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Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton

Player-Coach Resurrection

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
Thanks to his wife Colleen's good luck at winning an office lottery, where the grand prize is a weekend retreat at a local resort, our regular coach Bill is not going to be at practice tonight.

This has left an opening for me to resume my erstwhile position as beloved Player-Coach of yesteryear's Sewickley YMCA Sea Dragons, Aging Division.

Actually, Bill said he could leave a workout unless someone else wanted to write one, and before anybody else could object or emit a peep, I said, "Me! Me me me!"

Unlike a "professional" or "paid" or "respected" coach of the sort that wins "USMS Coach of the Year" "honors" or avoids being "fragged" by his "swimmers" or "shivved" in the "showers," we Player Coaches have our own way of writing workouts.

I shall write tonight's practice right now, and show you our technique while doing so.

Really, it's not that hard.

I quickly consult my voluminous library of swimming manuals, cross referenced according to energy systems and training volumes indexed according to different phases of the microcycle within the current macrocycle.

Three to seven seconds later, I am thinking: Are you out of your mind?

Practice starts in an hour, and just trying to remember the definitions of all this physiological gobbledegook--Krebs Cycles this, intensity coefficients that--is so far beyond my soylient green-fed brain as to be laughable.

I laugh.

I decide to rely on the thing that made me such an emininently forgettable coach in yesteryear: my intuitive feel for what we swimmers need. Well maybe not we swimmers, exactly.

Consideration No. 1: Ask yourself, what do I feel like I need to accomplish in swimming tonight?

It might be nice to wake up a little, but to do this in such a way as to not make it hard to fall asleep later tonight.

It might also be nice to allow the stretched and cranky cartilaginous sinews in my right shoulder and left knee, respectively, settle down.

We have a meet on Sunday, and I signed up for the 100 IM, 50 and 100 fly, and 25 something, breaststroke maybe? Anyhow, no point in swimming these things tonight. Gotta rest up the various micromuscles involved with the off strokes, as I like to call them: fly, back, and breast.

I need, in other words, the taper equivalent of a farmer rotating his crops. We planted sorghum, cranberries, and alfalfa on Wednesday and Thursday. Tonight, it's time to go back to planting petunias, that is to say, freestyle.

It is also Friday, and Friday is sprint night. 100s freestyle seem kind of long to sprint. They actually seem absurdly long. 25s might be good, but you really do have to sprint a 25. I mean it's hard to fool anyone doing a half-assed 25 freestyle and trying to pass it off as a sprint.

The good player-coach, like the good Lt. fresh out of the military academy and shipped to Nam, needs to lead by example. Otherwise, the odds of getting fragged by the troops, or shivved by the swimmers behind you in your lane, go way up.

Don't I know it!

The last time I player-coached a sprint practice, it seemed like it would take forever for the stab wounds in my feet to heal.

Okay, so 50s it is. Or, more grammatically, 50's it are. Or, even more grammatically, 50's they are.

With this settled, we come to...

Consideration No. 2: Do you want to reinvent the wheel?

Of course not!

And with this in mind, I locate and copy a favorite 50 workout written by another coach, who actually is all the things I am not: professional, paid, respected, and--to add just one more characteristic to the list of attributes thatTeam Pitt's great masters coach, Jen Michaels, has that I do not--competent.

Since Pitt has 1.5 hour practices, and we in Sewy get only 1 hour, I include much shorter warm ups and cool downs and just use in tact her main set:

10 x 50 on 1:00 easy
1 min rest

8 x 50 on 1:00 odds easy, evens 200 pace +2 *
1 min rest
8 x 50 on 1:00 odds easy, evens 200 pace +1
1 min rest
8 x 50 on 1:00 odds easy, evens 200 pace +0
1 min rest
8 x 50 on 1:00 odds easy, evens 200 pace -1
1 min rest
8 x 50 on 1:00 odds easy, evens 200 pace -2

1 x 200 on 4:00 ez cool down

* divide your best 200 time by 4 to get your average 50. Example: if you swim the 200 on 2:00, your race pace 50s are :30. Your fast ones should thus be :32, :31, :30, :29, :28.

I will let you know how it goes. Sewickley swimmers, with a few exceptions, have demonstrated an antipathy for math that would make the average 7th grade Airhead Sorority seem geekish in comparison.

I preminisce no shortage of mayhem, especially in C lane, where the new-to-swimming triathletes are, under the best of circumstances, concentrated in an arrogant frothful cauldron of rudeness and disorder, as if they sense that learning to throw elbows and climb over one another in a frenzy is actually a better use of training time for their chosen sport than swimming itself.

Just kidding guys!

Really, put those shivs awy!

I shall keep you posted.

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  1. Chicken of the Sea's Avatar
    Thanks Coach Inhaler!

    I'm heading out shortly for a quick swim and that workout looks just right!

