Good Workouts and Bad Workouts

Good Workouts and Bad Workouts


100×100 may be “the most famous of all distance swimming sessions” – but I’d never actually done it… until last Friday. Mark invited me to his USA-S squad’s morning practice, for reasons unspecified, and had this “special surprise” waiting for us: 100×100 (SCY), as:

  • 10 @ 1:30, warm-up
  • 10 @ 1:20
  • 10 @ { 2 @ 1:15, 3 @ 1:10, 3 @ 1:20, 2 @ 1:30 }
  • 6x: 10 @ { 4 @ 1:10, 3 @ 1:30, 2 @ 1:05, 1 @ 2:10 }
  • 10 @ 1:30, cool-down

Normally this would be a make-able (if challenging) set for me. Unfortunately, Friday was not a normal day. For whatever reason, my body was just not cooperating. I lifted weights on Thursday, but I don’t think that entirely accounts for it. It was just one of those days.

I have a “lead balloon” day once a month or so. I recognize it within minutes of getting in the water. Wow… I’ve got *nothing* today. On such days, I usually adjust my plans. Slow drilling, sculling, kicking… anything but a distance-overload set on tight intervals.

By the second round of 10×100 (1:20 interval), it was clear I was having “one of those days.” My body position felt off. I was having trouble hitting my stroke count (14), which on a normal day I can do with my eyes closed (literally). I was approaching the wall in-between strokes (e.g., 14 & and a half), and thus either jamming or floating my turns. It didn’t help that I was swimming in an end-lane without visual targets on the walls. One time I actually “whiffed” on a flip-turn – like, I totally missed the wall – which I can’t remember ever doing, even when I was 7 years old.

I was a mess.

And yet – at the end of that second round, I still had 80x100s to go! 240 flip turns. Ugh. If this were a solo workout, I’d probably try to get through an hour and call it a day. If this were Masters – probably the same. But this was different. When you swim with kids half your age, your pride is at stake. You can’t just bail a third of the way through the workout.

So, I kept swimming. I didn’t make every send-off, but I completed every lap. If you look at the “main set” of 60×100, you’ll notice every 10th repeat is on 2:10 – providing a buffer for those who missed one (or both) of the 1:05 send-offs to catch up. This buffer was my saving grace.

As much as possible, I tried not to struggle. I focused on good technique – on trying to feel smooth, even if I felt like a lead balloon. My goal was to finish 10,000 yards without hurting myself. As much as possible, I ignored the clock. Speed was a secondary consideration.

Much like a channel swim, actually. In my younger, pool-swimming focused days, I might have considered this a “bad workout.” In pool swimming, “good” and bad” is defined by speed. In a channel swim, though, the primary consideration is: Did you make it across? Did you keep swimming for as long as it took?

And in that sense, this was a useful workout. Not a “good” workout, exactly… but a useful one.

6 Responses to “Good Workouts and Bad Workouts”

  1. Chicken O'Sea

    2012-06-18T20:32:38+00:00

    My new favorite word is “whiffing”.

    Reply
    • Evan

      2012-06-18T20:35:31+00:00

      What unintentional innuendo have I made now?

      Reply
  2. Chicken O'Sea

    2012-06-18T21:59:24+00:00

    None at all! I had no idea missing the wall actually had a name and I love it :)

    Reply
    • Evan

      2012-06-18T22:45:58+00:00

      heh… i’m not sure it actually has a name. But there’s whiffing in golf and tennis, and it was the closest equivalence i could think of?

      Reply
  3. Fred Hviid

    2012-06-21T08:45:18+00:00

    Well, you’ll be glad to know you’re not the only one who has off days. Funny, I can tell the minute I jump in. And I do the same as you, change of plans and resort to sculling and drills. Just good technique. Sometimes though, after a very long warmup I’ll find myself getting into a rhythm and finding my pace work.

    Most important though, stick through it regardless of speed.

    Reply
    • Evan

      2012-06-21T14:09:36+00:00

      Ah yes, the “second wind.” A topic for another post…

      Reply

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