After a nice day off from the early morning practices it was back to the pool at 4:30 a.m. today and back to getting ready for my first race. Amazingly, Jeff made us sorta-kinda have to use our brains at practice — which really isn’t fair.
It was especially unfair because the water at Lee District was clouded from the new filtration system, which oxidized the pool or something like that. So it was hard to see the walls and I already had to be more aware than usual. That’s just too much brain usage at 4:30 a.m.
Through all of our training, the one thing I had never really worked on was pacing myself, and this morning Jeff gave a speech that basically laid out why this practice was important.
“The 50 is the most difficult race,” Jeff told us, before explaining that same idea of having to be perfect that I’ve preached on this blog. Me being a sprinter, I was nodding during this part. Balazs Kiss, a senior at Edison and a distance swimmer, was smiling like he half didn’t believe it or half thought we were doing a workout built around 50s.
Then Jeff threw a curve.
“The 100 is the most difficult race,” Jeff said, “Because at some point in your career it will be an all-out sprint.” He followed that up by saying it isn’t an all-out sprint now because we’d all die out.
Then he tried one more time.
“The 200 is the most difficult race,” Jeff said, explaining the difficulties of learning to pace yourself and not lose time.
Jeff’s point was that all of them difficult races and the only way to be perfect at racing them was to work on them and swim them over and over. So today’s practice was be structured around the 200, but the purpose was to learning pacing through the 50 and the 100.
Here was the set:
WARM UP – 25 right, 25 left, 50 swim, 25 right, 25 left, 50 kick x 3
4 50s – Find a time, relatively relaxed, and hold it on each 50
2 100s – Double your 50 time and hold it on the 100s
1 200 – Double your 100 time and hold it.
200 kick, 4 25s zero breath (1 breath for me)
We repeated that three times, each time cutting time off the 50, 100 and 200.
On the 50, you weren’t pushing yourself nearly as hard, but by the 100 and 200 the point was to work to keep the right pace.
For example, if you started the day doing a 40-second 50 free, then by the end you were doing a 35-second 50 free and a 200 in 2:20 as opposed to the 2:40 you started with. More than likely you were probably racing that last 200 after the fatigue of the whole workout.
It was an important lesson for me because I had never done a 200 while trying to shoot for a time, so I had to find the exact right combination of building and sprinting in the 200s to come in at the right time.
What’s funny is I was actually much better in judging my 200 time than my 50. I’d usually come in either one second before or one or two after the time I was supposed to in the 50, and by the end I hit my 200 time right on the nose.
After that set, I went back up to the blocks and worked on my start. The major thing I need to work on is not bringing my arms all the way around on the start. I have a tendency to do a “hugging” motion instead of having my arms push straight out in front of me in a powerful push forward.
When I finally got that right, I could feel the power moving forward and I felt significantly faster. But my tendency — even when I was thinking about it — was to bring my arms around. I’d shorten it up, but I still wasn’t consistently going straight out.
Jeff said I’ll be working on either starts, turns or finishes every day from here on out, so I’ll have plenty more time to work on it. And it was good to get a set in today where I was swimming 100s with a certain time in mind because I’m going to have to swim a 100 in the October Open, too.
It’ll be back to work tomorrow, and I have no idea what kind of workout Jeff is going to throw at us. I used to have a pretty good idea of where things were headed, but recently he’s surprised me every day.
I’ll be on Washington Post Live this evening on Comcast SportsNet from 5 pm to 6 PM. Not sure if I’ll be talking about this blog but I’ll try to throw some references in if I can, so tune in!
Washington Post reporter Paul Tenorio will train with a swim club over the next few months and chronicle his journey as he attempts to transform from regular guy/sports reporter to competitive swimmer — everything from his waistline to his best times.