energy sources for brief total body effort. The splitting of glycogen into lactic acid provides the major energy resources for sustained sprints and feats of muscular endurance lasting between 10 and 60 seconds.


Sport Tips & Analysis

by Zied Abbes

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