What Is CSS?
CSS is the pace at which you’d currently swim a 1500 Time Trial (in yards or metres). It’s nothing complicated - simply an effective way to prepare for race distances of 400 and above. Here’s why:
The Benefits of CSS Training
1.CSS is a pace that’s tough enough to develop your aerobic capacity but not so hard that it’ll take you days to recover. So you can improve your swim fitness and still have enough energy to go running or cycling (or swimming again?!)
2.CSS is a race-specific training pace. It may not make you the fastest 50 or 100 swimmer, but it will train you to sustain a moderately high speed for longer distances.
3.CSS training teaches you about pace awareness the hard way (which is usually the best way!) Go off too fast and you’ll pay the price later. Ouch!
4.Thankfully you can test your current CSS pace without having to swim a solo 1500 Time Trial. See below for instructions.
5.Once you know your CSS pace, you can use a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro to help you train. It’s a small beeping device that attaches to your goggles. Dial in your CSS pace and it’ll happily beep every lap so that you can maintain perfect pace.
How To Test Your CSS
To test your current CSS pace you need to swim a 400 and 200 Time Trial within the same session. Ideally, get a friend or coach to time you and record your 100 splits and strokes per minute. Failing that, simply record the 400 and 200 times yourself. Once you’re done, enter your 400 and 200 times into this CSS CALCULATOR.
Including CSS sets into your swim training can help improve your sustainable speed and enhance your pace judgement. In addition to CSS training, it’s also important to strike a balance between speed, threshold and endurance workouts in order to meet the needs of your target races. Technique work and open water training are equally important too! For more information about CSS training check out the SwimSmooth Training System.
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Phil Mosley is a triathlon coach and writer.