It is Thursday, the fourth day of two-a-day practices and the Redskin veterans are regaining the feeling in their legs.

"The third day is terrible," said linebacker Pete Wysocki. "No matter what you do in the offseason, no matter how far you run or how much you lift your legs have to turn to rubber.

"Last week, when it was so hot, my body never went through changes like that. And there's just nothing you can do to avoid it. But when it's over, you know it's over for good, or at least for a year."

Fullback John Riggins is still wating. He didn't practice today, complaining of tightness in his groin and coach George Allen said he was not surprised.

"It's a groin pull." Allen said. "That's the excuse they give when their legs are sore and tight after four days. It's no difference than it's ever been."

Riggins was able to jog, and probably will be able to practice Friday, although the Redskins likely will not rush him back into the workouts until preparing for the rigors of 10 two-a.

Most of the Redskins are diligent in preparing for the rigors of 10 two-a-day practices, a seven-week training camp, six exhibition and 14 regular season games.

Long gone are the days when players would arrive in camp 15 or 20 pounds overweight after an offseason on the chicken-and-pea circuit, hoping to sweat off the suet in time for the season opener.

"And getting the fat off you in camp is gruesome." said middle linebacker Harold McLInton. "I cam in too heavy a couple of years ago and believe me. I pad for it. The guys who are in shape kill you."

So now, just about everyone tries to condition himself for the ordeal of preparing for a football season.

"You need the two-a-day workouts to do all your conditioning work." Dallas coach Tom Landry has aaid. "That's when you get them in shape for the season. Once the games start, you can't spend time on it. But before a game, whether it's a regular-season game or an exhibition, they need a few days to get their legs back, so you have to knock off the two-a-days."

Many of the Redskins never stop working out.

"After the season. I'll give myself a couple of weeks to rest, both mentally and physically," said Wysocki. "Then I start again. If you don't work certain muscles as you get older, the harder it is to keep your tone.

"If you get hurt during the season, you have to weightlift to repair the damage. If you haven't been hurt, you lift to prevent injuries in places you might get them later on."

"When I weightlift, I'm literally designing my body to play my position. If you're serious about this game, it's something you have to do."

Ron McDole says he begins serious preparations for training camp about two months before he is due to report.

"I'll run at least a mile every day, with 50 sit-ups, 15 to 20 push-ups and four or five sprints. Then I'll play paddleball or tennis. I try to give myself two workouts a day. I run to build up the wind and legs. I don't want my legs to feel rubbery: you don't ever want to get to the point where you feel so bad you'll quit. I've come close, and it's no fun."

Still, every player goes through the aches and pains the first week. "That's the hardest thing to deal with, the soreness," said all-pro safety Ken Houston.

"I always run, but six weeks before camp starts, I'll start on the heavy distance work. Three weeks before camp, I'll do 220s and 110s. The last few days before camp, I'll rest and try and get my legs back. But hen I lose them right away, anyhow.

"Even if you work out a couple of times a day, nothing really matches a football practice. You're out on that field 2 1/2 hours in the morning and 2 1/2 hours every afternoon. You go real hard, and then you might stand around for a while. I really have to be very careful to avoid pulls that first week, because you get loose, and then you stop and get tight again. I think that's why you get sore."

The Redskis' two kicking specialists spend the first several weeks running and stretching conditioning their legs for the long grind ahead.

Often, new kickers come into camp and immediately try to impress the coaches with their boombing shots. Mark Moseley, the field-goal and kick-off man, and punter Mike Bragg gradually build up to peak in time for the regular season.

"Righ now," said Bragg. "I'm not in punting shape. I can't boom my kicks. My leg feels like a piece of spaghetti. But the soreness will be over in a week to 10 days. Then you might take a day off and you get refreshed.

"Then it becomes a matter of mental approach, too, concentrating on getting in a groove. In punting, that's half the battle."

But all the Redskins agree there is no way to prepare for the bone-crunching contact of an actual football game.

"We've got all these dummies and machines out here." said McDole. "but there's nothing that can simulate contact. In a game, you get hit and hit pretty hard on just about every play, from every different angle. You'll get bruised, you'll get cut and scraped, you'll get charley horses. It's just part of the deal."