Friday, April 15, 2016

Rest Days and Dawdling Course Records (DCRs)

I was a summer-league swimmer when I was a kid. The team I joined was called Wheeler's Peelers, named for our coach Jim Wheeler, and it was a force to reckon with. Over the span of a decade, I think we lost one meet. There were several close calls. I can vividly remember one time when it came down to the last leg of the final race, the girls 15-18 medley relay. Our team was anchored by one of our best swimmers, Donna Diemer. She was 14 years old a the time, and was swimming up with the big girls (15-18). Anyway, it was all riding on her shoulders, and she managed to out-touch the other to seal the victory for us. It was high-stakes drama for all involved, and it was a ton of fun to be on the winning side of that experience.

I was a better than average swimmer, but not by much. The thing about me, even back then, was that I didn't mind the training. I put in the time, and did everything my coach asked of me. I honed my craft by doubling-up on both morning and evening practices. All that swimming developed some muscle tone. I'm not kidding you when I say that I had a six pack when I was eight years old. I have to admit, it was pretty impressive.

Apart from the six pack abs, I owe a debt of gratitude to Jim Wheeler. He taught me how to swim, then how to train, and then to compete. Yeah sure, it was only summer league, but running the tables for ten years didn't just happen automatically. It took a lot of organization and commitment from both coach and athletes to succeed each year. 

Coach Wheeler expected us to work hard, but he also expected us to rest well, too. On competition days, he'd plan an easy morning workout, even for summer league standards. For the all-club meet, he'd taper us over the course of a week. During rest days, he cautioned against strenuous activities, and heavy chores were forbidden. Everyone liked this clause, because it meant getting a free pass on mowing the lawn for the day. 

Jim wanted us fresh so that we could perform our best to score points for the team: five points for first, three for second, and one point for third. Every point mattered. Sometimes, like the case above, it came down to the final race. 

I find it interesting that I learned the value of taking rest days when I joined Wheeler's Peelers way back when. Today, as a forty something year old competitive cyclist, I respect my recovery time. When my legs feel like poo, or when I find myself getting irritated by seemingly trivial things, or when my training log reflects fitness in the red, I will gladly take a rest day. If I still feel like riding, then I'll go for a super-easy 45 minute spin at about 100 watts. We call riding at this easy pace "dawdling," and I excel at it. In fact, I am proud to say that I own several Dawdling Course Records (DCR) around town.

Now, if I could only get my spouse to buy into the free pass from strenuous activities clause. Then I'd have it made in the shade. I can just picture it now. "Sorry Katherine, I can't mow the lawn today, my coach has scheduled a rest day." Yeah, that's probably not going to happen anytime soon.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

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