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Training for the 2018 Commonwealth Games – what it really looks like
12 weeks out. The Games are getting closer and so are trials. Check out the hard work and wins Ben has had so far.

Monday: 

Happy New Year! Pretty tired after a late night for New Years. I went round to a house party and watched the fireworks, but knowing I had to train today, I stuck to a couple of beers and drove. We called it a night just after the fireworks, and headed home. It wasn’t a big night, but just being so late meant I woke up pretty tired.  That caps off our slightly adjusted swimming schedule through the Christmas and New Year’s period. 

 

Last week I trained Boxing Day by myself, and then went fully back to training. I did a really good session on Wednesday and backed that up with another one on Saturday. We still managed to get out seven sessions last week and hit two hard ones, so it was a pretty big week, and we pushed the kms out too 3/3.5km per session. It is the biggest week between Christmas that I think I have had for a few years, so I was pretty happy to be swimming well and get that much done. 

 

New Year’s Day, we slowly got moving, having brekky and taking the dog for a little walk. Then we headed down to the beach for a swim. I was meant to swim yesterday, but surfed for an hour and a half, so I gave it a miss, and made up for it with a half hour body surf. Apart from feeling tired, I felt pretty good. 

 

We came home and had lunch, played some Rummy O, a little card game, and then had a rest for half an hour. The day flew by. I went into training at 3.3pm for my first session for the year, and got roasted a little by my coach for not swimming yesterday. I felt bad for not swimming, but also thought it was probably the best thing for me. Having one day out of the pool does my mental health so much good, and by replacing that with time in the ocean, I definitely felt it helped. I came into the session mentally ready to go. Because we had the morning off, the afternoon session was an aerobic swim. I actually felt pretty good, a little stiff and tired, but felt good in the water. I went through 3.2km, with a bit of aerobic swimming and kick in there. 

 

I finished up and headed home. Tonight Stace and I cooked potato rosti’s, steak, sausages, and a coleslaw salad. While Stace was making the potato rosti, I went and took the dog for a quick walk, and then we had dinner together. We finished our Netflix TV series, Mindhunter, which I highly recommend, and went to bed. 

 

Tuesday: 

With the Apple watch I won before Christmas, I have started to use it to track my sleep. I am still just trying to get a feel for the accuracy of the app, but I think it’ll be really good to monitor how I am resting and recovering. I seem to sleep pretty average at the moment, only getting just under 6 hours of actual sleep per night, regardless of time spent in bed. I told James about the app so I am really curious to compare our results. 

 

I went to physio then gym this morning. I have had a little spasm in my back, so I got that worked on, getting a few needles just to try and release the tension, and then some more work through my subscap.  

My shoulders have been going along pretty good, slowly getting better and most important less flair-ups.  

 

I went into gym, and talking with my physio and gym training, we decided I was ready to increase my weights. With tendon inflammation, it’s important to increase stress on the tendon gradually, meaning slow increments in weights will be the approach. I went up to 27.5kg for three chins, and progressed my dumb-bell bench press and row, by 2.5kgs. 

 

By the time I got home, Stace’s parents had dropped off their dogs to ours to look after for the next week. This meant we had three dogs in the house, and not having a fenced backyard, means a lot of attention is required to ensure no accidents. Stace had taken all three for a walk, and after saying hello to them, we closed up the house, and went grocery shopping for the week. We came home at lunch, and both sat down to catch up on life and do a bit of work. 

 

Training this arvo was mainly aerobic with a small kick set at the start. I felt pretty rubbish this arvo, probably because the change in schedule only swimming once yesterday, and getting back into weights.  

 

I pushed the kick set pretty solid as it was the hardest thing so far this week, and then I swam out the rest of the session aerobic, with some drills and skills, finishing up with 2.8km. 

 

I got home and had chicken noodle bowls for dinner, which was delicious and then headed to sleep around 9.30pm. It was pretty full on with three dogs wanting to sleep on the bed, so I didn’t get the best night’s sleep. 

  

Wednesday: 

I woke up pretty tired this morning after an interrupted night’s sleep. Just too many dogs haha, but we lose Rory today… he is going back home, so down to two will hopefully be more manageable.  

 

I rocked up to training thinking it was just going to be a preparation set for a hard one tonight, and Ash sprung on me a surprise 35m Butterfly Time Trial. Given it was only a 35, and not my main stroke, I felt alright about doing it. A bit of fun. So I warmed up, and didn’t feel exceptional, but way better than I felt yesterday. I suited up, and prepared myself. Ash had written up a target time for me, based off my PB of 23.7.  He wanted me to go through the 35 in 15.7, and I went 15.3. I was pretty happy, like it didn’t feel great, but a decent hit out, and good time. 

