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by Jim Miller MD

April 14, 2009

I am going to interrupt the series that has dealt with hydration, nutrition (more to come) and sleep to take up a topic that is near and dear to all of you who are facing the culmination of your short course season. The BIG MEET is at hand. Fast swimming time!! All of these principles apply to most of you who are facing a triathlon or open water swim also.

It's show time baby!! That means it is time to put it all together, physically and mentally. Your coach will be giving you more rest but will demand more from your performances in practice. How do you respond and what do you have to bring to the pool to make yourself successful?

You now know about nutrition, in and out of practice, as well as sleep and hydration. As your coach pushes you the next month or so, your requirements will be exaggerated. You will be pushing beyond comfort in the pool and that will tend to result in increasing demands on your muscles to perform. If you do not keep up with hydration and nutrition during practice you will be more likely to develop muscle soreness and a decline in training and racing performance. Remember which muscles break down first - the ones that you are using!! You do not have time for that!

Prescription for success:

  • You cannot come to practice without something in you (both nutrition and hydration), regardless of what time that practice is conducted.
  • Wash out those muscles following hard sets by easy swims or drills using the same stroke that you just pushed.
  • Help the wash out of sore muscles with hydration; making sure that your urine is clear after practice. If it is not clear, you are dehydrated.
  • Use carbohydrate mixes in your water bottle or gels to supplement your hydration EVERY PRACTICE! In prior Med Briefs I stated that if your practice was just an hour, you were fine with water. As the demand changes, so does this rule. You can calculate a bottle of water/mixture (18 oz minimum) per hour to keep up. As noted above, you cannot catch up if you come to practice behind.
  • Divide your meals into smaller more frequent feedings. Smaller amounts are put to work more quickly and more completely in your muscles. Your total daily calories will probably rise. Do not worry about weight gain. Eating like this will not create a rise in weight.
  • Each of these smaller meals needs to have carbohydrates and proteins.
  • The smaller more frequent portions also prepare you for how you should also eat during that championship meet (I'll address that next time).
  • Your total daily protein percent should be no more than 15%. You are not trying to build muscle, you are trying to optimally fuel the muscle that you have and swim fast.
  • Observe the basic rules that we discussed earlier about when to eat after practice and sleep.
    Stress is part of gearing up for the big meet. Healthy coping requires you to do all the basics correctly, and there are no short cuts. Poor dietary and sleep habits lessen your ability to cope with stress.
  • If an illness or injury gets in the way, get to your medical practitioner FAST!

You can now see why I am giving you this Med Brief now. It takes planning to get you ready to swim fast. Excellence is never luck!


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