100 x 100 is probably the most famous of all distance swimming sessions. Metres of course, for my measurementally-challenged American friends. Systéme Internationale anyone?Ten fingers, ten toes, ten ….
Anyway the elegant variation is 100 x 100 x 100, that is, one hundred metres, one hundred times, each time on one hundred seconds, i.e. starting each one hundred every one minute and forty seconds. So you finish before the one hundred seconds to get a quick rest.
100 x 100 x 100
Looks beautiful, doesn’t it? And intriguing if you haven’t done it. Elegant, like a great mathematical formula:
I’d never done it. (Sharp intake of breath). Solo, that is, without someone to share the workload with. I have done it with others. I’d done 100 x 100 by myself (though not in two years). I’ve done 10 x 1500. It was in fact a bit of a bugbear for me. It’s not that big a deal doing it with others who are around the same pace as me, (Rob, Danny, Ciaran, Jen, Lisa etc).
No, it was that final 100 that bothered me, the one minute forty, repeating and repeating. The first time I read about it was my second year swimming, about five years ago. (Remember, I’m not at this swimming lark a long time). It seemed immense and, for me, impossible. Now, it wasn’t that I thought about it much. I moved on.
Over the past few years, when I start back pool training from the sea every autumn, I discover all the long sea swims have taken what speed I have away. I’m swimming repeat 100s usually on 1:45. Within a few weeks, as I feel the fitness return, I’ll start doing mixed 100s: 4 x100 on 1:45, 4 x100 on 1:40, 4 x 100 on 1:35, that type of thing.
Then I’ll start doing 10x on 1:40 maybe once a week as part of a main set. The first few of times are a good personal speed and fitness test. It takes six to eight week before repeat 20x 100s on 1:40 feel ok. After that I look for the point where I might feel like cracking, where I am not making the interval. Last week I did 50 x 100s one day as main-set and it was grand. And some of you were talking about it. So I took it back out of its box and decided I’d do it on Week Three of my four-week training cycle, Week Three being the most difficult or longest week.
The whole thing was grand though if you were to use only one word to describe it would of course have to be relentless (I might use “relentless” next time I change the site tag line). Not without difficulties of course. After a very short 400m warmup, I easily cruised through the first thirty, without about eight or nine seconds interval. Then I noticed in the fourth set that my interval dropped slightly. I hit 50x though still holding a five second rest. At that point I had a four-minute toilet and drink stop and half a 650 ml bottle of Maxim. I didn’t want to run out of energy half way through hour three. I was drinking half a bottle of water every 10x also. The sixth 10x weren’t great, a bit too variable. I was aiming for 70x. If I could get to there, it would be downhill and beyond the maximum number of 100s on 100 previously done.
By 70x the intervals were down to three seconds. That is not a sustainable interval if you have to work very hard to make it, but I was okay and not having to kill it to make the interval.
Some of the time loss was losing concentration, when you start to make more stroke errors, in my case these tend to be dropping my elbows, and dropping my left hand instead of holding the extension prior to the catch, and moving my head too much out of breakout.
The eight set was a bit of mix, I made everything but the times wobbled up and down a bit in the first half, but came good before the end.The ninth set brought the worry of cramps at the bottom of my calves from all the tumble-turn push-offs with not a lot of rest. I swam one hundred with toes clenched, slowing me down, to offset incipient cramp, and stopped for a quick drink on another for the same reason. At 90x I knew there’s be no trouble, I could keep powering on, intervals had returned to 5 seconds. Then on the ninety sixth, I started to feel again that I was going to cramp, but made it with one second to spare as a consequence. On 97, someone stepped into the end of the lane, I had to swerve, and when I tumble-turned he was still there and I had to go deep and wobbly. One second left again. Of course I blasted hard through the final 100. 200 metres of backstroke and all done.
Felt absolutely fine. Quick way to a 10k. Not one you want to do a lot though. Good fitness test also. I did however feel more tired the day after.
Now it should be very clear to swimmers that at I am not fast. The top world FINA swimmers are doing 10k in just over two hours, not in three hours. But I was delighted, it was a goal I hadn’t previously reached, though in fairness, I also hadn’t seriously attempted it, and it was less than I imagined it to be, the challenge being as always, mental, keeping the concentration to hold the stroke.
Amazing for me to think that for Jen Schumacher, Evan and others, this is probably an easy interval for them as it is for Ned, Owen, etc. Those guys are amazing. A 1:20 repeat is an aerobic set for Chloe Sutton …
Edit: I forgot to mention again, my primary purpose in writing up something like this, is to demystify them and take the ego out of it.
- HOWTO: Important factors in marathon swim feeding (loneswimmer.com)
- Introducing interval training to your swimming (loneswimmer.com)
- 100 x 100 x 100 (loneswimmer.com)
- Anatomy of an 8 hour pool swim (loneswimmer.com)
- Just another 6 hour pool swim (loneswimmer.com)
- A long pool swim in numbers (loneswimmer.com)