Watching the swim workout Saturday with the Sarasota Sharks reminded of how important it is to learn how to train. It also reminded what a big step this is in the development of the athlete. The group ranged from junior level world-class swimmers to fourteen year olds just finishing their fourth month with the senior group. The contrast in the workout was amazing to watch. Everyone did the workout.
For the young athletes you could tell that just showing up and “doing” the workout was good enough for them. The feeling is that if you “do” enough workouts like the older swimmers do, in other words punch the clock, then I will get better and be like them. Certainly true to a certain extent, but we know as coaches this will only get you so far.
Then you have the athletes who train the workout. They understand the goal of the workout and execute what is required. No real preparation beforehand or analysis afterword but they know how to execute the workout. They get more out of it in terms preparation to race.
Then you have the big dogs, they get it. Their goal is to “win the workout.” They know how to train. They understand how the workout relates to later peak performance. They push themselves to be very uncomfortable, just like they have to push themselves in competition. This is where they all eventually need to be to achieve the possibility of success at a high level. Certainly not everyone can make it to this level, but that is where he or she should strive to be. To do that you have to learn how to train, it is a process that does not happen overnight.