My soccer coach growing up, Clyde Watson, had a phrase he used to repeat over and over to us in practice: “Your body does what it is used to doing.”
In other words, if you go into practices and play at 50-percent or jog when you’re tired or whatever, and you repeat that at training over and over, you develop a muscle memory in that same vein. At some point you’re going to get to a key situation in a game where you should be sprinting and checking back to a ball without even thinking about it, but in the same situation time and time again during training, you jogged across the back line and checked too late. So, in the game, guess what happens? You cost your team by not checking back, and just like that, what you’ve done in training has directly contributed to what you do in a game.
The idea translates to any sport and any type of training. If you dog it when you’re tired, if you don’t practice like you play, then chances are you will play like you practice.
Today’s workout was kinda-sorta based around that idea. It wasn’t necessarily the idea of translating what I did in training to a race; I wasn’t sprinting the whole time. But through repetition I was developing a muscle memory and, hopefully, developing the right stroke naturally so that I wouldn’t have to constantly tell myself or re-tell myself (or have Jeff tell me) that I was getting sloppy.
The set broke down pretty simply:
Eight 175s (100 swim, 75 kick) to warm up.
40 25s (first 20 w/ fins, second 20 with nothing on one and two breaths)
10 50s (w/ fins, breath control: odds 1 breath up, unlimited back/evens unlimited up, 1 back)
Practice starts off block
The emphasis throughout the workout was not on how fast I was going or on how much/little rest we might have been getting. It was about trying to hold the perfect stroke so that you develop that muscle memory. The emphasis for me was keeping my head down, pressing my chest down and keeping the stroke nice and long — reaching, anchoring and pushing through.
When it was all finished, Jeff came up to me on the deck before I headed to the showers.
“Okay, what time will I see you tomorrow,” he asked.
“10 a.m.,” I replied. “Wow…tomorrow, huh?”
I can’t believe the October Open is already here. It’s crazy that it falls exactly on Day 90, three months to the day that I first hopped into a pool and started training. I’ve come a long way since that first day, and I feel like I still have a long way to go. But to look back at where I was on Day 1 compared to where I’ll be after just three months of training, I feel like I need to make sure the word of the day is satisfaction.
It’s been a lot of work and you can only do so much in that amount of time. As I continue, I’m sure I’ll continue to get stronger, better and faster. For now, I have my goals and I can only hope to hit them.
Today I’m focused on hydrating and stretching. I am going to be out in the cold rain tonight for a high school football game that hopefully doesn’t go too long, and I’m going to try to stay somewhat loose during that and, of course, warm so I don’t get sick the day before my race.
When it comes to tomorrow one thing is for sure: I’m going to bust my tail. And, of course, as Jeff wrote me in an email today, “remember it is about having fun!”
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.