Monday, January 20, 2014

Back on the Blocks - How Quickly They Forget

There is nothing like a couple of races to get everyone’s attention. We have had an awesome (overused word but not here) 23 days of training. On the 26th of December we shifted gears from maintenance mode during finals and leading up to Christmas itself to full on “training camp” mode.

Our workouts have centered around the theme of everyone being in the Top 5 of the hardest working trainers on the team. On many days we have had as many as 28-30 in our Senior 1 training group of 34 in that Top 5. The level of intention has been fabulous. The sets have been challenging of course but what has made them particularly valuable has been the effort delivered.

Now of course is the important question: how is this translating into racing? We are, at this level on our club after all is said and done, a competitive swim team.

The only way to determine this is by going racing. This seems so obvious but to many the subtlety is lost. Training hard has its value but how it translates in the racing pool is of particular interest to us as coaches…so we went racing this weekend.

It has been 6 weeks since we raced. And it showed a little bit…but comfortingly so, just a little bit. The team raced well keeping to the mantra of staying in the Top 5. We saw many races where they stayed “in the swim” much better than they have in the past. We witnessed some really aggressive “no holds barred” style…they were “going after it.”

But getting up on the blocks is so different from having the flow of practice and a set carry the day. Every swimmer has experienced the training phenomena of doing 10 or 15 repeats, getting the first couple under their belt and then having the combination of the team around them and the rhythm of the set carry the day…often where the last several repeats are faster than even they imagined was possible.

When you race, you only have the one repeat…and that is where the challenge lies. So when you are tired from training well can you “stay in the swim?” If you can then you are making progress. If you cannot, then you still have work to do in this area.

You gain so much confidence (the most important muscle in the human body – in and out of sports) from racing well even when you are tired from training fatigue. The numbers on the stopwatch mean very little at this point. How well you split a race and how well you stay “in a race” are critical.

We had lots of encouraging signs this weekend…nice!

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