When I was swimming in college, I couldn't sleep on my side. My shoulders were tender to the touch, and the mere act of rolling onto them made relaxation impossible.
This was a minor annoyance. I've seen and heard much worse in the world of swimming. An assistant coach of mine had constant ache in his shoulders from years of overtraining. He loved to get into the pool but after a few hundred meters he would be in excruciating pain.
Swimmers grow up in a culture where the ability to train massive amounts is the baseline expectation for high level success. In trying to meet increasing training demands, coaches and athletes often miss the signs that the training is actually hurting more than helping the swimmer.
Swim training should not be traumatic. One of the things I like about race pace training is that it does not come with some of the traditional "side effects" of normal swimming training. Here are a few:
-That depleted feeling, where you don't feel you can lift your arms above your head and you crave sugar. Being barely able to function normally is not a sign of healthy training. Likewise, that nutritional depletion can have a really negative impact on what you eat subsequent to training
-Painful warmups as you try to "break through" the tired/sore feeling from a previous workout. When I was a college swimmer it often took me 2000 yards or more to get going in a practice.
-Frustrating lack of progress in weight/dryland training, poor flexibility despite intensive stretching.
All of these side effects can be reversed, by simply abandoning a "self-torture" mode of training and start training RITE (Race Individualized Training Education). I came up with this acronym to describe how I coach my swimmers:
Race: It focuses on training at race pace, much like USRPT which has an excellent fundamental model for how to structure practices to train swimmers and not abuse them.
Individualized: While structures like USRPT can help, the application of them requires individualization with each particular athlete. None of them fit "models" exactly and you can get some pretty weird results if you don't make the right tweaks to the formula for the specific athlete
Training: Training is about purposeful working on something to improve. Just "working hard" is stupid grit and will lead to a lot frustration and pain. Training should be considered holistically, how do all parts of your life work together.
Education: The old model of "coach says, athlete does" is completely outdated. Athletes need to be educated to do individualized race training. They need to know exactly what they are doing and how it works, so that they can become an active partner in further refining and improving the training, not a passive "doer". My ultimate goal as a coach is that athletes will become more and more independent from me, while I continue to lay out plenty of train tracks ahead of them should they decide they want even more.
If you're a swimmer who wants to drop all the side effects and start thriving in swimming, send me a message for a free consultation.
If you're a coach who believes in race pace training but wants to improve it in a group setting, send me a message for a free consultation.