For 6 years I swam with a Masters swim group. Not only did I meet some great people whom I consider to be friends, but I learned a lot about swimming and training. My stroke got better, leading to better swim times. But every swim at Masters wasn't my fastest. There were days I knew I didn't have it and I would seat myself back in the lane or one lane slower. That hard interval workout now became a more aerobic workout by necessity.
A while back the health club I had been swimming Masters at shut down. Tragic, but not surprising. Since then I have been swimming mostly on my own. There are many disadvantages to always being in the pool on your own. One big advantage, however, is the ability to design my workouts to my needs. Takes some work. Takes some effort. But last year I raced faster than I ever have.
Yesterday I had one interesting day of training, full of failure. Failure is not always a bad thing ... and yesterday one of my fails was of the good kind. One. On the way home from LA Fitness I got thinking about my day, which led to contemplating the three types of failure I achieved in one day.
The Good Failure - Now that we are three weeks into the new year I figured I should maybe start to do some work in my workouts. I've been on the bike, both outside and inside, but really not putting high level efforts into it. I've been exercising, but not exactly training. Yesterday was the day I thought to myself, "let's do some kick ass intervals." And I did. After a proper warm up I did three sets of short, very intense intervals on minimal rest. I worked up one heck of a sweat while hanging just the edge of not making the set. By the end my power numbers were down, my legs were shot, and the last rep was just short of completion. Failure!!! Success!!!
About an hour after the early morning trainer session I felt great. The legs had recovered (or so I thought) while my energy level was high. I drove to work, going about my normal day.
The Bad Failure - Around 6:15 I left the office with a swim workout on my mind. Didn't give my legs a second thought, happy that I could find a parking spot fairly quick (January at the gym really sucks). I jumped in the pool and did a fairly standard warm up. After completing my CSS test last week I had a specific workout to do. Today was a fairly straight-forward 9 x 200 on 3:10 (swimming the interval on 2:48). this is a set I have done many times over the years. Being early in the year, and not in the best shape, the interval times are slower for me. No big deal, I'm thinking, as long as I don't go out too fast on set number one. I hit the wall in 2:48 exactly. The next set came in at 2:50 as did #3. Remember that bike workout this morning ... yeah, my legs really weren't feeling good at all.
From there it just got worse. I gave myself an addition 30 seconds after set number four due to a side cramp, then an additional 20 seconds after set number eight because I just really sucked. Like, really, really sucked. I made it (barely) through all nine sets. If the last few were a little slow, OK, that's fine. It's January after all. No reason to be "in shape" right now. This was not a little slow. No matter how you parse the data, this is what a training disaster looks like. Failure. Bad, bad failure.
The Stupid Failure - I am sure that the reason for failure #2 is directly related to failure #1 earlier that day. Which is really just a failure of stupidity, doing too much work in one day. I'm not talking about the double, I am talking about the work I
I hate it when that happens.
Moral of the story? When scheduling your daily/weekly workouts make sure you take into account the big picture. There is more to scheduling than placing workouts into openings in your weekly schedule. Rest and recovery - things many of us totally disregard - are important. Don't get enough recover between workouts and things go awry. When setting up your week, make sure you consider the recovery you need between hard efforts, even those in different disciplines.
When I set up a day with hard intervals in the morning followed by essentially a threshold workout in the evening I should have seen the disaster waiting to happen. Instead, my focus had been on getting the workouts down on paper in a manner that worked for my life's schedule, but not necessarily what would be best for my overall plan. In retrospect, I should have stayed aerobic in last evenings swim workout. Yeah, my legs wouldn't have been great, but the workload would have been doable. Harder than if I were fresh, but doable.
Live and learn for next time.
Train hard. Stay focused.