 

I came home, and Stace had walked and fed three dogs, which she was a little stressed about. We had breakfast, and did a bit of housework, before Rory (the West-highland terrier’s) parents came to pick him up. It was so good to see them, and catch up, and we decided to go out for lunch. Having a hard session tonight, I was slightly hesitant, but it was too good an opportunity to catch up. We went down to The Collective, and our friends loved it. Such a good place to take friends. 

 

We came home, and I was pretty exhausted, so tried to have a quick 30-minute nap. I’m not a napper, so it was more of a rest for me, but definitely needed. While I didn’t wake up super refreshed, I felt better. Stace and I started to watch The Crown as our next TV series. But we only got 20 minutes in and I had to leave to go to training. 

 

I had a good warm-up, and activation at training. Ash only wanted me to repeat what I did this morning, a 35 Time Trial, but I was keen to see where I was at and race a 50 Butterfly. So we spoke after warm-up and he was happy to see me want to try it. I went 23.8, going through the 35m in 15.2, so just faster than this morning, and was able to hold on to post a solid time. I was a bit annoyed to not finish it off a bit better, but it was a good test, and I have learnt a few things from that swim.  

 

I then went and did two more 35m Time Trials, going 15.3 and 15.5. And then I finished off the session by jumping on the power rack (resistance training in the pool) and did 3x20s and 1x20 without resistance. It was good to do some Butterfly, and change it up from backstroke. I enjoy the mental stimulation from it, and the lack of expectations associated with doing something different. All in all it was a pretty good session, and I picked up a few keys to take into our racing block coming up. 

 

I came home pretty late at 7:45pm and had a lovely lamb roast, with heaps of veg. Just what I felt like after a hard session. My shoulders were slightly sore after all that butterfly, so I iced and then finished up the rest of the first episode of The Crown. Weights and recovery tomorrow, which I am really looking forward to. 

Thursday: 

My shoulders were a bit stiff waking up this morning, but had brekky and headed into gym. After doing warm-up, rolling out and then doing my shoulder rehab, they were feeling pretty good. I pushed gym along slightly, but not as big of a jump as Tuesday, just to ensure my shoulders settle. Gym took just over an hour, and was a little bit lighter than Tuesday, with more of a power focus.  

 

I went down to Miami for a quick dip, and then went straight to my massage. I was in desperate need for a rub as it had been a big 2 weeks of training since my last one. My back, with the travel over Christmas, was super tight, so I got that worked on, as well as the usual niggles. I walked out from my massage feeling like I had been beaten up. 
 

I came home and had lunch, then did a bit of work, before heading into training. I jumped into the pool feeling absolutely rubbish. After a hard session yesterday, gym and then a rub, my body was all over the place.  
 

I just tried to swim it out, and I was slowly feeling better as I went through, but still not very good. I swam 3km, going through 10x100s at 150 heart rate, trying to flush out as much as I could from my rub. I came home and helped finish off dinner, and then Stace and I sat down to watch an episode of The Crown. 

 

Friday: 

I didn’t sleep that great last night, a bit of an interrupted night’s sleep. I woke up before my alarm, just before 6am and went into training. This morning session was aerobic based, with a set of descending 200s in swim, pull and kick. It ended up being a 3km session, and again I felt better as I went through. The kick was the hardest set of 200s, but I feel like I don’t do as much kick as I used to being with Ash, so it isn’t a bad thing to push it along sometimes. Although, I might be paying for it tomorrow. To finish the session we jumped on the stretch cord and did a few starts. We took the stretch cord off, and finished with one timed 15m effort, and I clocked my fastest ever at 5.21. 

 

I came home to have breakfast with Stace, after she got up and walked the dogs. We did a few jobs around the house then ducked to the supermarket to get things for dinner and the weekend. I thought I would treat myself to a pie from Fuel Bakehouse in Currumbin, which was delicious. 

 

Having the arvo off swimming, we decided to go and watch a movie. I had been so keen to see “All the money in the world” since I saw the ads on TV. It was a pretty interesting movie, and quite tense at times, but I would a 100% recommend it. Stace and I came back home, and took the dogs for a little walk at the dog park. They loved it, running round chasing the tennis ball, and it was nice to get outside for a bit. 

