The Morning Workout

This week, I’ve returned to my roots.

As a competitive swimmer, you have the pleasure of attending “morning practice.” For some reason in the sport of swimming you have to practice a obscene amount. I honestly don’t think any other sport requires their athletes to participate in “doubles” (aka two practices per day) beyond the standard “preseason schedule. The crazy part is that the absolute longest amount of time you could be in the water for a competitive race would be just under 20 minutes, if you were to compete in the mile. Other than that event, the average amount of time that swimmers spend in the water during a  race is probably 1 minute and 30 seconds. So why, I ask, do we subject ourselves to 5 hours in the water each day? Do we honestly need to train that much for a 1 minute and 30 second race? Unfortunately, the swim coaches of our world, seem to think we do.

USA Swimming has under gone a lot of change recently. The controversy that was created by the “new suits” was atypical for the swimming world. In a sport that has very little equipment, there isn’t a lot of room for advancement due to changing technology. However, with the new suits made out of less permeable and more buoyant materials, technology changed the sport and the record boards along with in. Now, FINA and US Swimming has decided to impose regulations that will bring swimming back to its pure and natural form. Unfortunately, the records boards will continue to reflect times, that some will argue, were achieved solely due to the changes in technology. But, as Michael Phelps would say, the playing field is back to being leveled (Phelps refused to swim in one of the “fast” suits and led the charge in changing the suit regulations).

While the suit regulations do change the sport, some people are pushing for further change.

Recently, my former teammate, Brian Zingale, made a great suggestion that he thought would improve the sport of swimming. As a self-proclaimed opponent of morning practice,  he suggested that all swimmers ban together to outlaw morning practice. He believes that if all swimmers agreed not to participate in morning practice, our times would probably get slower, but we wouldn’t be sleep deprived. As long as everyone committed to this change, like the change in suits, the playing field would be leveled. When I asked him what he would do to prevent people from participating in morning practice (in an attempt to get a leg up on competition) he said, “all of the other swimmers would beat them up.” Unfortunately, that solution to the problem isn’t all that realistic.

While I didn’t love morning practice, I certainly enjoyed the post practice naps (ppns) that I took in college. Being able to crawl back into bed on a Saturday morning, knowing that my workout was complete, was very nice.

The past two mornings, I was scheduled to visit preschools around the city, which allowed me a little extra time before I needed to leave my apartment. I used this time to get my workout in for the day. While the act of working out so early isn’t particularly enjoyable, the feeling of showering at 7:30am, knowing my workout for the day is complete makes it worth it. That being said, I am not sure I could return to the 3:40am wake up times I had in high school, or even the 5:30am wake up times I experienced in college, again.

So today, I celebrate my free afternoon and the extra kick of endorphins that I received to start my day!