|What if my alarm clock is stuck?|
This year I am ditching double workouts. No morning practice. Throughout my entire coaching career I have been locked into the same schedule (even back to my own swimming days. This will be the first year in ten that I do not have morning practice at 6 am sharp on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I've ditched them entirely.
I've made adjustments that I think will mean more work and not less. I've lengthened all my afternoon workouts from 2 hours to 2.5. Saturday practices may be longer as well. Without replicating warmup and warmdown twice a day, I think I actually gain time to do work. Most of my afternoon practices were bursting at the seems of the 2 hour mark last year, mostly because I became maniacal about warmdown, often forcing swimmers into warmdown sets that were 15-20 minutes in duration. Now I'll have some breathing room in the afternoon.
Psychologically, I think it may also benefit the swimmers to come once a day. Everybody knows the wear that a swim season puts on swimmers psyches. While you may have the perspective that morning practice is all about becoming "mentally tough", there is no benefit if that isn't the actual result.
Physiologically, I am looking at a group of athletes somewhere between a traditional "middle distance" group and a "sprint". These are not high recovery swimmers, and I found often that I couldn't to get them to do my high intensity sets twice in one day. I am hoping that the schedule allows them to maximize their recovery a bit more so that I can in actuality make each practice harder.
I didn't pull this idea from thin air. I have known that Sean Hutchison was a notable coach who wasn't running doubles. But I would give primary credit in leading me to this conclusion to Joel Shinofield, head coach of Washington and Lee. Besides being boyishly handsome, Joel is also a mentor of mine and an extremely successful swim coach. I ended up stalking him down because I was really impressed for his propensity for taking mediocre high school sprinters and making them really fast. In my conversations, he presented pretty compelling evidence for once a day only, some of which I have put forth above.
Rationally, I have no doubts about the strategy. In my heart, I still have a part of me that just feels wrong not running morning workout. Maybe I'll just wake up anyway, drink some coffee and walk around the pool deck a bit. At least for the first couple weeks.