I love driving. Many people find it boring, but I love long car rides. The chance to drive 8-10 hours a day to a destination can be a fun game. The speed limit is 55 so I push it a little bit and start going 60. After an hour or two, the scenery is boring and I know that I can stop in 2 hours for a break. Well, maybe I can get to my destination in 1:45. I’m gonna push it and go 65. Now I notice that even though I’m going 65 in a 55, I am still getting passed. So I crank it up to 70. I’m making great time! Then I slam on the breaks! There’s a cop sitting up ahead. Time to slow down. I wait a few minutes, and then I gradually start to speed back up. Now I realize I am low on gas, the car is getting pretty hot, so it’s time to pull over, refuel, check the vitals and then once everything is good to go, I can push the limit again and still make some great time to my destination.
The swim season is much like a long drive on the highway. You can continue to push the team and test their limits, but if you don’t keep an eye on team, either a cop is gonna pull the team over or your gonna realize the team has been running of fumes for way to long. Recovery may be frustrating for some, glorious to other, creative or boring, but it’s the best way to ensure the team will reach their final destination without any major holdups. Each recovery practice is meant to help the body heal and give the team a chance to put some gas in their tank for the next trip on the highway. And the next few weeks of training, I have my eyes peeled out for cops like it’s New Year’s Eve and check up on the team with every hiccup and check engine light that pops up in front of me. Half the season is over and most of the team is where they want to be or a little ahead of schedule, and no matter how well we continue to train or how well our “cars” run at 90 mph on the highway, a Sunday drive at 25 mph down an old country road may just be the difference maker at the end of the year.
Coaches have different views on recovery training. I know some coaches that don’t believe in it and just push through the soreness. I know some that give recovery once and a while, but that decision is filled with inner turmoil. I made a conscious effort this season to structure more recovery into training this year and often wonder, “Is there too much recovery”? To hold back when you want to push forward goes against one’s competitive nature, but hopefully, that step back will only make one want to move forward even more. The first half of this year the team spent 3 weeks continually increasing intensity and then spent a fourth week backing off the intensity and increasing the aerobic component of training. Within each week, the team went more aerobic and Tuesdays and spent Thursdays doing more recovery work and then they practiced yoga on Saturdays instead of doing “hardcore dryland.” The results so far have been great, and now as the team heads into taper, we will be adding more technique, hypoxic, and perfect stroke swimming into each week and each cycle with the idea that your recovery days are a chance to mentally and physically prepare for a future day of intense training. When I head out of town in Crawfordsville, I am stuck with a 30 minute drive at 50 mph up to I-65 or a 10 minute drive out to I-74, once I get on the highway, I’m ready to go fast and when I go 60,70,80 the car is ready for it and I feel like I’m flying. That’s how the team will be using recovery over the next 6 weeks. We will continue to push forward and test our limits, but will make sure to look out for signs to slow down and back off so we can get to our destination in one piece, in a good mind set, and ready to be as fast as possible.