 

We came home and cooked dinner. Tonight it was chicken chorizo Mexican tostadas. I was in charge of frying the tostadas, which went pretty well.  The combo was cabbage, chicken and chorizo, pico de gallo and chipotle sauce on top of home-cooked tostadas. Our household prides itself on our Mexican cooking and tonight’s dinner was scrumptious. After dinner, Stace and I squeezed in another episode of The Crown before bed at 9pm. I wanted an early night to prepare for tomorrow. 

 

Saturday: 

I woke up feeling really good, and thought I was ready to go. I got to training before the pool was opened and had to wait before starting my warm-up routine. I got through my stretching and shoulder rehab, and jumped in. I felt pretty good for the first 100 and a bit, but then soon realised I was a little bit flat after a hard day Wednesday and maybe went too hard yesterday.  

 

My legs were just a bit cooked and arms still stung a little. I tried to push it out of my mind, and remained positive going into the hard part of the session. I had 5 sets of 200 aerobic and 50m max. I was looking forward to doing it, and went through the first 200 super easy, and fast. I pushed off for my first 50 max, and just wanted to swim it smoothly and strongly. Ash set me the target of getting a couple of 50s under 26 seconds, which I thought I could do. On the first one, I thought I was going quite fast, and touched to hear 26.3. I was bloody annoyed, as I thought I was hitting my straps pretty good, but to only go 26, and for it to hurt as much as it did, was ominous signs for the set.  

 

I got through the next two sets, and I was really starting to fade. Just losing rhythm and strength in my stroke, the opposite of what this set is designed to do. On the fourth round of the set I blew out to 27.2, and Ash decided to call it quits. I was pretty frustrated that I had prepared well, and not been able to swim to the quality I had wanted, but Ash reminded me that you can’t be up all the time, and ups and downs are all part of it. After warming down, I went into the gym and did a quick 15 minute power circuit, and I definitely felt a bit flat in the gym. 

 

I came back home and had brekky and sat down to watch a bit of the cricket. Pretty easy morning trying to recover from training and get some rest before doing something in the arvo. It is one of the worst parts of being a professional athlete. You can’t be out and about doing things all day, otherwise you pay for it when you start training on Monday. It was a beautiful day, and all I wanted to do is be out at the beach and in the surf, but I have to manage myself over the weekend, and had to restrict my time at the beach to only an hour or two today. So we decided to go down to the beach later, and hang out at home in the morning. 

 

Lunch rolled round, and we tried to find a new place to go. We ended up heading down to Currumbin Valley, to a new place, Pasture & Co. It was a really nice spot, and the food was organic, locally sourced produce. I had a mustard and maple chicken burger, and Stace had a ground bowl with heaps of veges. We then came home and hung out before taking the dogs down to the dog beach. They went nuts, running and swimming at the beach and chasing the tennis ball. It was fun, we were down there for just over an hour, and had a nice little swim too. We came home, and played Settlers of Catan board game, and then my housemate cooked middle eastern for dinner. I was pretty tired after a long week, and watched an episode of The Crown and called it a day at 10pm. 

 

Sunday: 

Bit of a sleep in this morning, which was much needed, and we ended up getting up at 8am. We had brekky and took the dogs for a quick walk then packed the car and headed for a surf. We headed down to Fingal to get away from the wind, and while there wasn’t much of a wave, it was still pretty fun. I got a few fun ones in the 30 minutes I was out there, and then we called it. The wave was a bit of a shorey so I didn’t want to hurt myself, and kept the surf pretty short. 

 

We came home and had leftovers for lunch, and I was pretty cooked. Stace decided to head down to the beach and I was left to rest on the couch. I chilled out most of the arvo watching the cricket and a bit of the NFL, before Stace came home and we played another couple of games of Catan. I was boiling after that and just felt like going for a swim at the beach. So we took the dogs down to the beach late in arvo, and had a quick swim and play at the beach. 

 

For dinner I had been really keen to check out this new Italian place in Coolangatta, Francie’s. We just went straight from the beach with the dogs down there and ordered takeaway pizzas. I got a fennel sausage pizza, which was really nice. Super traditional Italian pizzas. We came home, ate the pizzas, fed the dogs, and then watched another episode of The Crown before bed. I did some cupping and stretching before bed as my legs were feeling a bit cooked, so hopefully I am better for it tomorrow. I feel like I’m going through a bit of adaptation after how I went on Saturday, and how I was feeling over the weekend, so I’ll have to see how I am tomorrow and take it from there. I am off to Melbourne on Thursday to race, so the goal is just to be feeling better for that. 

 

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