Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Judging a Book

We had an interesting session down at Swim Smooth this morning. 

Paul is away at the moment and so coach Sal and I are covering the Wednesday morning session this week. Late last week we were approached by Gary Couanis to ask whether we could put together a special set for his Birthday, which is tomorrow. We don't usually take requests for sessions, but Gary was pretty keen and Paul said it was okay so we went with it. Gary's request was for a session of 40 x 100m.

The Wednesday morning session is usually between 4500m and 5000m so fitting in 40 x 100m wasn't a problem. However, what was going to be more of a challenge was making the session interesting. No point satisfying Gary's request if everyone else is bored stiff. 

Not to worry though because Coach Sal was up to the challenge, putting together a session made up of 8 x 5 x 100m on a range of different turn around times. With a bit of a warm up and a little bit extra at the end it filled criteria of being 4500m to 5000m. Nicely done.

However, given that the session going to be 40 x 100m you could forgive people for being concerned it was going to be boring and/or too easy. Remember the Wednesday morning swim is the territory of 10 x 400m or 1000m efforts and things like that, it isn't supposed to be made up of large numbers of short efforts. Plus anyone who has done large numbers of 100s can tell you, it isn't the most enthralling session. Usually after 10 to 15 x 100 your brain is keen for something else to do. 

With all this in mind you could understand if people were a little hesitant about the session and pondering slightly our sanity. 

However, just to prove that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, or session until it is done, it ended up being fairly successful. I am sure there were some people in the session that weren't thrilled with it, but on the whole Sal and I noted it down as job well done. 

Breaking the 40 x 100 into 8 sets of 5 kept things interesting enough. Each set was slightly different, either being quicker or using Pull Buoy and Paddles, so there was plenty of variation. As one person said, by the time you are about to get bored, you changed. It kept things pretty fresh. 

On top of that, the descending times meant that by the time people reached the 7th and 8th sets it was getting pretty darn tough. Most people in the squad struggled with the last two sets, but managed to make it through, which is usually an indication that it was just the right level of tough. 

I don't think anyone jumped out the pool thinking that they didn't get their money's worth with regard to interest or intensity. 

Just goes to show, sometimes you don't know what a session is going to be like until you do it. Often it can be better to not over think it, turn up and just get on with it.


Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Lessons not learned

I feel like I write about this particular topic a lot, however, given the conversation I had this morning, it would appear that the message still hasn't got through to people, even people whom I help coach.

The conversation went something like this:

"This time I am endeavouring to do every session on the program, and since I started doing that I have been feeling great".

Excuse me?

It amazes me that people still haven't figured this out. People still express surprise when they realise that if they do all the training that they are supposed to do, consistently, then they will go quicker. I mean what do these people think that coaches write programs for, for their own entertainment? We don't write program hoping that an athlete might do 80% of it. No, we write them knowing that 100% of the program will help them reach their goals. 80% of the program will get a person near their goals, but reaching the goals is unlikely. If 80% of the program was enough to get a person to their racing goals then that is what the program would say.

Really this whole thing isn't rocket science. People spend a lot of time and money obsessing over the fastest bike or the fastest wheels or the best shoes and then happily skip a session because they were tired, or it was cold and wet or they couldn't be bothered. News Flash. Those skipped sessions are doing more harm than the fastest wheels or bike could ever make up for. Doing those sessions day in and day out are what makes you fast, not the bike or the wheels or the shoes.

Way back in the mists of time when I was a rower I had a revelation one summer during a training camp. During that camp I realised that if I simply rocked up to every session and did it to the best of my ability then I would get better. Not only better, I would get good. Which I did. That lesson has stayed with me for the years since then. Hard work and dedication trumps talent, and fancy equipment and any other silver bullet that people hope will be the key to their racing success. Every time.

Turn up, every time, do the work. There is nothing more to it than that. When will people learn...

Monday, 16 July 2018

Fair Weather

I know in the blog I whinge about the weather a fair bit, but you know, it is my blog and I will whinge if I want to. Plus, it is sort of the time of year for complaining about the weather. All the cool kids are doing it.

However, this morning I was reminded of one training habit that I don't like around bad weather. Writing a session off before it has even occurred.

Like many people I am hooked into many social media channels in which various friends talk about their training plans, who is riding the next day, or running etc. Yesterday there was quite a bit of chat about training this morning. The forecast for this morning was pretty dreadful and so the consensus was that they would skip training this morning and instead re-arrange things to head out on Tuesday. I wasn't planning on training anyway and so I wasn't too bothered.

In the end this morning the weather was truly atrocious and so the decision to postpone the session was probably a wise one. The forecast for tomorrow looks good and so it is likely that they have traded a horrible session for a pleasant one. Winning.

Really, my issue isn't with re-arranging training, often that is the smart and safe thing to do. My issue is with deciding to skip the session 24 hours before based on a forecast.

Why?

Well simply because forecasts can be wrong. Take Sunday morning for example. The forecast for Sunday was very similar to that of Monday, the sort of forecast that you see and consider staying in your blankets. However, like I usually do I got up to check what the weather was actually doing and to my surprise it was lovely. I had a great training session, not a drop of rain, light winds. It was great.

What's more I have lost count of the number of times that has happened. Yep, sometimes you get up and it is raining sideways and you re-consider your plans, perhaps jump on the trainer or a treadmill, or perhaps head back to bed, but so often you get up and the forecast hasn't come true, the weather is wonderful and the session is good. If you had stayed in bed you would have missed a great opportunity for training and changed up your training plans for no good reason.

Frustrating and a bit of a waste of time.

Always, always get up to check. Over the years it became one of my little rules to train by. Never assume it is going to be too nasty to train, check to confirm it and plan accordingly.