Winter training week 9

Past the mid point of the off season now. The first competition of the new year is pencilled in for early January. Pleased with progress and worried in equal measure, that I should be doing more.

Winter training week 9 – as it happened ……..

Mon 28 November 

I am sat at a table reading the paper. Heart is beating at 114 beats per minute (bpm) according to my watch. Way too fast! I check manually with my finger, it is much slower. I check again and the watch is again saying my heart rate now is 111 beats per minute. This is strange.

I recall yesterday during tennis practice that my watch was reading 140 bpm. I vaguely thought at the time, that was a high reading. Didn’t think much more of it at the time as I had been working hard. 

Even though I have manually checked my pulse and it appears normal, it is worrying. How can my watch suddenly get my pulse wrong. In fact my watch is telling me that my pulse has been above normal for several hours. I don’t agree, though it is hard to ignore tech that sits on my wrist day in and day out and I have come to trust over the years.

What if all the readings have been wrong and they have lulled me into a false sense of security? Something to worry about? I don’t really think so, but it sits niggling in the back of my mind. 

As a consequence, I nearly skip the gym this morning. I am quite tired so it would make sense. I go anyway.  

Twenty minutes on the stationary bike at a steady pace feels about right. Heart rate seems more normal according to the bike and my watch agrees. Still it’s a cautious pedal trying to ascertain if anything in my chest feels different to normal. It doesn’t. I survive the twenty minute pedal and continue with my workout. 

Tues 29 

Brighter today after nearly 8 hours sleep. 

Nice calm morning. Outdoor practice. Another good session. 

Small adjustments to both forehand and backhand grips, moving further round the handle, are giving me more spin and control. Working hard on movement and readiness, leaves me quite tired. Afterwards my arm feels like it might fall off. I worry that this arm problem is not going away. 

Fall asleep on 15 minute journey home, after taking dogs for a walk in the afternoon. 

Weds 30 

Lesson at 9am. Weather remains calm and now colder. Outdoors again, greeted by bright sunshine. I am tired this morning and feel laboured in my movements. 

We work on ball placement and developing a rally to press rather than try to hit outright winners from unpromising positions, which has been my normal way. 

After my lesson, I sit out courtside in the surprisingly warm sunshine, with a coffee and watch others practicing. I manage by various means to acquire and consume six little biscuits which are served with coffee. It’s nice to just relax and do nothing, which I realise I am not usually at all good at. Even enjoy a second coffee with others after their practice.

Stroll towards the gym, wondering whether to cross the threshold or not, given my tiredness. Eventually telling myself to man up. This is not about not wanting to, this is about trying to make a sensible decision physically. Turns out to be a good session and there is lots to like about the virtually empty gym. I ensure that I carry out my specific arm and elbow exercises. The hammer type exercise really stretches that sore point on my golfers elbow. This I take to be a good thing. 

Thurs 1st December 

A breakfast time text to asks if I can fill in at Thursday evening doubles due to a late drop out. Invitation accepted. 

First though early afternoon singles. It would be perfect conditions except for the low sun shining straight down the court. I can see the ball as it crosses the net, though I cannot see the player at the other end of the court. The visibility improves as the sun moves across the sky. I lose 3-6,1-6 mainly due to my own errors.  

We discuss playing some local south west one day tournaments. I look later on the LTA website to see that I have missed an open grade 5 in Taunton for this weekend, which is a shame. How did I miss that? 

As I head to the indoor courts for the evening doubles, my arm is incredibly sore, having cooled down from this afternoon. I soon discover that serving is incredibly painful and as a consequence I serve weakly, though still manage to win several service games. I begin the first match with a series of lucky shots – net cords and framed winners.  

It’s a freezing cold evening and walking home I am worried about my arm. The racket is not helping with the set of dead strings I have belatedly realised I am playing with. Must restring a racket before friday’s game. 

Fri 2nd 

A bunch of things to do before today’s tennis, including stringing a racket. I just about fit everything in before jogging to the club and arriving a couple of minutes late. It’s another bright, cold calm day, perfect for tennis save for the sun again shining low in the sky, making it difficult to see the ball from one end. 

The freshly strung racket is very responsive, making me realise how dead the strings had become in the racket previously. And my arm felt much better for this, still a little sore but much less so. 

Hitting full court. I am getting good depth and spin on the ball. Preparation is improving, getting the racket back earlier, planting my feet as well, most of the time. I get jammed up on several occasions when the ball is coming close into my backhand; slow preparation and hit it late, failing to create space to swing my racket fully. Memo to self – look up movement for tennis as footwork needs to improve dramatically. 

We play a couple of sets and I lose 3-6, 4-6. In the second I lead 4-0 and then as if clicking a switch, produce errors and low percentage shots. Not a conscious, right I am going to do this type of thing, more a subconscious decision, not fully communicated to my conscious self. A little annoyed with myself for this. An old habit dying hard. 

On way home visited the gym, purely to do some arm and wrist exercises for my sore arm. They seem to help. Thoughts of other exercises are not entertained as I know I am very tired. 

Sat 3 

Saved from myself as this morning’s Heartlands parkrun is cancelled due to a Christmas Market being held at the venue. Sensibly decide that today should be a rest day. 

Sun 4 

8am and off to the gym. Jogged gently across feeling quite sprightly. Just one other person present. Good workout. Feeling fresh after a day’s rest. Excellent 30 minute session on the bike. 

Winter training week 9 completed. I am pleased with progress and worried in equal measure that I should be doing more. There’s no culture here, no group to get swept along with, easy to ease off. I remind myself that others elsewhere unseen will be working as hard if not harder.

Thinking now about what is my unique selling point, what am I good at? What is the marginal gain that I can work on and bring to the court next season? Insecurities are driving me on. Week 9 complete and looking forward to week 10.

Thoughts for week 10. Rest when tired, keep working on the elbow and add in something on movement.

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