Race Pace Training or RPT has gathered a lot of attention over the last few years. But what does that mean and does it work?
Let’s start with the first question. Race Pace Training focuses your training on swimming your target race distance at your race pace. It helps swimmers learn how to execute their race strategy. There are definite advantages to gaining the experience of how to hit your target pace, handle the underwaters off of every wall, and generally handling the pain of your race.
While the term is new, the concept is not. We did not call it RPT, but we did race pace training as part of our training back in the 70s. The word “part is where the difference comes in. Race Pace Training today is heavily training on high intervals (lots of rest) keeping your race pace.
So, does it work? Well that is a matter of debate in the swimming world. There will always be some swimmers who excel with any stroke mechanic or training fad that comes along. The question is, did they excel because of it or in spite of it?
I can’t say there is a definitive answer out there, I can only share my thoughts as an experienced competitive swimmer and coach. Race pace training has its place as part of a swimmer’s yearly cycle. Using RPT sets as part of the mix, with less at the beginning of the season and more near the end as a part of the taper is how I use RPT. I am not convinced that a swimmer who depends heavily on RPT will excel without the benefit of a strong aerobic base (especially for middle- and long distance- events) and weight training (especially for sprinters).