Consistency is King (Swimming)

I've known for a while that consistency is king in training, but it has been my coaching the past year that has really driven that lesson home.  When my athletes stay consistent and keep getting the work done, they improve.  There have been a few big breakthroughs, but they've only come after months of consistent hard work. 

Consistency is tough because it requires discipline and patience.  It's logging the work day after day, trusting the plan...the process.  You have to love the process and enjoy the small victories, being just a little faster or stronger than a few weeks ago.  Those little victories add up over time.  Plan the work, work the plan.

I've always been consistent, but this year I decided to make consistency a primary goal.  To help with my consistency, I changed up my schedule.  My most inconsistent sport is swimming so I addressed that first.  In the past, I often scheduled swims on the weekends, but sometimes missed those for various reasons (excuses).  So I decided not to schedule any weekend swims and come up with a schedule I can and will stick with.  M/W/F mornings.  I'll add weekend swims at the lake this summer for additional volume. 

My training log showed that I struggle to get to the pool the most in January and February, so I signed up for a masters class.  The class is now over, and I'm glad to be back on my own.  It was a good class, but I didn't like the pool.  But masters got me into the habit of getting up early and swimming before work so it was worth it.  I've only missed two days of swimming so far this year due to the flu.  My swimming has never been this consistent.

I didn't even feel like I was swimming all that much.  I wasn't focusing on it. I just got up early and went to the pool 3 times per week with the goal of getting in at least 10,000 yards per week (which meant I had to swim an extra long cool down at masters sometimes).  

I decided to compare my Q1 swim volumes from 2008-2014 to see how my consistency compared to previous years.  2012 is the only year I did a big swim-focus block in the winter. It's also the year I swam my best Ironman time (1:04).  I was a little surprised by the outcome.  I didn't expect this winter to be so much higher than previous winters, and so close to the year I focused on swimming.

2014 includes planned workouts through the end of the month.

So... I've logged more yards than usual.  Big deal, right?  The real question is: am I a better swimmer because of it?

Yes.  I'm hitting times I've never hit before. I just swam 10x100 on 1:25 the other day for the first time.  I hit 1:14-1:16 on my 100s and then followed that up with a 1000 at a 1:25 pace.  The best I'd done previously was 10x100 on 1:30 hitting about 1:15s.  I didn't follow that up with a 1000 though.  I followed it up with a nap.

Now that I'm swimming on my own, I'm doing a threshold set on Mondays, swimming right around CSS (Critical Swim Speed).  Wednesdays is a volume day so I swim long endurance sets.  Today, the main set was 4x1000 at a 1:25 pace.  I use my Finis Tempo Trainer to pace those.  Fridays are "Fast Fridays" and those workouts include lots of fast swimming, sprints, fins, ankle bands, etc.  

The key is to find a schedule you can and will stick to and just do it.  No excuses.  I can't think of a single day at masters that was all that great.  I had good days and bad days, but mainly I just kept logging the yards day in and day out, week after week.  I never had a breakthrough.  I just kept plugging away and now I'm a little bit faster than I used to be.  Consistency.  



No comments: