Agony

PHOENIX, Arizona, September 27. 272 days to Olympic Trials!

Journal by Jeff Commings, Swimming World associate producer

Jeff Commings, who will be the second-oldest man to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials next summer, is journaling his daily training regimen on his personal blog. We are reprinting those articles here:

Today's workout:

Time: 5:45 a.m.
Short Course Yards

300 warmup

4x(4×25 on :30)
Rounds 1 and 3: fly
Rounds 2 and 4: breast
Within each round: first 25 kick, second 25 drill, third and fourth 25 swim

8×75 on 1:30 descend 1-4
50 back/25 breast (descended to :48)

Four rounds:
1×100 free on 1:30 aerobic (averaged 1:08)
2×25 fly on :30 (I was a wimp and did this drill)
1×50 fast on 1:30 (breast — 29.8, 30.0, 29.3, 29.4)

500 kick easy

4x(4×50 IM order on :45)
Averaged 31 on fly, 33 on back, 35 on breast, 31 on free

100 easy

Broken 100 IM from a dive (done as 4×25 on :20)
11.4, 13.5, 14.3, 11.4 = 50.6 100 IM

100 easy (with stretching)

I was really hoping for a mostly aerobic workout today. My wish did not come true. The two main sets were quite tough, and it had to do with me feeling like I was dragging on the bottom of the pool. On the fast 50s in the first main set, I was happy to go so fast on the last two, but I was having difficulty keeping my hips near the surface of the water, which affected my kick and how I was setting up my pull. Amazingly, my breaststroke felt better on the last set of 50s.

Remember the term "social facilitation" that I brought up on the last blog entry? I was very much using that today. I was the only person doing all breaststroke on the first main set, so I didn't really have anyone to race, but it came in handy on the second main set.

Speaking of that last set … I originally thought we were going to do it as 4×50 fly, 4×50 back, etc., instead of the way we did it. I wanted to get all four of the 50s fly out of the way, but I think the way we did it will help my 200 IM. Butterfly hurt so much on the third and fourth rounds … BUT I DID NOT BREAK STROKE! I was really fighting through the agonizing pain on the last four 50s, but I was able to hold my average.

And that broken 100 IM? It was suggested by our coach just before the warm down, because we had a few minutes left. As I did the warm down, I thought it would be good to see how fast I could go. I thought if I broke 52 on the broken 100, it would be a success. And I thought Alan would do the 100 IM, which would be good for me. (Again, social facilitation.) He didn't do it, so I kinda did it on my own, since the other two who elected to do it weren't keeping up. Needless to say, I was quite shocked when I added up my times to find out I didn't just go under 52, I went under 51! My goal is to go under 51 in the 100-yard IM, but I don't know when I will do that. I don't plan on shaving for the short course yards season in 2012, so I can focus on Trials. Hopefully, this will mean good things for my taper meet in December. I do want to go under 57 in the short course meters 100 IM, which would be a national Masters record that Ron Karnaugh has held since 2003. I almost got it last year, going 57.14.

I didn't post an entry yesterday about my exercises in the weight room. Here they are:

Five minutes shoulder warm up exercises

Sitting bench press (15 @ 110, 12 @ 140, 10 @ 160)

Leg extensions (15 @ 95, 12 @ 125, 10 @ 155)

Bicep curls (15 @ 15, 12 @ 27.5, 10 @ 32.5)

Leg abductors (15 @ 75, 12 @ 100 10 @ 130)

3×25 breaststroke strokes *

Fifteen minutes ab work and stretching

* The breaststroke stroke exercise has been a great addition to my weight program since spring 2010. It's a perfect way to build the muscles used in breaststroke, as well as the tendons linking the shoulder to the lats. Lay on a big therapy ball and plant your feet on the wall. You might have difficulty doing this exercise if your body is perfectly parallel to the floor, so anchor your feet a little bit lower than your hips. I take a five-pound dumbbell in each hand and do 25 breaststroke pulls. The best way to do it is to not grip the dumbbell with each finger, but hold it with your thumb and keep your other fingers open so you can swim accurately. The first round should be done slowly, about 200 breast tempo. For the next two rounds, pick up the tempo and simply do the strokes with very little stopping at the end of each stroke. Keep your head down and make sure to balance the therapy ball on your pelvis.

So, after yesterday's gym workout and this morning's swim, I was in dire need of a massage, which I had an appointment for at 5:45 today with Tod Miller at his revolutionary Bodywalking Institute. Unfortunately, I was told it would have to be rescheduled for next Tuesday. If my muscles could write, they would have typed out a sad face emoticon. I did a good deal of stretching after swimming today, but I don't the 100 warm down was enough. In place of my massage and bodywalking, I sat in the tub at home for 45 minutes. I feel much better now. If you're sitting in the tub without anything to do … perfect! All I do is sink into the water and listen to the score from the Martin Scorcese movie "Kundun." I'm not thinking of everything waiting for me at the office, the chores I have to do this week or what movies I want to see. I just absorb Philip Glass' music for 45 minutes, and my brain is also relaxed.

Tomorrow is sprint day, and Coach Mark Rankin has already said we're doing a few broken swims. Bring it on! This is the last week before I start my eight-week speed phase, so it'll be a good indicator of where I am in terms of conditioning.

Reprinted from Jeff's personal blog at commings.blogspot.com.

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