Junk yardage – (Sean’s not webster’s definition) the process of putting one hand ahead of another for two hours in the water concerned only about trying to get as much distance as possible.
In other words, junk yardage is the opposite theory or at least a counter theory to USRPT, but it’s traditional so it’s got more weight and momentum to it. Primarily, this is because junk yardage works. You will get faster at swimming if you put 2-4 miles in a day. Add mini sets and don’t even push yourself all that fast, and you will see modest gains over time.
My recent experiments with USRPT have reached an undecided conclusion. Between myself and my daughters, I have not given it a fair shake. As a result of the time out of the water I have lost my aerobic base and I prefer a milder approach to improvement than what USRPT has to offer. Eventually, transitioning back will be a pretty strong option, but going to USRPT for extreme distance work does not make a lot of sense and is incredibly boring over longer distances.
Really who wants to do 40×100 yards? A ladder set is infinitely preferable and some IM…
No training program should just depend on junk yardage, that would be boring as all get out. Perhaps even as boring as those 40x100s, and I will say I have learned a lot from USRPT. Sprints make a huge difference, and hard pace sets should be part of every work out. However, they do not have to be the whole work out. Psychologically, we can still get benefits in focus if we push ourselves at maximum out put for 1/3-1/5 of our work outs and cruise the longer sets and 70-80%.
What the junk yardage does is give us a chance to build up a cardio base and general fitness that ends up allowing us to do the harder sets even faster without injury or loss in focus. It wont be good to do it alone, especially for long distance athletes that need to elevate their heart rates for longer periods of time. I know a few runners that can hold between 80-95% of max heart rate for nearly an entire marathon. Don’t be surprised that swimming requires similar training.
A final thought on USRPT for today: Training for 50s and 100s is very different from training for 2.4 miles or extreme distance swims. Racing in the pool requires a very different psychology from doing an English Channel swim. While Brent Rushall acknowledges there are a few people doing experiments with USRPT 200s in training for distance events he dismisses that research. Honestly, 125s, 150s, 175s, and 200s make much more sense as distance training measures than 100s. If and when I bring back USRPT, it will be with these distances and my test subject of one.