    I'll be back to fill out a comment card later..
  2. qbrain's Avatar
    Your breast is no longer a micro muscle Mr. Soy.
  3. qbrain's Avatar
    Good workout there Jimby. Not only do most people hate math, they hate the 200. If you make it back alive, I will be surprised.
  4. Kurt Dickson's Avatar
    My favorite workout ended in donut-hole relays. Each person did a 100 meters with one, then 2, up to 4 donut holes waiting for them at the end of the 50. You then had to swim back with 4 donut holes in your mouth--sorta backfired as most of the donuts were in the pool--yummy.

    Don't show the triathletes the shivs as I believe they will know right away how to use them--cutthroat bastards!
  5. qbrain's Avatar
    Jim, I know you already left for practice, but beer-relays would have made you the team hero, breast buds and all.

    Thanks Kurt for the idea.
  6. The Fortress's Avatar
    You know, I think we did this workout or something like it when I swam with you at Pitt that one time. I recall that the math was largely beyond me. Just like the 200 is largely beyond me.

    Now, now, the triathletes on your team are very nice.
  7. Bobinator's Avatar
    Good work coach jimby!
    The NASTI'S workouts are run by an in-water coach. We really don't have a designated (or paid) coach, we have 4 or 5 different guys who will call the workout. It is sort of a default system; if Doug's not there Randy takes the helm, if Randy's not there Jeff calls it, and if none of the above are present Chris S. will do it. Usually it is made-up as we go along; they will take suggestions but not always use them.
    See the upcoming issue of the USMS Swimmer Magazine and find out more about the NASTI'S!
  8. Iwannafly's Avatar
    In response to Fort's questions about weightlifting and strength training, Master Jimby posted some research. I responded, as requested, here on the coolest of all Vlogs!!!

    To build muscle, you need to lift to failure.
    I forgot to mention this when I posted about my experience in a weight training class. The instructor (finishing up her dissertation and on her way to becoming a professor) told us about, and shared with us, research that backs what Jimby wrote. She emphasized that to get the maximum out of our lifting, we needed to go to failure. Again, I can only verify this for myself, but I had great results. I will say that I found it nearly impossible to go to failure on leg exercises, except for hamstring curls. I will have to dig up my gym log from that semester and see if I saved any of the journal articles that she handed out.
  9. jim thornton's Avatar
    Thanks, Iwaanafly.

    My personal opinion is that "going to failure" is happening so routinely now in so many other aspects of my life, I don't need to add yet another domain to practice the philosophy.

    Then again, I suppose there's something to be said for the old chestnut: If you're going to be a failure, be the best one you can be!

    Practice last night was actually kind of brutal. No fights in C lane, thank god, but I tried to swim the sets correctly. I got so tired towards the end I developed an exertional headache!

    I told my teammates they should all be getting "just a taste" of vomit in the backs of their throats.

    Anyhow, if your looking for a good "swim close to failure" workout, this one (if done as specified) is an option to try.
  10. flippergirl's Avatar
    what does "easy 200 pace + 2 mean, I can't get that far in the eqaution yet.
  11. jim thornton's Avatar
    Take your race 200, for instance, 2:08.

    Divide this by 4 to get your average race-pace 50, a :32 in this example.

    On the odd 50s in each set, you can go nice an easy.

    On the even 50s, you go race pace +2, or 34, on the first set.

    The second set the fast ones are race pace +1, or 33.

    And so forth. On the fifth, final, fastest, and hardest set, you should try to swim the even fast ones at race pase -2, or in this example, hold 30 second 50s.

    It starts off okay, but believe me, by the end, if you do them right, you will be wimpering!
  12. flippergirl's Avatar
    Ouch! That's intense but it would certainly help me to learn how to pace myself. I definitely will need that on a piece of paper the first time. I am doing the long pool tomorrow and so maybe wed or thurs. I will try this.
    Thank you kind sir.
  13. jim thornton's Avatar
    Good luck, Flipper! It does help you learn to pace a bit. Just don't overdo it on the fast ones in the beginning.
  14. flippergirl's Avatar
    okay, boss will do! I remember my first blogging and you told me to increase slowly...but I didn't do 10 percent. I pushed further and now I have a problem shoulder, so if I tell you now I will do reasonable race pace hopefully I will. Hope you are feeling better! Being accountable and coached seemes to get me to the pool and feel a part of something bigger then myself.
    Updated March 2nd, 2009 at 09:18 PM by flippergirl
  15. jim thornton's Avatar
    I am proud of your philosophy, Flippergirl. And if I might add, and I hope I am not being too forward when I say this, you have a very attractive blowhole in the middle of your head.
  16. flippergirl's Avatar
    Its fun to sit down in the quiet of the room, flip open my outlook express unsuspecting, notice a reply from usmaster swim blog, read what you wrote and belly laugh! Water spouted everywhere! Oh my goodness gracious.